Xavi Forés returned to the podium today after placing the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2 third in today’s opening Bennetts British Superbike Championship race at Knockhill. With the British weather once again throwing everything it could at the Scottish circuit with rain earlier in the day, but warm temperatures, a drying track awaited the 30-lap race.
Lining up on the grid Forés had a clear view of the 1.3-mile circuit after taking pole position in yesterday’s qualifying, but as the lights went out he dropped back into second place after Tarran Mackenzie made his way past. Dropping to third briefly as Danny Buchan moved up, Forés moved back into second after a crash for Mackenzie. For the remainder of the race the Spaniard maintained his position and a second place finish looked to be on the cards. However on the 28th lap a charging Scott Redding made his way past, and Forés crossed the line third to take his fourth BSB podium of the 2019 season.
Teammate Andrew Irwin had a disaster of an opening race after crashing out, unhurt, on the 12th lap at Turn 3. Starting the race from the second row of the grid in fourth place, he had dropped back into sixth but had started to make his move back through the pack and was up to fifth when he crashed out.
Lining up for Race 2 the Honda duo were 13th and 14th respectively on the grid with some work ahead of them to make up places. Launching the Fireblades off the line both soon made progress with Irwin 10th and Forés 11th. Wanting to make up for the DNF in the first race, Irwin was on the hunt and set about tracking down the group ahead. Picking off his BSB rivals he had chased down fifth position.
On the 25th lap the race was red flagged due to track contamination and the results declared over two-thirds race distance, which saw Irwin secure fifth and Forés finish 12th. The results from the weekend see Forés maintain sixth place in the overall championship standings with Irwin ninth.
The National Superstock 1000 race was held in wet conditions this morning and a full-wet set-up was required for Tom Neave aboard the Fireblade. Starting from the second row of the grid Neave made a strong start off the line, but had dropped places by the first corner. With good battles on-track throughout the 24-lap race with his championship rivals, Neave at one point was tenth, but pulled it back to take the chequered flag eighth. The results from the weekend see the Superstock contender maintain his sixth place in the overall championship standings.
There is now a two-week break in the Bennetts British Superbike Championship and the series will return for Round 6 at Snetterton on 19/20/21 July. The National Superstock 1000 Championship will be in action next weekend (5/6/7 July) as they take to the track at Donington Park during the UK round of the World Championship.
Xavi Forés: It’s been a bitter sweet weekend at Knockhill, but we do have many positives to take away. I wasn’t expecting at all to take the pole position yesterday, or finish on the podium! Being back on the podium after the results at Brands was like a victory for me and the team, I’m happy as we were there in dry conditions, so we are making good steps with the Fireblade, but we do still have some work to do. The second race was hard, I started from 13th and made it hard work for myself to get back up into the leading pack. During the race I felt I was defending rather than attacking and it was hard work, the wind at the circuit also picked up and that didn’t help. But I think moving to the next round we have to take the positives with us from this weekend and remind ourselves that we can be up there, have the pace and finish on the podium.
Andrew Irwin: We’ve had really good pace all weekend and I knew that in the first race I could have been as fast as any of the front group, and really there was no reason why I couldn’t have been fighting for the podium. I made mistake after being caught behind someone and their bike was leaking oil and I wasn’t sure if it was raining or not. I got distracted with my visor being smeared and I ran wide into the gravel and crashed. It’s unfortunate as we’ve been consistent all season and this is our first DNF, it is just not nice to end like that! But Race 2 was much better, I did start from 14th so didn’t really give myself much luck with the start, but I got off the line well and started to work my way through the pack. Fortunately the safety car helped us out a bit and closed the group in front so I was able to move through to 5th. I think if we’d gone full distance we might have made it into 4th, but this is racing and it gives me some confidence going into the next round at Snetterton.
Tom Neave: The weekend started as we planned really, as I wanted to be in the top-five/six and we were! For Qualifying we made some changes to the Fireblade and it didn’t really give me the feeling I was after, so for the first race we went back to the settings we had in FP2, where we managed to go faster as the session went on and I scored my fastest time on the final lap! I started today’s race from fourth on the grid, but the heavens opened and I just went backwards. Even though today wasn’t the result I wanted we did find a better set-up for the rain and that’s huge progress; I just need to pull my finger out now! We’re coming away from the weekend with a better wet setting, we’re sixth in the championship so it’s not all bad – I’m now looking forward to Donington next weekend and I’m confident we can have a good round. I went well there last time in the dry and now we have this wet setting I’m not too fussed if we have a wet or dry race!
Havier Beltran: It’s been an odd weekend at Knockhill from having great weather on Friday to terrible weather yesterday in Qualifying and then just mixed conditions today. Both Andrew and Xavi made big improvements with Xavi on pole and a second row start for Andrew. But what I want to do is take away all the positives from the weekend with Xavi’s podium, the direction and the way we have moved forward this weekend. I know on paper it doesn’t look quite as good as we’d hoped, but we do have highlights to take away. Andrew rode so well in the second race after that DNF earlier. Xavi has some expectations and I think with what we’re learning and developing we’re capable of achieving those. I think for Tom coming here has been a huge learning curve for him, he made a rookie mistake in the race and I think without that the results could have been different, not massively but it would have put a different perspective on the weekend. All in all we’re still maintaining 6th in the championship and we still have to keep pushing.