Honda’s British Superbike team is leaving the opening round of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship at Silverstone positive after the weekend, which saw all riders score points across the Superbike and Superstock classes, aboard the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2.
Glorious conditions greeted the championship across the Easter Bank Holiday weekend and fans were treated to close racing action across all classes, especially in the Bennetts British Superbike Championship which saw the top-11 in Saturday’s qualifying separated by 0.360 seconds, where Honda’s riders Andrew Irwin and Xavi Forés qualified 10th and 11th respectively.
Making his BSB debut this weekend Forés made progress throughout each session aboard the Fireblade. Today’s opening race of the day saw the Spaniard finish tenth, but it was during the final race he really found his feet. Dropping back places in the opening stages of the race to 14th, Forés fought back and made his charge through the group ahead. Carving his way through the pack he eventually crossed the line eighth and leaves the opening round ninth in the overall championship standings.
Teammate Irwin also enjoyed a solid weekend with great pace throughout all sessions and finished the first race of the day sixth, just 0.731 seconds from fifth place. The last race saw Irwin penalised on lap 12, after an on-track incident while running fifth. Taking the penalty lane in superb style, Irwin had already begun his charge back up the places to make up lost ground. Fighting hard he crossed the line seventh, where he also sits in the overall standings.
In the National Superstock 1000 Championship Honda made its return to the series this weekend in fine style with Tom Neave. With a two-part 100-mile race yesterday, Neave scored two eighth-place finishes, and during today’s race dug deep and was well in the mix with his Superstock rivals. Making up places the Lincolnshire lad came home sixth and is also sixth in the championship standings.
The team will now prepare for an official BSB test this Thursday (25 April) at Oulton Park, before the second round of the championship at the Cheshire circuit on 4/5/6 May.
Xavi Forés: I have had so much fun this weekend; there have been a lot of riders in such a close gap. I enjoyed a lot especially the second race and we definitely made a huge step forward, it was a shame starting from the back as I lost many places and I went wide many times in order to make up the gap to the front group. In the end I was able to have a good pace, which wasn’t so far from the top group, so this means we made a good improvement and I am happy for that, because it’s not been an easy weekend for me. I had to understand many things over the weekend; it was like going back to school! It’s quite different to the world championship and I have had to learn, but I am happy leaving with the result from the second race, we closed the gap and I am looking forward to the second round.
Andrew Irwin: The races today have been really positive and I think from last year I have definitely taken a step forward in my riding, I put a lot of effort in over the winter and I think it is paying off. Sixth and seventh in the first weekend is positive and I know we’ll continue to take steps forward, of course the second race I feel could have been a lot better but we got the penalty lane and I committed to it! I tried to get around it as fast as I could not to lose any time, but when you go too hard sometimes you wreak the tyre and that’s what happened, and by the time the safety car came round we didn’t have anything to give back. But you know this is racing and I look forward to Oulton and getting a good test under our belts on Thursday.
Tom Neave: It’s been a really good solid weekend and we’ve gone faster in each session, we’ve also been consistent throughout. I was happy to get some points on the table without making any mistakes in the races and I was getting stronger towards the end. I need to work on being less hesitant at the start to get stuck in nice and early in order to get a good position. We’re in a good place and I am looking forward to Oulton Park, I think the layout of the circuit will suit the Honda a lot more and I can’t wait to get there now.
Havier Beltran: Of course you always want more, but where we finished in race two, if I’m honest that’s where I thought we’d be running around to start with. The test we had here the other week was waste of time really with the different weather conditions, so we had to go back to the drawing board when we got here with the warmer conditions. I’m happy with the progress and the direction we made over the weekend, as well as how the team are working and gelling together, that is such a key point and we can build on so much more.
We have a good foundation, a lot of data and a lot of laps and I think Xavi having his first race here in England he will soon understand the level, as well as the strength and weaknesses of his competition. From a BSB/Superbike side I’m pleased with how we finished Race 2 and I think it bodes well moving to Oulton Park. Tom in Superstock again it’s a new area for us coming back into the series and I feel Tom and the guys did a great job.
I know Tom wanted more and there were some issues red flag etc. but we needed to come away from here with that amount of information to understand where we need to improve as rider/team/machine, and I think we have some good information to work on as we move to Oulton Park.