TT Circuit Assen played host at the weekend to Round 10 of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship, as the series travelled to The Netherlands to a familiar circuit for Honda Racing’s duo Xavi Forés and Andrew Irwin from their time on the world stage.
Both Forés and Irwin showed solid pace across the weekend in all sessions, which was not always reflected in the timesheets. Sunday’s opening race got underway in near-perfect conditions at the 4.545km track and with Forés starting 12th and Irwin 18th, both had some work to do aboard the CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2.
Forés had a good start off the line but was pushed wide going into the first corner. However, digging deep and using his circuit knowledge he carved his way back through the group to eventually cross the line fifth. Teammate Irwin also enjoyed a solid race coming from 18th on the grid, making his way through the pack to finish 11th.
For the second race Forés had a better starting position and started from the second row in sixth place. However, a mistake early on saw the Spaniard drop back and again had to make up places in the strong pack ahead. Once past [Peter] Hickman and [Jason] O’Halloran, Forés was looking strong, but with time lost overtaking his rivals, he wasn’t able to catch the front group and came home in sixth place.
Meanwhile Irwin started from 16th and made his way through the pack to finish 12th. The 25-year old is suffering slightly from a crash in Saturday’s Qualifying but throughout both races he was able to improve his lap times and start building back confidence after a few difficult rounds.
The Honda Racing team will now look forward to the penultimate round of the 2019 Bennetts British Superbike Championship with Round 11 taking place at Donington Park in two weeks time (4/5/6 October).
Xavi Forés: The first race was not so bad, I enjoyed it but starting from the fourth row it was not so easy! I got a good start but coming into the first turn I was pushed wide and I lost many places. I managed to make them up and when the safety car came out, I expected to overtake and go with the front group, as I felt I had the pace. I lost some laps overtaking Hickman and then the gap to the group was just too much to make up time. The second race was a fight for me to gain positions, to stay close I had to fight so much. I want to thank the team for the weekend, we made a lot of changes, the Fireblade was working a lot better and I was confident for my pace in the races. It was a shame not to be able to fight for the podium at Assen but Donington is next and we scored podiums last time, so let’s focus on there and see what happens.
Andrew Irwin: Race 1 was a difficult race; it took me a long time to get going after the crash in Qualifying. I tried to get into a rhythm but was just going slower and slower in the early stages, but as the race progressed, I got more comfortable. I felt the second race was a lot better, if I’d have started further up the grid, I know I would have had the chance to fight for the top ten. I can’t be too disappointed with the results at the weekend, it’s two finishes and that’s important, we need to take steps forward and hopefully be closer to the top six at Donington.
Havier Beltran Team Manager: We’re coming away from Assen not with the results we had hoped for, we did have higher expectations for the weekend, but for a number of reasons we’ve not been able to progress in the way we should have. There’s no easy way around it, it’s frustrating and a real shame. Andrew crashing out in qualifying put us on the back foot for the races, but he was able to improve his times and get some confidence back. With Xavi it’s frustrating as I know he has the potential; I know we could and should have been stronger. Our pace is there and we’re strong in the races, we just need to have stronger results in Qualifying in order to be within the front group on the grid for the races.
Race 1 (18 laps)
1 Scott Redding 45 1:36.356 Ducati
2 Josh Brookes 25 +4.977 Ducati
3 Jason O’Halloran 22 +5.254 Yamaha
4 Luke Stapleford 81 +5.293 Suzuki
5 Xavi Forés 6 +7.434 Honda
6 Danny Buchan 83 +7.505 Kawasaki
7 Tarran Mackenzie 95 +8.017 Yamaha
8 Peter Hickman 60 +9.204 BMW
9 Bradley Ray 28 +12.896 Suzuki
10 Héctor Barberá 80 +14.984 Kawasaki
11 Andrew Irwin 18 +20.183 Honda
Race 2 (18 laps)
1 Scott Redding 45 1:36.710 Ducati
2 Tommy Bridewell 46 +3.385 Ducati
3 Danny Buchan 83 +3.518 Kawasaki
4 Josh Brookes 25 +3.829 Ducati
5 Luke Stapleford 81 +7.772 Suzuki
6 Xavi Forés 6 +10.523 Honda
7 Jason O’Halloran 22 +11.406 Yamaha
8 Peter Hickman 60 +12.452 BMW
9 Dan Linfoot 4 +14.441 Yamaha
10 Bradley Ray 28 +14.591 Suzuki
12 Andrew Irwin 18 +19.245 Honda
British Superbike Championship Standings
1 Scott Redding 45 Ducati 595
2 Josh Brookes 25 Ducati 581
3 Tommy Bridewell 46 Ducati 544
4 Danny Buchan 83 Kawasaki 540
5 Tarran Mackenzie 95 Yamaha 527
6 Peter Hickman 60 BMW 517
7 Xavi Forés 6 Honda 169
8 Andrew Irwin 18 Honda 161
9 Jason O’Halloran 22 Yamaha 156
10 Christian Iddon 21 BMW 145