The Bennetts British Superbike Championship reached its halfway point this weekend as Snetterton hosted the sixth round of the series, where the Honda team continued to build momentum as the all-important Showdown approaches. Keeping on target to remain in the top-six Xavi Forés collected further valuable points aboard the CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2, while teammate Andrew Irwin scored his best result so far this season, closing his gap to the top-six.
The Norfolk track has always been a good hunting ground for the Fireblade and this weekend both Forés and Irwin continued to make progress, showing good pace throughout all sessions and today’s opening race saw both Honda’s engrossed in a battle for fifth. Swapping paint throughout the 16-lap race the teammates defended their positions to cross the line with Irwin fifth and Forés hot on his heels in sixth.
The second race saw the Honda duo line-up sixth and seventh respectively on the grid, but it was Irishman Irwin who instantly made up places as the lights went out. Leading the charge of a chasing Peter Hickman and Christian Iddon, Irwin moved into fourth place after Tarran Mackenzie crashed out on the 11th lap. Keeping the two BMWs at bay, he crossed the line to take fourth and his best finish so far this season. The results from the weekend see Irwin edge closer to the overall top-six, where he now sits eighth – just 20 points from the Showdown-six.
Meanwhile teammate Forés dropped places at the start of the race, but it wasn’t long before he started carving his way back though the pack and was soon in the fight for eighth place. Making his move on his championship rivals, Forés took the chequered flag eighth and maintains his overall position in the series in sixth place with 114 points.
On the other side of the garage, Tom Neave enjoyed a weekend full of improvements as he bettered his Qualifying and personal best time at the Norfolk circuit, with a 1:51.023 lap in the National Superstock 1000 Championship. Starting today’s race from tenth place, he dropped back into 13th during the opening stages, but dug deep over the 14 laps and made an impressive fightback aboard the Fireblade to cross the line eighth. Holding sixth place in the overall standings, he leaves Snetterton having extended the gap to seventh place.
The Honda Racing team will now head back to its Louth headquarters and prepare all-three Fireblades for the seventh round of the 2019 Bennetts British Superbike Championship, which takes place at Thruxton in Hampshire on 2/3/4 August.
Xavi Forés: To be honest this weekend has been harder than I expected; I like the track and enjoyed my laps but honestly from the first day I had a small issue with the bike and was never able to solve it, and for the races it was not so easy to manage. Race 1 I was trying to defend my position and had a good battle with Andrew, but at the end I got some important points and finished in the top-six. I did expect a little more and especially in the second race, but the first part was really, really bad for me, I never felt a good grip on the apexes, especially in the first ten laps. After that I was able to manage a little more and able to almost have the same pace as the top-four, but unfortunately it was too late and sometimes it’s quite frustrating when you lose so much gap at the start. But anyway, sixth and eighth isn’t so bad for my first time here in Snetterton and I am looking forward to Thruxton in order to keep the Showdown still alive! I want to say thanks to all the team, we made a good job inside the box and see you at Thruxton!
Andrew Irwin: I keep saying I want two-top sixes near enough every round we’ve been to, it’s what I wanted and we’re coming away from here with a fifth and fourth, which is a step in the right direction! At Knockhill we finished the last race in fifth and we are starting to be where we belong inside the top-six, and hopefully we can continue to close the gap to the Showdown. We took six points out of Xavi this weekend, so we go to Thruxton looking to take another set of points out of him to try and close that down. I’m really happy, the team are working so hard and the Fireblade is working well, so I’m pleased with the progress and the fourth place finish today!
Tom Neave: I’m not feeling too bad this weekend, it was nice to have a good race and mix it up with a few other riders and get passing people. It was an enjoyable race but I did made it hard for myself; I got a good start and then nearly clipped someones back wheel, so had to back out of it and then got sandwiched into turn one and went from about sixth to 14th. It was then a case of getting my head down and I managed to work my way up to eighth. It was good progress, I did my fastest-ever lap round here, but I just made it hard work for myself. I feel like if I had a clean start into turn one I had the pace for fifth or sixth and that’s where I should have been really, but we have more points in the bag and we’re still sixth overall, so it’s not all doom and gloom!
Havier Beltran-Team Manager: I’m pleased for Andrew it’s his best result with Honda today and he’s making good steps, and we’ve moved into eighth in the championship, so we’re on target and he’s doing a great job. It’s a bit frustrating here as we know we have the pace and the capability to run at the sharp end but at the moment we seem to have a few little things we need to resolve, which also transpires to Xavi. He’s doing a great job with the development and the direction of the Fireblade, but again we had some issues that we need to iron out early to make further progress. Tom is also making good steps forward, but again we need to understand what is needed with the Fireblade sooner as when you’re in the race they can’t be fixed. So we have to arrive at a lap time earlier in the weekend to try and iron out a few of the problems, but I’m happy with the direction we’re moving in and we’re at the halfway point and we need to make a big effort of staying in the top-six and working hard to stay in the front group.
BSB Race 1
1 Scott Redding 45 28.56.870 Ducati
2 Josh Brookes 25 +1.137 Ducati
3 Tarran Mackenzie 95 +3.989 Yamaha
4 Danny Buchan 83 +12.969 Kawasaki
5 Andrew Irwin 18 +18.666 Honda
6 Xavi Forés 6 +19.884 Honda
7 Peter Hickman 60 +20.209 BMW
8 Luke Mossey 12 +22.105 Suzuki
9 Jason O’Halloran 22 +24.326 Yamaha
10 Christian Iddon 21 +24.606 BMW
BSB Race 2
1 Scott Redding 45 28:54.217 Ducati
2 Josh Brookes 25 +0.279 Ducati
3 Tommy Bridewell 46 +3.376 Ducati
4 Andrew Irwin 18 +21.133 Honda
5 Peter Hickman 60 +22.180 BMW
6 Christian Iddon 21 +23.640 BMW
7 Héctor Barberá 80 +27.444 Kawasaki
8 Xavi Forés 6 +27.987 Honda
9 Michael Laverty 70 +27.987 BMW
10 Luke Mossey 12 +29.854 Suzuki
BSB Championship Standings
1 Scott Redding 45 Ducati 226
2 Tommy Bridewell 46 Ducati 188
3 Josh Brookes 25 Ducati 185
4 Tarran Mackenzie 95 Yamaha 144
5 Danny Buchan 83 Kawasaki 132
6 Xavi Forés 6 Honda 114
7 Peter Hickman 60 BMW 96
8 Andrew Irwin 18 Honda 94
9 Christian Iddon 21 BMW 92
10 Luke Mossey 12 Suzuki 72
STK 1000 Race
1 Richard Cooper 47 1:50.063 Suzuki
2 Lee Jackson 14 +2.589 Kawasaki
3 Taylor Mackenzie 77 +6.548 BMW
4 Billy McConnell 3 +7.042 Suzuki
5 Chrissy Rouse 69 +8.485 Kawasaki
6 Alex Olsen 75 +12.526 BMW
7 Levi Day 26 +15.088 Aprilia
8 Tom Neave 68 +16.731 Honda
9 Eemeli Lathi 22 +17.422 Kawasaki
10 Lewis Rollo 8 +17.100 Aprilia
STK 1000 Championship Standings
1 Richard Cooper 47 Suzuki 256.5
2 Taylor Mackenzie 77 BMW 214
3 Lee Jackson 14 Kawasaki 142
4 Alex Olsen 75 BMW 139.5
5 Lewis Rollo 8 Aprilia 94.5
6 Tom Neave 68 Honda 83.5
7 Chrissy Rouse 69 Kawasaki 76.5
8 Eemeli Lathi 22 Kawasaki 76.5
9 Luke Hedger 12 Kawasaki 63.5
10 Levi Day 26 Aprilia 59