Thursday, 06 August 2015 10:04

Rock Racing - BSB and Motocross Updates

Racing for RAF Reserves BMW Rock supported rider Peter Hickman found luck in short supply at Thruxton last weekend and was twice forced to retire. Initially qualifying in sixth place, the 28-year old was running in eighth in the early stages of the first race only for it to be red flagged due to an oil spill. Starting again from sixth place for the re-started race, his clutch started slipping on lap six, and with no drive he was reluctantly forced to retire.

Conversely he believes the team also made a giant leap forward at Thruxton. Which will put them in a stronger position for Cadwell Park in round eight: "It has been a tough start to the season but I feel that we made a big breakthrough at Thruxton and found something that we had been struggling with before and that made a big difference. That is why we were fast and Thruxton and although we had problems in the races, that was just down to luck and us having none last weekend.

"I am looking forward to Cadwell Park - it's my home race and I think that it is a technical circuit where track knowledge does give you an advantage and is so important. That's probably why it does tend to throw up some different results and people at the front. If I was honest, I would say I was aiming for the podium at Thruxton if we hadn't had the problems.

"The top six will be really hard now for us before the Showdown but we are going to take it race by race and we should always be aiming for the top six in the races and knocking on the door for the podium finishes. We had a great result last year at Cadwell Park so if we can start off with a good result there then I would be really happy!"

In the Motorpoint British Supersport Championship Rock supported team Gearlink Kawasaki had a steady weekend. Glenn Irwin was sixth in race one and a strong fourth in race two. Luke Hedger gained a seventh and fifth and Ben Wilson was eighth and seventh.

Gearlink Kawasaki had their hands full trying to find a suitable set-up for the extremely fast and bumpy circuit. Luke Hedger was the quickest Gearlink Kawasaki rider in qualifying and he placed in sixth place on the grid for the opening 12-lap sprint race, Glenn was seventh and Ben in tenth.

Irwin was able to ride a consistent race despite several exchanges of positions, getting up to fifth place at one point. He was just beaten to the line and finished in sixth. In race two Glenn started from eighth place and was sixth after the opening lap. He was locked for the entire 18 laps in a battle for a podium position; Glenn worked hard to stay with the pack and moved through to finish in a great fourth place.

Luke Hedger was once again riding consistently well at Thruxton and despite a bad start in the Sprint race he worked hard over the 12 laps setting some strong lap times in the closing stages to secure seventh. He started from fifth for the main feature race on Sunday. He held his position after the opening lap and dropped back to seventh on lap five. He was also involved in the same battle as Glenn and rode a consistent race to finish in fifth overall.

Ben worked to find a set-up for his Gearlink Kawasaki to suit his riding style around the very fast track. Qualifying in tenth place, he got one of his super starts and was seventh after lap one. He was locked in a battle with his two team-mates throughout the race and was eighth at the end of the 12 laps. In race two Ben battled hard and finished in a respectable seventh place.

Glenn Irwin: "I want to ignore the results on Friday and Saturday and thank the Gearlink Kawasaki team for the work and effort they put in today, they were amazing. Michael showed his experience and knowledge within the sport and with the skill of Aaron they helped to get my bike singing today. I messed up during the race and I'm the first to admit that. The Championship isn't over yet and I will make sure I'll be pushing to win more races this year."

Ben Wilson: "It was a steady weekend for me and the Gearlink Kawasaki team. I was struggling again with set-up and it made it a little difficult in the first race. In race two the bike was feeling much better and I was catching the big pack in front of me. I had a big moment around Church and my foot came off the peg and caught under the back wheel, it unsettled my rhythm and by the time I re-grouped it was too late, I can't wait to get to my local circuit of Cadwell in a couple of weeks."

Luke Hedger: "I'm really happy with another handful of solid Championship points this weekend. I managed to be consistent and set some good times. We got some good results and we have made some good progress through the weekend."

Rock rider Josh Elliott and the Morello Racing team got their 2015 Pirelli National Superstock 1000cc Championship campaign back on track at Thruxton on Sunday with a strong second place seeing him maintain his title lead. The Northern Irishman had qualified in third for Sunday"s 15-lap race and by the end achieved an excellent second place.

Team-mate John Ingram was hit by fuel pump problems in qualifying, which left him back in 26th and on the ninth row of the grid. Sadly a broken wire on his quickshifter on the opening lap meant he had to pull in to retire with the race barely underway.

Josh Elliott: "I made a bit of a mistake in counting down the laps and thought there was two laps to go when there was actually only one. As a result, I wasn"t defending my line on the last lap but fair play to Alastair, he had good speed and was able to get by. I"ve broken my humerous too which has made it a bit difficult through the turns but the Morello Racing team gave me a great bike this weekend so we"ll keep chipping away and look to get back to winning ways as soon as possible."

Steve Buckenham, Team Owner: "It"s been a mixed weekend for the team and although we"re delighted to see Josh back on the podium, it"s also a bit disappointing not to have taken the win. We said all along that we didn"t want him to be leading on the final lap as the run to the chicane always sees slipstreaming and overtaking manoeuvres take place but, unfortunately, he thought there was one lap to go and was leading when he should have been second – Alastair did to Josh what he planned to do to him! We"re still leading the way though and the Championship is in our hands so with four rounds to go, we"ll be doing everything to ensure it stays that way."

"Unfortunately, the other riders in the team didn"t fare so well and after issues in qualifying left him deep on the grid, a small wire broke on John"s bike and the bike wouldn"t rev beyond 12,000 rpm so he had little option other than to retire. With Lee, we couldn"t find a set-up that he was comfortable with and he struggled a bit with his confidence throughout. We didn"t want him to be riding at the back and not be happy so we opted to sit the races out. Hopefully, all three riders will enjoy good fortune next time out."

Round eight the MCE British Superbike Championship takes place at Cadwell Park from the 21st to the 23rd of July. Including supporting events such as the FIM Sidecar World Championship, Motorpoint British Supersport Championship, Pirelli National Superstock 1000 and 600 Championship and British Motostar.

In Motocross news Rock supported Buildbase Honda rider Kristian Whatley made a winning return as he romped to two race wins at the penultimate round of the Pirelli Masters series held at the Foxhill circuit. Whatley who was recently side lined due to a second operation to his left collarbone showed that he had lost none of his speed despite his forced layoff as he romped to a brace of comfortable triumphs at the former Grand Prix track.

In the first of the two lap sprints, the Buildbase Honda rider immediately found himself in second place as the pack rounded the first turn and soon took full control moving into first place. Whatley was able to ride his own race and looked both smooth and fast as he crossed the line over seven seconds ahead of his nearest rival.

Race two saw Kristian ride himself clear of the chasing field come the end of lap one. Again, looking comfortable aboard the four stroke four-fifty machine Whatley put in a series of strong laps to stretch his advantage, so much so that he was able to reduce the pace in the closing part of the race and still take the flag over ten seconds in front of the eventual runner-up.

Whatley now takes a solid lead in the overall standings heading into the final round of the Pirelli Masters at Whitby next month and looks odds on favourite to lift the title if all continues to go to plan for the twenty-five year old.

Kristian's Estonian team-mate took time out from his normal domestic duties today and made a one off MXGP appearance at the famous Lommel sand circuit in Belgium where he recorded two respectable top ten finishes against World class opposition.

Buildbase Honda MX Team Manager David Thorpe summed up the day by saying "It is good to have Kristian back riding, racing and winning. It's been a difficult period for Kristian over the last couple of months, this being his second comeback in a relatively short time. Again today he has showed what he is capable of when he is riding fit and well, and there is no doubt he has both the speed and skill to run up the front in all the domestic championships."

"Gert can also be pleased with his day's work, typically he has ground out two solid results on a rough and difficult track and up against some fast guys."

Whatley confirmed he was pleased to be back racing. "Not being able to ride or race is the worse thing for any rider. Getting over the first operation was bad enough, but then to injure the same shoulder again really sucked. Anyway hopefully I can now stay injury free and have a strong end to the season, starting with two good wins today."

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