Destination Snetterton as Franco Bourne steps up to BSB
The Honda Racing team returns to full strength this weekend for round 5 of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship as teen sensation Franco Bourne steps up to the Superbike class to stand in for the injured Andrew Irwin.
Round 5 takes place at Snetterton, which at 2.96 miles in length is the longest circuit on the 2023 calendar and has played host to some fantastic racing for the Fireblade historically, with wins and podium finishes inked into the record books of Superbike and Superstock racing.
Tom Neave heads to the Norfolk Circuit riding the crest of a wave, having achieved career-best results in the premier class last time out at the rollercoaster that is Knockhill. He too has a strong track record at the 12-cornered ‘300’ layout of Snetterton, taking the win in both 2020 and 2021 (his championship-winning year) aboard the Honda Racing Superstock Fireblade. He also had three strong points-scoring rides in his rookie season on the Superbike in 2022. Tom looks to back up his recent good form and improve further on his best finish of seventh.
Joining Tom in the factory team, Franco Bourne makes his British Superbike debut off the back of some impressive rides this year in the Superstock class. He will be looking to use the weekend as a learning experience as he adapts to riding a Superbike for the first time.
The two riders will roll out of pit lane for Free Practice 1 on Friday 7th July at 13.00 ahead of the weekend’s three races. The first of which takes place on Saturday 8th at 16.30, followed by the two feature-length races on Sunday 9th. For a full weekend schedule click here.
#68 Tom NeaveI feel like we are really starting to build into a nice place now. So far in the first four rounds, we have matched my best-ever finish from all of last year at just round one. We’ve had three top-eight finishes across the last two rounds. And if I was going to choose a track where I was going to have my best race of the year, I certainly wouldn't have chosen Knockhill so I really think the best is yet to come.Snetterton is a place where I have won in both National Stock 600 and Stock 1000. It is probably one of my best circuits, I have always loved it and I got three-point scoring finishes there last year. I really feel that we are starting to build a bit of momentum now, but the biggest thing for me is that I have got some sense of solid self-belief back in me. Not that it went away, it was always there, but after a difficult year last year and not a great start to the year, it’s hard to always find that within you. But it has really started to cement it again after the last two rounds. I want to keep this momentum building.I have not got too excited about things off the back of the last round. Yeah, it was good and it was a huge relief and the whole team morale and everything picked up, but I’m not going to allow the highs to get too high and the lows to get too low. I need to keep my head down, keep working and keep chipping away. The bike felt the best it has ever felt for me in superbike in the last year and four rounds that I have had on the bike. If that is anything to go off then I think we are in for a treat over the next few rounds.
#54 Franco BourneI want to thank Harv for giving me the opportunity to join the Honda Racing team as a stand-in for Andrew Irwin at Snetterton. I wish him all the best and hope he is able to get back to full fitness soon.For me, this has to be taken as a learning opportunity and to gain valuable experience, especially looking ahead to the future. There is no pressure to get results, I just want to build into things slowly and progress throughout the weekend.Snetterton is a track that historically I have found challenging, I’ve had some bad luck there and a few crashes here and there, I also had to miss riding there last year due to injury. I am obviously really looking forward to trying to put that right this weekend.Thanks again to everyone at Marvel HCL Motorsport, Matt Bainbridge and Pete Boast for helping me get to this point where I have such a fantastic opportunity.