Tough weekend for Honda Racing at Oulton Park
The ninth round of the 2019 Bennetts British Superbike Championship has been a difficult weekend for the Honda Racing team and its riders Xavi Forés and Andrew Irwin as they fought to secure a place in the all-important Showdown. With the pressure on, all eyes were on the riders in the fight at Oulton Park.
Heading into the weekend Irwin was sitting sixth but his weekend was going to be difficult after having to start Race 1 from the back of the grid, but he showed good pace and qualified eighth fastest aboard the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2. However in yesterday’s race disaster struck on the second lap when he crashed out of the running after a fellow competitors bike broke down in front of him. With the Showdown in his mind, Irwin returned to the garage and the race was red flagged due to oil on the track from his machine.
Following his decision to return to the garage the 25-year old wasn’t allowed to restart and his move was under investigation. Irwin was excluded from today’s second race, which saw him start the final race of the day from the back of the grid. Lining up in 23rd place he knew the challenge that was ahead of him, but as soon as the lights went out he set about chasing down his rivals. Carving his way through the pack and making up places lap-by-lap, he took the chequered flag in a spectacular 10th place and just missed out on a Showdown spot – he now sits seventh in the overall standings with 157 points.
For teammate Forés the Cheshire circuit once again proved challenging but his lap times and pace had improved since the second round earlier in the year. Wrapping up the weekend with 16th, 11th and 14th place finishes, he sits just behind Irwin in the overall standings with 148 points. Heading into the next rounds Forés knows the TT Circuit Assen well and also Donington Park, where at the third round he scored three podium finishes.
Meanwhile the teams’ Superstock 1000 contender Tom Neave had a positive weekend, beating his personal best times and finishing a lot closer to the leaders than in previous years. Qualifying sixth he got a fantastic start off the line in his first race to storm ahead and join the front group. It was looking like a podium spot was again on the cards, but his race came to an early end on the ninth lap when he crashed out unhurt.
With the bit between his teeth for today’s race, Neave was looking to finish the weekend on a high and started from the second row in fourth place. Another great start off the line saw him again in the front group where he stayed for the 14 laps. Crossing the line to take fifth place, Neave has moved back into seventh in the overall championship standings.
The Superbike team will now turn its attention to the 10th round in two weeks time, when the championship heads to the TT Circuit Assen, in The Netherlands on 20/21/22 September, the Superstock teams do not travel to Assen and will be back in action at Donington Park (4/5/6 October).
Oulton Park Circuit Statistics
2.69 miles (4.33km)
Lefthand : 6
Pole Position: Left
BSB Lap Record: Tommy Bridewell - 1:33.941 (2019)