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Eazi Grip

A wet and wild weekend at Snetterton for Honda Racing UK

Saturday

In wet and windy conditions that belied an early July scheduling in the calendar, Honda Racing UK rounded out a Saturday of mixed fortunes as Andrew Irwin secured a seventh and Dean Harrison equalled his season-best result in eleventh. But it was heartbreak for both Tommy Bridewell and Jack Kennedy as they crashed out of their respective races.

Track activity throughout the day was heavily disrupted by rain showers of varying intensities, making it challenging for all four of Honda’s riders to navigate both the stop-start nature of the day and indeed the slippery circuit conditions.

Tommy Bridewell and Andrew Irwin both delivered composed performances in qualifying to occupy the leading positions on row two whilst Dean Harrison qualified his Fireblade in seventeenth. Jack Kennedy meanwhile too expertly balanced the risk and reward of qualifying in the wet to secure a fifth-place grid spot in Supersport.

In the sole Bennetts British Superbike race of the day, a rapidly drying track made tyre choice and setup a gamble for the entire field, as teams up and down the grid weighed up their options. All three Honda riders opted to fit wet fronts and an intermediate rear, assuming that the forecast would remain clear and a dry line would slowly appear. As the lights went out and with a wet track beneath them though, others who had opted for full wet tyres raced ahead and pulled out a large gap. At the time of the red flag on lap nine, Tommy was down in tenth, Andrew sixteenth and Dean was back in twenty-second.

The restart was then delayed as the heavens opened and the race distance was reduced. It was full wets for all and a five-lap dash for glory. All three riders made great starts in this second attempt at race one. There was drama for Bridewell though as contact with another rider early in lap one caused damage to his gear lever and ultimately caused his early race exit as he crashed out.

Andrew Irwin and Dean Harrison though were navigating the treacherous conditions expertly to solid point-scoring finishes of seventh and eleventh respectively. A strong start to the weekend in difficult conditions for both riders with Dean equalling his best finish of the year to date.

In another disrupted race due to the weather, Jack Kennedy delivered a sublime performance for all but the final lap of his Supersport showing. He put together a dominant performance from fifth on the grid, passing multiple riders to get through to the lead and then pull away from the field, only to suffer heartbreak at turn one on the final lap crashing out of the race.

#18 Andrew Irwin

“It was one of those races when you just don’t want to do anything stupid, I just wanted to be sensible and build into the race. Unfortunately, it was only a five-lap race because I was actually feeling really good as the race went on. Seventh is a solid start to the weekend, yes it’s not an amazing result but it is a solid platform on which we can build.  We have a good grid slot for the opening race tomorrow too and I am feeling good so let’s keep the momentum going and see what we can do tomorrow.”

#5 Dean Harrison

“To have equaled my best result of the year so far in what has been a challenging weekend is good to be fair. The conditions have been all over the place and we’ve had a few little problems that have cost us some track time too. So all things considered I think it has been a good day and I am happy to have scored some good solid points. I still think that there is more to come, and we can take what we’ve learnt from today into tomorrow.”

#1 Tommy Bridewell

“It’s been a challenging day, the conditions have been tricky and we’ve had to contend with a few red flags here and there too. I think we made the right call in the first race and we were slowly starting to come back at the guys ahead on full wets but then the red flag just came at the wrong time and we didn’t get the chance to get going. Then the next time out it was only five laps. I made a good start in that second one, but then I had contact with Max early in the lap which damaged my gear lever and the quickshifter. That then meant the shifter wasn’t working properly which caused me to crash out at the next corner. We go again tomorrow.”

#4 Jack Kennedy

“I’m really happy with our performance today in the wet and tricky conditions. Starting from the second row we managed to get through to the front, I was really eagre to get to the front to manage my visibility because the spray here can be difficult to manage. I wanted to be at the front and set my own pace, which we did and it stretched everybody. I think we had the race in hand and all in control, but unfortunately I just had a big high side out of turn one on the last lap. I’m really frustrated with myself, I usually manage those situations but I find this circuit very difficult to predict in the wet because some of the different surfaces here are very hard to predict and I got caught out. In wet tricky conditions these things can happen to the best of the best. We will take all of the positives away from today, I’m lucky to walk away uninjured and we are in a good position to go out tomorrow and have another go. The team will give me a great bike and we are looking forward to tomorrow and whatever weather it brings.”

Sunday

In a weekend of changing conditions and red-flagged races, Honda Racing UK rider Jack Kennedy put the disappointment of Saturday behind him to win in a fantastic supersport race. BSB teammate Tommy Bridewell doubled down with a pair of second-place finishes.

With clear skies overhead, the Bennetts British Superbike riders took to the grid for the opening race of the day. In the centre of row two, Andrew Irwin was hopeful of propelling himself into the podium battle thanks to his fifth-place grid slot. Back in sixteenth on the grid, as a result of not setting a lap time in yesterday’s race, Tommy Bridewell had his sights firmly set on salvaging as many points as possible for his championship defence. With rain forecast mid-race he also knew it was vital to progress as far up the field as possible in the event of a likely red flag. Dean Harrison lined up in nineteenth.

In a remarkable display of overtaking, Tommy Bridewell scythed through the pack in the race to climb from sixteenth on the grid to third in just four laps. On the inside or outside, corner exit or corner entry it appeared he could almost pass at will such was his dominance. His teammate’s races at this stage though had been slightly scrappier affairs. Andrew was caught in the early race dogfight and dropped to seventh, whilst Dean battled hard to maintain his position.

With rain falling the red flag was waved and all riders returned to pit lane. A wet race was then declared, although the track itself was dry, and riders returned to the grid for yet another five-lap dash. Tommy would line up in third, Andrew seventh and Dean nineteenth.

In this five-lap sprint, Tommy suffered a poor start which dropped him back to fifth in the opening lap. Nonetheless, he dug deep and showed his championship-winning credentials with a determined recovery to second by the end of lap two, a position he would hold to the end of the race. Andrew meanwhile battled hard to finish fifth and showed promising pace whilst Dean was pipped by 0.001 seconds at the line to finish in nineteenth.

In the second BSB race of the day, the full length sixteen lap feature, all three riders made slow getaways from the line and were bruised in the early race scrap. Tommy dropped from his third place grid slot to fifth with Andrew not far behind in seventh. Dean’s rocky start too saw him drop from nineteenth to twenty second.

Undeterred, Tommy soon dug in and by half race distance was up into second and right on the rear wheel of his 2023 championship adversary. He then reeled off fast lap after fast lap to pile on the pressure to the leader Glenn Irwin. Andrew at this stage too was lapping at leading pace and was running at the tail end of the leading group of six riders.

Pushing hard on the final lap, Tommy’s desire to win was clear for all to see and although leading briefly when Glenn ran wide mid lap he was just not able to make a move stick for the lead. Needless to say, a pair of second place finishes adds valuable points to his championship tally, albeit he now relinquishes the series lead. Andrew would finish in another solid sixth whilst Dean fought his way back up to seventeenth at the flag.

In the day’s sole Supersport race, Jack Kennedy banished the disappointment of Saturday to secure his third win of the season after a race long battle brimming with clean hard racing with championship rival Ben Currie.

The Honda Racing UK team will be back in action in a fortnight’s time at Brands Hatch for round six.

#1 Tommy Bridewell

“Yeah race one was an enjoyable one for definite, in truth those short aggressive races aren’t always my forte. I got a bad start and dropped back to sixth or seventh and thought ‘Oh no I thought I’d done all the hard work in the previous start.’ Needless to say, I managed to pull back through and could see Glenn out front. I was overriding a little and we made a little mistake in not fitting two new tyres when it was declared a wet race. The new rear was pushing the front. But look, we started sixteenth and finished second and it was an enjoyable race. Race two just was a bit of a tough one to sum up in truth, in some areas I felt really really strong, but then in other areas I was having to work really hard to stay with the others. In all truth, this circuit was always going to be a little tricky because you need the power here with a long uphill straight after a tight corner. I gave it everything though and to come away with two seconds after a bit of an off yesterday is super positive. I’m happy, the team is working great and Honda is working hard, we know what we need to work on and we will go away and keep on pushing.”

#18 Andrew Irwin

“Race one was definitely a better result, but I think I’m still a little too kind at the start of the race. I got a bit beat up and then shuffled back so I think a little more aggression at the start would help. To come away from race one with a fifth and to be frustrated gives a good indication of where we are. It was a short race yes, but we weren’t far away from the podium fight, which is positive. Then in the second race we ran in the front group for the whole race and proved that we have the pace now to run closer with the front guys. Over the course of a long sixteen lap race we’ve finished just two seconds back from the front. Yes the results this weekend aren’t incredible, but a seventh, fifth & sixth shows that we are getting some consistency. We’ve arrived at the group we want to be racing with, the next step is to start fighting with that group. I’m looking forward to getting to Brands and keeping this momentum going.”

#5 Dean Harrison

“We’ve just had one of those weekends where we’ve been on the back foot all weekend. The combination of weather and some little technical problems has cost us track time, which ultimately means you are spending the weekend in a recovery mode. This game is all about momentum and it can be difficult to build that at times. In the first race I actually got a really good start and we were running with the group from tenth all the way back to us, I felt good on the bike too so I thought we were on for a good result. Then it was restarted and I got clipped at the start and dropped to the back pretty much. With only five laps it’s super difficult to get going again. In the second race, lap time wise we aren’t far from running in the top ten positions, we just have too much to do from our grid positions. I’m looking forward to Brands and having a solid problem free weekend which allows us to show our real potential.”

#4 Jack Kennedy

“After the disappointment of yesterday I am over the moon to repay the team with a win, which I truly feel they deserve for all of their hard work, not just this weekend but throughout the year. The race itself was very close and there was some brilliant clean hard racing which I really enjoyed. There were obvious strengths and weaknesses between the two of us at the front which made for some very close racing, but I feel this is a just reward for wrecking the bike yesterday and giving the team some work to do overnight. We’ve shown here that we have some really strong pace and I look forward to going again at Brands in a few weeks time.”

Posted on Tuesday, July 9th, 2024 in News

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