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Eazi Grip

An impressive turnaround at Knockhill for Christian Iddon and Motorapido Racing Ducati

Ian ‘Hammy’ Darbyshire reports back from Round 4 of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship, held last weekend at Knockhill, Scotland.

Race weekends are nearly a week for the team. Half of the team get to circuit on a Wednesday to get started. Fast forward to Saturday… Our first race day! This saw Ben starting his first race in P27 and Christian in P9. The run up to this point had not been kind to us at all. This was due to lots of variables, but we were determined to put it behind us and try and be positive to secure as many points as possible.

First up was Christian. We were faced with an opening that was five laps shorter than scheduled due to some horrendous rain downpours delaying track action for over two hours. P9 and the third row meant Christian was fired up to make things right and be at the front in the first group. The lights go out and that’s what happened. A great start sees him make up places and sitting in the front group. Showing good pace with a change of set up which clearly helped us meant he could push harder. Moving further into the race the pace was dropping slightly but we were still in a position to not only secure good points but also make ground on the boys in front of us in the championship due other DNFs and rivals scoring lower points. Unfortunately Christian was taken out by another rider and that was that. We were so frustrated but knew we had another two races to try and make things right.

Meanwhile Ben found himself in unchartered territory. P27 is not a place we wanted to be especially at a track like Knockhill where the track is narrow, and the lap is short. Normally in this situation you need to pass as efficiently as possible with a bit of slip streaming and timely passing; this was not going to be the case. Last few seconds before the lights go out Team Owner Wilf’s last words to Ben were “You can’t wait or hesitate; you just have to pass as soon as you are on somebody.”

In true Ben fashion he did as he was asked. He jumped nine places into the first turn and we knew it was on. He was a man on a mission and relentless. He just kept pushing and pushing and as he made good ground on the pack, he kept getting quicker. Any other style track and he would have podiumed. We were elated to see him bring it home in P5 in class. Also, we secured Pole position with a 49.158 and an ideal time under the lap record.

As a team it had been a pretty draining few days so the lads got sorted with the bikes and Sunday prep so we could clock off and re set to give us a fresh start for Sunday’s race schedule.

Sunday morning and it’s a wet Scottish morning. Warm up sees Christian third fastest and Ben fifth fastest.

First on Sunday’s action was the second Superbike race which was a 20 lap dash. 20 laps around Knockhill totals 25.33 miles which doesn’t sound much but this leaves the riders no room for error in a physical and action-packed lap. We started the race from eighth and Christian got a lightening start…

Christian Iddon – SBK (Oxford Products Racing Ducati #21)

“We have some fancy electrics which get us a mega launch as long as I do my bit right. This is a big help being confident getting off the line. Made the great start and go into the spray laced T1. The aim of this was get ahead as quick as possible. First five/six laps the bike left amazing and I was trying to form the best plan to ride on and win. Mid race distance and I lose a little rhythm with making just a couple of really small mistakes. The game plan at that point changed after Saturday’s misfortune. I knew it was a case of retaining the best points we could which was second. Five laps to go we are faced with a very small issue meaning I had to change my riding style dramatically. We just came over the line in second which in honesty was an epic result all things considered from holding my arm in worry in the gravel Saturday to now standing on the box. I left that race knowing we had some work to do with both the team and me, but I was fully motivated to hang it all out there for Race 3.

Race 3 starting from P2 on the grid sandwiched between Danny on pole and Rory on P3. Off the line and head down. My initial thoughts for the first few laps were to get out front and try and keep Rory close so I could race wise and form a plan. Rory has been so strong into the hairpin all weekend, but my bike was mega, and I out braked him and passed him without any dramas. Now It was a case of head down and control the race. For the next bunch of laps, I found am amazing feeling and was striking off the laps. Then before we knew it the track started to dry up and it was like riding on ice. I was trying my best to keep the heat out of the tyre and riding as sensible as possible, but it was impossible. Some points I could feel the tyre spinning up in fifth. I knew I had to do everything to manage my position as I now find the rear coming around on me and causing some interesting moments. Although it was a massive struggle my board was telling me the rider behind was having the same issue as the gap was managed well. I thought it was likely Tommy behind me as he’s riding so well. So, these couple points at this stage could be huge at the end of the year, so it wasn’t the time for any heroics.

P1 over the line… the first win of the year and the seventh different winner of the season in Superbike which shows how high the level is in this championship. The perfect race really, Led every lap, fastest lap of the race, and finishing on the top step!

Saturday looking back is tough to take as the way the rest of the weekend went it would of seriously hiked us back up the table. Even with all the trouble and drama we still made great ground on the championship, and we leave only 23 points off P1. It felt like one of the longest race weekends of my life. P1 feels like it’s been coming for a while but to be able to secure it and give that to the team was mega. They never give up looking for the extra bit and it’s coming together great. Next up we head to Snetterton where I’ve always gone well and the Ducati has good history so I’m excited to get back at it.”

Ben Currie – BSS (Oxford Products Racing Ducati #1)

“What an absolute crazy roller coaster of a weekend! Coming into Knockhill after a few weeks off we would like to think that we would have hit the ground running a little bit better, but the weather had other ideas for us, that’s for sure. Free Practice 1 and 2 were soaking wet and we struggled in the wet conditions. It’s normally one of my favourite conditions as I see it as an opportunity to get really good results against riders that aren’t as confident as me. But I just didn’t have the feeling. Even so the Oxford Products Racing Ducati team and myself worked really hard to turn it around and evaluate the data after Friday’s practice and put a good bike out for Saturday morning.

We knew that rain, hail or shine we were going to be a lot better and a lot closer than what we were, so I was confident going into Saturday. Unfortunately, we had a little bit of an unforeseen bike gremlin, one of the most random little mechanicals that was just so bizarre that ruled us out of qualifying. Without being able to set a lap time 27th on the grid was the best we could do. We knew the Sprint race for Saturday afternoon was going to be a huge challenge. And the race was cut short because of weather delays, so time was against us in the race as well.

However the track dried out, the sun came out, and it was a 22-lap dash for me from 27th and I managed to pick off a ton of riders to finish sixth, fifth in the class. I was honestly so happy with that recovery. The Panigale V2 was amazing. We were on lap record pace pretty much, set the fastest lap, and, having missed qualifying that weekend, I still hadn’t done a dry lap! To have that sort of pace and be that strong out the box is a real credit to the team, so a huge thanks to them for that.

I started the feature race on Sunday from pole position, which was going to make life a lot easier. However, conditions were different once gain and they were really, really tricky conditions in the wet. I knew it was going to be a challenge however the boys gave me a really good bike to fight for the win and I swapped places several times with Jack Kennedy for the lead.

Jack just got the better of me at the end of the race. Lapped riders got involved and that did it for me. But I was really happy to take second and not lose too many points. It could have been a disaster of a weekend, but we fought tooth and nail for every point. I hope when we take the championship at the end of the season, we will look back at Knockhill and be grateful for what we did.

There’s obviously still a long way to go yet, I’m nine points back in the championship. But I’m so confident that we can turn things around, and we’re right there in the fight. Thanks to everyone involved, all my mechanics, the team, everyone’s working so hard. And also, thanks to my sponsors for always supporting me. We keep rolling, and now onwards to Snetterton.”

Posted on Tuesday, June 18th, 2024 in News

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