Rory Skinner takes podium in Knockhill sprint race
Rory Skinner took his third Bennetts British Superbike podium finish of the season at Knockhill today, finishing an impressive third in the 22-lap eBay Sprint race.
The 20-year-old, who hails from nearby Perth, put his Cheshire Mouldings FS-3 Racing Kawasaki ZX-10RR on the second row in qualifying, setting the fifth fastest time despite being caught out by the windy conditions, and he made a strong start to move into third place through Duffus Dip for the first time. After battling with last year’s Knockhill double winner Danny Buchan on the opening lap, the local favourite was able to overhaul Jason O’Halloran for second with a move up the inside at Clark corner on lap two.
Eight laps later, O’Halloran passed Rory into the hairpin to retake second – a move which compromised the Kawasaki’s drive up the pit straight and saw the Scot relegated to fourth when Kyle Ryde slid up the inside going into turn one.
The 2020 British Supersport Champion wowed his local crowd with some determined riding, repassing Ryde at Clark on lap 17 to move back into a podium position and start closing the gap to O’Halloran. Team mate Lee Jackson briefly swapped positions with his FS-3 colleague with two laps to go, but Skinner was able to retake third as they went through the hairpin for the 20th team – holding on for fifth career podium in the class.
Speaking after the race, Rory said: “After a couple of rounds off the podium it’s great to be back on it in the first race at Knockhill.
“I made a good start and was just behind Brad (Ray) until I made a small mistake, which let Jason get closer. He made a move on me at the hairpin and I that put me back a couple of places, but I was able to regroup and get back on track, moving ahead of Lee and Kyle. From then it was a case of trying to set a pace and match what Jason was doing. Lee coming past me was a bit of a surprise, as I could see my pit board and he caught up with me quickly. I managed to fend him off in the last couple of laps though, and to get a podium at home is pretty mega.
“We’ve got a couple of things to change on the bike setup in morning warm up, but the hardest thing tomorrow is still going to be the wind. That’s probably been the biggest factor for everyone yesterday and today. It is unpredictable, which makes it hard to get a bike set-up as the conditions change every lap, so we will see what it’s like in the morning.”
Tomorrow will see two 30-lap races on the schedule, which are broadcast live on British Eurosport 2. The first is due to start at 13:30, with Rory starting from fifth courtesy of his best lap time from today’s race.
Double podium for Rory Skinner
It was a weekend of highs and lows for Rory Skinner at his home round of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship, with a trio of races which saw him smash the lap record and take a pair of podium finishes – before crashing out of the lead in the weekend’s final race.
Having finished third in Saturday’s blustery eBay Sprint race, the 20-year-old from Perth was able to make some small adjustments to his Cheshire Mouldings FS-3 Racing Kawasaki ZX-10RR to top Sunday’s morning warm up session.
The former British Talent Cup champion made another lightning start in the afternoon’s opening race, taking advantage of the calmer conditions to obliterate the lap record on lap two and stretch out a lead over championship leader Bradley Ray.
The safety car was deployed on lap nine to clear up debris at the hairpin, in turn letting the field bunch up behind the leader. Cheered on by the large partisan local crowd, Rory continued to lead through to lap 26 – when Jason O’Halloran edged past the retro liveried Kawasaki up the main straight. Skinner and his team-mate Lee Jackson then traded positions in the closing laps, allowing O’Halloran to make good his escape. Jacko secured the second step of the rostrum with a final move at the chicane, with the duo giving the FS-3 Racing squad their first ever double podium finish.
Speaking after Sunday’s first 30-lap race, Rory said: “The race started off really well. I felt that I got a decent gap and was managing it to the group behind, then the safety car came and it ruined my rhythm a little bit. I was riding a bit tighter and struggled to keep the pace I had before, and I got a bit of arm pump. For the last eight laps it was a case of gritting my teeth, trying to defend and fight back, and it was shame I didn’t have anything left to take it to Lee and Jason in the end.”
Starting from pole position by virtue of his new lap record, the local star again got the hammer down as soon as the lights went out in the third and final 30-lapper. Setting a 47.485 second lap on lap two, a time that would prove to be the fastest lap of the race by almost two-tenths of a second, Skinner built up a gap but unfortunately pushed the front end too hard and crashed out of the lead on the fifth lap.
“Nothing beats racing at Knockhill,” Rory added. “The sun was shining and the fans were out in big numbers. I’m sorry to them and to the team for not bringing home a result in race three. I’m disappointed with it, but I can take the positives and I suppose it is better to crash out of the lead and be going forwards, than to be going backwards. I’m looking forward to the next round at Brands Hatch. I’ve got a great team behind me, we’re improving all the time and I’ll keep doing what I am doing and chipping away at things bit by bit.”
Despite the final race crash, Rory’s first non score of 2022, Skinner leaves the Knockhill one place higher in the championship than he arrived – moving up to fourth in the standings as the series takes a five week break ahead of round five at Brands Hatch.
Rory’s new lap record also gives him Knockhill’s ‘Flying Haggis’ award, a trophy named in honour of Scottish legend Steve Hislop and given to the rider setting the fastest lap of the meeting during the annual British Superbike meeting.