Eazi Grip

Franco Bourne gets his first points for Honda Racing at British Superbikes Thruxton


Saturday’s action at the fast and flowing Thruxton circuit was not without challenges for the Honda Racing UK team, as riders Franco Bourne and Tom Neave both needed to dig deep to recover from lowly qualifying positions in the opening Bennetts Bike Social Sprint.

A challenging qualifying session ended with both riders qualifying line astern on the eighth row of the grid in twenty-third and twenty-fourth as Tom and Franco struggled to improve upon their free practice lap times.

Then in a race full of sideways action and spinning tyres, Neave made up an impressive six places from his qualifying position to finish in eighteenth position. Teammate Bourne recovered from an early race mistake to finish in nineteenth. Both riders will be looking to kick on in the morning warm-up in order to put together more competitive feature-length races.

At the front of the field, class rookie Charlie Nesbitt delivered a sensational performance to score his maiden British Superbike podium with a breathtaking second aboard the Hawk Racing Honda Fireblade, securing the team’s first podium of the season in the process.

In the Pirelli National Superstock series, a damp qualifying session earlier in the day saw seven Honda Fireblades occupying positions within the top ten. The afternoon race was then an action-packed affair, culminating in a last-lap winning overtake for Billy McConnell, who headed up a Honda podium lockout. Richard Kerr and Dan Linfoot occupied second and third. The two are now separated by just ten points at the top of the championship standings.

#68 Tom Neave

“This is obviously not the result that we came here for, but I take away the positives. We made a good start and I was able to move forward from my grid position and had decent late-race pace. We got ourselves a better grid slot for tomorrow and I look forward to getting stuck in tomorrow. The aim is now to move forward in every race and keep building to get the results that I know I am capable of. We have made progress from the start of the weekend and I want to keep taking steps forward.”

#54 Franco Bourne

“It was definitely an up-and-down race. At one point, I went into turn two and I was at the back of the field, and straight away thought ‘I’m not having it, I’m getting through.’ But the thing with this track is it’s so fast and everyone is on the throttle everywhere so to find a margin is really hard, so I struggled to get through the field.

One of the first moves was on the inside Hector Barbera and when I got onto the brakes he came across, and I just missed him but I had to cut across the chicane and lost a load of time. After that, I just had to keep chipping away and I got onto the back of some of the boys in front who had some pace. To start twenty-third and come away with nineteenth, it’s not the result I wanted but I cannot complain because I have improved from qualifying and given that I was last at one point it’s ok. 

We are going to sit down tonight and have a look at trying to make the bike a little bit more user-friendly so I can build my confidence and get stuck in during the early laps with the group in front.”


A fighting ride in the second feature length race of the day resulted in a debut point scoring finish for nineteen year old Franco Bourne and the Honda Racing UK team as he crossed the line in an impressive fourteenth.

In the final race of the meeting, the Honda Racing duo would line up on the grid in eighteenth and nineteenth as they looked to get away with the mid pack and battle for the point scoring positions. Their improved grid slots proved beneficial as both riders scorched away from the line to find themselves running side by side for the majority of the race and swapping positions multiple times. On lap eighteen, and with better tyre life remaining, Franco made his move stick to pull away and chase after the riders in front.

As the flag was prepared to come out on lap twenty, Franco found himself battling with the Ducati pair of Tommy Bridewell and Glenn Irwin. At one stage on the final lap he found himself leading the pair only to be passed by the latter late in the lap. Nonetheless, he finished sandwiched between the two in fourteenth position and chalked up a pair of championship points to his name. Tom would finish the race in sixteenth position.

From the back of the grid in the opening Superbike race of the day, Franco was able to move forward an impressive six places to secure an eighteenth place finish. Meanwhile, Tom engaged in a six rider battle for thirteenth position and would cross the finish line in fifteenth, picking up another championship point.

At the front of the field in both Superbike races today, class rookie Charlie Nesbitt put in yet more impressive rides aboard his Hawk Racing Fireblade to secure a brace of podium finishes. He walks away from the meeting with a podium finish from every race of the weekend.

In the Pirelli National Superstock race, once more Honda were able to occupy all of the podium positions with Dan Linfoot back on the top step for the sixth time this year on his Optimum Bikes Racing Fireblade. Richard Kerr and Billy McConnell completed the top three.

The team now heads to its home round, Cadwell Park, for the eighth round of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship on 26-28 August.

#54 Franco Bourne

“Before the race all the lads were saying in the garage ‘You can have this, get stuck in and don’t get pushed around.’ So I just got stuck in and knew that once I found my rhythm I was going to pass the guys in front because I had better pace than them in the first race. I slowly started working my way through and got past Tom and started pushing on, then he came back past me. I stuck in behind him and bided my time to see where I was stronger before I made my move late on. Once I was passed, the Ducatis then started coming back to me. I managed to get past Tommy and then went around the outside of Glenn at Church, and I was thinking ‘There’s no way I’ve got both of them!’ Only to hear a rattling by my side as Glenn flew back past me! I knew I was capable of getting points but to actually do it is another thing and it feels great to end the weekend in this way.”

#68 Tom Neave

“Again, it’s not been the weekend of results that I wanted. I know that I am capable of more and I know that the bike is capable of more. But for whatever reason, right now I’m just not putting it together. But I won’t give up and I will keep on fighting. Looking at the positives, we improved our pace throughout the weekend and I was faster towards the end of the weekend than I was at the start. I will keep my head up, keep digging in and look ahead to Cadwell Park for the next round with some home support.”

Posted on Monday, August 14th, 2023 in News

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