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Eazi Grip

Honda Racing rounds out the year with a bundle of points for Tom Neave

Tom Neave charges from 23rd to 14th at the flag at Brands Hatch

In a day of Bennetts British Superbike Championship action that felt like all four seasons occurred at once, Honda Racing UK riders Tom Neave and Andrew Irwin put challenging qualifying sessions behind them to race forward through the field and make up a combined nineteen positions.

Conditions earlier in the day were changeable for Qualifying with a brief period of heavy rain and hail delaying the sessions start. Both Tom and Andrew struggled to master the tricky conditions and qualified in twenty-third and twenty-sixth respectively. Honda mounted Charlie Nesbitt, however, sailed through Q1 and secured a front-row start on his Hawk Racing Fireblade.

When the lights went out and the BikeSocial Sprint began, conditions still remained treacherous as sections of the 2.43-mile circuit off-line remained wet, which made it challenging to pass off the racing line. Despite the difficulties though, Andrew and Tom quickly set about pushing up the field and towards the point-scoring positions.

With just two laps remaining, Tom Neave was into the points in fifteenth position, having made up eight positions up to this point. Andrew was not far behind his teammate in seventeenth. Come the final lap, Tom had moved forward another position and was hot on the heels of Max Cook in thirteenth. He lined up a move coming out of Clearways and raced him to the line, missing out on thirteenth by just 0.099 seconds. Andrew Irwin would finish just outside the points in sixteenth.

In the days Pirelli National Superstock race, Billy Mcconnell notched up his second win of the year on his C&L Fairburn/Jackson Racing Honda Fireblade.

#68 Tom Neave

Qualifying didn’t quite go to plan but we managed to put together a good race to be honest. It’s a little bit same old story, but tomorrow we have a better grid slot and a longer race always seems to suit me. The race was challenging today because it was difficult to pass off line as the dry line was pretty narrow, but I made good progress making up nine places with moves on the brakes. I’ve got fire in my belly and want to end the season on a high.

#18 Andrew Irwin

Sixteenth doesn’t sound too good, but it’s a race finish and I moved forwards and for the twelve laps I was able to be consistent. It isn’t where we want to be but I feel like I made a step forward, and I feel like I am riding in a better way than I was at Donington. I am looking forward to tomorrow’s race. We start seventeenth and we will try to go forward and get into the points in both races. I really believe in this package and the team is working in a fantastic way. It’s disappointing because of the circumstances and the injury which makes it difficult to fight for the positions that I know we are capable of, but I know that step by step we will make it back to where we should be. Hopefully by the end of tomorrow we can be back in the top ten.

Honda Racing completes the 2023 BSB season at Brands Hatch

The second Bennetts British Superbike race of the final round and the first of the day’s races took place in glorious autumnal sunshine, albeit in chilly track conditions. Honda Racing UK riders Tom Neave and Andrew Irwin lined up on the grid in fourteenth and seventeenth respectively.

Both riders rocketed away from the line as the lights went out and made up positions on the opening laps as the field jostled for position. By lap three Andrew had passed Tom and was running inside the points.

A brief safety car period in the middle of the race brought the field closer together and the intra-team battle was beginning to heat up as Andrew and Tom ran in formation. As the safety car peeled into the pitlane, Tom made his move and passed his teammate. This battle continued for the remainder of the race and as the chequered flag was raised the two would cross the line separated by just 0.053 seconds as they finished twelfth and thirteenth.

The final race of the day once more saw Tom Neave and Andrew Irwin battling from the lower grid slots. Undeterred and with a reputation for better race pace though, Tom Neave would fight through from nineteenth on the grid to finish in thirteenth position – sealing off the year with a final points tally of 89 and sixteenth in the championship. Andrew Irwin gained more racing mileage as he continued his recovery from injury to finish in seventeenth place.

In an intense Superstock title fight that went down to the final race of the year, Dan Linfoot emerged victorious on his Optimum Bikes Racing Fireblade to seal an emphatic victory in the race, and with it championship glory. Honda mounted riders Richard Kerr, AMD Motorsport, and Joe Talbot, JR Performance Racing, completed the podium. Dan Linfoot’s race win was his ninth of the year in a season in which a Honda has won all but one race and with at least two Fireblade-mounted riders on every podium of the year. His championship victory also marks the third year in a row that a Honda rider has sealed the title, 2021 Tom Neave, Honda Racing UK & 2022 Davey Todd, Milenco by Padgetts Motorcycles.

The Honda Racing team now heads into the off-season and will announce its 2024 racing plans in due course.

#68 Tom Neave

I did exactly what I said I was going to do this weekend. I wanted to end the season on a high with a smile on my face, finish all the races and get three point scoring finishes to my name. I had a really good ride in race two but I didn’t achieve the best lap time so I had to start the final race from nineteenth. I worked my way all the way up to twelfth, but had to settle for thirteenth after experiencing a few moments with the bike. I never gave in, I fought till the end and had a really good feeling with the bike. You always want a better result but to end the season with a good feeling and knowing that my confidence is coming back and having some fight in me is a huge step from where I have been in previous rounds,  I can end the season on a much brighter note and I have a fire in my belly for the future.

#18 Andrew Irwin

It’s not been the easiest of years, definitely the hardest without any question but honestly, this weekend has been a lot more positive. At Donington I didn’t finish a race, I didn’t really have the energy and I probably wasn’t ready to come back and race. Whereas this weekend I have completed all of the racing laps and I feel a whole lot better. The last race was really disappointing, honestly I just didn’t have anything left. Of course, it is disappointing but sometimes in racing you know where you are and how you are feeling, and for this one it was about not doing anything stupid and bringing it back in one piece. Now I can look forward to 2024 and I want to rebuild strongly and bounce back from a difficult year to create my best. 

Posted on Wednesday, October 18th, 2023 in News

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