Honda Racing UK riders Tom Neave and Franco Bourne both deliver point-scoring rides in the team’s home round in the Bennetts British Superbike Championship, Cadwell Park.
In the early afternoon eBay Qualifying session, Tom Neave put together his quickest lap of the meeting, at that time, and sailed through into the Omologato Superpole for the first time this year.
With the threat of rain looking likely to disrupt the single-lap qualifying format, race direction switched the Superpole format to an open pit lane 15-minute session. Unfortunately for Tom, as he rolled out of pitlane to set his first flying lap in this session, the dark clouds above could no longer hold and the rain began to fall. As such, he was unable to set a representative lap time and he qualified in fourteenth.
Meanwhile, Franco, in his first time racing a 1000cc machine around the tight and technical circuit qualified his Fireblade in seventeenth position.
In the 12-lap race both riders made fantastic starts to gain positions off the line, Tom in particular had a sensational opening lap and ran as high as tenth place before getting pushed off line as he was overtaken and running over the grass as a result. He would cross the line at the end of lap one in twelfth, with his teammate sixteenth.
Tom then got his head down and set about sticking with those in front of him and regaining the lost positions as his race pace and consistency came to the fore. He would eventually cross the finish line in eleventh position.
Franco would bring his Honda Racing Fireblade home in a season best thirteenth position, particularly impressive given his lack of Superbike laps at the circuit and in just his fourth round with the team.
In the opening Superbike race on the August Bank Holiday Monday, scheduled for 13.15, Tom and Franco will line up in thirteenth and sixteenth respectively.
#68 Tom Neave
“I was super happy to get through to Superpole for the first time this year, it was just a bit of a shame that we mistimed getting out in the second session to set my fast lap and got caught out by the rain.
In the race I made a mega start and got right up to tenth place before Josh came past me with a move into the chicane and I ran off the track and lost a load of time. After then I was just caught in a bit of no man’s land and struggled to get back onto the group in front. It’s not quite the result I wanted, but it’s a good solid start to the weekend, and it’s a position from which we will build heading into the longer races tomorrow. My race pace is good and so is my consistency so we will see what we can do.”
#54 Franco Bourne
“I had high hopes for Qualifying to be honest, because I felt that the lap time we could do was quick enough to get through to Superpole. Which I was really hoping to do because I haven’t done that yet. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen, but I knew that I could do better.
Spider said that at the start of the race, ‘You are going to get pushed around, so you are going to have to be aggressive and get those elbows out at the start.’ So I did that, didn’t get pushed around and managed to hold my position. I wanted to go with ‘Spud’ [Nesbitt] but didn’t quite have the feeling at the time. I should have been in the 27’s a little earlier and ended up doing a few too many laps in the 28’s. Once I got my lap time down though and got into my rhythm I was able to put a good race together. To come away with a thirteenth after what I thought was going to be one of my hardest races of the season, I have to say that I am really happy with that.”
A home round boost rocketed Tom Neave back into the top ten in Bennetts British Superbike race two at Cadwell Park, while Franco Bourne goes one better than his previous best to finish in a fighting twelfth in both feature-length races.
The opening Superbike race of the day kicked off in dry conditions with Honda Racing UK riders Tom and Franco occupying thirteenth and sixteenth on the grid. As the lights went out, once more, both riders were able to fire away from the line to hold their positions by the end of the first lap.
By the time the field raced around to complete the fifth lap of eighteen, Tom picked his moment perfectly to scythe under Peter Hickman heading into the Gooseneck and quickly set about chasing down the riders in front. Not far behind, Franco had progressed into fifteenth and was also setting quick lap times.
As the race was drawing to a conclusion, Tom found himself running in eleventh position and hot on the heels of Jack Kennedy running up ahead. Tom had clawed back an almost two-second deficit to sit just outside the top ten, having set a new personal best lap of Cadwell in the process. He would eventually cross the finish line in tenth place, his first time back in the top-ten since Knockhill earlier in the year.
Franco too was setting green sectors as he battled his way through to finish in a season-best twelfth. A feat that he would go on to repeat in the final race of the weekend, and in doing so put together his best weekend of racing in BSB with three-point scoring rides and a weekend free from mistakes.
In this second 18-lap feature-length race, Tom ran in tenth for the vast majority of the race as he fought to keep Peter Hickman at bay. Then on lap 16, as he attempted to eke out a gap he sadly tucked the front and crashed out of the race unhurt.
In a dramatic Pirelli National Superstock race, Tim Neave fired himself back onto the top step of the podium in just his second ride on the Marvel HCL Motorsport Fireblade. The result provided the team with their second win of the season after Franco’s winning ride in Silverstone earlier in the year.
The Honda Racing UK team now turns its attention to the next round of the championship, which will take place from Oulton Park on 15-17th September.
#68 Tom Neave
“In the first race of the day, I made another good start but I just got boxed out a little bit heading into turn one so I could only hold position. Then a bit of a queue started forming behind ‘Hicky’ and we were losing time to the front boys. I saw Charlie push through on him and I knew that I had to follow. Then towards the end of the race I was just pushing and pushing to get on the back of Kennedy, I could see that he was struggling, and then he unfortunately fell, but I’m convinced we had the pace to get him. It was great to be back in the top ten and closer to where I know I am capable of being.
Then in the second race, I had a strong grid slot so really wanted to capitalise on that. I spent almost all of the race in tenth with ‘Hicky’ right behind me. I thought at one point I had broken him, then I made a small mistake and he came back at me. I was just trying to squeeze a little more time out of him and then at maximum lean with just a little too much break I lost the front. We will keep digging in and we go again at Oulton.”
#54 Franco Bourne
“This has been a really hard weekend, this track on a Superbike is just so physical and the weekend has really taken it out of me. The first race yesterday was difficult, then today has just been really challenging physically. I’ve been struggling a bit with my arm and a trapped nerve so to put together my best weekend has been really motivating. I’ve scored my best finishes at a track that I have really struggled with, and one that coming into I knew was going to be challenging. This has been my best weekend so far and so between now and the next round I will go away and get some training in. I will keep this momentum going and keep moving forward.”