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Eazi Grip

Honda Racing UK finish in the points on Saturday, but faced a challenging Sunday at Oulton Park

Saturday – Honda Racing finishes in the points

In the opening Bennetts British Superbike Championship race of the weekend, the BikeSocial Sprint, Honda riders Tom Neave and Franco Bourne finished line astern in the final point scoring positions.

Franco and Tom lined up on the grid in seventeenth and twenty-first respectively after experiencing mixed fortunes in Qualifying. Franco, riding a Superbike for the first time at the Cheshire circuit, progressed through Q1 into Q2 and managed to set a new personal best lap time in the process, and with one of his closest gaps to the front of the field, just 1.5 seconds.

Both riders then launched away from the line as the lights went out and had both made up positions by the end of lap one, Franco having pushed up into fourteenth position.

As the laps ticked by Tom Neave too continued his assault up the order and as he set his quickest lap of the weekend on lap seven, he was hot on the heels of his rookie teammate. At this point, the pair were now locked into a fight for point-scoring finishes. Just two laps later Tom scythed past and set about opening the gap to Franco behind.

Come the chequered flag their positions remained unchanged, Tom in fourteenth and Franco fifteenth, both of whom adding championship points to their respective tallies.

In the Pirelli National Superstock Championship, series leader Dan Linfoot rocketed to pole position on his Optimum Bikes Racing Fireblade earlier in the day. He then went on to score yet another race win with a superb last-lap move to continue the undefeated winning run of the Honda Fireblade in Superstock specification. Richard Kerr finished second aboard his AMD Motorsport Honda.

Tom Neave

“It was not the qualifying that we wanted today and I didn’t really get to put together a lap time that really represented where we are at, which is frustrating. However, come the race I was able to just get my head down and go after those in front and definitely show more of what I was capable of. I know it’s not the headline result that I wanted, but I made good progress, moved forward seven positions and we have a better starting grid slot for tomorrow. It gives me confidence knowing that I was catching the group in front and that with a longer race tomorrow, it will suit me better as I have good late race pace.”

Franco Bourne

“To get through into Q2 for the first time this year was mega, and that is really positive for me, especially knowing that I normally go forward in the race. Come the race, I had a little bit of an issue and my dash wasn’t working, that meant it was a bit tricky to know where I was at with my lap times. We will have a look and get it ironed out for tomorrow. I really think that I have a top ten in me, so if we can get the bike back to where we had it in Qualifying, I really think we can do it. I need to continue making good starts as I made up a few positions at the start. But then I also got caught up in a few moments with other riders, Stapleford had a big moment at Shell Oils and I had to sit up, and that let Nesbitt through. After that Tom then came past and I just dug in to keep on the back of him and bring it home. I’m happy with that for race one, and tomorrow we will look to push on a bit more.”

Sunday – A challenging Sunday with no finishes the superbike races

A disappointing Oulton Park round for Honda Racing ended without a race finish in the two Bennetts British Superbike races of the day.

In the opening race of the day, Tom Neave set off from his fifteenth-place grid slot and had made one of his best starts of the year, only to be pushed out onto the grass on the opening lap as those around him jostled for position. Sadly his race would end just one lap later as he crashed out of the race at Hislops. During the crash, he took a knock to the head and together with the team the decision to withdraw from Race 3 was made.

Franco Bourne too experienced a challenging day as an injury to his knee picked up in morning warm-up hampered his feeling on the bike and made it challenging to ride comfortably. In the first race of the day he lost the front on lap three at Lodge. Then in his second race, he pulled in early in the race after experiencing further problems with his knee. This concluded a frustrating and challenging weekend of racing for the team.

However, once again in Superstock trim, the Honda Fireblade launched to the top step of the podium in the hands of the Pirelli National Superstock Championship points leader Dan Linfoot (Optimum Bikes Racing). This, his second win of the weekend, was secured with a brilliant last-lap dash to the line to win by just 0.027 seconds. He now sits some thirty-five points clear in the series, ahead of fellow Fireblade rider Richard Kerr.

The Honda Racing team now turns its attention to the next round of Bennetts British Superbike racing; which takes place at Donington Park from 29th September to 1st October.

Franco Bourne

“In morning warm-up I picked up an injury to my knee which has made it really difficult to ride the bike comfortably. In race one, I made a good start and tried to tuck in behind Mossey as I knew he had good pace. Then I just made a mistake and tucked the front at Lodge. In the final race of the day I went off at the start and knew pretty much straight away that I couldn’t ride the bike how I wanted to with the limited movement and pain in my knee. So I decided to park it for today and avoid risking it.”

Tom Neave

“In the first race today I made one of the best starts that I have made all season and got all the way up to tenth from fifteenth on the grid. Then I got pushed out over the rumble strips and onto the grass early in lap one. I lost all the positions I’d gained and dropped down to twentieth. Heading into Hislops I then couldn’t get the bike stopped and I went to avoid hitting another rider, as I did the back wheel lifted off and down I went. We took the decision to sit out the second race of the day on medical grounds as I took a bit of a knock to the head.”

Posted on Monday, September 18th, 2023 in News

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