This bank holiday weekend (29 Apr – 1 May), Round 2 of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship will roar back into life at Oulton Park, where Honda Racing UK will be looking to build on their opening round results. The Cheshire circuit is always a test of man and machine due to its physical nature and technical challenges when setting up the bike to minimise lap time.
The last time that the Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP raced at the 2.6 mile circuit it scored an incredibly close second-place finish. The best finish at the circuit for the latest generation of Fireblade and highlighting the competitiveness of this current model.
Tom Neave, fresh from equalling his career-best result of 2022 at just the first round of the year, will be hoping to fire his Fireblade further up the finishing order as his physical condition improves. Meanwhile, teammate Andrew Irwin looks to ignite his championship and continue fighting at the front of the super competitive superbike class.
Racing in the Superstock class once more, John McGuinness MBE and Nathan Harrison continue their road racing preparations. This weekend they will also contend with a new qualifying format whereby the quickest 18 riders across free practice will proceed directly into Sunday’s 15-minute Q2 session. The remaining riders will then participate in Q1, with the top nine of that session graduating to join Q2. This intense 15-minute qualifying session will then decide the first nine rows of the grid.
Honda’s involvement in the weekend’s activities is not limited to the race team however, as on Sunday morning the manufacturer will take over a section of the start-finish straight to facilitate its Ride Free campaign. New riders will be able to have a go for the first time, with all the clothing and safety equipment provided, on the same spot that their heroes will race later in the day.
#68 Tom Neave
I’m feeling good for this weekend as my collarbone has had another 2.5 weeks to recover. At Silverstone, I was riding a little bit tentatively to be honest as I couldn’t afford to crash. I go into Oulton Park fitter, stronger and better prepared. Oulton is notoriously tricky, so I’m going to go into the round with an open mind. I want to build on round 1 and continue to develop the Fireblade with some new parts that we’ve got and I’m looking forward to it.
#18 Andrew Irwin
Oulton Park is a proper British track, the first one that we go to this season for round 2 and normally after Oulton you know where you are in terms of competitiveness. We’ve put round 1 behind us, I’ve been working hard over the last few weeks behind the scenes and so have the team. We come into the weekend with a solid mindset and we will try to be as close to the front as possible. It’s a track that I feel I can do well at as it is physically challenging and I feel really good in myself with my training. The bike is competitive there too as we saw last year in the final race. I am looking forward to it, we’re going to get stuck in and hopefully kickstart my season from here.
#3 John McGuinness MBE
Oulton Park is one of the most iconic tracks in Britain and one of the best, it is a proper rider’s circuit, fast flowing and high speed. It’s definitely one that every rider seems to enjoy, even more so because it’s up north! It’s the one before the North West and I’m looking forward to going there, getting the team altogether again and pushing hard to come up with some results.
#15 Nathan Harrison
Oulton Park has always been a bit of a bogey track for me, but something clicked there at the last round there last year and I went a second quicker in the last race. I’m hoping to build on that with the support of the Honda team and carry on moving up the leaderboard. We had a quick test at Cadwell Park last week to try some new bits which went really well. Thank you to the team for their hard work and making it happen. Oulton Park is as close to home as it gets for me! It’s a track that has a bit of everything and with it only being a week or so to the North West 200 it will give us a good shakedown in preparation for the two big road events of the year for me and the team!