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Eazi Grip

Points scored for Honda Racing at BSB Silverstone

Saturday

In glorious sunshine, the Honda Racing UK team fired its 2023 season into life at round one of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship at Silverstone.

Lining up on the grid for race one of the Pirelli National Superstock series, road racing riders Nathan Harrison and John McGuinness MBE lined up 20th and 30th respectively after qualifying within 0.4 seconds of each other. As their races unfolded, both riders found themselves running midpack in amongst a large group of other road racers, all chasing valuable bike time ahead of the International Road Race season. John brought his Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP home eight places higher than he qualified to finish 22nd. After encountering problems with his quickshift, Nathan would finish the race in 24th.

Meanwhile in the premiere class, Andrew Irwin had a challenging qualifying after an early crash in FP2 cost him valuable track time and would ultimately result in a 14th place grid slot for the BikeSocial sprint race. Ever the racer however, he moved swiftly forward during the race to finish top Honda rider in 8th position and will line up for race 2 tomorrow in 13th.

Tom Neave’s Saturday, although frustrating, had several positives as after qualifying in 22nd he was running as high as 15th and set a personal best lap time identical to his teammate.  Unfortunately, his race would end prematurely as he encountered a technical issue on lap 13.

In other Honda news, the Honda Fireblade in Superstock trim finished in the top 6 positions of the Pirelli National Superstock race with riders, Alex Olsen, Franco Bourne and Billy Mcconnell occupying the podium positions in first, second and third.

#18 Andrew Irwin

“The race was always going to be difficult starting from 14th after a tricky qualifying. Really that was my fault due to wrecking the bike early in FP2 which lost us valuable track time to set up the bike. But credit to the team, they did a great job transforming the bike from qualifying. In the race we moved forwards to finish 8th. After getting a good start, I had to fight through some of the riders in the group I was in and continue to go forwards. If 8th is a bad result, then I don’t think that’s too bad. Hopefully we can make another step in warm up and continue to move forward in the races.”

#68 Tom Neave

“It’s really good to be back racing. I didn’t have the best qualifying but I turned up for the race and I’m really happy with my performance. My lap times were quick, identical to my teammate and I was running in the points, seven places higher than I qualified, catching the group in front with loads of laps to go. Unfortunately, a technical problem meant I was unable to finish, but I line up tomorrow 14th, 8 positions higher than today and I’m looking to go forward in the races tomorrow.”

#3 John McGuinness MBE

“I’ve really enjoyed being here and working with the team, they’re a great bunch of lads! I enjoy riding my bike, Silverstone is not a difficult track but it’s difficult to be right at the front, but I’ll keep plugging away riding the bike and getting those laps in. The race was good, I think it was an honest result, even though you look at it on paper and think it’s not great, but it’s probably the toughest class in the series to be honest, but I kept trying. I was as fast at the end of the race as I was at the end which is great cause I’m 51 and I thought I might run out of puff! But I didn’t, which is good!”

#15 Nathan Harrison

“It’s been good to learn with the team and go through data and look into the areas where I can improve and then see that progress in the times. Putting those improvements into place has been really good, particularly in qualifying where I went quicker than I have ever gone at Silverstone. The start of the race was good, racing on slicks and running with the midpack in those early stages. Unfortunately, the race became a bit frustrating from there as I encountered some problems with my quick shift. But it was good to be running with the other roads boys for most of the race, and to get my first race with Honda Racing UK in the bag.”

Sunday

Sunday’s action at the 1.64 mile National circuit at Silverstone was fast and frantic for the Honda Racing UK team in both the Bennetts British Superbike and Pirelli National Superstock races.

The first race of the day saw superbike riders Andrew Irwin and Tom Neave line up on the grid in 13th and 14th respectively after setting identical lap times in the first race of the weekend on Saturday. Aboard the Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP, both riders were able to move forward throughout the race after dropping places at the start. With their heads down they set about pushing forward and carving through the midpack before the race was red-flagged at 28 laps distance. Andrew finished in 9th position and Tom was able to equal his best ever finish in the superbike class with a strong ride to 11th place.

In the Superstock race, John McGuinness MBE and Nathan Harrison started with just one row separating them in 25th and 29th. Both riders lost positions off the start as they battled with fellow road racers Conor Cummins & Michael Dunlop. Sadly three laps into the race, Nathan pulled into the pits after encountering a technical issue, forcing his retirement from the race.

John, however, was able to keep a fast and consistent pace throughout the race, a good sign of things to come on the roads this year. He ended the race in 23rd position, two places higher than his qualifying. In both races this weekend John was able to move forward from his qualifying position, positive signs of his readiness for the TT.

Race three for the Superbikes was a frenetic affair, with four different leaders at different stages including fellow Honda Fireblade rider Danny Kent who led for five laps. Honda Racing UK rider Tom Neave was able to battle through into the points to finish 14th.

Showing strong pace throughout and running with the front group for the majority of the race Andrew Irwin ran as high as 7th before encountering a technical problem with just two laps to go.

Amongst the support classes, it was a hugely successful day of racing for fellow Fireblade riders in the Pirelli National Superstock championship as for the second race in a row the ‘Blade’ finished in the top five positions. In just his second race in the series, rider Franco Bourne secured the first victory of his maiden season ahead of new lap record holder Dan Linfoot and race one winner Alex Olsen.

The Honda Racing UK team now has just under two weeks before heading to Round 2 of the championship at Oulton Park on 29th April – 1 May.

#68 Tom Neave

“All in all I can’t complain, It was no secret that coming into the weekend I was coming here injured and having missed some testing. I came in with an open mind and the one objective was to stop on the bike and the second was to get some good point-scoring positions and finish the races. It was unfortunate to not finish race 1, but I was in a point-scoring position when it happened so I would have achieved all my goals if we’d finished. There’s work to be done and we can improve moving on to Oulton Park. I’ve equalled my best ever result on the Superbike at round 1 this year so the only way is up from here! “

#18 Andrew Irwin

“It was a positive weekend, for sure I wanted to have stronger results as 8th and 9th isn’t what we came here for, but there are positives. After Friday when we lost lots of time due to the crash it was difficult, but come race three I was feeling really good on the bike. It was disappointing not to finish but the feeling was there and let’s keep this ball rolling and try to take steps forward at Oulton Park. Thanks to the team as always for their support and we will bounce back.”

#3 John McGuinness MBE

“For me, I think every box is ticked and it’s a great start to the season. It’s been dry, I’ve rode two sensible 22 lap races and the bikes never missed a beat for the whole of the weekend. I love working with the team which bodes well for what they’ve employed me for! I’ve also done my best with all of the team and tried to give as much input as I can with the bikes, the guys and everything. I’m in a much better place now than I was last year as I’ve done a lot more mileage, I’m more bike fit and I understand the bike more. Last year there was quite a bit of pressure too, whereas this year, I just pop the lid on and ride my bike!”

#15 Nathan Harrison

“It’s been a frustrating Sunday that’s for sure as I felt something wasn’t quite right with the bike early in the race and had to retire. It’s not ideal, but I have to take the positives from the weekend and look ahead to Oulton Park when we go again. I qualified really well and could run with the roads boy’s lap times all day long. So you know, I’ll keep my head up, keep working hard and go again soon.”

Posted on Tuesday, April 11th, 2023 in News

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