The Smiths Racing BMW team and Peter Hickman battled the elements at round nine of the MCE British Superbike Championship at Silverstone this weekend, but two finishes from the three races secured fourth place in the championship table and with it, one of the coveted Showdown positions which will now see the top six riders dispute the title over the final three rounds.
After qualifying in seventh place for yesterday’s 14-lap race, rain beforehand had left the circuit in an unusual state of half wet and half dry which made tyre choice difficult and Peter made a last-minute decision to call into the pits to change from intermediate tyres to full wets.
It meant the Lincoln-based rider had to start the race from pit lane but it proved the correct decision as he was soon up into the points and continued to move gradually forward on the Smiths Racing BMW S1000RR, his determined ride seeing him rewarded with ninth place and seven points at the flag.
Starting today’s first race from 17th on the grid meant there was more hard work to be done but the combination of a good start and a number of other riders not finishing meant he was already up to ninth before taking eighth place at the finish to secure his Showdown position for a first time.
That just left the third and final race to negotiate but by that time the weather was at its worst with rain falling but the 30 year old slotted into third in the early laps. It proved to be a race of attrition as Hickman too crashed out without injury in the latter stages whilst holding sixth place.
Meanwhile, team-mate Lee Jackson struggled in qualifying and was back on the seventh row for the opening race later in the day whereby he eventually crossed the line in 12th place and in today’s first 14-lap affair, from the second row, the 21 year old from Lincoln was unlucky to crash out on the opening lap.
The team did a great job in rebuilding the bike and getting Jackson on the grid for the third and final race of the weekend and he was one of the few that managed to stay upright. He plugged away and with the race being stopped on the tenth lap, he picked up nine more points for a dogged ride into seventh place.
Peter Hickman: “It’s certainly been a challenging weekend but I’m naturally over the moon to have made it through to the Showdown for the first time. I’ve come close before so to finally do it is great, not just for myself but also the team. It’s a small, family run team but Alan and Rebecca put their heart and soul into their racing with the whole team working tirelessly so they deserve it as much as anyone. It was hard work and I crashed out of the third race but it’s my first crash anywhere this year so to get to September without falling off is no mean feat so now we’ll get ready for the Showdown and give it our best shot.”
Lee Jackson: “Despite finishing 12th, I was quite pleased how Saturday’s race went as I’d come from a long way back on the grid and a good lap gave me a good grid position for today’s opener. Unfortunately, I got taken out on the first lap and I gave my ankle a good bashing whilst the bike was also pretty battered. The team did a great job in getting me back out and it was simply a race of survival. I lost the front a few times so it was a real challenge but I managed to bring it home and ended the weekend with two points-scoring finishes but I’ll be looking to get back into the top six next time out.”
Alan Smith, Team Owner: “We came into the meeting fairly confident of securing a Showdown position but you can never be too confident in racing as anything can, and often does, happen. The weather made it difficult for everyone but Peter got the job done so I’m really pleased for him and the team that we’ve made it into the Showdown. It’s all to play for now in the final three rounds so we’ll be giving it our best shot and fingers crossed for some decent weather so we all get to do it on a level playing field.”
MCE British Superbike Championship race one (14 laps)
1 Glenn Irwin (Ducati)
2 Josh Brookes (Yamaha)
3 John Hopkins (Ducati)
4 Jake Dixon (Kawasaki)
5 Luke Mossey (Kawasaki)
6 Christian Iddon (BMW)
9 Peter Hickman (Smiths Racing BMW)
12 Lee Jackson (Smiths Racing BMW)
MCE British Superbike Championship race two (8 laps)
1 Josh Brookes (Yamaha)
2 James Ellison (Yamaha)
3 Shane Byrne (Ducati)
4 Sylvain Guintoli (Suzuki)
5 Jason O’Halloran (Honda)
6 Bradley Ray (Suzuki)
8 Peter Hickman (Smiths Racing BMW)
DNF Lee Jackson (Smiths Racing BMW)
MCE British Superbike Championship race three (9 laps)
1 Dan Linfoot (Honda)
2 Michael Laverty (Yamaha)
3 Jake Dixon (Kawasaki)
4 James Westmoreland (Kawasaki)
5 Jakub Smrz (BMW)
6 Bradley Ray (Suzuki)
7 Lee Jackson (Smiths Racing BMW)
DNF Peter Hickman (Smiths Racing BMW)
Championship standings (after nine rounds)
1 Byrne 235 pts
2 Brookes 212
3 Haslam 209
4 Hickman 208
5 O’Halloran 194
6 Dixon 192
16 Jackson 78
Round ten of the MCE British Superbike Championship takes place at Oulton Park next weekend (16/17 September) and for further information, please visit www.smithsracing.co.uk and www.britishsuperbike.com