Peter Hickman and the Gloucester-based Smiths Racing BMW team battled back from a disappointing qualifying performance at round 11 of the 2017 MCE British Superbike Championship at Assen to record a strong sixth and seventh place finish today, whereby the results see him maintain his fifth place overall in the championship.
A crash in yesterday’s wet qualifying session meant 30-year-old Hickman had to start the first 18-lap race from 19th on the grid but a superb start on the Smiths BMW S1000RR saw him up to tenth at the completion of the first lap. A lap later he was up to eighth but as the race progressed, Peter found himself shuffled back to 11th on lap six. Into the second half of the encounter and the Lincoln rider dug deep to claim a deserved seventh at the flag.
Hickman started the second race from tenth on the grid and another great start saw him gain three places on the opening lap only for a coming together with another rider to drop him back to ninth. He soon regrouped and was back up to sixth where he remained after a race long battle to maintain his fifth place overall in the title race.
Team-mate Lee Jackson qualified in 13th aboard his Smiths Racing BMW and for the entirety of the first race, he ran on the edge of the points. Part of a five rider battle at the lower end of the top fifteen, the 21 year old from Lincoln lost out on the final points scoring position by a fraction of a second at the flag. Starting race two from row six, he again battled inside the top 20 although he wasn’t able to claim any points, when he crossed the line in 17th place.
Peter Hickman: “Considering how qualifying went on Saturday, I’ve had two good rides today, probably my best ever results at Assen, but it’s been a frustrating day as I knew I had the pace to run with the front group. Starting race one from so far back was a big ask but I made a great start to get up to tenth, aided by some big moves, but it took me too long to get back to the head of the group by which time the front pack had escaped. We made a few set-up changes for race two, which were a big help, and I felt I had the pace to go with the front guys but I got hit in turn three and I lost three places. I got back to the front of the group again and was running in sixth but, again, by that time, the front five had gone. I know I’ve got the pace to run at the front so it’s a little bit frustrating through no-one’s fault but we’re still in the hunt for second or third in the championship so we’ll see what we can do at the last three races.”
Lee Jackson: “It’s been a tough weekend for me at a track that’s not my strongest and we struggled in free practice when I couldn’t get the bike where I wanted it but the team did a great job and we made good steps in time for qualifying. I felt confident in the wet and was satisfied in 13th whilst a good morning warm-up today was another positive step. Unfortunately, race one didn’t go to plan and I struggled with the front of the bike, just missing out on the points, so we made a few tweaks to the bike and I was feeling upbeat. I struggled to get into a good rhythm and push my way through so 17th was the outcome but I want to thank the team again for all their hard work, which I really appreciate.”
Alan Smith, Team Owner: “We can’t be too disheartened with Peter’s results this weekend after what happened in qualifying but it’s frustrating when we know what both him and the bike are capable of. He was messed up in both races by other riders but especially in race two when a coming together damaged the exhaust and squashed Pete’s leg! Lee had an up and down weekend and struggled in both races but we’ll look to build on this weekend at Brands in two weeks’ time and end the season strongly.”
MCE British Superbike Championship race one (18 laps)
1 Leon Haslam (Kawasaki)
2 Shane Byrne (Ducati)
3 James Ellison (Yamaha)
4 Sylvain Guintoli (Suzuki)
5 Josh Brookes (Yamaha)
6 Bradley Ray (Suzuki)
7 Peter Hickman (Smiths Racing BMW)
16 Lee Jackson (Smiths Racing BMW)
MCE British Superbike Championship race two (18 laps)
1 Sylvain Guintoli (Suzuki)
2 Josh Brookes (Yamaha)
3 Leon Haslam (Kawasaki)
4 James Ellison (Yamaha)
5 Shane Byrne (Ducati)
6 Peter Hickman (Smiths Racing BMW)
17 Lee Jackson (Smiths Racing BMW)
Championship standings (after eleven rounds)
1 Haslam 612pts
2 Brookes 580
3 Byrne 579
4 Dixon 558
5 Hickman 549
6 O’Halloran 526
16 Jackson 83
Pictures courtesy of Jon Jessop Photography: Peter Hickman (60) and Lee Jackson (14)