Lincoln rider Peter Hickman put in a superb ride to finish fourth in the second MCE British Superbike Championship race at Oulton Park today to keep both himself and the Gloucester-based Smiths Racing BMW team in Showdown contention.
And with an eighth place finish in the first race at the Cheshire venue, there’s still everything to play for in the final five races going into the next round at Assen in The Netherlands in two weeks’ time.
Having qualified in eighth place for the opening 18-lap race around the undulating 2.69-mile circuit, Hickman lined up in the middle of the third row although conditions were vastly different to qualifying as rain had made the track wet. The race started well for the 30 year old as he made a great start and moved up to third on the opening lap but as the race wore on, he slipped down the order and had to settle for eighth as the race ended early on lap 15 following a red flag.
The changing track conditions meant that Peter’s fastest lap was only good enough for a fifth row starting position for the second 18-lap race but a strong start to the race put him up to eleventh at the end of lap one. From there he moved up to seventh at half race distance, where he was the fastest rider on track for the second part of the race. Fighting to the flag, he overhauled Josh Brookes on the final lap to secure fourth place and although he’s dropped back to fifth overall in the points table, it’s still very close amongst the leading riders.
Team-mate Lee Jackson suffered a heavy spill at Old Hall Corner in the second part of qualifying which left the team with plenty of work to do but the bike was rebuilt and he took his place on the grid for the first race, lining up in 18th. A good ride by the 22-year-old Lincolnshire rider saw him immediately move up into the points and he was able to take 12th place at the flag.
He also put in a strong lap during the race which meant a row three start but he wasn’t able to find the pace required to run with the top ten runners although he still picked up another point for 15th place at the chequered flag.
Peter Hickman: “The first race was very average and that was down to me so apologies to the team. I’ve had a decent wet setting all year but haven’t had to push hard so when I did that today, the setting wasn’t quite right. The red flag did me a favour as I was slipping back through the pack and because of that I was deep on the grid for the second race. Starting from 14th was always going to be difficult, especially in mixed conditions, but the bike was awesome and the tyres mint so I was able to keep moving forward. I was the fastest rider on track in the second half of the race but I needed to get by Josh and Shakey quicker than what I did. Loads can still happen but I need to be less cautious and get stuck in sooner.”
Lee Jackson: “It’s been another challenging weekend and I’m disappointed with myself for not getting more out of it. Obviously the crash in qualifying didn’t help but I felt pretty good in the wet and if I could have got going a bit sooner, I think I could have finished in the top ten. In the dry though, I just really struggled and didn’t have the pace to run with the riders around me. Having started from ninth, I was hoping for a top ten position so 15th is disappointing but I’ll keep pushing and look to have a strong outing next time out.”
Rebecca Smith, Team Manager: “The first race was tough given the conditions and Peter especially found the going tough as he struggled for grip. The red flag went in our favour as he was regressing at the time but to go from 14th to fourth in the second is exactly what we want from him at this stage of the season given our Showdown position and we can’t ask for any more. Lee had a good first race which put him in a strong position for the second but just as Peter had struggled for grip in the wet, Lee experienced the same in the dry although he still brought the bike home for a point. Peter scored some decent points today so we’re still very much in Showdown contention.”
MCE British Superbike Championship race one (18 laps)
1 Leon Haslam (Kawasaki)
2 John Hopkins (Ducati)
3 Josh Brookes (Yamaha)
4 Jake Dixon (Kawasaki)
5 James Ellison (Yamaha)
6 Michael Laverty (Yamaha)
8 Peter Hickman (Smiths Racing BMW)
12 Lee Jackson (Smiths Racing BMW)
MCE British Superbike Championship race two (18 laps)
1 Dan Linfoot (Honda)
2 Leon Haslam (Kawasaki)
3 Bradley Ray (Suzuki)
4 Peter Hickman (Smiths Racing BMW)
5 Josh Brookes (Yamaha)
6 Jake Dixon (Kawasaki)
15 Lee Jackson (Smiths Racing BMW)
Championship standings (after ten rounds)
1 Haslam 571pts
2 Brookes 549
3 Byrne 548
4 Dixon 541
5 Hickman 530
6 O’Halloran 517
16 Jackson 83
Round eleven of the MCE British Superbike Championship takes place at Assen over the weekend of 29th September/1st October and for further information, please visit www.smithsracing.co.uk and www.britishsuperbike.com
Pictures courtesy of Jon Jessop Photography: Peter Hickman (60) and Lee Jackson (14) in action at Oulton Park.