The Smiths Racing BMW team endured another tough weekend at round two of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship with Peter Hickman’s tenth place in the opening race at Brands Hatch being their best result.
With mixed conditions during free practice on Friday, Saturday saw warm, dry weather and the team were heading in the right direction as Peter set his quickest ever lap of the Indy circuit during qualifying aboard his Smiths Racing BMW1000RR. His lap of 45.502s was only half a second off pole position but such was the closeness of the field, this was only good enough for 14th on the grid for today’s opening 30-lap race. Team-mate Sylvain Barrier fared even worse and, after a couple of spills, a time of 46.469s left him down in 22nd place.
Race day saw dry but cooler weather at the Kent venue and in race one, both riders maintained good pace throughout and although Frenchman Barrier couldn’t move into the points, crossing the line in 20th, Hickman made some good overtaking moves to claim tenth at the flag for six more championship points.
The 31 year old from Louth started the second race from tenth and was up to eighth when it was stopped on lap seven due to rain. Restarted over the shorter distance of 22 laps and in damp conditions, Hickman initially ran in eighth place but the longer the race went on, the more he struggled and slipped back to an eventual 14th place and two points which leaves him in an unfamiliar 15th overall after the first two rounds.
Former FIM European Superstock 1000 Champion Barrier also struggled to find a good rhythm in the wet but 19th place ensured he completed both races as he continues to adapt to both the Bennetts BSB series and the British circuits.
Peter Hickman: “It’s been another frustrating weekend and whilst our race pace is strong, I just can’t qualify for some reason and it’s really affecting my results in the races as I’m giving myself too much work to do. In the first race, I struggled in the early laps but eventually got into a good rhythm and tenth place was at least points on the board. The changes we made in between races made the bike loads better and I was feeling really good in the early laps before the rain came. I’m usually strong in the wet but no matter what we do, we can’t find a good setting with the bike in the wet conditions. It’s really frustrating and the results aren’t anywhere near where I should be, so we’ll continue to keep working hard and I’m sure we’ll be rewarded for our efforts soon.”
Sylvain Barrier: “Again we have had a tough weekend and my crashes didn’t help with my confidence, so my plan was to bring the bike home for a safe finish in both races this weekend. Conditions in race two were difficult but we managed to do what we planned, and we hope for better results at the next round. Thanks to the team for their hard work once again.”
Darren Jones, Team Co-ordinator: “The weekend started positively and Peter’s pace in the dry was very competitive, but we did ourselves no favours with a lowly qualifying performance. His race pace was very good and the changes we made were a definite step in the right direction and had it not been for the rain, I’m sure the end result would have reflected that. In the restart, things were going OK but the heavier the rain, the worse it got so we need to get our heads together to find a setting where we are struggling. Sylvain has suffered a lot of bad luck this weekend and with him already being on a steep learning curve to the British series and tracks, I think the crashes dented his confidence a bit. We told him to simply go out in the races, get more and more used to the bike and start enjoying riding again. Hopefully, the two finishes today will help, and we’ll be going testing between now and the next round with a view to getting both riders more comfortable and able to challenge more strongly.”
Bennetts British Superbike Championship Race One (30 laps)
1 Shane Byrne (Ducati)
2 Bradley Ray (Suzuki)
3 Jason O’Halloran (Honda)
4 Leon Haslam (Kawasaki)
5 Christian Iddon (BMW)
6 Jake Dixon (Kawasaki)
10 Peter Hickman (Smiths Racing BMW)
20 Sylvain Barrier (Smiths Racing BMW)
Bennetts British Superbike Championship Race Two (22 laps)
1 Leon Haslam (Kawasaki)
2 Glenn Irwin (Ducati)
3 Michael Laverty (BMW)
4 Shane Byrne (Ducati)
5 Josh Brookes (Yamaha)
6 Christian Iddon (BMW)
14 Peter Hickman (Smiths Racing BMW)
19 Sylvain Barrier (Smiths Racing BMW)
Championship Positions (after two rounds)
1 Ray 79pts
2 Byrne 69
3 Haslam 65
4 Irwin 48
5 Laverty 36
6 Iddon 33
15 Hickman 16
Pictures courtesy of Double Red: Peter Hickman (60) and Sylvain Barrier (20).