Gloucester-based Smiths Racing BMW wrapped up their 2018 Bennetts British Superbike Championship at Brands Hatch this weekend with a string of top ten results which meant that Peter Hickman ended the year in a fine fifth place overall in the standings.
Strong throughout the three free practice sessions, running in the top six in each, Lincoln’s Hickman duly took sixth place in yesterday lunchtime’s qualifying session around the 2.43-mile GP circuit and it saw him line up on the second row for the 20 lap race later in the day, the first of three held across the weekend.
The benefit of a good qualifying position could again be seen as Peter immediately slotted into fourth place on the Smiths BMW S1000RR and two laps later he moved up to third having overhauled Tarran Mackenzie. By lap eight, he’d been pushed back to fifth but only two seconds covered the top six for the majority of the race and he ultimately crossed the line in fifth place.
The warm sunshine of yesterday had been replaced by wet and gloomy conditions today with Peter’s result from the previous day seeing the 31 year old start the second 20 lap race from fourth place on the grid. However, a slide at Graham Hill Bend on lap one saw him drop down the order all the way back to 13th but from that moment on he continually moved forward and with a number of riders falling foul to the conditions, his perseverance was rewarded at the chequered flag with a good sixth place.
It meant he started the third and final race of 2018 from 11th and the fourth row of the grid but conditions had worsened considerably by the time the race got underway although he still completed the first lap in ninth place. Up to seventh at one stage, he slipped back to ninth on lap nine and this was where he finished to end the year in a fine fifth place overall.
Team-mate Sylvain Barrier took 16th in Saturday’s dry race and although the Frenchman failed to finish today’s opening race, he signed off his maiden season in the Bennetts British Superbike Championship with tenth place in the final race of the year, his best finish of the season and he ended the year in 21st overall.
Peter Hickman: “It’s certainly been a mixed weekend weather wise and although we fell one place short of where we finished in 2017, I’m pleased with fifth overall and finishing as the top BMW rider once more. I qualified well, for once, and we were fast in the dry where I had the pace to win, but there was just one part of the circuit where I was losing a bit of time. The two wet races today were very hard work especially on the Indy part of the circuit so I’m happy enough with fifth overall and to be only 11 points adrift of third is a good effort. It was a challenging end to the season but everyone stuck together and we again showed just what a good team we are.”
Sylvain Barrier: “The two race days saw very different weather conditions but although I didn’t quite have the pace in Saturday’s dry race to finish in the points, I managed to do that today. Unfortunately, I had a problem with the quickshifter in the first race but the second and final race of the season was a lot better and it’s nice to get a top ten result and finish the season with my best result of the year. The team have been fantastic all year so many thanks to them for the opportunity in BSB and for all their hard work.”
Darren Jones, Team Co-ordinator: “We’re slightly disappointed to have finished in fifth overall but we were only 11 points short of third and still very close to where we were twelve months ago. It was a tough start to the season but the team worked well all year and once again proved themselves as one of the best teams in the paddock. Everyone gelled really well and we ended the year with some solid points this weekend. Today’s conditions were very tough but Pete did a good job, like he has done all year, whilst it was nice to see Sylvain finish inside the top ten and claim his best result of the year.”
Bennetts British Superbike Championship Race One (20 laps)
1 Glenn Irwin (Ducati)
2 Jake Dixon (Kawasaki)
3 Tarran Mackenzie (Yamaha)
4 Andrew Irwin (Ducati)
5 Peter Hickman (Smiths Racing BMW)
6 Leon Haslam (Kawasaki)
16 Sylvain Barrier (Smiths Racing BMW)
Bennetts British Superbike Championship Race Two (20 laps)
1 Leon Haslam (Kawasaki)
2 Tommy Bridewell (Ducati)
3 Jason O’Halloran (Honda)
4 Richard Cooper (Suzuki)
5 Christian Iddon (BMW)
6 Peter Hickman (Smiths Racing BMW)
DNF Sylvain Barrier (Smiths Racing BMW)
Bennetts British Superbike Championship Race Three (20 laps)
1 Richard Cooper (Suzuki)
2 Tommy Bridewell (Ducati)
3 Jake Dixon (Kawasaki)
4 Christian Iddon (BMW)
5 Josh Brookes (Yamaha)
6 Leon Haslam (Kawasaki)
9 Peter Hickman (Smiths Racing BMW)
10 Sylvain Barrier (Smiths Racing BMW)
Final Championship Standings (after 12 rounds)
1 Haslam 699pts
2 Dixon 629
3 Irwin 588
4 Brookes 584
5 Hickman 577
6 Ray 551
21 Barrier 19
Pictures courtesy of Double Red: Hickman (60) and Sylvain Barrier (20).
Note to Editors:
Smiths (Gloucester) Limited was started in 1982 by Alan Smith. Smiths is a family run business and provides services in construction, waste management and recycling, demolition, transport, skip hire, laser levelling, asbestos removal and plant hire. It has grown from a small, owner-operated construction firm to one of the region’s largest and most respected construction services and waste management companies.
Alan Smith developed his love of bikes and racing in the 1980s when he competed in local and national amateur motocross events, his highest achievement being several top three positions in the national four-stroke and superclass categories.
The Smiths Racing Team continues the family ethos with daughter Rebecca adopting the mantle of Team Manager and wife Anne, son Paul and daughters Helen and Lisa often seen supporting the team on race days.