2012 SEASON GOES TO THE WIRE AFTER SILVERSTONE DRAMA

2012 SEASON GOES TO THE WIRE AFTER SILVERSTONE DRAMA

ben_burke_donington_park_2012.jpgGraeme Gowland rode a brace of superb races to bag two top six finishes as he faced a baptism of fire on his return to the Motorpoint British Supersport championship, as the ultra-fast 3.66 mile Silverstone Arena GP circuit in Northamptonshire hosted the penultimate round this weekend (28-30 September).

Qualifying in seventh spot on the middle of row two, Graeme made a solid start to the nine lap Sprint on Saturday afternoon to become embroiled in a five-way scrap for the final podium position. With championship leader Kennedy crashing out on lap 4, it was left to Gowland and Irwin to fight for on-track honours of first Yamaha to the flag. Gowland would be victorious in this pursuit, narrowly missing a podium finish in his first outing for the Seton Tuning Yamaha team as he crossed the line in sixth, less than two tenths from McConnell in fourth.

Despite his strong finish to the opening race of the weekend, Graeme’s lap time of 2:11.413s would only put him tenth on the grid for Sunday’s Supersport 12 lap Main Event. Nudged back in the first few corners to 14th, Graeme fought his way back up to his grid position as the field rounded out the first lap.

Graeme instantly began to show his class as he broke clear to close the gap to the leading group of seven riders and by lap five was hanging on to the tail of Richards to make it eight at the front. Graeme would then take advantage of Irwin’s error on lap six to slip past into fifth as he continued to push the rear Pirelli on his Seton Tuning Yamaha YZF-R6 to the limit.

Ben Wilson made the break on lap seven eventually scoring his first win of the season, with Cooper securing second. This left Graeme locking horns with Kennedy and Iddon for the closing laps, and in a three-way dash for the line out of the final corner Graeme had to settle for a well-earned fifth, missing the final podium slot by just 9 hundredths of a second.

The 2012 Metzeler National Superstock championship will be decided at the final round after series leader Ben Burke failed to score points at Silverstone.

Struggling with set-up for the penultimate round, Ben could only qualify his Seton Tuning Yamaha in 14th, way back on the fourth row, with his two championship rivals Jackson and Rose starting on the front row.

A strong start from the lights elevated Ben through the field in the opening two sectors to be in sight of the leading bunch as the field neared the close of the first lap. Suddenly disaster struck as Ben tangled with another rider (Fisher) in a racing incident at Brooklands that left both riders down and out of the race.

By mid-distance it looked as if Jackson would bag the 25 points, but Ben’s fellow Yamaha rider Jake Dixon scuppered those plans taking the lead on the penultimate lap and holding it to the white stripe to claim victory by just four thousandths from Jackson. With Rose finishing in fourth, it meant Ben kept his championship lead - although now tied on points with Jackson - on count back, with Rose just five points adrift. The trio will head to Brands Hatch GP for an exhilarating climax to the season with a ‘winner takes all’ scenario to be played out.

Ben’s teammates Bjorn Estment and Mark Wilkinson became locked over the closing stages as the pair finished in ninth and tenth respectively, split by just 0.039s at the flag. Mark had made a blistering start from 25th on the grid to run 15th at the close of the opening lap. With a new set-up found during morning warm-up courtesy of team owner Phil Seton, Mark was able to better his qualifying lap time by over two seconds as he chased down the top ten runners including teammate Bjorn. Indeed, Mark’s time of 2:17.103s on lap five was the second quickest by any of the team over the weekend as it put him within touching distance of Bjorn’s R6.

The second half of the race saw Mark and Bjorn battle it out for honours, continually swapping the lead over each successive lap until Bjorn just edged clear to take ninth by a whisker over the line.

The final, championship deciding round will take place at Brands Hatch GP, Kent over the weekend of 12-14 October.

bjorn_estment_donington_park_2012.jpg           mark_wilkinson_donington_park_2012.jpg

Graeme Gowland: “I've had a great weekend. The Seton Tuning Yamaha team made me feel right at home. We had to work very hard and fast in the short time we had on track to find set-up and for me to learn to ride a 600 again. I got a really bad start in race 2 and had to close a big gap back to the leaders and by the time I got there my tyres were moving around a lot. I am really happy to finish 5th and only just off the podium. I would like say a massive thank you to Phil for giving me this opportunity and to the team for all their help and support.”

Ben Burke: “Unfortunately the Silverstone weekend did not go as planned. From the get go I seemed to be on the back foot chasing a set-up for the bike. I managed to qualify 14th fastest with my main rivals on the front row of the grid. We made some more changes to the bike for morning warm-up and finally the bike felt really good.

In the race I got off to a good start jumping several positions. As we raced onto the back straight for the first time a bike high-sided in front of me resulting in me having to take evasive action, losing a lot of speed down the straight with the front 5 riders breaking away. I was pushing hard decreasing the gap to the front rapidly and as we approached the last left hand turn to finish the opening lap the rider ahead of me out-braked himself running wide, I jumped at this opportunity to gain a position pushing as hard as I could into the corner. To my surprise he managed to get the bike turned much faster than I had anticipated heading straight back onto racing line. With me still heavily on the brakes I had nowhere to go but into the side of his bike colliding with him heavily bringing us both down. I wish I could ride the race again and not make such a stupid mistake but I can't.

I thank the team for sticking by me, and I guarantee I will be trying my hardest for them at the final round in two weeks time.”

Mark Wilkinson: “The race went a lot better than expected. We had set-up troubles all weekend and I couldn't pinpoint exactly our problem. Fortunately for me, Phil was able to sort the set-up for me in morning warm-up which gave me a brilliant bike for the race. I had a lot of work to do starting so far down the grid in 25th position but I was confident of a good race. I made a really good start and quickly knocked over two seconds off my qualifying fastest lap time. I chipped away all race and made my way into to top 10 where I had a brilliant dice with teammate Bjorn, finishing only 0.03 of a second behind. Thanks to my mechanic Dan, my Crew Cheif Sam and the entire Seton Tuning Yamaha team for keeping my confidence high after a tough start to the weekend! Also thank you to my Australian supporters and sponsors Plaza Autos, ROMPdesign, the Oil Warehouse, GSAutomotive, Cumagutsa and DHEngineering.”

Bjorn Estment: “A very disappointing result this weekend after once again starting off with things looking promising. We may have been guilty of fiddling a bit too much with set-up instead of just going out riding and enjoying it! As always a big thanks to the sponsors who make it happen, NFB Financial Services Group , Kickstart motorcycles , Linxcel and Forcefield body armor, plus the Seton Tuning team and crew chief Scott McClennan. I’ll be fired up for the final round at Brands. Follow me on twitter @bjornestment27. Hell Yeah!”

Phil Seton: “What a weekend! I’m absolutely gutted for Ben but these things happen in racing and he is still leading the championship going in to the final round. He knows that if he wins, the title is his, so we will be working as hard as possible to make sure his bike is perfect.

Mark had his race of the season to come through the field from so far back on the grid to finish in the top ten. He put in a great ride and once again I was really pleased with his progress throughout the whole weekend.

Bjorn struggled a little with set-up but rode a pretty decent race to score more points with a good finish just ahead of Mark.”

 Images © Steve Hutchings 

 

Results - Silverstone Arena GP

Motorpoint British Supersport
Sprint Result:
1. Iddon, 2. Richards, 3. Cooper, 4. McConnell, 5. Wilson, 6. Gowland

Main Event Result:
1. Wilson, 2. Cooper, 3. Iddon, 4. Kennedy, 5. Gowland

Championship Points
1. Richards - 356, 2. Kennedy - 343.5, 3. McConnell - 290, 4. Iddon - 272.5, 5. Wilson - 239, 23. Gowland - 21

Metzeler National Superstock 600
Result:
1. Dixon, 2. Jackson, 3. Olsen, 4. Rose, 5. Collier, 9. Estment, 10. Wilkinson, DNF Burke

Championship Points
1. Burke - 174, 2. Jackson - 174, 3. Rose - 169, 4. Dixon - 135, 5. Olsen - 105, 12. Estment - 54, 19. Wilkinson - 27

 

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