DRAMA AT BRANDS HATCH FINALE

DRAMA AS SEASON PLAYS OUT AT BRANDS HATCH

ben_burke_brands_hatch_finale_2012.jpgThe 2012 MCE British Superbike Championship came to a dramatic conclusion, with no fewer than three championships decided as the Kent circuit hosted the season finale this weekend (12-14 October).

Seton Tuning Yamaha’s Ben Burke headed into the final round in a strong position as joint leader of the Metzeler National Superstock 600 series. With solid improvements made throughout free practice and qualifying, Ben looked to be in a strong position as he lined up on the front row of the grid for the final 14-lap encounter of the season.

A good start from the lights saw Ben drop into Paddock Hill in third position, nudged back a couple of spots on the run into Druids but in a strong position to round out the opening lap in fifth.

Championship rival Jackson took the lead on lap two and instantly looked to make the break. Ben moved up into third as early race leader Dixon crashed out. The deployment of the safety car at the close of the third lap brought the front riders together again and this looked to play into Ben’s hands as he instantly closed the gap once the race was back on for lap 5.

Ben wasted no time by moving into second with a determined move on the inside of Collier at Druids, as his Yamaha closed the gap to Jackson’s Kawasaki. Ben looked strong and had the pace to stay with Jackson, setting the scene for what looked to be a momentous battle for the title over the next nine laps. Then on lap six, Ben’s race came to an abrupt end. It looked as if he had missed his breaking point for Westfield, running deep and losing a place or two as he looked to mount a charge on Jackson, but despite kicking back through the gears, the technical problem persisted forcing him to park his Seton Tuning Yamaha against the tyres at Sheene Curve - his championship challenge over. Jackson carried on to secure both the win and the title.

Despite the heart-breaking conclusion to the season, Ben secured a brilliant second in the championship and has proved this year that he has the attributes necessary to become a future title contender if he steps up a class.

bjorn_estment_brands_hatch_finale_2012.jpg           mark_wilkinson_brands_hatch_finale_2012.jpg

Teammates Bjorn Estment and Mark Wilkinson concluded their excellent debut seasons in the UK with two more point-scoring finishes. Bjorn, for the most part of the race locked horns in a four-way battle for third, narrowly missing out on a debut podium as he took the chequered flag in sixth.

Mark, improving with every outing, elevated his Seton Tuning Yamaha from a lowly grid position of 28th to claim the final point in 15th. The young Australian rider once again posted his fastest lap time of the weekend when it mattered - during the race.

The results mean that all three Superstock riders finished the season inside of the top 20 - an excellent achievement by all and promise for next year.             

graeme_gowland_brands_hatch_finale_2012.jpgGraeme Gowland played a solid supporting role in his second outing for the team, as the Motorpoint British Supersport Championship went to the wire in dramatic fashion. After securing a third straight top ten finish in Saturday’s ten-lap Sprint, Graeme battled hard in the 18-lap Main Event to secure fourth at the flag as he held off the advances of Silverstone race winner Ben Wilson. With Richards crashing out on lap 2 it looked as if the title was in Graeme’s fellow Yamaha rider Kennedy’s hands but another dramatic twist to the season was to hand the title back to Richards on lap 8 as Kennedy’s bike developed a terminal engine problem and he was forced to retire.      

Graeme Gowland: “I've had another great weekend with the Seton Tuning Yamaha team. Again we had to work very hard and fast to find set-up, which was made harder by losing the first session due to tricky track conditions. We worked in the right direction to qualify on the front of row 2 but unfortunately we had a clutch issue in race 1. I got a good start in race 2 and finished 4th which was a great result for me and the team to finish the season. Thank you to everyone in the Seton team for all their help.”

Ben Burke: “Coming into the last round at Brands Hatch I knew the pressure was going to be on if I wanted to walk away with the Superstock title. Everything was looking good with practice and qualifying going well, making some good improvements to the bike compared to the previous visit in the summer. I was happy to be starting the race from 4th position on the grid giving me the inside run into the first turn.

I made a good start but got squeezed toward the armco railing by the bike beside me, I had to back off the throttle to avoid hitting it. From then I was in about 6th place working my way forward. Once I was in fourth position a rider ahead crashed bringing out the safety car. Once the green flag was waved I wasted no time pushing into second place right on the tail of my championship rival. I was feeling comfortable behind him watching his every move when disaster struck. My bike had suffered a technical problem forcing me out of the race. It seems as if it was not meant to be but I am still proud of the team’s achievements this year coming second in the championship. Huge thanks to all the team and sponsors for getting me out on the grid. I would especially like to thank my mechanic Sam Palmer and his family for all the work he has put in, including the weeks of late nights leading up to each race making sure the bike I was riding was perfect. I have really enjoyed working with Phil and the team and am very proud of the results we have managed over the last two years.”

Bjorn Estment: “This was a weekend I really had anticipated the first podium and was going to do my absolute best to achieve it! It did not turn out that way and after an awesome four-way battle for third I placed a disappointing 6th! On a positive note a massive thanks to the entire Seton Tuning Yamaha team for all their efforts throughout the year! A big thanks to my sponsors NFB Financial Services Group, Linxcel, Kickstart Motorcycles, Weiss Gloves and RST Moto Direct, Dad and Mom! A huge ‘Hell Yeah’ shout out to the man Scott McClennan for looking after me through the year and making sure I had a well prepared missile underneath me! Thanks to Phil and Sam for all their work at the shop. 2013 will be better, faster, stronger...Time to shine! Hell Yeah!”

Mark Wilkinson: "That was a good race for me today. I made a good start and moved through the field quickly in the first few laps. The safety car caught me out slightly mid-race but I quickly closed the gap I lost. Unfortunately in the last few laps I encountered a problem that halted my progress and I dropped a few places. All in all it was a good last race for me and finishing off the season moving forward in every race. Thanks to my mechanic Dan the Superstock crew chief Sam for their faultless work all year. I'm really proud of the entire team’s efforts this year. Hopefully we can come back stronger and harder next year. Huge thanks to all my supporters and sponsors of the team this season, as well as my sponsors in Australia for all their help, without them this season wouldn't have been possible. So thank you also to Plaza Auto Sales, The Oil Warehouse, GSAutomotive, ROMPdesign, Cumagutsa, and DHEngineering. Also a huge thank you to my whole family for their support this season.”

Phil Seton, Team Owner: “I feel gutted for Ben and very deflated. We were in a strong position coming in to this round and although it’s a great achievement for Ben to get second, it may have meant more if he’d had the chance to battle it out for the full race distance. That was our only engine failure of the year, and the exact same thing that then happened to Kennedy in the Supersport race. I feel like we have let Ben down but this type of failure is out of our hands. No amount of preparation can legislate against it. That’s racing I suppose. Second is still a superb result for Ben. He has put in some fantastic performances this season and deserves all the accolades he has received. All credit to Lee Jackson, he’s really come on over the second half of the season.

Mark and Bjorn both put in good performances again, scoring points to finish the season firmly inside the top twenty. They have both worked hard to learn new circuits at each round, and have gelled nicely with the team.

Graeme once again had a really good couple of rides. We’re still not fully up to speed with the optimum set-up for him as we’ve had very limited time over the past two rounds. However, he has rewarded us with some great rides and scored his best finish of fourth in the main event.

I must say a big thanks to the whole team for all of their efforts over the course of the season, with special thanks to Sam Palmer, Mark Hill and Lyn Hackshaw for everything they have done this year. A big thank you to all of our sponsors for helping us put on such a good show each round, including Linxcel, TK Cope Moto, Yamaha, Standard Engineering and Tony Morris. Rest assured that Seton Tuning Yamaha will be raring to go once the flag drops for the 2013 season.”

 Images © Steve Hutchings 

 

Results - Brands Hatch GP

Motorpoint British Supersport
Sprint Result:
1. McConnell, 2. Kennedy, 3. Richards, 4. Iddon, 5. Cooper, 9. Gowland

Main Event Result:
1. McConnell, 2. Cooper, 3. Jones, 4. Gowland, 5. Wilson

Final Championship Points
1. Richards - 372, 2. Kennedy - 363.5, 3. McConnell - 340, 4. Iddon - 285.5, 5. Wilson - 259, 18. Gowland - 41

Metzeler National Superstock 600
Result:
1. Jackson, 2. Collier, 3. Wainwright, 4. Wilks, 5. Hastings, 6. Estment, 15. Wilkinson, DNF Burke 

Final Championship Points
 1. Jackson - 199, 2. Burke - 174, 3. Rose - 169, 4. Dixon - 135, 5. Olsen - 105, 13. Estment - 64, 20. Wilkinson - 28

 

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