The Smiths (Gloucester) Racing Triumph team made their World Supersport Championship debut at Donington Park today and it proved to be a more than successful foray with Australians Glen Richards and Billy McConnell as well as British rider Luke Mossey all scoring points, Richards finishing the highest in a superb fifth place.
With all three riders qualifying inside the top 12, Richards being the best in fifth place, hopes were high going into Sunday's 22 lap race and so it turned out. Former British Supersport champion Richards was never outside the top five and ran as high as third in the early stages. Lapping at a similar pace to the race leaders, Glen found himself involved in a battle with fellow countryman Broc Parkes but in the end he had to give second best and settle for an excellent fifth and 11 World Championship points.
Slightly further back was McConnell and he too made a good start to lie in eighth place at the end of the first lap. Although he got slightly shuffled back to 10th in the first third of the race, he fought his way back up to ninth, just five seconds off a top six finish, to give the team their second top ten result. Third member of the team Mossey was also well in contention and was embroiled in a ferocious five-rider scrap for 11th place. Competing in his first ever World Championship race, the Royston rider put in a great ride to claim 15th and the final championship point.
Metzeler National Superstock 600cc rider Johnny Blackshaw was also in action over the weekend with two races being held for his particular championship although his cause was hindered by a heavy practice crash. The Stretton rider then struggled with brake problems in the first 12-lap race and could only manage 18th place in Saturday's race but he bounced back strongly on Sunday to claim a fine fifth place.
Glen Richards: "I would have loved to have finished on the podium today but the front guys were just that little bit quicker and I couldn't have tried any harder, there was nothing left in the tank at the end! Fifth in a World Championship race is still very pleasing though especially as we had to run a slightly different set up to what we do in the British rounds. It took me a while to get used to it whilst it also meant I was losing a bit of time at Goddards. I was losing a bit of drive out of the corner and so was a bit slower down the straight but we've learnt an awful lot this weekend. You can't not learn when you're racing with World Championship riders and the team have done a great job. To have all three bikes in the points is a fantastic effort so we can all look forward to the next round of the British Championship."
Billy McConnell: "I enjoyed the race and although it would have been nice to be closer to Glen I've got to be happy with ninth given the fact I was in hospital on Wednesday and Thursday having tests for an old injury! I've been suffering with some internal bleeding but we don't know what from so whether or not it's a bit of a delayed reaction to an old crash we're not sure but I made it through in one piece so it's a good result. With no traction control or air bleed, the bike's been different to ride but all the track time has been invaluable so I can't wait for the next British round now and am very much looking forward to getting back to winning ways."
Luke Mossey: "I'm really happy with how the weekend finished and to get a point in my first World Championship race is superb. I struggled a bit in practice on Friday and was around two seconds off the pace but I tried Glen's settings on Saturday and they worked really well so that allowed me to be a lot higher up. It was a really good, fun race and all the track time we've had this weekend should stand me in good stead for the next British Championship round. Glen and Billy have already taken wins so I need to get one next and get the monkey off my back!"
Johnny Blackshaw: "The crash in practice could have ruined my weekend and it certainly dented my confidence so to end with a fifth place is very rewarding. I was pretty battered and bruised after the crash but Saturday's race was going reasonably well until I ran into brake trouble. The brake was coming back to the bar and that's what caused me to run on at the Esses. I came back strong for Sunday's race though and although fifth isn't where I want to finish, it's a good haul of points and gives me plenty to build on at the next round."
Alan Smith (Team owner): "It's been a great weekend for us and we've proved that we can be competitive at this level despite having to make some alterations to the normal set up of our bikes. I'm especially pleased for the team who have worked really hard to put us in this position and so this is especially rewarding. I'm not sure if we're doing any more of the World Championship events as our focus is on the British Championship but, hopefully, Triumph have noted what we have done for them here at Donington Park."
race (22 laps)1 Sam Lowes (Honda)2 Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki)3 Jules Cluzel (Honda)4 Broc Parkes (Honda)5 Glen Richards (Smiths (Gloucester) Racing Triumph)6 Sheridan Morais (Kawasaki)9 Billy McConnell (Smiths (Gloucester) Racing Triumph)15 Luke Mossey (Smiths (Gloucester) Racing Triumph)
Metzeler National Superstock 600cc Championship race 1 (12 laps)1 Alex Olsen (Triumph) 2 Ben Burke (Yamaha)3 Jake Dixon (Yamaha)4 Lee Jackson (Kawasaki)5 James Rose (Yamaha)6 Bjorn Estment (Yamaha)18 Johnny Blackshaw (Smiths (Gloucester) Racing Triumph)
Metzeler National Superstock 600cc Championship race 2 (12 laps)1 Alex Olsen (Triumph)2 Ben Burke (Yamaha)3 James Rose (Yamaha)4 Lee Jackson (Kawasaki)5 Johnny Blackshaw (Smiths (Gloucester) Racing Triumph)6 Tom Fisher (Kawasaki)
Championship standings (after five rounds)1 Dixon 70pts= Olsen 703 Rose 674 Burke 615 Whitaker 556 Jackson 4310 Blackshaw (Smiths (Gloucester) Racing Triumph) 28