Ducati rider Jakub ‘Kuba’ Smrz had a mixed weekend at Brands Hatch in Kent for round five of the 2014 British Superbike Championship. Strong qualifying pace and a solid top ten in race one were marred by an unfortunate DNF in difficult damp conditions in the second contest.
The Czech rider qualified well – securing fourth place on the grid close behind the current championship leaders. A poor start in the opener then put paid to any chances of a podium for Smrz, as he found himself way down in fifteenth after the first tour of the Brands Hatch GP circuit. His pace was, however, clearly quicker than that of the riders around him, and after a brief safety car period Kuba began steadily moving forward as the laps ticked by.
At half race distance he was into the top ten, and by the chequered flag had recovered to a solid seventh place. The key was to set a good lap time, and the Millsport Ducati rider didn’t disappoint securing fourth on the grid for race two with a lap time of 1:27.046s.
While the first race was an exciting battle all the way to the flag the second struggled to even get going, as first a huge accident brought out the red flag before the competition got back underway for just two laps – then rain forced the red flags out yet again!
The race eventually started for the third time, now on a wet track, and from ninth Kuba maintained his position for the first ten laps. Unfortunately when challenging Kirkham for eighth the Czech rider pushed too hard and had a lowside crash at Surtees. Despite this, the team and rider made huge progress across the weekend, and had it not been for the inclement conditions Millsport looked set for two strong top-ten finishes. The BSB battle resumes in two weeks’ time at Thruxton in Hampshire, and Kuba will once again be aiming for that first podium of the season.
After race two, Smrz said:
“Friday and Saturday were really promising – today warm-up was really good too and the pace was there. In the first race we had a small electrical issue – the ride-by-wire setting wasn’t right so I got a really bad start, but to come through from 14th to seventh was OK. We definitely had the pace to be with the leading group.
“Race two was a bit of a mess – my first start wasn’t bad, but we had the red flag, then my other two starts weren’t as good. I couldn’t find a good feeling in the damp – we’ve not got experience in these conditions, so I ended up pushing too hard and lost the front.
“I am really looking forward to Thruxton – I raced there for the first time last year and I liked it a lot. It is fast, and I enjoy it – we just need the cards to go our way because we’ve had too much bad luck recently!”
The army of Brands Hatch fans also enjoyed two exciting Ducati TriOptions Cup races this weekend, as the impressive 25-strong grid of 899 Panigale and 848 machines thundered around the Grand Prix circuit on both Saturday and Sunday.
In perfect conditions at the start of the weekend it was P&H/Carl Cox Motorsport rider Dennis Hobbs leading the way. Following a superb double victory at Knockhill last time out, the #25 rider took his third pole position of the season in qualifying ahead of an impressive Jonathan Railton on an 848 machine and Rob Guiver who scored well at the opening Brands Hatch round back in April.
It was, however, to be Hobbs’ team-mate and current championship leader Leon Morris leading the way early on, leaping from the second row into top spot on lap one. He couldn’t hold on to the position though, as first Hobbs and then reigning champion Marty Nutt made their way past. Hobbs held on to take his third consecutive Ducati TriOptions Cup win to close to within 14 points of the championship lead.
Race two saw Morris make another superb start from the second row, and this time he was able to hold on to his lead for the duration. Despite pressure from Hobbs and later in the race Guiver, Morris kept his cool to take his fourth win of the year and regain some ground at the top of the standings.
With a 23-point buffer to his stable-mate Hobbs, a delighted Morris said:
“In race one when I was leading I made quite a few mistakes – the bike set-up wasn’t quite right especially on corner entry and I couldn’t keep the guys behind me. Race two was better, I was looking at my pit board hoping to see a gap open up but it never happened! I desperately needed to beat Dennis – he’s closest to me in the championship so I dug deep and gave it everything. The win was massively important with Dennis having won three on the bounce – we needed to keep ahead both for my points and my confidence.
“My wife gave birth to our little boy two weeks ago and I desperately wanted to get a win for him, so that was probably one of my happiest and proudest wins. To do it at the best circuit in the country is even better!
“It’s all thanks to the guys at P&H/Carl Cox Motorsport, the team and the bike are amazing and either myself or Dennis has been on top every weekend so it’s all credit to them.”
The Ducati TriOptions Cup next joins the British Superbike bill at Oulton Park in Cheshire on 8-10 August.