Problems with a front tyre on Ryuichi Kiyonari's GSX-R1000 capped a difficult Bank Holiday weekend for the Bennetts Suzuki team at Oulton Park for round two of the MCE British Superbike Championship.
The former British Superbike Champion started the opening race from 10th on the grid with conditions, as they had been for much of the weekend, wet when the lights went out. However, Kiyonari and the team were confident of a positive result after a strong showing in wet conditions in Friday practice.
Unfortunately, after a strong start, a strange feeling from the front of Kiyonari's GSX-R1000 forced him to pull into the pit lane where it was discovered that his front wet tyre was fitted back-to-front on the rim when supplied to the team.
A sudden and heavy downpour ahead of the second race meant the team were forced to make quick wheel changes to ensure correct tyres were fitted, but a mistake meant Kiyonari had to stop on the warm-up lap, resulting in two non-finishes from the weekend.
"I don't think we deserve the luck we've had this weekend. I felt comfortable in practice and we made progress with the bike in every session. Our times were good and I was confident of two good races. Unfortunately, things outside of my control have meant that I didn't finish either race. It's a shame because the potential is there and I felt we could have got some positive results, but now we will focus on the next round at Brands Hatch."
Tommy Bridewell's weekend also started positively, as he posted competitive times in both the wet and dry conditions in the free practice sessions, ending both FP2 and FP3 in fifth place.
Unfortunately, the tricky conditions saw him take 15th and 14th place finishes from both races, as the set-up of his GSX-R1000 favoured the wet but saw him struggle as the surface dried throughout the 18-lap encounters.
"The mixed conditions made it a nightmare weekend for us to be honest. It's such a shame as I felt really good in the dry and really good in the wet. We we're strong in both conditions and our lap-times were competitive in practice. I felt I had some in reserve too for the races, but the conditions we weren't really prepared for were the mixed conditions, which we got in both races. In the proper wet at the start of race one I felt good and made some passes, but as it dried I couldn't increase my lap-times. It's frustrating because after a difficult Silverstone we made some real progress this weekend, solved the issues from the opening round; and I felt really comfortable and confident. We just hadn't mastered the mixed conditions."
Martin Halsall - Team Owner:
"The results this weekend haven't been in-keeping with the potential we showed in practice. Both riders were looking good in the wet and the dry sessions, with Tommy pushing right at the top of the timesheets and Kiyo posting competitive times too. In the first race we really thought a good result was on the cards, and Kiyo made a positive start, but you can't plan for a tyre being fitted the wrong way around on the rim by the supplier. It's a shame because the championship is hard enough as it is, and it's something out of our control that's cost us a result and it's cost us championship points. Unfortunately for Kiyo, the second race was also a DNF, and it was just a simple mistake from the team with a rushed wheel change, and that topped-off an unlucky weekend for him and the team.
"On Tommy's side of the garage we also had a lot of potential. He was really looking good in practice in either wet or dry conditions, but in the tricky drying conditions of both races we couldn't find a set-up to really suit him, and while he made a good start in the first race, as the track dried, the race went away from him and he dropped out of the top-10. But he's salvaged two points-scoring finishes from a tough weekend. We'll now keep working for Brands Hatch."
Race One Result: 1. Leon Haslam, 2. Christian Iddon, 3. James Ellison, 4. Jason O'Halloran, 5. Alastair Seeley. 15. Tommy Bridewell (Bennetts Suzuki GSX-R1000). DNF: Ryuichi Kiyonari (Bennetts Suzuki GSX-R1000).
Race Two Result: 1. Richard Cooper, 2.Christian Iddon, 3. Leon Haslam, 4. James Ellison, 5. Michael Laverty. 14. Tommy Bridewell (Bennetts Suzuki GSX-R1000). DNF: Ryuichi Kiyonari (Bennetts Suzuki GSX-R1000).