The Quattro Plant JG Speedfit Kawasaki pairing of Héctor Barberá and Ben Currie were back in action at Cadwell Park at the weekend (16th to 18th August) in round eight of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship.
Although the two races proved to be challenging encounters, former MotoGP rider Barberá ended the meeting on a high note with a strong 11th place in race two.
After mixed conditions at the beginning of the weekend, qualifying on Saturday afternoon saw perfect weather at the Lincolnshire venue and, despite a spill in free practice, Ben qualified in 19th place on the Kawasaki ZX-10RR with Héctor, having his first-ever outing at the challenging 2.18-mile venue, two places further back.
The first 18-lap race saw both riders run on the fringes of the top twenty in the early stages but by half-race distance, it was Barberá who was the better placed in 17th, with Australian Currie four places further back after running on at turn ten. The Spaniard eventually claimed 16th place, just outside the points, with Currie crossing the line in 21st.
Barberá’s pace saw him start the second race from the more advanced position of 14th and row five, with Ben on row seven. Although both riders initially found themselves outside the points that had all changed by lap six with Héctor in a solid 12th place and Ben in 15th.
Barberá was part of a five-rider battle for 12th place and by half-race distance, he had moved up into 11th, with Ben still occupying 15th. Unfortunately, the latter overran one of the corners again in the closing stages, eventually finishing in 19th place, but Héctor crossed the line in 11th place, just over half-a-second adrift of ninth place, for five more hard-earned points.
Héctor said: “All weekend I managed to progress, and in the second race I achieved my best times and my best result. I’m not 100 per cent with my right leg and it was hard changing direction at a difficult circuit like this. I kept making small mistakes as I don’t have full movement back in my leg yet.
“I would like to thank the team for all their hard work; they continue to help me and push me forwards. I know the team is very good and we are working together in the right direction.
“I will do a test at Oulton Park and hopefully I can understand the track well. I am looking forward to Donington and Assen as I am familiar with these circuits. Thank you again to the team.”
Ben added: “I’m a little frustrated as I had the pace to score points in both races, but I just struggled. In the first race, I made some mistakes but on the closing laps I set my fastest times and I was looking forward to race two.
“I was doing well in the second race, but I ran into some physical problems and I was really struggling with change of direction. I bashed my foot again in the crash this weekend and it had a big impact on how I rode the bike.
“I got very tired and dropped like a stone. It doesn’t show what we are capable of, but we just have to work hard and turn it around at Oulton Park.”
Jack Valentine, Team Manager, said: “It was a better weekend, but we are still not where we should be. We have an injured rider learning a very difficult track with Héctor. The opening sector was good, but he was losing out on the following two sectors due to the technicality of the circuit.
“Ben is still struggling a bit with fitness after his foot injury back in May; the harder he pushed the worse he was getting. He had a big crash over the weekend, and it has just knocked his confidence and aggravated his previous injury.
“We hope that at Oulton, both riders will be fully fit and able to push harder to get some stronger results.”
There were also two races on the schedule for the Molson Group British Sidecar Championship and although Ben Holland/Lee Watson were forced to retire from the opening encounter, former champions Ricky Stevens/Ryan Charlwood flew the flag valiantly for the team with a strong fourth place.
The duo repeated the position in Sunday’s race, also held over ten laps, which enabled them to consolidate sixth place in the championship standings and there was better fortune on this occasion for Holland/Watson as they took a solid seventh place.
Ricky said: “We wanted to maximise our results after the trials and tribulations on Friday when a part failed in the engine during free practice, so we were a little disappointed to finish fourth in both races.
“However, given the bad luck we’ve suffered at Cadwell Park in the past, it’s not a terrible result and it means we’re only 16 points off third in the championship standings with our strongest circuits yet to come.”
Ben said: “In the first race I, unfortunately, got a bout of cramp in my braking leg, so we had to pull up before the end. The second race was much better and despite starting in 27th on the grid, we managed to finish in seventh which we were really happy about.”