It was another challenging round for Quattro Plant JG Speedfit Kawasaki at Thruxton this weekend with 16th place for Spaniard Héctor Barberá their best finish in the two races.
Riding at the circuit for the very first time, Barberá’s cause took a major hit on Friday afternoon when he crashed heavily at Allard during the second free practice session sustaining a fracture of the tibia in the process.
The lack of laps meant he qualified back in 25th place with team-mate Ben Currie two places ahead of him.
A hectic opening lap saw Ben slot into 24th place and Héctor in 27th but on lap eight Matt Truelove crashed directly in front of the Australian and he had to take evasive action which dropped him all the way back to last place.
Unfortunately, he ultimately retired on the 14th of 20 laps but former MotoGP rider Barberá pushed all the way until the end and he eventually took the chequered flag in 20th place although, naturally, both he and the team were hoping for more.
The duo lined up on the sixth and eighth rows for the second race later in the day, Currie the better placed of the two, but the first attempt at running the race was stopped due to rain and then a crash involving Glenn Irwin saw his BMW deposit oil on the exit of the chicane and the race halted for a second time.
It was eventually restarted for the third time over just eight laps and the short sprint meant it was a hectic race for all concerned. Barberá again put in a spirited ride and was unlucky to miss out on the points in 16th after setting his fastest lap of the meeting during the race.
Currie took 20th place on this occasion and was four seconds behind his team-mate at the chequered flag.
Héctor said: “It was a difficult weekend; I’ve never been here before. I missed FP1 with a technical problem and most of FP2 after the big crash on warm-up, so it’s been really very hard.
“This weekend I had another crew chief, so everything was new again. The circuit is not very difficult but is very fast and there’s no room for mistakes. However, I did make a mistake in FP2 and we missed many laps on track so we were always at a disadvantage.
“Every time I went out on track I made improvements but I am angry as I know it is possible to run near the front but this weekend there were too many problems. I went into race one having only done 20 laps. I am happy but also angry, once again the team and the Championship were fantastic.”
Ben added: “It was a rough weekend; it started off really promising, we had a set-up and it worked which we changed and then we had problems. We struggled to get back to the set-up we had completely, and it hindered us in qualifying and both races.
“In the races, I tried to make the best of the situation we were in – Simon my crew chief worked really hard to try and ensure it was right but we did struggle.
“It was hard with the start/stop in the second race and I had to go out on old tyres but we learnt a lot this weekend and hopefully we can take that forwards to Cadwell – we have to take the positives. I finished the whole weekend so it’s good to see the fitness levels back to what they were and I’ll be working hard in the gym to keep improving for the remaining rounds.”
Jack Valentine, Team Manager, said: “It’s been a really tough weekend again for the team, I can’t deny it. I know we are moving forward but I can’t get excited about it. We lost a lot of track time with Héctor, if we were in the same place after FP3 as what we were after race two, we’d be in a better place now.
“We ran the harder tyre for him in the third part of race two and he ran his fastest time so it was a good decision. He was riding really well but when you start that far back on the grid it’s always going to be difficult at a track you have never been too.
“Ben started off well then had a bad patch in the middle but he found a bit at the end and found some direction to go in. He finished both races so it’s good to see his fitness is improving.
“Hopefully we can go to Cadwell and get some better results. The team did a fantastic job this weekend and we have to keep plugging away and we should get there.”
With three races on the programme, it was also a busy weekend in the battle for the Molson Group British Sidecar Championship but it proved to be a good meeting for former champions Ricky Stevens and Ryan Charlwood as they took second and a brace of fourths during the course of the weekend to move up to sixth overall in the Championship standings.
Team-mates Ben Holland/Lee Watson bounced back from the disappointment of a first race retirement to finish in sixth place in race two before again failing to finish the third race.
Ricky said: “After this weekend and three point-scoring races we’ve clawed our way back up the championship into a position where finishing third overall now seems possible.
“We’ve just got to keep plugging away and winning points and podiums although it’s disappointing that the big win is still eluding us. Breaking the lap record was certainly a big high and a second and two fourths is great, but I’d be lying if I said we didn’t want more.
“That said, we’ve secured our best result of the season this weekend so we’re going to Cadwell Park feeling much more upbeat and who knows what we can achieve?”
Ben added: “Technical issues with the bike marred qualifying and race one. However, in race two we started last and managed to fight our way up to sixth which was a great result but race three was only a five-lap dash and we were black flagged.
“It looked like smoke was coming from the engine but in the end it was only from the tyre and the wheel so we could have carried on which was unfortunate. This season has been really tough so far and we’re just taking each weekend as it comes.”
The next round of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship takes place at Cadwell Park in Lincolnshire from 16th to 18th August.