The Quattro Plant JG Speedfit Kawasaki team was in action at the Assen circuit in Holland at the weekend, venue for round ten of the 2019 Bennetts British Superbike Championship, and Héctor Barberá ensured it was a successful trip as he claimed 10th and 11th place finishes in the two races.
Former MotoGP rider Barberá was still contending with the injuries he’d received in crashes at the previous rounds at Cadwell Park and Oulton Park but, familiar with the 2.82-mile circuit from his Grand Prix days, he ran a good pace in qualifying with a time of 1m 36.602s, putting him in a strong 10th place for Sunday’s opening 18-lap race.
Teammate Ben Currie, meanwhile, slotted into 17th place and the Australian lined up two rows further back on the Kawasaki ZX-10RR.
After perfect weather during qualifying, conditions on Sunday were again excellent, but all of Barberá’s good work in qualifying seemed to have disappeared on the opening lap of the first race when the Spaniard got pushed wide at the first corner and dropped all the way back to 20th place.
It left him with plenty of work to do but he dug deep and for the remainder of the race continually moved forward. His efforts were rewarded with a strong 10th place while Currie also put in a spirited ride to claim the last Championship point in 15th for his third points-scoring finish of the season.
Barberá started the second race later in the day from 12th place with Currie in 19th although the Spaniard again suffered on the opening lap as he dropped back to 18th, just one place ahead of Currie.
Just as in race one though, he soon found a good rhythm and steadily moved forward as he took over 14th at half race distance. He wasn’t finished there though, and with four laps to go he’d taken over 11th place which was where he ultimately finished to make it two strong results on the day. Currie wasn’t able to finish in the points on this occasion and just missed out in 17th place.
There were also two races on the programme for the Molson Group British Sidecar Championship, but after qualifying in ninth and tenth respectively neither Ben Holland/Lee Watson nor Ricky Stevens/Ryan Charlwood were able to score points in Saturday’s 10-lap race.
However, former champions Stevens and Charlwood took seventh place in Sunday’s encounter to maintain their sixth place overall in the championship standings.
After technical difficulties Ben Holland/Lee Watson found themselves without an engine for both races and were grateful to Gearlink Kawasaki for the loan of an engine.
Despite finishing ninth in both races the replacement engine did not meet race specifications and so Holland/Watson were not awarded championship points.
“It is good to come to a track that I know and feel familiar with,” said Héctor. “The problem before now was that I’ve been to some very difficult British tracks and I am just trying to learn the track and ride fast. I’ve had some big crashes and I wanted to come to Assen and get some good results despite the pain I am still in.
“I feel like we had good pace and that without the mistake in the first race I could have pushed for maybe a podium. I got pushed wide into the first corner and this lost me a lot of places. I had to work hard to come back through. We made some changes to the bike between the first and second race and it went well. I am looking forward to Donington and Brands.
“The second race was hard on my body as I am still recovering from broken ribs and problems with my lungs and back and I need some extra time to recover. The bike was much better in race two and I say thank you to my team for their hard work.”
Ben Currie added: “It’s been a very tough weekend and everyone is seriously on the pace. We’ve made so many changes with the bike this weekend and the team have worked hard to get a good feeling. It felt really good in the race; I had a bad qualifying position but thankfully made a good start. I made a few mistakes and dropped back to 22nd so I’m quite proud for getting back to 15th.
“I feel so much better in myself this weekend, stronger and fitter. We made some changes to my leathers which have been hindering me without my knowledge and I feel really happy – it’s the best I’ve felt.”
Team Manager Jack Valentine said: “It’s been a positive weekend here in Assen and Héctor really worked hard through the pain he is still suffering and could have potentially put the bike on the podium in race one. He had a problem in the first turn in race one where he got pushed out and dropped back to 20th; he proved the bike is capable of a podium and even a win with the times he was running in the second part of the race. I think for the second race he was struggling more physically after the big crash he had at Oulton.
“I think Ben has made some good strong steps forward this weekend and to have both riders in the points is a great thing after a tough season so far. He seems happier and has settled in more to riding a Superbike; he is fully fit again and is working in the right direction. We are looking forward to Donington.”
Following two races in the Molson Group British Sidecar Championship, Ricky Stevens said:“It was another difficult weekend for us with technical problems to negotiate, and unfortunately luck wasn’t on our side.
“The only real positive to come out of the trip was the fact that we managed to score some points in race two to maintain our sixth position in the championship.
Ben Holland added: “We worked hard and gave everything but unfortunately we had no luck and in the end it wasn’t to be.
“We were pleased with the way both races went but because of the replacement engine issue we weren’t able to score any points this weekend.
“However we would like to say a massive thank-you to Michael De Bidaph, Team Principal Gearlink Kawasaki, who loaned us a replacement engine and ensured we at least enjoyed some racing over the weekend.”