The Quattro Plant JG Speedfit Kawasaki pairing of Héctor Barberá and Ben Currie endured a frustrating three days at Donington Park this weekend (4th to 6th October).
Unfortunately, they finished the penultimate round of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship outside of the points in both races, Barberá’s brace of 17ths their best results.
The Leicestershire venue saw mixed conditions throughout the weekend but, after wet weather on Friday, qualifying on Saturday was held in good, dry conditions although it proved to be a difficult session for both riders. Currie slid off the Kawasaki ZX-10RR at Redgate Corner to eventually finish in 21st place and Spaniard Barberá finished two places further back in 23rd.
It meant they lined up for Sunday’s first 20-lap race on the seventh and eighth rows respectively with dry conditions all around the 2.5-mile Grand Prix circuit and although both riders made progress during the race, 17th for Barberá and 19th for Currie meant they both, unfortunately, missed out on scoring points.
The second race followed a similar pattern and the duo found themselves battling on the edge of the top 20 for the first half of the race. By lap 13, Australian Currie was up into 18th place with Barberá two places further back as they battled with Yamaha rider Dan Linfoot.
There was little to choose between the three riders and on the closing stages of the 20-lap race, Barberá came through to take his second 17th place finish of the day with Currie just one-tenth-of-a-second further back in 18th.
Héctor said: “It was a very difficult weekend and we lost our way with the set-up, but the team are very positive and have a lot of energy to keep pushing forwards.
“It has been hard to come in mid-season when a lot of the teams have data and set-up and after some big crashes breaking several bones, it has been very difficult.
“We made too many changes this weekend and some worked and some didn’t; maybe we need to go testing to find one good set-up with the bike.
“After the first race the bike was too aggressive, so we made some changes then we struggled with the electronics. I hope we can find a good set-up for Brands and have better results.”
Ben said: “It was a roller-coaster weekend: I got two top ten positions in the wet on Friday but I wasn’t comfortable in the rain – we had a bad feeling with the bike.
“We were still struggling in the dry on Saturday morning and then I made a mistake in qualifying where I ended up crashing out. This cost me some vital grid positions and it was always going to be difficult in the race.
“The first race was OK but the second race was much better and we found a good set-up with the bike, I fought till the end and had a much better race. I hope to finish Brands higher up the results sheets in a couple of weeks’ time.”
Team Manager Jack Valentine added: “Sadly I don’t have much to say; the results are disappointing for everyone involved and we just weren’t able to make the progress that we should be doing.
“The team worked hard but both riders struggled with set-up over the weekend which cost them in the races, and neither was able to make it into a point-scoring position. It’s very tough and I just hope we can end the season on a high note at Brands Hatch.”
The meeting also marked the penultimate round of the Molson Group British Sidecar Championship although the first race saw the team suffer mixed fortunes as former champions Ricky Stevens/Ryan Charlwood took a fine fourth place, just 0.212s off the podium but team-mates Ben Holland/Lee Watson retired on the eighth lap.
Sunday’s second encounter started in dry conditions but was ultimately stopped early as rain began to fall and although Holland/Watson were again forced out of proceedings, Stevens/Charlwood took a solid seventh place to move up to fifth overall in the Championship standings.
Ricky said: “We qualified in sixth which meant we started race one on row three on the grid and finished fourth which was pretty good. Although we felt with a few adjustments to the bike we could do a lot better in race two, we were unable to improve on that finishing seventh.
“It’s not where we wanted to be, but we were pleased to get two strong point-scoring results as it means we’ve still got a good chance of finishing third in the championship especially with double points up for grabs in the final round.”
Ben added: “We endured another very disappointing weekend owing to mechanical failures. We qualified in ninth for a row four start on Saturday but had to run in a new engine in free practice which put us on the back foot and sadly a gear change issue put paid to any hopes we had of finishing the race.
“In race two the bike developed an electrical misfire which meant we were forced to retire early once again. Two DNFs have really reduced our chances of finishing in the top ten this season but that is still the aim.”