With regular British Superbike stars Glen Richards and Josh Brookes temporarily out through injury, rider changes meant reigning Superstock champion Steve Brogan and World Superbike racer, Karl Muggeridge, who is also returning from injury, took the HM Plant Honda helm in the British Superbike class and showed competitive race performances.
Honda's display stand showcased a range of two-wheelers, cars and power equipment products over the course of the weekend, and was graced with celebrity bike fans including Coronation Street's Jimi Harkishin (who plays ‘Dev') and Danny John Jules of Red Dwarf fame.
BRITISH SUPERBIKE CHAMPIONSHIP
Qualifying: Karl Muggeridge 9th / Steve Brogan 14th
Race 1 (20 laps): Karl Muggeridge 4th / Steve Brogan 14th
Race 2 (20 laps): Karl Muggeridge 7th / Steve Brogan 8th
Race 3 (20 laps): Karl Muggeridge 6th / Steve Brogan 11th
Brands Hatch featured a triple-header in the BSB class. The opening Superbike race saw Karl shoot from eighth on the grid to second by the first corner and ride with strong pace to take fourth at the chequered flag in his British Superbike debut. Team-mate Steve experienced a difficult race following a gamble change with his bike's set-up before the race.
Sunday's opening Superbike race saw both HM Plant Honda riders make set-up changes to their CBR1000RR Fireblades and make a good start off the line, but with the pack then being closed together when the safety car was deployed on the fifth lap following a crash at Hawthorns, until lap nine. James Ellison was piling the pressure on Steve Brogan for seventh, with the pair almost touching fairings at various points on circuit. 'Brogie' held the advantage, holding him at bay on the brakes into Paddock Hill Bend but at Druids he had to run wide when another rider cut in front of him and handed the place to Ellison. He cut back in and then he was trying to overtake team-mate Karl Muggeridge who had also been able to take advantage of the mistake, but took closely fought seventh and eighth places at the race end.
The third and final BSB race of the weekend witnessed further ‘on the pace' and hard fought performances by both riders, but with Karl having to settle for sixth due to grip issues and Brogie having to accept eleventh.
Karl Muggeridge (#31)
"We've covered a lot of ground this weekend and really used the qualifying session for testing as I am obviously playing catch up at the moment. We've made various changes to the bike's settings and it has been pretty busy for us trying to find out what works for me. For the first race yesterday we went for a completely new setting with a different shock and link and that worked well. This morning though we have been making more changes including new front forks and the front felt much better and I am really comfortable now. My race positions are not where I want to be as I do believe I could have challenged for a podium, but it's early days and with a bit more time on the bike at Cadwell we can hopefully build on my three top ten finishes from this weekend and get on the podium."
Steve Brogan (#19)
"I'm not disappointed, but I'm not satisfied either, as I know I did my best for the time I've had on the bike and I've been finishing ahead of some the of BSB established and regular riders, but, I know there's more to come and that I'm capable of finishing in the top five, if not on the podium. My pace has been good and not dissimilar to other riders but we've had to use this race for testing and trying different bike settings, so that's affected things. Riding in this class for the last two races has made me even more certain that this is where I'm meant to be and made me more determined to be on a Superbike next season. I'd like to thanks HM Plant Honda for giving me this opportunity which has been a great experience where I've learnt a lot aswell."
BRITISH SUPERSPORT CHAMPIONSHIP
Race (18 laps): 3rd
Completing his race in third place on the CBR600RR, Steve Plater sees his series lead diminish further and now holds a slender advantage of just eight points over Billy McConnell.
Steve didn't get the start he was hoping for and was left battling for position with a gaggle of riders in eighth place. But as he settled into his race he began to make progress, taking the opportunity to make a pass on each of the riders ahead until he made it up into second position to chase the race leader and eventual winner, James Westmoreland.
But his progress was hindered when the pace car was deployed to allow medics to treat an injured rider who crashed at Hawthorne on lap nine, enabling the rest of the field to close up. Steve held off the persistent challenges of Billy McConnell who was the one rider he needed to keep at bay, but on the final lap McConnell was able to clinch one place on Steve in the closing laps, which he held to the chequered flag.
"It's great to get on the podium and retain my lead in the series, but obviously I'm disappointed that I didn't manage to clinch second. When the pace car came out Billy was able to close in again and a small mistake in the closing laps meant he had an opportunity to slip past. After the car went back in I got my head down but it wasn't enough and I knew that someone was very close to me on the last lap and that he would be attacking but wasn't quite sure where. It's just one of those things but it's a bit frustrating when I had done all the hard work to get through to second and was chasing after the leader and then got beaten on the last lap. Billy has gained a few points on me but at least Ben Wilson hasn't as he finished behind me so we can go forward and push on to Cadwell and see what happens there. I'm confident for the remaining four rounds of the series and maintaining my lead to win the championship."
BRITISH SUPERSTOCK 1000 CHAMPIONSHIP
Qualifying: Steve Brogan 2nd / John McGuinness 4th
Race (18 laps): John McGuinness 3rd / Steve Brogan 2nd
Honda's Steve Brogan and John McGuinness dominated in the Superstock race on their Padgett's Honda CBR1000RR Fireblades, taking second and third place respectively in the re-started race after a red flag caused by a crash.
"It feels good to be on the podium but I don't know what more I can do - Alastair is like a little whippet! I didn't get the best of starts and Alastair was just gone so from there it was just a point of trying to catch him and hold my second place! I also had to start from fourth on the re-start as it was based on your position before the red flag so that also didn't help. Every race I'm riding the wheels off the bike which is handling and running brilliantly, and I'm really enjoying the good racing and tussles us front runners are having. But there are still four races left and anything can happen so I'll be keeping the pressure up!"
"Today was another great race on the ‘Blade and it feels great to be on the podium, especially with Steve to give Padgett's a double podium. I was able to push up to third early in the race and then just run with good pace to stick with the front guys. I'm really enjoying the racing and we're continually chipping away at things. We've got great bikes, are competitive and have good quality racing, so the job's a dream."
Havier Beltran, HM Plant Honda Team Manager
"We've come away from this race with some solid race finishes in the Superbike class, and also achieved podiums in the Supersport and Superstock classes. Whilst we're not happy to not be challenging for podiums in the Superbike class at every race meeting, the progress made and results achieved, given our team rider changes, is creditable. Steve has managed to hold on to his lead in Supersport albeit with a reduced margin, so he's got some work to do in the remaining four rounds but we've every confidence in him and the CBR600RR. John and Brogie rode brilliantly as always in Superstock but it just seems that no matter how hard they try this seems to be Alastair's year. In Superbikes, both Steve and Karl have worked excellently and we've had to use a lot of this race weekend for testing and trying different bike set-ups to suit their riding styles. That's never ideal, but Karl has achieved three top ten race finishes on his debut which is very impressive, and we've made some great bike set-up progress which I'm sure will benefit us at Cadwell."
The HM Plant Honda team and Lincolnshire's Steve Plater can be seen in action next at Cadwell Park - the team's and Steve's ‘home' round - from Saturday 29 to Monday 31 August.
HM Plant Honda 2009 Remaining Race Events
BSB Round 9, 29-31 August, Cadwell Park
BSB Round 10, 11-13 September, Croft
BSB Round 11, 25-27 September, Silverstone
BSB Round 12, 9-11 October, Oulton Park