Riding as a 'wildcard' in the series that acts as a support to the main World Superbike Championship, the Manxman fought his way through the pack from 30th on the grid and even more impressive was the fact that he lapped almost one and a half seconds quicker than what he had done at the British Championship round four weeks earlier.
After setting the 22nd fastest time in free practice, Conor looked to move inside the top 15 during first qualifying but a rain shower kept him down in 30th place and this was where he would line up on the grid for the 12-lap race. However, 19th in the final free practice was more indicative of his pace although coming through the pack from the eighth row of the grid was going to be a tall order. A strong start saw him immediately advance forward a number of places though and, lapping the 2.5-mile GP circuit quicker than ever before, he was soon inside the top 20. Embroiled in a superb six-man dice for 14th place, Conor ultimately crossed the line in 18th place, just missing out on some Championship points by less than three seconds, but as well as acquitting himself exceptionally well, it also gave him a major taste of the action on the International stage.
Speaking later, the double TT podium finisher said:
"It's been a really good weekend and although I was on a BSB specification bike, which is lower spec than the European spec bikes, I was in with a shout of the points. My grid position wasn't the greatest but I dug deep for the race and after a strong start I was able to start fighting with riders on the edge of the top 15. It's definitely a step up from the British Championship as the level of competition is exceptional but I've learnt an awful lot and that's certainly been seen in my lap times. I did a 1m35.1s lap here this weekend and that would have qualified me fifth at the British round back in May so it's clear my level of riding has moved on considerably. I've been able to spend a lot more time on the R1 Yamaha and have made some major strides forward with the set-up so I'll be looking to capitalize on that at the next British Championship meeting and get myself a lot closer to the front. Finally, I must say a big thank you to everyone at Team Blackhorse Yamaha for making this weekend possible - it's been absolutely brilliant and I can't thank them enough."
Conor now heads to Knockhill for the sixth round of the Metzeler National Superstock 1000cc Championship with the meeting taking place from July 3-5.
Picture by Glynne Lewis