Having been reunited with his HM Plant Honda Fireblade after being absent for the previous two rounds, Josh Brookes returned to action and put in an incredible performance at an unfamiliar circuit to claim a front row start, going on to secure two third places in the British Superbike championship.
John McGuinness and Steve Plater - the two oldest racers in BSB! - proved there is still plenty of life in the old dogs yet by both taking victory in the sensationally hard fought Superstock 1000 and Supersport races respectively. Steve extended his championship lead and also picked up a bottle of bubbly after being named Eurosport's Rider of the Day by commentator James Whitham.
Ryuichi Kiyonari returned to the HM Plant British Superbike team to deputise for the injured Glen Richards and rode to a strong fourth placed in the opening race but had problems in the second leg and ended the race down in 18th position.
BRITISH SUPERBIKE CHAMPIONSHIP
Qualifying - Josh Brookes 4th/ Ryuichi Kiyonari 11th.
Race one (20 laps) Josh Brookes 3rd / Ryuichi Kiyonari 4th
Race two (20 laps) Josh Brookes 3rd / Ryuichi Kiyonari 18th
Despite this being his first race weekend visit to the North Yorkshire circuit, Brookes took advantage of his front row grid position to make a good start in race one and held second place in the early laps before being pushed back to third and then to fourth. But he never gave up and remained right on the tail of Andrews to lap 15 when Andrews crashed, elevating Josh who maintained his position to the chequered flag.
Meanwhile, Kiyo powered his HM Plant Honda through to ninth place on the opening lap. He continued to make progress, picking off the opposition one by one until he reached fourth place. Although he got to within 0.7s of his HM Plant Honda teammate he was unable to progress further and completed his first race in fourth position.
In race two Josh made further progress off the line to take the lead at the first corner, and ride a hard but smooth race to take his second podium. Kiyo did not fare well in race two, experiencing less confidence in the front end of his bike following some set-up changes in between races, leaving the double British Superbike champion down in 19th position. Despite a spirited ride that saw him move back up into 16th place he was unable to maintain the pace and had to settle for a 18th at the chequered flag.
"It's been great to be back on the HM Plant Honda Fireblade and racing again. The bike's felt good all weekend and we've made a few tweaks here and there, but nothing major. In race one I felt I had the pace to be able to race and hang in there, but not really push my way up the pack. We changed the front suspension setting for race two and that gave me more feel. Overall I'm very pleased to come away with two podium finishes and move up into fifth in the championship standings."
"Being back with the HM Palnt Honda team is a bit like coming ‘home'. We all slotted straight back into things together it was a fun and relaxed weekend. Starting from 11th on the grid wasn't going to make the race easy but the bike's setting have been good and I was able to make my way through the field. It would have been nice to finish on the podium with Josh but I'm pleased with fourth for my first time back in BSB after two years. For race two we chose to make a few set-up changes to the bike for development evaluation but I didn't have as much confidence in the front of the bike so couldn't push as hard."
BRITISH SUPERSPORT CHAMPIONSHIP
Race (18 laps) 1st
Despite starting from a third row grid position, Steve Plater rode a faultless race to power his HM Plant Honda CBR600RR Supersport machine through the field to claim a sensational win. The Woodall Spa rider maintained seventh position during the first half of the 18 lap affair but was never far away from the leading group. After a brief safety car outing, Steve began his charge through the field and within two laps had made his way to third position. Two laps later and he moved up to second and on the penultimate lap, in a classy move, he stole the lead. Although Billy McConnell made a last lap attempt to overhaul him, Steve was having none of it and held his line to the flag. This fine win over McConnell sees Steve extend his series lead from two to seven points with two races remaining and his outstanding performance earned him the Eurosport Rider of the Day Award.
"I wasn't really happy even after this morning's warm up. We have had some issues and even in the race had problems in the same kind of places. We were given some advice from one or two of the other Honda teams as to what settings they were using but in the end decided to go with what we knew and not to take any big risks. I changed to a harder rear tyre because the temperature had dropped right off from yesterday so it wasn't quite so good in the first five or six laps. But I bided my time and after the pace car went in I decided it was time to rock and roll! I knew what I had to do and I watching and looking to see what everybody else was dong. They were fighting between themselves and I knew what I wanted and where I was to attack. Croft is a place where you have to plan your moves four corners beforehand so I had to keep that in my mind and put the passes in where I knew I could make them count."
NATIONAL SUPERSTOCK 1000 CHAMPIONSHIP
Qualifying: John McGuinness 3rd / Steve Brogan 2nd
Race (15 laps): John McGuinness 1st / Steve Brogan 4th
Today's national Superstock race produced quite probably the most gripping racing action of the whole season, with Honda's Steve Brogan and John McGuinness both responsible for the sensational front runner action on their Padgett's Honda CBR1000RRs. Although the championship title was won by Seeley at the last round, the hard charging Scouser Steve was determined to give him a run for his money to not take another race win and produced an entire 15 lap race dice with Seeley as both battled for supremacy. Meanwhile, John followed in their tracks and on the last lap and everything came to a head at the final corner when the pair touched as they jostled for the win. Both riders ran wide and McGuinness shot past to secure the win - his first in circuit racing for eight years. Steve and Seeley recovered sufficiently to finish the race but Steve had to settle for a gutting fourth."
"I really don't know what to say. What more could I have done! I was determined to not let Alistair win another race and the whole race was amazing - racing like that is just so exciting and uses every skill you have as a rider. We made some pretty ballsy but fair moves on eachother and although I am gutted to not have won, or even finish on the podium, I am pleased that we made such a great racing spectacle for the crowds and viewers and also that it was John who won for Honda and the Padgett's team."
"What a race. I was right behind Steve and Alistair for the whole race and just watched in amazement as things unfolded between them. Talk about not giving an inch - those two weren't giving each other even a millimetre! It's such a shame for Steve but I knew when they both ran wide I had an open door so just took it. This is my first short circuit race win in eight years and feels amazing. Honda and Padgett's have shown great faith in my over the years and I'm chuffed to be able to give them a top step of the rostrum."
Havier Beltran - HM Plant Honda Team Manager
"This weekend has seen some superb racing action and it's satisfying to know that has been partly down to Honda and our great riders. In the Superbike class Josh was straight back ‘on it' after 6 weeks away and we couldn't have asked for any better of him that his two third place finishes. Kiyo has slotted back in like he's never been away which made for a good team atmosphere for him and the team and rode very well for this fourth place in race one. To continue with bike development and evaluation we made a few changes to set-up for race two, but this resulted in Kiyo having less confidence in the front end and not being able to push as hard, hence his disappointing race position. Steve's had a difficult weekend struggling to find a good pace, but he rode an exceptional race with great and consistent lap times to stun everyone with his hard charge in the second half of the race. With regards to Superstock - what a race that was! We're gutted for Steve to have come so close with no podium reward, but it was good that John was so in the mix to take advantage of Steve and Alistair running wide and take victory for him and Honda."
The next and penultimate round is at Silverstone over the weekend of 25-27 September 25-27 HM Plant Honda is anticipating that Glen Richards will be back to partner Josh Brookes.