A few niggling teething issues with the bike disrupted Plater’s free practice sessions but these appeared to be resolved in time for the 50- minute qualification period on Sunday and he was quickly on the pace on a damp track.
As the track began to dry Plater came in for a tyre change and immediately moved up into eighth position. Encouraged by this he returned for a second qualifying tyre to try to improve his position but on the run to Druids the chain snapped and he had to jog back to the garage and jump on his spare bike.
“I must have run half a lap to pick up the spare bike, but of course the slick qualifying tyres were on the bike parked at Druids,” said Plater. “We are only permitted to use a certain amount of qualifiers and we had reached our quota so I had no alternative but to set off with an intermediate tyre on the front. It was like riding on marbles and I nearly crashed three times in the space of one lap. I went as hard as I dare but could only post a time fast enough to secure 22nd place on the grid which is disappointing to say the least.”
The first race was disrupted by rain and Steve chose the wrong compound tyre, which affected his pace on a drying surface.
He explained: “On reflection it was not quite wet enough for full wets. I chose a harder compound tyre and was sliding around quite a bit. I had a couple of moments and decided it wasn’t worth carrying on and perhaps crashing as I was unlikely to have made it up into the points so I pulled into the pits at the end of lap four.”
Race two was a different matter, and Plater began to make steady progress towards the riders ahead, picking them off one a lap until he reached 14th position. The race was then red-flagged and a result declared at positions on lap 13 giving him 14th place and two championship points. The results were then quickly amended to exclude a faller on lap 13 and Plater awarded 13th place.
But after an inquiry in which Leon Haslam was deemed to have been the cause of a crash that took out Tom Sykes, the HM Plant Honda rider was excluded from the results, which was an added bonus for Plater as he was promoted to 12th place and awarded an extra championship point giving him four in all.
“That was hard work really,” said Plater. “I worked so hard to come from 22nd to finishing in 12th place. I got stuck behind one or two riders at times but eventually managed to get by and get my head down and keep consistent. It was a little bit of guess work with tyre choice, I went for a softer compound this time and it seemed to hang in there but I was struggling for rear grip if anything.”
Plater will miss the next two rounds of the series as he travels directly from Oulton Park to Albacete in Spain for the second round of the World Endurance championship to be run over six hours on Saturday, May 10. Plater took the victory in the event last year and will be hoping to match that performance this time with Team Yamaha Austria.
Following that he will ride in the North West 200 in Ireland, a previous winner at the North West, Plater will be hoping to make it to the top of the podium once again for AIM Yamaha.
The next round of the British Superbike series follows at Donington Park on May 26 but the races clash with practice for the Isle of Man TT and Plater is due to commence his qualifying laps on the island over the same weekend.
The next time Plater will see race action with the British Superbike championship will be on June 15 at Snetterton in Norfolk.