Tommy Hill extends BSB championship lead
Tommy Hill took second and third place finishes at Oulton Park today to significantly extend his lead in the British Superbike Championship. His Worx Crescent Suzuki team-mate Yukio Kagayama was unfortunately the victim of a race one accident that also left him unable to take part in race two.
For Hill it was another day of strong performances. In race one rival Stuart Easton led off the line and while Hill was never more than three-tenths of a second behind, Easton's late-braking style prevented a pass. At the finish Hill was just 0.058-seconds adrift.
Rain fell before the second race and so Hill rode conservatively, getting a feel for the conditions before passing several competitors to secure the final podium position. Significantly, Easton, his nearest rival in the points standings, elected to ride on a different tyre compound for this race and failed to find the grip he needed and so retired. Consequently Hill's lead in the championship has extended to 51 points.
Tommy Hill: "I'm feeling really good, really chuffed with this result. The second race was a real test in iffy conditions. There was a rush to get the adjustments made, changing the gearing, wanting to change the suspension, it was all very last minute. I spent a bit of time getting a feel for the conditions and where the bike felt good. I didn't know where Josh (Brookes) or Stuart were so it was a pleasant surprise when I came in to find I had those extra points over them. In all a consistent weekend, and I'm happy with that!"
Yukio Kagayama had qualified in seventh position, but for this morning's warm up he made changes to his set-up that brought him up to fourth fastest. However in the first race he got a bad start and riding mid-pack was approaching Island Bend when he got hit from behind, causing him to crash at high speed.
The heavy fall left Kagayama winded and battered. However a subsequent x-ray revealed a compression to his T7 vertebrae and Kagayama will now undergo a CT scan to get the fullest detail on his injury.
Yukio Kagayama: "I was very happy with the changes to the set-up we made this morning and I felt a podium result would be possible. Unfortunately I didn't make the best start in that first race. Then as I was turning into Island Bend I was hit from behind and crashed. The crash wasn't a very comfortable experience and while I was winded at first I'm still very sore now. No injury is good, but I'm optimistic that I'll be well enough for the next round at Cadwell Park in three weeks time."
Jack Valentine, team manager: "I'm very pleased with Tommy's performance this weekend. In both races he rode intelligently, not making a pass in that first race when it would have been risky and then playing himself in carefully in the second, taking no chances, but working hard and taking yet another valuable podium.
"Yukio was very unlucky again this weekend. He'd made good progress on his set-up this morning and looked good for some strong results. The plan is now is to see him back at Cadwell Park fit and rested. He's starting to lose touch with that vital sixth place in the championship but there's still plenty of opportunity to turn his season around.
"Altogether a good weekend for Suzuki, though. To have three GSX-R1000s in the top-five is a great situation to be in and congratulations to Michael Laverty on his win this afternoon. Now it's onto Cadwell Park and hopefully more of the same from Tommy and hopefully a change of luck for Yukio."
MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship, Oulton Park,
MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship standings after three rounds: