Kirkham settles in at Halsall Biker Gear Kawasaki
It was a frustrating weekend for the Halsall Biker Gear Kawasaki team at Knockhill, as a significant lack of track time hampered the team’s efforts to break into the points with Jon Kirkham.
Kirkham got a first taste of his new Halsall Racing Kawasaki ZX10-R during Friday’s free practice and spent the two sessions familiarising himself with the bike and getting into the rhythm of things having not ridden in anger since Oulton Park at the beginning of May.
In qualifying, Kirkham and the Halsall Biker Gear Kawasaki struggled in the final sector of the 1.3 mile Knockhill circuit and was therefore unable to capitalise on his pace in the first two sectors leaving him 21st on the grid for Sunday’s two races.
After a step forward in morning warm-up, Kirkham was confident ahead of the first race but struggled with the ZX10-R in a race situation. Making up two places on the start, Kirkham began to chase down Howie Mainwaring for 18th place. The Derby rider made his way past Mainwaring and Ian Hutchinson into 17th before setting off after Ben Wilson. Despite reducing a gap of 1.7 seconds to 0.1 sec towards the end of the race, Kirkham was unable to find a way past his Kawasaki rival on the final lap and was forced to settle for 17th.
Making some changes to the bike’s gearing for the second race in search of improvement. Despite a strong start to the race, shooting into 14th from the start, the new set-up proved to be a step backwards as Kirkham struggled towards the end of the race dropping back to 17th.
Jon Kirkham: “It was a tough weekend! We were chipping away each session but in qualifying we couldn’t get down to the times we wanted. We were consistent but unable to get in that one fast lap. In morning warm up we made further improvements but in the race I struggled with the bike in a race situation.
“I wasn’t very happy with 17th so we changed quite a lot for the second race but unfortunately made it worse and I was really struggling in a few places so I just used the race as practice on the bike. Overall I’m disappointed not to have any results but we’ve done some good mileage now and can work on that. The bike is awesome and when we get to a track like Brands Hatch we can really use its potential of it but at a place like Knockhill it’s difficult to gel with a bike you’ve never ridden. I’m a bit rusty as well to be honest, I haven’t really ridden in seven weeks and my confidence isn’t sky high after a tough start to the season. It’s going to take a bit of work but I think we will get there and I’m looking forward to Brands Hatch!”
Jack Valentine, Team Manager: “We didn’t expect much from this weekend but we can’t say we aren’t disappointed. Jon’s really happy with the bike and has worked well with us. A combination of things held us back, Jon is a bit rusty after having only really ridden at Oulton so far this year and the team has no data for Knockhill whatsoever as the crew is entirely different to when last here. That coupled with Jon being on the bike for the first time made it a hard task!
“Jon showed good pace. In the first two sectors he was high up the timesheets but seemed to be struggling in the final sector. I think he had potential to finish top twelve this weekend but we just couldn’t get that final sector right. The first race didn’t work out so we went back to a previous set-up for the second but it was worse. Jon made a good start so without the set-up issues I think he could have had a good result. It didn’t work out this weekend but it’s nice to be working Jon again and we’re looking onwards and upwards for Brands!”
Halsall Biker Kawasaki will be back out at the fifth round of the MCE British Superbike Championship at Brands Hatch on the 18/19/20th July.