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Frustrating Assen for Halsall Biker Gear Kawasaki

The Halsall Biker Gear Kawasaki Team endured a frustrating weekend at the tenth round of the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship.

Despite showing promising pace throughout the weekend and setting pole for the second race, Jon Kirkham left the TT Circuit Assen with no points after two unfortunate DNFs.

In qualifying Kirkham comfortably progressed through the Q1 and Q2 sessions before the rain came down for the final ten minute shoot out for pole. Riding to the conditions, he made good use of the untimed wet practice before going on to qualify in a strong seventh place.

A heavy downfall prior to Sunday’s first race soaked the 2.542 mile Assen circuit but with the sun shining minutes later, parts of the track began to dry leaving riders with the difficult choice of whether to run wet or intermediate tyres. Knowing how quickly Assen can dry and with nothing to lose, Kirkham opted to run with a wet front tyre and intermediate rear. On a largely wet circuit, the five riders using intermediate tyres struggled in the early stages but as the race went on the lap times tumbled. In 21st position, Kirkham set the fastest lap of the race on the eighth lap with his pace over a second quicker than those in ahead. Unfortunately his luck ran out as the heavens opened once again on lap nine. The rain caught Kirkham off guard on and without wet weather tyres he crashed out of contention.

Securing the fastest lap of the first race saw Kirkham start race two from pole position. A steady start saw him remain with the top four but the Derby-rider then struggled to maintain the pace of the frontrunners. Dropping back to eighth place, he was pushing to stay with the group ahead when the front tucked underneath him ending his race.

Jon Kirkham: “It was looking really good this weekend, we qualified seventh and I was really looking forward to the race. We made a big tyre gamble for race one but unfortunately it didn’t pay off, when it rained again it caught me out and I was on my backside before I knew it. The positive thing from that was we secured pole position with the Halsall Biker Gear Kawasaki. I was confident I could run similar times to the boys at the front in race two, in free practice three our ideal times were well up there but in the race we had similar problems to Donington.  When I went to out-brake somebody the bike would go sideways. I thought if I could stay with the group ahead I could maybe make up a few places but then I ran into the back of Christian Iddon and lost a place to Ellison. I was trying to keep with him but the back-end came round on me in one of the corners and made the front tuck. I’m confused as to what has happened, come the race it always seems to go wrong. I’m just disappointed really.”

Jack Valentine, Team Manager: “The first race was run in very difficult conditions after the rain at the beginning. We had to make a decision on the grid and knowing Assen after being here a few times, we know how quick it can dry out. We ran a wet front and intermediate rear and despite it being a bit iffy on the first few laps, it started to prove a good choice with Jon setting the fastest lap of the race on the eighth lap. I thought that’d be the start of moving forwards, we wouldn’t have been on the rostrum but with picking up places at a second a lap, we could have got a decent result but unfortunately the rain came down and brought Jon off.

“With pole position, we were really optimistic for race two, we aren’t quite ready for the win yet but we were pushing hard for the top six as we know we’re more than capable of that. Pole set us up well, we lost a couple of places in the first few laps and then we just couldn’t run the times we’d been running in qualifying and warm-up. Jon says there is some sort of problem with the bike backing into corners, we’re not quite sure what it is, it’s odd as it’s not something that happens in any of the practice or qualifying sessions so we’ll need to look at the data and regroup before Silverstone. It’s disappointing as we had chance to secure a really strong finish today.”

The Halsall Biker Gear Kawasaki team will be back in action in two weeks’ time at Silverstone.