It was a positive day at Brands Hatch for the Halsall Biker Gear Kawasaki squad with Jon Kirkham finishing on the podium in the first MCE Insurance British Superbike outing of the weekend.
After a major breakthrough in free practice on Friday, the team were feeling confident ahead of Saturday’s track action and with a solid fourth place in the final free practice, things looked good for qualifying.
Despite the track still being damp, Kirkham left the pits on slick tyres in Q1 and jumped to the front with his first flying lap. The Derby-rider got knocked off the top spot in the closing stages to finish Q1 a respectable 2nd fastest. Another good lap in Q2 saw him comfortably progress to the final session, for most of which he held third place before being knocked off the front row in the closing stages by Josh Brookes.
The heavens opened before the afternoon’s first race and Jon got off to a steady start from the second row. Never losing contact with the leading group, he sat in fifth place for the opening five laps before making up two positions on the seventh lap.
When Shane Byrne crashed out on lap eight, Jon was promoted to second and began to look at chasing down race leader Dan Linfoot. It had looked as though Jon was dropping off in the closing stages, losing position to Howie Mainwaring and Josh Waters but coming strong at the end of the race, he secured an impressive third placed finish to take his and the team’s first podium of the 2014 season.
Despite missing out in qualifying ahead of the first race, Jon will get his chance to start from the front row in tomorrow’s second race after setting the third fastest lap in race one.
“It was really greasy out there, I was getting loads of grip out on the GP circuit but around the Indy section it was really slippery. I’m chuffed for the Halsall Kawasaki team, we’ve been plugging away since I joined in the middle of the season. We’ve had a tough few rounds struggling to turn our qualifying into a decent race result but we changed a braking component this weekend making the braking softer at the beginning and stronger and the end and it’s made a world of difference. We nearly got a front row start in the dry earlier but Josh just beat me. I was looking forward to a dry race to see what we could do but the rain came, but we’ll take a podium and see how we get on tomorrow!”
Jack Valentine, Team Manager:
“I’ve had a good feeling all weekend that we’d come away with a good result as Jon’s been strong in every session. We’ve got the balance of the bike just right for him, he’s really pleased. He’s strong in damp, wet and dry conditions. He just missed out on the front row of the grid and then put together a really professional, really well structured race. He kept his head, looked after his tyres. It’s a fantastic result for all the hard work the team has put in, it’s nice to finish on the podium. We’ve got another two races to go now, so let’s see how we can do.”
Martin Halsall: “Jon deserves that, he’s put the effort in and so have the team. It’s been up and down from the start of the season. When we brought Jack Valentine on board we got a bit of stability in the team and it’s nice to see that paying off.”
The Halsall Biker Gear Kawasaki squad will be back in action tomorrow at 12:30 and 16:00.
Race 1 Result
1. H. MAINWARING – Quattro Plant Kawasaki
2. J. WATERS – Tyco Suzuki
3. J. KIRKHAM – Halsall Biker Gear Kawasaki
4. D. LINFOOT – Quattro Plant Kawasaki
5. T. BRIDEWELL – Milwaukee Yamaha
6. S. EASTON – Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki
7. J. ELLISON – Lloyds British GBmoto Kawasaki
8. J. BROOKES – Milwaukee Yamaha
9. J. WESTMORELAND – Buildbase BMW
10. C. WALKER – Lloyds British GBmoto Kawasaki