Michael Neeves battling with Yaron Salinger in the Henderson Yamaha R1 Cup

Michael Neeves battling with Yaron Salinger in the Henderson Yamaha R1 Cup

 

Henderson Yamaha R1 Cup – race report, Mallory Park 21/22 June

By Michael Neeves, Pictures by Double Red -

British Superbikes

 30 June 2008 12:32

With Sunday’s Mallory Park race ticked off, I can’t believe we’re now at the halfway point in the Henderson Yamaha R1 Cup already. What with all the bad luck we’ve had with the weather this year, we’ve barely ridden on dry tarmac; there’s been more splashing around than full-throttle action, so it feels like we still haven’t got going yet.

But what a season it’s been so far. I’ve really enjoyed rubbing shoulders with the stars of the series, like Adrian Coates, Gary Mason, Sean Emmett, Ben Wilson, Jack Kennedy, Marty Nutt, Sam Warren and Jon Kirkham in the R1 Cup tent and have loved seeing the same riders (briefly) on the track when they come flying past too.

My results are slowly improving with two top ten results at the MotoGP support race and this weekend at Mallory with an 11th spot; after recovering from a nightmare qualifying session, where I ended up 17th on the grid.

I’ve had some fun battles this year too with Stu Wilson, Paul Shoesmith, new boy Jaron Salinger and Rod Lynn, who isn’t in the series now, unfortunately. Kyle Kentish, Neil Garside and Steven Cusick are getting more rapid by the weekend too. To top it all, every session we did at Mallory over the weekend was dry, which is a first for the year.

But the halfway point of the season means that the winner of Spring Cup has to be decided, and thanks to his win at Mallory ahead of Ben Wilson and Sam Warren, Jon Kirkham has claimed the title. He bags £5000 for clinching the championship, which added to his £2000 for winning the MotoGP support races at Donington (ahead of Jack Kennedy and Sean Emmett who got £1000 and £500 respectively), means he went home from Mallory a whole heap richer than when he arrived. Oh, that’s not including the dosh he got for getting pole position and the fastest lap in the race. He’s a class act.

So now the second half of the season beckons, the slate is wiped clean and the Autumn Cup begins, although there’s still the main championship to battle for. The good news for us is that there should be an extra 25 minute free practice session on the Saturday to get our bikes set-up and hopefully we’ll see some more new faces enter the series.

It’s still not too late to get involved either, so whether you’re a club racer or top national rider you’re guaranteed ding-dong and live, primetime TV coverage on Eurosport.

Jon Kirkham: "I made a few little mistakes, I pulled a bit on Wilson but it was tit for tat out there ‘till I eventually past him. I could hear him on me all the time though and it was hard to get away. I really enjoyed the race. Winning the Spring Cup is awesome but now I have that in the bag I can concentrate on the overall Championship."

Ben Wilson: "I'm pleased but a little disappointed that I couldn't take Jon back for the win. I had a bit of a dash at him on the last lap at the hairpin as I knew that I was faster than him there. We are still playing catch up, and all in all I'm pretty pleased. The whole Championship is my focus and I'll be looking to the second half of the season."

Sam Warren: "That's a great result; to win the Spring Cup was always an outside chance at Jon's peril, which I wouldn't wish on him. I have always concentrated on learning step by step and making progress at each track. To bring it in third in the dry is probably my best ride yet if I'm honest. These are the conditions that are most alien to me from my Supermoto background."

Rob McElnea, Team Principal: "Brilliant! From the start of the year the first part of the Cup has been Jon's. I'm sure some the guys are going to start pushing him for the second half, but he's got this bagged now. He also won the MotoGP event and has walked away seven grand richer! I think he's looking over his shoulder now, Sam Warren is working out how to ride in the dry, and with Ben Wilson and Jack Kennedy, there will be a new crew for the next chapter and the Henderson Yamaha R1 Cup is delivering what we expected it to do."

Race Result
1. Kirkham, 2. B.Wilson, 3. Warren, 4. J.Kennedy, 5. Nutt, 6. Mason, 7. Etheridge, 8. Coates, 9. R.Kennedy, 10. S. Wilson

Championship Standings
1. Kirkham - 119, 2. Warren - 92, 3. B. Wilson - 87, 4. Mason - 69, 5. Emmett - 64
See you at Oulton Park on 19/20 July.