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Henderson R1 Cup: More rain for Donington Park round

By Michael Neeves -

British Superbikes

 29 May 2008 11:42

Another Henderson R1 Cup round and another typically wet and windy weekend.

This will be the sixth consecutive race meeting I’ve done this year (including the three Bemsee Powerbike rounds I’ve done) where the weather has been dire, I can’t believe it!

It’s bad enough riding in the rain, but having to stand around a cold, damp paddock all day waiting for our slot on track can take the shine off the weekend a bit. I’m starting to think it’s me, as when the Yamaha R1 Cup missed out on the Brands Hatch meeting the other week it was scorchio!

But weather aside; it was another fantastic Henderson Yamaha R1 Cup meeting. We had two races this time around, our usual one between British Superbike races one and two and a race on the Monday morning, which is the re-run, snow-cancelled race from the first round at Brands Hatch.

Aside from dealing with heavy winds (I was nearly hit by a flying polystyrene 100-meter marker board – it’s the closest I’ve ever got to braking for one of those!) the racing was as hot as ever.

Up the front, the on-form, super-talented John Kirkham did his usual disappearing act and cleared off to win both races. He was followed up both times by Ben Wilson and Adrian Coates. All three riders are also contesting the Metzeler National Superstock 1000 championship too, so had busy weekends.

As for me, I had mixed fortunes. In wet practice I was up as high as fifth fastest before I highsided coming out of Macleans. I was uninjured, but fellow Yamaha R1 Cup racer Stu Wilson had exactly the same crash and chipped a bone in his shoulder and broke a toe, ouch.

The track surface was treacherous and a total of 88 riders crashed in one wet afternoon in the slippery, greasy conditions.

Although my mechanics Dave and Andy had to clean and piece the bike back together again with parts supplied by the Yamaha R1 Cup crew (remember, all crash damage is included in the entry fee, thankfully), so I did manage to draw a few positives.

The bike felt much better in the wet on its soft settings than it did in the dry, so I softened off the suspension for our two races, which were (amazingly) dry. Also, it was also nice to be towards the front of the timing sheets for a change, although I’ll admit it’s not much good if you don’t stay on.

I finished race one in 16th and scored a point in race two finishing 15th. For both races I managed to stay close to Stu Wilson for a bit, but he eventually got the better of me, despite being in pain from his injuries and having to take his hand of the left handlebar down the straights to be comfortable. So you could say that he beat me almost with one hand tied behind his back…

Our next round is at Snetterton on June 14-15 but a week after that we’re back at Donington Park as the support race for the MotoGP, where hopefully it’ll be sunny. Now, I wonder if Toseland will fit into my leathers…

Jon Kirkham: "The wind was a major factor in that race; I nearly got pushed onto the grass by it on the closing laps. I really enjoyed the race, Ben passed me a few times in the opening laps but once I managed to get past him I just had to focus on leading the race.

“It can be quite hard at times, wondering what's going on behind you. I'm pleased for the wins and can't fault the bike and the tyres."

Ben Wilson: "Two seconds for us today is not too bad at all. Jon was quicker than me today, all credit to him he has been running a great pace this weekend. I'd like to thank all my sponsors to be honest, without them we would not be here."

Adrian Coates: "I'm gonna have to improve my starts and get away with the leaders, it was a good race and I had some great battles with Sean.

“I knew that I had the pace over him and just had to get past. Two podiums today, so I can't grumble at that."

Joe Henderson, CEO Henderson Insurance: "It's a series that is getting more enjoyable and more competitive round on round. I'm looking forward to the second half of the season where I think that we can expect some more riders.

“It's been fantastic all the way through, we expect to see some of the characters at the front, there have been some surprises and the lads the whole way through the grid are really enjoying themselves."