Harris and Honda Racing win again
Karl Harris has won the fifth round of the British Supersport Championship at Knockhill. The Honda Racing star took the lead from fellow Honda rider Michael Laverty on the sixth lap and then used the superb set-up on his CBR600RR to his advantage to build up a sizeable nine-second lead from Leon Haslam and Rob Frost.
The race was held in damp conditions, with the majority of the racing line dry. Honda Racing made the correct tyre choice and that gave Harris the confidence to ride through the challenging conditions and dominate the 28-lap event in front of a huge and appreciative crowd at the 1.3-mile Fife circuit. He eased off on the last lap and then wheelied spectacularly over the finishing line to take the chequered flag in style.
Harris now leads the ultra-competitive series by a massive 51 points after only five rounds. After winning the first round at Silverstone, the 23-year-old Sheffield rider then took two second places at Snetterton and Thruxton. The Honda Racing team then regained its undoubted superiority by taking two superb victories at Oulton Park and Knockhill.
Karl Harris: “I’m really happy with that performance. Honda Racing gave me the perfect set-up for the CBR600RR and I’d like to thank the team for all the hard work that they have put into this weekend. It hasn’t been easy over the past three days with the mixed weather conditions, but our performance today showed that good teamwork really does pay off. I made a good start and once I got into the lead, it was just a question of getting my head down and going for it. I watched my board and saw that I had a big lead and after that it was just a question of concentrating on bringing it home safely to record my third win of the year.”
British Supersport Championship
Race result (28 laps):
1. K. Harris (Honda Racing) 25:53.477;
2. L. Haslam (Ducati) +7.756;
3. R. Frost (Kawasaki) +11.375;
4. S. Easton (Ducati) +11.485;
5. J. Robinson (Yamaha) +23.193;
6. A. Coates (Honda) +25.171;
7. C. Jones (Triumph) +26.591;
8. T. Sykes (Yamaha) +31.727;
9. D. Thomas (Honda) +40.895;
10. J. Crockford (Honda) +41.187
Fastest lap: Easton 0:53.976 (lap 23)
MONSTERMOB DUCATI BRITISH SUPERBIKE TEAM
Round 5 – 2003 British Superbike Championship powered by HALLS, Knockhill
Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th May 2003
TREBLE REBEL BYRNE IN COMMAND AGAIN
MonsterMob Ducati’s Shane Byrne continued his dominance of the British Superbike Championship with yet another winning double at a wet and windy Knockhill circuit in Scotland today.
The 26 year old Kent rider made it eight wins for the season so far by taking his seventh win in succession to stamp his authority on the championship after five out of the twelve rounds and in doing so, romped to an unprecedented ‘triple double’ victory.
But the weekend wasn’t without it’s drama with a spill in practice and only qualifying in fourth on the grid meant Byrne had his work cut out but a gamble on wet tyres paid off with a start to finish victory in leg one followed by a similar display in race two, which was shortened as rain started to fall.
“What a fantastic weekend! It’s amazing and I can’t believe that I’ve done another double. My plan was to get a good lead in both races but I was willing that second race to end because it was starting to rain. I’m enjoying winning and hoping I can continue that trend at my local round at Brands Hatch next time” said Byrne.
Shakey’s championship cause was also helped by main rival Michael Rutter scoring just a single point after a problematic day and as a result, Byrne leads the series standings by an amazing 104 points.
For Supersport team mate Stuart Easton, he too endured problems in qualifying but bounced back with a superb fourth place during the race in difficult conditions. “The track was wet to start with and I went with dry tyres but it was the right decision. It was important to score points today at my home round but a rostrum would have been good,” said the 18-year-old from Hawick.
Team owner Paul Bird was naturally pleased with his team’s dominance of the country’s premier motor sport series. “It just gets better but I’ve been around long enough to know that our luck will change at some point. Shakey’s riding brilliantly at the moment and long may it continue. Stuart’s got his bogey circuit out of the way and will go well at Brands but we’re in a great position at the moment”
1, Shane Byrne (MonsterMob Ducati) 29m13.549s,
2, Paul Young (Yamaha) 29m28.498s,
3, John Reynolds (Suzuki) 29m30.984s,
4, Steve Plater (Honda) 29m33.763s,
5, Sean Emmett (Ducati) 29m34.070s,
6, Glen Richards (Kawasaki) 29m43.203s,
7, Gary Mason (Yamaha) 29m44.050s,
8, John McGuinness (Ducati) 29m51.399s,
9, John Crawford (Ducati) 29m53.078s,
10, Yukio Kagayama (Suzuki) 29m58.194s
1, Shane Byrne (MonsterMob Ducati) 17m04.035s,
2, John Reynolds (Suzuki) 17m06.366s,
3, Steve Plater (Honda) 17m10.650s,
4, Glen Richards (Kawasaki) 17m11.473s,
5, Steve Hislop (Yamaha) 17m12.792s,
6, Gary Mason (Yamaha) 17m18.255s,
7, Yukio Kagayama (Suzuki) 17m19.776s,
8, Sean Emmett (Ducati) 16m30.969 (-1lap),
9, Paul Young (Yamaha) 16m36.990s (-1 lap),
10, John McGuinness (Ducati) 16m43.975s (-1 lap)
Superbike Championship Standings after Round 5
1: Shane Byrne (MonsterMob Ducati) 240pts
2: Michael Rutter (Ducati) 136pts
3: Glen Richards (Kawasaki) 110pts
4: John Reynolds (Suzuki) 100pts
5: Yukio Kagayama (Suzuki) 97pts
6: Gary Mason (Yamaha) 94pts
7: Steve Plater (Honda) 93pts
8: Steve Hislop (Yamaha) 91pts
9: John Crawford (Ducati) 62pts
10: Sean Emmett (Ducati) 58pts
1, Karl Harris (Honda) 25m53.477s,
2, Leon Haslam (Ducati) 26m01.233s,
3, Rob Frost (Kawasaki) 26m04.852s,
4, Stuart Easton (MonsterMob Ducati) 26m04.962s,
5, Jamie Robinson (Yamaha) 26m16.670s,
6, Adrian Coates (Honda) 26m18.648s,
7, Craig Jones (Triumph) 26m20.068s,
8, Tom Sykes (Yamaha) 26m25.204s,
9, Dean Thomas (Honda) 26m34.372s,
10, John Crockford (Honda) 26m34.664s
Supersport Championship Standings After Round 5
1: Karl Harris 115pts
2: Stuart Easton 64pts
3: Adrian Coates 53pts
4: Simon Andrews 50pts
5: Michael Laverty 47pts
5: Leon Haslam 47pts
7: John Crockford 45pts
8: Rob Frost 41pts
9: Craig Jones 33pts
10: Tom Sykes 29pts
Plater fourth in Knockhill downpour
Steve Plater rode superbly in the most challenging of conditions to take fourth place in the first British Superbike Championship race at Knockhill. The 30-year-old Honda Racing star recovered from a lowly 11th at the end of the first lap to power his way through the field to take fourth position just 20 seconds down on race winner and championship leader Shane Byrne.
The 1.3-mile Fife circuit was damp with a drying racing line for the start of the 30-lap race, which made tyre selection difficult for the 26-strong Superbike field. Plater stuck to his choice of treaded Dunlop tyres which paid off when the heavens opened on lap 12. That enabled the popular Lincolnshire rider to use his wet riding ability to good effect and get the better of Glen Richards and then Sean Emmett on the last corner of the last lap in an epic battle for fourth position.
Steve Plater: “I had a poor start to the race after suffering from wheel spin as I put the power down on the run towards the first corner. However, I soon got into the groove and was able to make good progress through the early stages of the race. Then, it was treacherous when the rain came on and I just had to bide my time while the conditions stabilised. I had a great dice with Richards and Emmett and I knew where I had an advantage. The VTR1000 SP-2 was superb coming out of Clark Curve all the way down to Taylors Hairpin and that was where I was able to pass Emmett on the last lap.”
Podium joy for Plater at Knockhill
Steve Plater completed a successful day for Honda Racing at Knockhill by finishing third behind Shane Byrne and John Reynolds in the second British Superbike Championship race. It was no more than Plater deserved after battling his way through the field from seventh at the end of the first lap to take his first podium finish in this year¹s series after also taking third in last weekend¹s North West 200 race in Northern Ireland.
The Lincolnshire rider rode superbly in the first dry race of the day taking third place from Glen Richards on lap 15, before rain once again stopped play. With 20 laps of the 1.3-mile Scottish national circuit completed, the red flags were shown and the result was declared. Plater has now moved up to seventh position overall in the championship points table and is only 17 points behind third placed Glen Richards.
Steve Plater: “That was a fantastic race for Honda Racing. We’ve picked up where we left off at the North West 200 by scoring a second podium finish of the season in consecutive weekends. I’m feeling more and more confident after every race and there’s no doubt that we’re improving all the time. We set out with the objective of scoring our first podium finish of the season here at Knockhill and we’ve achieved that. I would like to thank everyone associated with the team for the hard work and enthusiasm that they’ve shown throughout the entire season. This result’s for them.”
Jones’ sensational ride against the elements
Craig Jones scored a brilliant seventh place finish for Triumph ValMoto at Knockhill. After taking pole position in dramatic style on Saturday, there was no way that the 18-year-old sensation was going to ease off for the race. True to form, he rode brilliantly and had it not been for one vital and entirely uncontrollable element he was almost guaranteed a place on the podium.
The result of the fifth race in the British Supersport Championship calendar was ultimately decided by the weather and no amount of skill or determination was ever going to change the outcome for Triumph ValMoto. In a ridiculously cruel twist of fate, the heavy black clouds that had loomed low over the Scottish hillside circuit failed to deliver their aqueous payload for the first time all day. Throughout Sunday every single race at Knockhill had received a comprehensive soaking, and after countless riders had fallen victim to the terrible conditions, wet tyres quickly become the only realistic choice for the Supersport race.
Given the conditions, the majority of riders opted for full wet tyres and Jones was no exception. Despite a bad start dropping him down to sixth place, he very quickly found his rhythm and rocketed back up to third place. With the skies getting darker by the minute and small drops of water beginning to fall, Jones looked set to claim Triumph’s first factory podium for over three decades. He rode confidently and with exceptional skill to put himself well clear of his pursuers. However every lap that was run without rain took more and more out of his tyres.
Jones showed true grit as he wrestled with the unsuitable rubber but never at any point did the Triumph ValMoto Daytona 600 look out of control. The narrow dry line that snaked its way around the 1.3-mile circuit had broadened considerably by half-race distance but by purposely riding through the less and less frequent patches of standing water, he did his best to prolong the life of his tyres. Because of this he was not always able to take the fastest line, yet he still managed to give many dry-shod riders a real run for their money. However, towards the end of the 28-lap race he was unable to maintain his podium challenge and did well to take seventh position overall.
“After starting from pole position this isn’t really the result that I wanted,” said Jones. “That said, I’m really pleased with the way that the Triumph ValMoto Daytona 600 behaved, even with disintegrating tyres. It only really became hard work during the last six or seven laps and that was the only time that I got passed. I thought about changing to dry tyres after my warm-up lap but I’d seen too many other riders come unstuck today by making a last minute switch. It started to speckle towards the end of the race and I was praying for it to come down because if there’d been even light shower, I’d have been on the podium easily.”
Jones’ team-mate Jim Moodie was in fact one of the riders that did change his tyres on the grid. His choice of an intermediate rear seemed to be perfect, however it was more than negated by the soft wet weather tyre that he had on the front. Unfortunately, the drying Knockhill track made short work of this and he was forced to retire from the race after battling on for 24 laps.
Triumph ValMoto Team Manager Jack Valentine was philosophical about the way things had turned out.
“No one can complain about the way that Craig rode,” he said. “He was right on the pace until his tyres went off. I still can’t believe that it didn’t rain I have never seen clouds that dark that didn’t drop a load of water. It’s just incredible that our race took place during the only half-hour of dry weather since we got here. It was a massive gamble for Harris and that lot to risk dry tyres on a day like this but they got very lucky one quick shower and it would’ve been a very different story. Even with shredded tyres Craig managed to hang on to seventh place and that’s really encouraging for when we go to Brands Hatch in a few weeks time.”
Triumph ValMoto is next in action at round six of the British Supersport Championship at Brands Hatch on 20-22 June 2003.
Front row start for Harris and Honda Racing
Honda Racing’s Karl Harris qualified in second position for the fifth round of the British Supersport Championship at Knockhill. The series leader was on provisional pole after this morning¹s session, but just lost out to Craig Jones by a fraction of a second in a frantic last few minutes of qualifying this afternoon around the 1.3-mile circuit near Dunfermline.
The drama unfolded when the red flags were shown midway through the session due to oil on the circuit. The delay meant that the track had time to dry enough for the 33-strong field to improve their times and left Harris with an anxious few moments to protect his coveted pole position. The number one position changed hands several times in the last minute and the front row shuffled continuously as the chequered flag was shown.
“That was one of the most hectic qualifying sessions we’ve had this year,” said 23-year-old Harris. “The pressure was really on with the changing conditions and everyone trying to get their fastest times in at the same time! There was only really one dry line and so I had to find my spot of clear tarmac before achieving my fastest time.
“The pressure was definitely on, but I seem to thrive under these challenging conditions. There wasn’t much space out on the track, but I was able to get the most out of the CBR600RR to achieve my target of a front row start. That will be important tomorrow, as I need to get off the line with the leading pack in the early stages of the race because it’s so tight around here. Let’s hope for dry weather too!”
Plater on second row as rain halts play
Steve Plater qualified in eighth position for the fifth round of the British Superbike Championship at Knockhill. The Honda Racing star recorded his best time in the early stages of the Dunlop Super 12 qualifying session at the 1.3-mile Scottish national circuit before the weather intervened.
The dry track conditions that prevailed in the opening few minutes enabled the leading Superbike competitors to establish a fast time before the heavens opened. The resultant damp track meant that the riders had to retire to the pit-lane as any further laps would have proved fruitless. That left Plater on the outside of the second row for tomorrow’s two 30-lap races.
“I’m reasonably happy with my performance today under the circumstances,” said Plater. “The past two days have been difficult for all the Superbike riders because of the mixed weather conditions that we’ve had to endure. I knew that it would be difficult to get on to the front row of the grid if it was dry – and so it proved.”
“We haven’t really had enough dry track time here to assess the full potential of the VTR1000 SP-2. This is of course the first time that Honda Racing has had the bike north of the border, so the other teams may have a slight advantage over us for tomorrow’s races. It’s hard to predict what’s going to happen and it could be a bit of a lottery for everyone depending on the conditions.”
British Superbike Championship Dunlop Super 12 qualifying:
1. M. Rutter (Ducati) 0:52.078;
2. P. Young (Yamaha) 0:52.337;
3. G. Richards (Kawasaki) 0:52.534;
4. S. Byrne (Ducati) 0:52.690;
5. J. Reynolds (Suzuki) 0:52.853;
6. S. Hislop (Yamaha) 0:53.208;
7. J. Kirkham (Yamaha) 0:53.358;
8. S. Plater (Honda Racing) 0:53.527;
9. G. Mason (Yamaha) 0:54.684;
10. J. McGuinness (Ducati) 0:55.051;
11. S. Smart (Kawasaki) 0:56.058;
12. S. Emmett (Ducati) 1:05.670
Pole position a Triumph
Qualifying for the fifth round of the British Supersport Championship at Knockhill has given Triumph ValMoto its first ever pole position. Leaving the fierce competition trailing in his wake, Craig Jones blasted around the rain-soaked Scottish circuit in an exceptionally quick time of 0:56.380. The 18-year-old Junior Superstock Champion appeared to have planned his dynamic qualifying attack to perfection waiting until the very last lap of the second session to unleash the full power of his Triumph ValMoto Daytona 600 and slash a full second off his previous best time. Jones returned to pit lane to jubilant scenes, with a crowd of team personnel and officials jostling to offer their congratulations.
Despite sporadic showers making conditions tricky, Jones’ historic qualifying performance was not simply a case of the wet weather levelling the playing field. A drying line began to form once the bikes began to circulate after a break in the action for the track to be cleared of oil spilled by Leon Haslam’s Ducati and times suddenly improved dramatically. It was at this point that Jones began winding up to his jaw-dropping final lap.
The final ten minutes of the session had the track swarming with 33 riders each of whom was desperate to record their best time of the day. Jones had been steadily improving throughout, but the ferocity of his last minute onslaught took everyone, including reigning champion Stuart Easton and the seemingly unstoppable Karl Harris by surprise. The chasing pack of former GP and Superbike riders and their World Supersport-spec machines were left without reply to Jones’ beautifully judged performance and at the chequered flag the bike at the top of the timesheets was a Triumph ValMoto Daytona 600.
“The weird thing is that my lap didn’t really feel that fast,” said an elated Jones. “I just cruised round for a couple of laps, trying to find some space and then went for it. When I came back into pit lane the team was jumping up and down and cheering, so I figured I must have made the front row. Then I noticed that some of them were making number one signs and I realised that I’d got pole. Qualifying has been the hardest part of the weekend for us up until now. We’ve never had any problems running at a fast race pace and now that I have the best starting position possible, we’re in with a real chance of getting Triumph’s first British Supersport Championship podium for 30 years.”
Many had been expecting local hero Jim Moodie to be the man to beat at Knockhill, however an incorrect tyre choice prevented him from matching his team-mate’s blistering pace in the wet. The double British Supersport Champion was forced to settle for 13th place, but remains confident that he can make up a lot of ground in the race.
“I’m really pleased for Craig and the team,” said Moodie. “But at the same time I’m pretty disappointed that I’m not up there on the front row with him. I would have been too, had I not stuck with the wrong tyre for too long. I knew that I should have come in and changed it for a harder one, but for some reason I decided not to. I’m determined to do well here tomorrow and I’ll do my best to catch Craig up in the race.”
While Hamilton-based Moodie certainly has the majority of the support at his home circuit, Jones’ remarkable achievement was undoubtedly a massive hit with the thousands of Saturday spectators, who lined up to offer their congratulations. It also went down very well with Jack Valentine.
“This is an absolutely incredible feeling, “beamed the Triumph ValMoto Team Manager. “We’ve all been working really hard to make the Triumph ValMoto Daytona 600s competitive, and in taking pole position Craig has just demonstrated what we’ve known all along. This was no fluke Craig did an excellent job and it just shows that we have been moving in the right direction with our development programme. To have a brand new machine on pole position on only its fifth outing is unbelievable and I think that the team definitely deserves this. Tomorrow’s race will certainly not be easy anything could happen but this is a very proud moment for Triumph and the whole of British motorsport.²
- C. Jones (Triumph ValMoto) 56.380;
- K. Harris (Honda) 56.404;
- D. Beaumont (Kawasaki) 56.434;
- M. Laverty (Honda) 56.449;
- T. Sykes (Yamaha) 56.501;
- T. Paterson (Suzuki) 58.866;
- L. Haslam (Ducati) 57.106;
- S. Easton (Ducati) 57.192;
- L. Shand (Honda) 57.241;
- J. Crockford (Honda) 57.280;
- J. Moodie (Triumph ValMoto) 57.526