Round 4: Oulton Park

British Superbike Championship – Round 4 – Oulton Park, Cheshire – Monday May 5th 2003


Harris and Honda Racing untouchable at Oulton Park

Honda Racing¹s Karl Harris proved unbeatable in the British Supersport Championship at Oulton Park today, winning the 16-lap race by almost two seconds. The 23-year-old rider, who also qualified on pole position, led the race from start to finish on his Honda Racing CBR600RR.

Having got the holeshot, Harris set off like a rocket on his Honda. No other rider was able to match him for pace and he had pulled a gap of 1.8 seconds after the first lap. He then increased this gap to over three seconds and consolidated this lead until half race distance. Fellow Honda rider Dean Thomas then started setting new lap records and closing the gap, so Harris responded by setting his fastest lap on lap 15 and effectively controlling the remainder of the race. Harris¹s second win of the 2003 series increases his championship lead by 38 points.


Karl Harris: “All in all it’s been a fantastic weekend for me. I’ve been confident all weekend, especially after being so dominant in qualifying. The CBR600RR has felt so strong here at Oulton Park and I knew that if I could get a decent start, I’d be able to control the race. It was a bit lonely out there in front but I’ve no complaints about the result. It’s great to extend my championship lead and I can’t wait for the next round at Knockhill.”

British Supersport Championship

Race result (16 laps):

1) Karl Harris (Honda Racing) 27:26.193;

 2) D. Thomas (Honda) + 1.812;

3) S. Andrews (Yamaha) + 6.661;

4) L. Haslam (Ducati) + 10.348;

5) S. Easton (Ducati) + 11.457;

 6) M. Laverty (Honda) + 11.465;

7) A. Coates (Honda) + 12.293;

8) C. Jones (Triumph) + 21.041;

9) J. Robinson (Yamaha) + 22.604;

10) K. Murphy (Kawasaki) + 23.189

Riders points after round four:

1) Karl Harris ­ 90;

2) S. Easton ­ 52;

3) S. Andrews ­ 49;

= 4) A. Coates ­ 43;

= 4) M. Laverty ­ 43;

6) J. Crockford ­ 39;

7) L. Haslam ­ 27;

8) R. Frost ­ 25;

9) C. Jones ­ 24;

10) T. Sykes ­ 21

Solid points scoring finishes for Plater and Heckles

In blustery but dry conditions at Oulton Park today, Honda Racing’s Steve Plater finished in fourth place in the first British Superbike race. Starting from the third row of the grid after a difficult qualifying session, Plater dug in and produced a ride to be proud of on the Honda Racing VTR1000 SP-2. After cutting underneath Japanese rider, Yukio Kagayama on lap two, the Lincolnshire rider set his sights on Gary Mason, who he passed on lap four. Plater then began his pursuit of current champion Steve Hislop, setting his fastest laps towards the end of the race. Just as it looked as if Plater would have to settle for fifth place, a crash by Dean Ellison at Lodge Corner on the final lap elevated Honda Racing’s Plater to fourth place. His team-mate, Mark Heckles finished the race in tenth position, adding five more points to his championship tally.


Steve Plater: “This result has made me realise more than ever about the importance of qualifying. I was posting some of the fastest laps out there and if I’d qualified further up the grid I’m sure I’d have been in with a chance of a podium position. That’s what I’ll be aiming for in race two, so I’ll be looking for the best possible start.”


Mark Heckles: “To be honest I’m disappointed with this result. I can’t find the feeling I need with the bike and I’m still looking for a setting that makes me feel like the bike’s mine. I’m still far too stiff on the bike and this is transferring through to the suspension. We’re going to try a few changes in race two, including a different construction front tyre to see if I can make the most of the Honda’s performance.”

British Superbike Championship

Race one result (18 laps):

1) S. Byrne (Ducati) 29:37.968;

2) M. Rutter (Ducati) + 5.732;

3) S. Hislop (Yamaha) + 6.452;

4) Steve Plater (Honda Racing) + 12.481;

5) Y. Kagayama (Suzuki) + 20.864;

6) J. Crawford (Ducati) + 21.733;

7) G. Mason (Yamaha) + 22.881;

8) J. Reynolds (Suzuki) + 24.213;

 9) G. Richards (Kawasaki) + 31.319;

10) Mark Heckles (Honda Racing) + 33.277

Fastest lap: S. Byrne: 1:38.104 (lap 13)

Mixed fortunes in race two

Steve Plater was unable to improve on his race one result at Oulton Park today when he crashed out of contention on lap 11 of the second British Superbike race. After a great start, the Lincolnshire rider had been running in fourth place, but his race came to an end when he was involved in a collision with Japanese rider, Yukio Kagayama. His Honda Racing team mate, Mark Heckles benefited from the changes that he had made to the VTR1000 SP-2 and had managed to work his way up to sixth place, slipping past Dean Ellison at Knickerbrook on lap 15 to secure ten valuable championship points.

Steve Plater: “I was lining up Yukio Kagayama up for a pass and all of a sudden he took a different line to what I was expecting. In hindsight I guess this wasn’t unusual as he was on a different line every lap! We touched fairings and there was nowhere to go but across the grass. Once I touched the grass I was off. I’m obviously disappointed as the bike felt great and the team has worked so hard, so I’ll be attempting to redress the balance at Knockhill.”


Mark Heckles: “That was a much more enjoyable race for me and the changes I made worked well. The feedback I was getting from the bike was much more positive and I improved my lap time by almost a second as a result. Finishing race two in sixth place is a much more positive outcome from what could have been a frustrating weekend for me.”


British Superbike Championship

Race two result (18 laps):

1) S. Byrne (Ducati) 29:30.799;

2) J. Reynolds (Suzuki) + 9.406;

3) M. Rutter (Ducati) + 14.802;

4) Y. Kagayama (Suzuki) + 17.108;

5) S. Hislop (Yamaha) + 17.223;

6) Mark Heckles (Honda Racing) + 22.856;

7) D. Ellison (Ducati) + 22.857;

8) G. Richards (Kawasaki) + 32.522;

9) G. Mason (Yamaha) + 35.051;

10) J. Crawford (Ducati) + 39.403; DNF Steve Plater (Honda Racing)

Fastest lap: S. Byrne: 1:37.722 (lap 9)

Riders points after race 8:

1) S. Byrne ­ 190;

2) M. Rutter ­ 135;

3) G. Richards ­ 87;

4) Y. Kagayama ­ 82;

5) S. Hislop ­ 77;

 6) G. Mason ­ 75;

 = 7) Steve Plater ­ 64;

= 7) J. Reynolds ­ 64;

9) J. Crawford ­ 55;

10) S. Smart ­ 47;

11) Mark Heckles ­ 41




MonsterMob Ducati rider Shane Byrne strengthened his grip on the 2003 British Superbike Championship with his second consecutive double victory, to emerge from round four 65 points to the good. The 26 year old Kent rider followed up his first ever double win at Thruxton over Easter with a repeat performance in front of a bumper bank holiday crowd at Oulton Park, Cheshire to take command of the 12 round series.
“I got my head down in race one and kept plugging away and gradually built a gap. There was a minor problem with the bike so we decided to use the spare for race two and I was a little apprehensive but it all worked out just fine. Another double is unbelievable and all credit to a fantastic team effort.”
Meanwhile team mate Stuart Easton couldn’t reciprocate in the Supersport class when problems in qualifying relegated him to a row three start aboard the MonsterMob 748 Ducati. The 18 year old Hawick racer battled his way up to fifth at the flag to be docked a place for a chicane infringement on the final lap.
“I’m disappointed as I’ve conceded a lot of points to my rivals today. I need to be winning and a sixth place is not a lot of good to my championship aspirations.” And whilst team owner Paul Bird was delighted with his team’s Superbike results, he sympathised with Easton. “Shakey’s on fire at present and long may it continue – but another double is fantastic. Stuart proved at Thruxton that he can cut it with the best but today wasn’t his day.”

The next round takes place at Knockhill, Scotland on 17/18th May.