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SMITHS RACING BOW OUT OF BSB ON A HIGH

Smiths Racing bowed out of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship on a high with Peter Hickman taking the Global Robots BMW to a brace of eighth place finishes at Brands Hatch, equalling his best results of the shortened 2020 season.

The meeting brought an end to the Gloucester-based team’s 11-year tenure in the British Championship paddock but a strong showing by Hickman ensured they finished in style with the Lincoln-based rider digging deep today to produce two stirring rides.   Mixed weather in practice meant the 33-year old went into Saturday’s Datatag Qualifying session somewhat on the back foot with regards to set-up on the Global Robots BMW S1000RR, with 12th place the outcome whilst the 16-lap race later in the day saw him take three more championship points for 13th.   However, with dry conditions all day today, he was able to give a much better account of himself and was much closer to the pace of the front runners in morning warm up which carried through to both 20-lap races.

Starting the first race from the middle of the fifth row, Peter made a superb start to complete the first lap around the 2.43-mile Grand Prix circuit in eighth place which became seventh on the eighth lap when Tarran Mackenzie crashed out. For the remainder of the race, he was part of a five-rider battle for seventh and although Lee Jackson overhauled him, he took the chequered flag in a fine eighth place.   That just left the final race of 2020 to negotiate and, starting from the fifth row once more, another good start saw Peter make immediate progress to complete the first lap in 11th. From there he continually moved forward, taking seventh on lap 16 where he was once again involved in a huge battle all the way to the end of the race. On the run in to the line, Tommy Bridewell pipped him for seventh but two eighth places marked a good end to the season.

Peter Hickman: “It’s been another challenging weekend but the last day of the season saw some consistent lap times which enabled me to be a lot closer to the front and battle in a group of riders for some decent positions. We found a good direction with the bike at Oulton Park but the work there was undone by my crash at Donington Park so we had to start all over again this weekend and although we struggled a bit at the beginning, things started to come together and improve in qualifying when we made some good strides forward. Saturday’s race wasn’t the best but we learnt a lot from it which we were able to put into practice today and two eighths was a solid way to end the season. I was in a big fight for the higher positions so it was nice to end the season on a small high. It also ended my time with Smiths Racing in a positive fashion, a team who I’ve had a lot of success with. The team have worked incredibly hard from day one and both Alan and Rebecca Smith have been great to work with so I hope they’ll still be around the paddock for a few more years to come.”

Darren Jones, Team Co-ordinator: “All in all, it hasn’t been a bad weekend and whilst it’s been no secret we’ve been struggling a bit this year, mainly due to the lack of track time, we’ve found a good direction with set-up at the last couple of rounds which has helped us move forward. Pete’s confidence improved at Oulton and whilst eighth isn’t a position we’ve accustomed to, it was good to see him fighting it out for the higher positions and with riders who have finished on the podium this year. We need to go back to the drawing board with regards to 2021 but a big thank you to Alan and Rebecca Smith and everyone connected to the Smiths Racing team. As a small group of people, we’ve achieved an awful lot in a short space of time and I’m sure we’ll still see them around the paddock. It’s a shame we didn’t end the season as a whole team, and we wish Alex Olsen a speedy recovery, so let’s see what next year brings.”

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