Smiths Racing

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SOLID PERFORMANCE AT NORTH WEST 200

Gloucester-based Smiths Racing enjoyed a solid week of racing at the International North West 200 with Peter Hickman recording a string of top ten results around the 8.9-mile circuit linking the Northern Ireland towns of Portstewart, Coleraine and Portrush.

Qualifying over the course of Tuesday and Thursday placed the 29 year old in a strong sixth place on the Smiths BMW S1000RR in the Superbike class after a lap of 119.842mph, 11th in the Superstock (119.103mph) and seventh in the Supersport on the Trooper Beer-liveried Smiths Triumph.   However, Thursday’s second Superstock qualifying session saw him only complete one lap and he was forced out of the evening’s six-lap race when he hit a false neutral coming into the start and finish chicane and was forced to run on. Lying fourth at the time, it was a bitter disappointment whilst 11th in the earlier Supersport race was not the result they’d hoped for.

With a full day of race action today, they all had a second bite of the cherry although conditions were vastly different, the opening Supersport race taking place in damp weather. Indeed, as the race wore on, rain began to fall once more but Peter rode a sensible race on the Triumph and was ultimately rewarded with a solid eighth place.   More rain and then an oil spill led to a lengthy delay before the opening Superbike race could take place, eventually getting underway at 3pm and cut to four laps with Peter completing the first lap in fifth place. As the race wore on, he was locked in battle for fourth with fellow BSB rider Glenn Irwin and he crossed the line in fifth place.   Next up was the Superstock race which started in relatively dry conditions and Peter was part of a five-man battle for the lead which saw just over a second cover the quintet. It was a BMW lock-out for the top five places but at two-thirds race distance, the rain began to fall again and as the riders completed the fifth of six laps, the red flag came out with results being taken at the end of four laps. That meant Peter was awarded fifth place, although he was just 1.3s adrift of race winner Alastair Seeley.   That just left the feature seven-lap Superbike race with the Louth-based rider slotting into sixth at the end of the opening lap. Conditions had vastly improved and with laps in excess of 121mph, Peter was sitting in a comfortable sixth place until the final two laps when he began to run out of fuel and, try as he might, he was unable to hold on to the position eventually crossing the line in eighth place. Nevertheless, it meant he ended the week with four top ten finishes.

 

Peter Hickman: “It’s been a bit of a tough meeting to be fair but although the results haven’t been quite what either myself or the team wanted we haven’t been a million miles away. I hadn’t sat on any of the bikes before I got here and we encountered a few teething issues primarily with the electronics on the big bike and I couldn’t get the feel I was looking for with the throttle connection. The set-up is very different to my BSB bike and whilst top end speed and braking was good, I was losing time coming out of the corners. I was there or thereabouts on the big bike but just didn’t quite have the feel to allow me to go with the leading group but we’ve learnt a lot and know where we need to improve and with a test planned at Mallory Park next week, I’m confident we’ll be in good shape by the time we get to the TT.”

 

Rebecca Smith, Team Manager: “We had a completely new electronics system on the Superbike and Superstock machines which we hoped would give Peter a similar feel to his BSB bike but it was a learning curve for all of us and whilst we got some solid results, we know there’s plenty of room for improvement too. The guys from BMW Motorrad have done a great job and know what we’re now looking for at the TT so a big thanks to them and all of their team for their hard work in what, at times, was very challenging conditions. We’ve taken some solid results and, like Peter says, weren’t far off so with the test at Mallory, we’re confident we can iron out the little issues and ensure we arrive at the TT with everything in place to give Peter what he needs to push for the podium positions.”

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