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Hickman Smiths Racing Assen

SOLID POINTS KEEP HICKMAN’S HOPES ALIVE

Smiths Racing BMW were back in action in the Bennetts British Superbike Championship for the opening round of the Showdown, with Peter Hickman giving the team two eighth place finishes at the TT Circuit in Assen, Holland.

Both Hickman and BMW S1000RR team-mate Alex Olsen initially found the going tough around the 2.82-mile Dutch circuit with Showdown contender Hickman in 14th place overall after the three practice sessions and Olsen, riding at the circuit for first time since 2014 and the first time on a Superbike, half a second further back in 20th.

However, 32-year-old Hickman quickened his pace considerably in qualifying on Saturday afternoon and with an improvement of more than half a second, he lined up for Sunday’s opening 18-lap race in 11th place on the fourth row. Olsen, meanwhile, started from 21st place as he looked to move up into the top 15 on race day.

Sunday again saw good conditions all day and a good start to race one saw Hickman immediately move up to seventh as Olsen held station in 21st. The pace car soon came out for a period of three laps but when racing resumed, both riders had made good strides forward with Peter up to fifth at half race distance and Alex in 16th.   Lap 11 proved to be Hickman’s undoing though as he dropped back three places to eighth and try as he might he was unable to regain any positions before the end of the race. Alex, meanwhile, finished in 16th place after Ben Currie passed him on the final lap to take 15th and the final championship point.

Both riders started the second race later in the day from more advanced positions with Hickman in seventh and Olsen in 14th and the former held his position for the first half of the race when the leading pack consisted of ten riders covered by less than three seconds.   In the second half of the race, Xavi Fores pushed Hickman back to eighth and as his tyres lost a bit of grip towards the end of the race, he settled for eighth place once more and another eight points. Team-mate Olsen, meanwhile, ran in 17th place for almost the entire race but, lapping quicker than what he had done all weekend, he moved up a place on the penultimate lap to claim his second successive 16th place finish.

Peter Hickman: Two eighth place finishes isn’t ideal and not what we wanted or what we were expecting but it’s been a bit of a strange weekend to be fair. We thought we’d be strong this weekend but with some new parts and new things to try, it’s proven to be more difficult than we expected. The new parts we had will benefit us in the long term but, perhaps, compromised us this weekend, but we did move forward as the weekend progressed so that was positive. I think I was something like the third fastest rider on track in race two but the progress came a little bit too late in the weekend and when the grip levels dropped, I was losing a couple of tenths each lap which was just enough for me to drop back slightly. It is what it is and we’ve learnt a lot so will look to make a greater impression at Donington in two weeks’ time.”

Alex Olsen: “Overall, it hasn’t been a bad weekend given I haven’t been here for so long and it’s only my second time ever on a Superbike. It’s not easy when you’re up against riders who know both the circuit and their bike inside out, but we tried a lot of different things on the BMW S1000RR over the course of the three days and went in various directions which helped us to continually improve. Obviously, you always want to finish higher up, but I enjoyed both races and learnt a lot so am really looking forward now to the final two rounds at circuits I know really well. I’ll be aiming firmly for some points at both Donington Park and Brands Hatch.”

Darren Jones, Team Co-ordinator: “It’s been a tough weekend to be fair and not how we hoped to start the Showdown but both riders dug deep and put in some strong rides given the circumstances. We’ve found a sweet spot with the set up of the BMW at recent rounds but, unfortunately, it didn’t work here and with a few upgrades to the bike we had a lot on our plate. We’ve been trying lots of things and lots of changes during the race weekend which is far from ideal, but we improved throughout.  Peter’s pace was a lot stronger in the second race and it was only a drop in grip to due to the track temperature that caused him to drop back a bit in the closing stages. A pair of eighths isn’t too bad all things considered, whilst it was always going to be a big ask for Alex given it’s been five years since he’s been here and just his second outing on a Superbike. He rode well though and can be proud of his efforts and two more full race distances is bound to stand him in good stead for the final two rounds.”

The 11th and penultimate round of the series takes place at Donington park, Leicestershire on October 4-6.

Pictures by Double Red: Peter Hickman (60) and Alex Olsen (75)

Championship race one (18 laps)

1 Scott Redding (Ducati)

2 Josh Brookes (Ducati)

3 Jason O’Halloran (Yamaha)

4 Luke Stapleford (Suzuki)

5 Xavi Fores (Honda)

6 Danny Buchan (Kawasaki)

8 Peter Hickman (Smiths Racing BMW)

16 Alex Olsen (Smiths Racing BMW)

 

Bennetts British Superbike Championship race two (18 laps)

1 Scott Redding (Ducati)

2 Tommy Bridewell (Ducati)

3 Danny Buchan (Kawasaki)

4 Josh Brookes (Ducati)

5 Luke Stapleford (Suzuki)

6 Xavi Fores (Honda)

8 Peter Hickman (Smiths Racing BMW)

16 Alex Olsen (Smiths Racing BMW)

 

Championship Standings (after ten rounds)

1 Redding 595pts

2 Brookes 581

3 Bridewell 544

4 Buchan 540

5 Mackenzie 527

6 Hickman 517

25 Olsen 7

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