Fresh from their successful exploits at the Isle of Man TT Races, the Gloucester-based SmithsRacing BMW Team were back in Bennetts British Superbike Championship action this weekend with round four of the series taking place at Snetterton in Norfolk where both Peter Hickman and Sylvain Barrier recorded their best results of the season.
Qualifying proved to be a challenging affair for the team with Peter lining up in 17th place for race one and Sylvain three places further back which gave them plenty of work to do around the 2.99-mile circuit. However, both riders made great starts to their respective races with Lincoln rider Hickman up to eighth at the end of lap one and Frenchman Barrier 11th.
A period of three laps had to be taken behind the safety car but when racing resumed, Peter was able to move up to seventh where he remained until the chequered flag. And although Sylvain slipped back two places by the conclusion of the race, 13th place gave him his first championship points of the season.
The duo both had better starting positions for race two but although Louth-based Hickman completed the opening lap in ninth, a clash with another rider resulted in Barrier being pushed onto the grass and back down to 19th.
However, from that moment on, both riders were able to make steady progress forward and by half race distance, they were in sixth and 15th place respectively. A crash at the front of the field promoted them up the order two places but a final lap sort-out saw Peter eventually cross the line in sixth place. Nevertheless, it was still his best result of the season and with Sylvain in the points again in 14th, it completed a good day for the team.
Peter Hickman: “I’m happy enough with the weekend and although qualifying was pretty rubbish, I managed to rectify that in both races. I got a bit lucky in race one with a few riders crashing out and from starting in 17th, I was up into eighth after just a couple of laps! Once there though, my pace was good, and I kept chipping away whilst it was a similar story in race two. Snetterton was our poorest circuit in 2017 so to come away this weekend with two good results is pleasing and whilst I’m still not in the positions I’d like to be in, we’ve made good progress. It hasn’t been easy coming here straight after the TT but the whole team have done well so hopefully this kick starts our season.”
Sylvain Barrier: “We made some big changes to the chassis after qualifying which got us back to agood base setting and overall, it’s been a positive weekend. I’m still at least half a second away from the group of riders I’d like to be dicing with, but we’ve made a good step in the right direction and I’ve really enjoyed riding the bike this weekend. If I hadn’t been pushed off the track in race two, which lost me six seconds, it could have been a better result but, it’s been a positive weekend, I just need to be a bit faster now!”
Darren Jones, Team Coordinator: “It hasn’t been easy coming straight here after the TT, but it’s been a pretty good weekend at a track which doesn’t really suit us. Sixth and seventh were good results for Pete and we made quite a few changes to the bike which made him a lot happier. Sylvain now feels that he’s got a bike he can enjoy riding and it’s great to see him get his first points of the season. We have tests now planned at Knockhill and Cadwell Park, so we’ll be looking to maintain the momentum and have more of the same, or ideally better, at the next round.”