The third round of the 2010 MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship campaign at Oulton Park over Bank Holiday weekend proved to be a real test of resolve for Motorpoint Yamaha, with both Dan Linfoot and new-signing Ian Lowry on good form – but equally both out of luck.
Having qualified alongside one another on the third row of the grid in eleventh and twelfth respectively, Lowry and Linfoot made good starts in race one – and the former in particular was confident of being able to run at the front on his series return. Ultimately, the Northern Irishman's aggressive early laps caught him out and he ran wide at the Shell Hairpin section and slipped off on the grass, ending his charge.
In race two – prior to which the weather changed minutes before the start, soaking the circuit and leaving no real choice of tyre other than full wets – Lowry faced an uphill battle from the fifth row, having departed the fray too soon in race one to be able to set a sufficiently fast lap time that would have earned him a better grid slot.
Moreover, the 24-year-old had never ridden the Yamaha R1 in the rain before and was hampered by being out on wet rubber on a drying track surface, and he consequently elected to call it a day on lap six to make sure he did not do himself any injury before the next round.
“I can't believe the weekend ended up like that,” lamented Lowry, who displayed a good deal of potential on his BSB comeback despite his double DNF. “It was my first race weekend and I messed up with qualifying, and that ultimately cost me the weekend.
“Starting from the third row, I knew I had to take a few chances to get with the boys in the first few laps – if you do not get hooked on, you cannot catch up and I knew I had the pace to run with them. I was just too fired-up, I guess; I love the bike and really felt I could get a result. In hindsight, I should have taken my time – I was fast enough and did not need to panic.
“The second race was cr*p – riding on wets in the dry is a disaster, and I had no chance from the fifth row. After crashing out in race one, there was no way I was doing the same in race two! I am just getting friendly with my new team, and that may have strained our relationship! We have to be positive. I need more time on the bike for sure, and I am confident I will only get stronger.”
Linfoot, for his part, acknowledged that having a team-mate again was a considerable boost – especially one as fast and as aggressive as Lowry – and a solid and determined ninth place in the opening encounter was another sign of the encouraging progress the 21-year-old is continuing to make during his maiden full season in Superbikes this year.
In the second race, with conditions a lottery and a poor start leaving him down at the very foot of the top 20, the Yorkshireman impressed by battling his way back through to tenth before his wrecked tyres cost him four spots, leaving him a grip-less 14th at the chequered flag, albeit pleased in the circumstances to have safely brought his 215bhp mount home.
“I guess after the last two race weekends I really wanted to finish both races,” he affirmed. “I need to get going and regain some confidence. The first race was pretty good; having a team-mate pushing like Ian was good for me, and I am sure we will work together and get stronger.
“The second race was pretty crazy – I have never ridden a bike that slides around like that! While the tyres were hanging on I came through okay, but once they had overheated it was very much a case of getting home in one piece. [We have] a break now and then Cadwell, so hopefully our luck will change for our home race.”
“These are the times when you need a good team around you,” concluded team principal Rob Mac. “There is no question Ian brought some inspiration – his pace and confidence were just what we needed. The positives from this tough weekend were there to be seen; Ian's pace helped the guys with set-up and Dan with some track management, [and] for once we had our two riders working as a team. What we did not get was any luck at all.
“Ian had to get rough in the early laps to try and break through to the leaders, but with his lack of racing this year he got caught out and slipped off. Dan after the last two race weekends was conscious of having something to build on. Two goo,d solid race finishes was just what he needed, and in the tricky conditions he did a great job. Our post-race blues will be shaken off ready for Cadwell – our local track – and hopefully a little good luck will come our way!”
To go behind-the-scenes with Motorpoint Yamaha at Oulton, watch the video by clicking here