Jon Kirkham marked his return to the British Superbike Championship with a strong run to tenth position in qualifying for the first round of the season at Brands Hatch.
Making his debut with the Jentin Racing team this weekend, Kirkham made it five Yamaha R1s inside the top ten when he made it through to the shootout.
Although he was unable to improve upon tenth position and the third row of the grid, Kirkham was nonetheless delighted to be well up the grid on a bike that is still undergoing development.
“It's been a great qualifying session,” he told Crash.net Radio
. “We have been struggling with the bike all weekend because this is the first time we have really run the thing. The rear shocks are straight out of the box and the forks are from last year's bike, so it is just a case of getting a good setting.
“The Yamaha R1 is an awesome bike though and it's a massive improvement on last year's bike. So with tenth, we're there or thereabouts.”
Looking ahead to the races, although the reigning Henderson R1 Cup champion is hoping to forge his way further into the top ten, he says the true potential of the bike will become more apparent in the upcoming races.
“We don't want to go backwards – so anything inside of what I've managed in qualifying I'd be happy with. We want to be right up there at the top, but it's early days yet, so I won't be too disheartened with what happens this weekend. The bike will get better and better.”