Tommy Hill insisted he was happy to maintain his MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship lead at Cadwell Park, despite logging his first retirement of the season at arguably the most difficult circuit on the calendar.
Hill was left to uphold honours for the Worx Crescent Suzuki team in Lincolnshire after team-mate Yukio Kagayama was forced out by the injuries he sustained at Oulton Park, despite the team initially hoping that the Japanese rider would be fit to race.
Points leader Hill qualified at the head of the field after a dominant showing in the Roll for Pole but lost out at the start of race one to the HM Plant Honda of Ryuichi Kiyonari. While chasing down his rival, Hill made a mistake a Hall Bends which saw him crash out – ending a run of consecutive podium finishes.
From row two of the grid for the second race, Hill was able to battle up to second place – including a fine move down the inside of Michael Laverty at the Hairpin – but a red flag after a fall for Dan Linfoot left him unable to chase down leader Josh Brookes.
Despite that, Hill retains a 36 point lead over Brookes heading to the next round of the year at Mallory Park.
"I was behind Kiyo in that first race and was mindful that I wanted to stop him building a gap,” he said. “Then, quite simply, I clipped a kerb and went down. But for the hole in the generator cover, where it hit the kerb, there was no damage. Then the little bit of oil that had dribbled out ran on to the exhausts and caught alight which meant the marshals poured on the fire extinguishers – and gave the team a whole lot more to clean up before the second race!
"In race two I started on the second row and it took some time to get past Michael Rutter and Michael Laverty. With the race red flagged I ran out of time to catch Josh Brookes but I'm still really happy to get back on the podium, to keep my lead in the championship and to get more of those important podium points that we can carry forward into the Showdown at the end of the year."
Team manager Jack Valentine was quick to praise both rider and team for the performance in the second race and said the team was hopeful that Kagayama would return to ensure a two-rider team at Mallory next month.
"Obviously race one was a disappointment, particularly after the fantastic qualifying, but then Tommy more than redeemed himself with an excellent second race,” he said. "The team also put in some excellent work to clean up a bike that was covered in fire extinguisher dust and have it 100% ready for race two. Tommy's progress in that race was excellent. He was maybe too aggressive early on, but as soon as he settled into a rhythm the race came to him and he made two inspired passes on Rutter and Laverty, he did a great job.
"We're looking forward to Mallory Park now, although there's a bit of a wait. Yukio was here at Cadwell today as a very interested spectator and he should be a very interested racer come Mallory in five weeks time! We're still only one-third the way through the season so far, so there's plenty to play for yet, both for Tommy and Yukio."