Jon Kirkham was the busiest rider in the British Superbike paddock today as he embarked on a British Superbike qualifying outing, together with his commitments in the Henderson R1 Cup and the Superstock series.
Kirkham was drafted onto the Rob Mac Racing Yamaha at the last minute when Karl Harris was called away urgently shortly before qualifying.
With just a few laps of experience on the machine, Kirkham was thrown in at the deep end but he conducted himself superbly as he qualified for the top ten shootout on his first attempt.
Going on to take ninth on the grid, Kirkham was delighted with the result, not least because he had no time to prepare for his step up to more accomplished machinery.
“I did a back-to-back session with R1 Cup session and qualifying for the Superstocks, so I was back at my motorhome getting my leathers off when Rob McElnea called me,” he told Crash.net
. “He said 'get your ass down here', so I didn't ask any questions and before I knew it I was going out. It all baffled me a bit!”
Not that it was completely plain sailing for the new R1 Cup Champion, Kirkham admitting to pushing a little too hard at times and almost coming off the bike on his final lap.
“I had 20 laps on the bike about four months ago, but this went really well. I tried to run a bit before I could walk and it showed me a few times that it wasn't a toy. It was a bit of a beast, but it all went really well.
“I saw P8 and I was trying to get stuck in, but I got a massive high-side on my best lap. It's no excuse though because I am still ninth!”
Going straight back onto R1 machinery, Kirkham admits it was an unusual experience to be sampling so many different bikes in such a short space of time.
“I went back out on the R1 Cup bike and it felt like a scooter! It was slow, heavy and the brakes were crap… although I got pole nonetheless. I think I have done double the amount of laps everyone has done so I am feeling a bit worn out now.”
Looking ahead to the races, Kirkham is eyeing a double top ten result.
“I want to be in the top ten, but top eight is realistic. I am going to go and have some fun!”