Rob McElnea, team principal for Rob Mac Racing, has admitted he is 'gutted' Karl Harris has been forced to withdraw from the Brands Hatch meeting just as it looked like he was mounting a challenge for victory over the weekend.

Following a season beset by various injury woes and mechanical dramas, Harris was determined to give his year to forget one final flourish with a strong performance around the Kent circuit.

Going on to top two of the three practice sessions, Harris was looking a strong bet for pole position come qualifying before it emerged he had been forced to withdraw for personal reasons.

Although it isn't clear what these reasons are, Harris was replaced on the Yamaha at the last-minute by new Henderson R1 Cup Champion Jon Kirkham, who went on to qualify an impressive ninth.

Having endured dismal luck throughout the year, McElnea was devastated to see the last opportunity of a good result with Harris this season go wanting.

"The whole team is totally gutted," he said. "We were all on such a high, Karl had been riding so well, consistently fast all weekend. We wish Karl well and hope things get sorted for him, it's such a shame that he won't get the chance to end this nightmare season on a high."

Even so, McElnea was delighted to see Kirkham step up to the Superbike and prove quick straight away.

"Jon did an amazing job, to jump on the Superbike with 10 minutes notice and pull off a qualifying position like that has astounded us. Obviously he is race sharp from his Superstock and Henderson R1 Cup duties, this provides us with real proof that the R1 Cup works for these guys.

"It's great to see another young rider come up through our ranks, fingers crossed for Jon's performance tomorrow but we have every faith in him to do us proud."