Rizla Suzuki experienced a day of mixed fortunes yesterday on the modified 1.736-mile Rockingham Motor Speedway circuit.

In dry and bright conditions, John Reynolds started both 22-lap superbike races from pole position, setting another British Superbike first. With the first 4-cylinder 1000cc pole position backing up last week's first win the Rizla Suzuki Team has convincingly broken new ground. Stand-in team mate David Jefferies started from the fourth row.

Reynolds' sixth and DNF positions were enough to see the Rizla Suzuki rider improve his championship position as he moved up to fourth position overall, while Jefferies put in two solid top-ten performances to take his best-ever British Superbike results of ninth and eighth.

Fourth off the line in race one, Reynolds completed the first lap in sixth position. A first lap crash by Steve Plater called for the pace car to be brought out at the end of lap three whilst medics attended to the Yamaha rider. The race restarted in earnest on lap seven with Reynolds putting in his fastest lap time of 1 minute 10.556 seconds on the following lap.

At two thirds race distance, Rizla Suzuki's Reynolds was holding a strong fourth position with less than one second separating him from race leader and eventual winner Michael Rutter.

With less than eight laps remaining, tyre wear came into play and although the loss of grip took its toll, Reynolds battled through and took his Suzuki GSX-R1000 across the finish line in sixth position.

"Naturally I'm very disappointed with that result, particularly as we had high expectations for today's races after qualifying in pole position for the first time yesterday.

"I had a lot of ground to make up after a bad start. I had the front runners firmly in sight and felt confident of a podium place, but when the tyres went off I just couldn't stay on the pace."

Standing in for injured Karl Harris, David Jefferies, the fastest man to ever lap the Isle of Man TT course, rode a typically strong race. With superbike racing unfamiliar to the amiable Yorkshireman and a fourth row starting position to contend with, Jefferies circulated in 12th position at the end of the first lap. Having battled with Honda's Gary Mason for the first half of the race, Jefferies then rode a lonely race to take the Suzuki to a more than respectable ninth place finish.

In the second race Reynolds charged off the line to take the holeshot into Turn One. Whilst holding a strong third place, the Suzuki rider's race came to an end on lap two with a technical problem.

"I'm gutted, as everyone, Rizla, Suzuki, the team, put so much effort in that it hits us all hard when we don't get the results," said Reynolds. "The machine is capable of winning and we've already proved that with last week's win and yesterday's superpole qualifying result. We need to put this behind us now and concentrate on the job ahead at Knockhill in two weeks' time."

Jumping straight from his British Superstock winning, production-based GSX-R1000, Reynolds' temporary weekend team-mate Jefferies muscled the mighty GSX-R1000 superbike around the Northamptonshire circuit to a well earned eighth place, taking the scalps of many British Superbike regulars in the process.

Behind Kawasaki's Mark Burr for much of the race, Jefferies put in a pass on lap 13 and then set about closing the distance on Ducati-mounted Jamie Morley. The multi-TT winner put in consistent lap times to try and bridge the gap but it proved to be too wide and the Suzuki rider took the chequered flag in a solid points scoring eighth place.

"I'm exhausted," noted Jefferies. "It's difficult enough to jump on a superbike and race at this level. So when that race is at a circuit as uncompromising as this one here at Rockingham, the handicap seems to be doubled. Obviously my main focus is to take my GSX-R1000 to the British Superstock title, but it's great to have the opportunity to try superbike racing and I'm pleased to get two top ten finishes."

Team Manager Paul Denning concluded: "We are still in year one of our development programme with the GSX-R1000 machine and, realistically, we have to accept that we will have days like this. But we have gathered more important data and information from today and that will all be used to help us make the next step in the development programme and help us to give John the best possible package for the next round at Knockhill.

"All in all, it's been a disappointing weekend especially after the promise shown by winning at Brands Hatch and then taking pole position here. But, we are heading to Knockhill with optimism as John took the double win there last year.

"I'm pleased with the job David did. He put in a strong performance on a completely unfamiliar machine, showing his versatility as a rider.

"We are hoping that Karl will be fully fit to race at Knockhill, but if he is not completely race fit then we would like David to once again take the ride."

Suzuki race round-up:

Performance Bikes Superstock Championship: David Jefferies stormed to the championship lead after winning yesterday's Suzuki dominated Superstock Championship.

Every slot on the first three rows of the grid was taken by an award-winning Suzuki GSX-R1000 and Jefferies stamped his authority from the start with a holeshot to chequered flag lead.

Race Result: 1. David Jefferies (Suzuki), 2. Steve Brogan (Suzuki), 3. John Crockford (Suzuki), 4. Steve McMillan (Suzuki), 5. Kieran Murphy (Suzuki), 6. Andy Tinsley (Suzuki).

Dunlop Junior Superstock Championship: Suzuki GSX-R600s finished in first and second positions in the hands of Thomas Sykes and Guy Martin in the 15-lap Junior Superstock race. The strength of the GSX-R600 was such that five of the top six finishers were on Suzuki machines.

Race Result: 1. Thomas Sykes (Suzuki), 2. Guy Martin (Suzuki), 3. James Buckingham (Yamaha), 4. Kiel Bryce (Suzuki), 5. Benjie Cockerill (Suzuki), 6. John Nisill (Suzuki).

 

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