Colin Appleyard Racing commenced their 2003 British Superbike campaign at Silverstone yesterday, with Dean Thomas substituting for an injured Paul Young and partnering Jon Kirkham on the 1000cc Yamahas.

Kirkham qualified a strong ninth in a field recognised as one of the toughest in the world, while Thomas, who only sat on the bike for the first time on the Friday morning, was in a race against time to adapt his style from the twin cylinder Ducati he rode last season, and qualified 14th

In race one, Kirkham made a flying start - taking two places during the opening lap - but his good fortune was not to last long as he became the victim of an unfortunate incident, when an over aggressive manoeuvre ended his race prematurely. Race two was to fair little better for Kirkham, as he crashed out on the second lap.

"I'm gutted, the preparations have been going fantastically, the team is brilliant and the bike is awesome," said a distraught Jon. "In the first race I was just unlucky, I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and before I knew it I was taken down.

"I had made a good start to the second race and was just settling down, when I ran out of room on the exit of turn five and just touched the white line. I lost the front end and the race was over," he explained. "The season has a long way to go and I'm more than happy with my qualifying pace and the progress we have made. I can't wait for Snetterton."

Meanwhile, Thomas [pictured] produced a solid performance in race one, bringing his TDB Recruit.com liveried R1 home in 10th to score valuable points for the team. The Aussie then improved on that by one place in race two.

"I really needed more time on the bike," said Dean. "It's a fantastic machine and a great team but it would take me a couple more sessions to shave off the next few tenths I need to be really competitive.

"The set-up in first race wasn't perfect and I had to settle for a pace that I was confident with. We made some small changes for race two and immediately it felt better. My aim this weekend was to get the team some points which I did so I'm happy," stated Thomas.

Regular racer Young, recovering from a back injury, could not keep himself away from the opening round and escaped from hospital to help on his team-mates.

"I feel sorry for Jon, he is naturally quick and undoubtedly a future star, but sometimes you need some luck. He'll be on the pace for the next round," said Young sportingly.

The team now prepare for the next round at Snetterton on the 13th of April. Current indications are that Young will be back and fit to take up his 2003 challenge, leaving Thomas to continue his quest for a regular ride.

 

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