Honda Racing's twin-pronged attack on the British Superbike Championship picked up steam at Thruxton when Mark Heckles and Steve Plater both qualified on the second row for Sunday's two races. Mark Heckles will start from seventh place and Steve Plater will launch the second Honda Racing VTR1000 SP-2 from eighth on the grid.

Plater is still adapting to the power and handling characteristics of his World Championship winning machinery. Unfortunately for him, riders such as pole sitter Michael Rutter and second-placed Shane Byrne are already fully acquainted with their bikes and are able to concentrate purely on putting in fast laps. Indeed, the grid position determining Dunlop Super 12 session saw Rutter record the quickest ever lap of the ultra fast former airfield circuit.

"I wasn't too happy with my performance in the Dunlop Super 12," said Heckles. "I messed up the Seagrove corner on my fast lap and touched the grass which cost me at least half a second - in fact I was lucky to stay on. The Honda Racing team has worked really hard to give me the best possible advantage but with the pace so hot out there it's been difficult for me to get any higher than seventh."

Heckles has more experience with Honda V-twins having raced an SP-1 in the Superbike World Championship last season, however Plater will be aiming to utilise his undeniable determination and natural talent in order to close the gap on his team-mate.

"It's been a great help having Mark in the team because we've been able to exchange information," said Plater. "Obviously I'm not satisfied with my grid position but thanks to the hard work of the Honda Racing team we've made some massive improvements that should pay off in the race. I'm not interested in being a one-lap wonder and I was concentrating on putting in fast laps on race rubber. We've softened up the bike quite a lot, which has helped with grip and a second row start isn't too bad at Thruxton. I want to beat my fourth place from Snetterton and will be aiming to make it on to the podium tomorrow."

 

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