Rounds seven and eight of the British Superbike Championship took place at the newly revamped Oulton Park circuit on Bank Holiday Monday [May 5].

After an eventful qualifying session, T.D.B riders, Paul Young and Jon Kirkham lined up on the fourth row of the grid for race one.

At the start of race one, Kirkham had to momentarily drop of the throttle to get his powerful, Colin Appleyard Racing run Yamaha R1 under control. This cost the 18-year rider a few places on the run to the first corner. Team-mate Young had a strong start and made up five places mid way through lap one.

However good fortune was not to stay with the Australian, as a gamble on a softer tyre compound did not pay off. After five laps and a ripped rear tyre, Young was battling to hold his position. Kirkham with a slightly harder rear tyre started his charge and steadily caught the group in front, putting in lap times comparable to his qualifying pace. He finished the 18-lap race in a points scoring twelfth place. Young struggled throughout but held on to a final fourteenth place.

For the 23,000 fans the changeable weather held and race two started in bright and dry conditions. Young and Kirkham both got great starts and made up several places by the first corner.

Midway through lap one, on the approach to the newly laid out Knickerbrook chicane, Kirkham was forced wide and ran on relegating the Midlands-based rider to last place. His luck did not change, on lap twelve, exiting Druid's at over 100 m.p.h Kirkham came across a large stone on the circuit, the result of a previous incident. With no time to move Kirkham hit the stone and the front end folded. His race was over, but fortunately he did not sustain any injuries.

Young consolidated his good start to complete lap one of race two in twelfth place. He was then involved in a race long battle with the Hawk Kawasakis, eventually getting the better of the pair to finish in eleventh place.

Young summed up his day: "Race one was all about the rear tyre, I got a good start but after it started to let go there was not much I could do. I'm still battling with strength in my left arm and chest and I know I lost time on the two left-handers, [Cascades and Island] and the chicanes. In the second race I really had to work hard to keep a tight line, in the end the effort was worthwhile to win the battle with the Kawasakis."

A disappointed Kirkham reflected: "I was really pleased with race one. I didn't get a great start but then I was lapping at my qualifying pace for virtually the entire race. This is a hard circuit and it really takes it out of you and separates the fit guys from the rest. After being forced to miss the chicane on the first lap of race two, I was determined to make up the time and just got my head down. I was up to fourteenth place when I crashed.

"When I came round Druid's the track was full of debris. I knew something had happened and had backed right off, but I had no chance when I hit the stone. I'm okay but very disappointed for the team who are working really hard. Hopefully we can make up for this at Knockhill."

The team now prepare for rounds nine and ten, north of the border at the Scottish Knockhill circuit on the 18th of May.



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