Honda Racing's Steve Plater finished the second leg in sixth position at Mondello Park in one of the most closely fought races of the 2003 British Superbike Championship.

There was a freight train of ten riders battling for the top positions in the early stages of the 18-lap race, with Mark Heckles leading the chasing group on the second Honda Racing VTR1000 SP-2 - he eventually finished ninth.

A mistake by Sean Emmett enabled John Reynolds and Yukio Kagayama to make a break from their pursuers, so that left Plater in the shake-up for the final podium positions in the latter half of the race. With Scott Smart and Kagayama crashing out in the closing stages, Plater was able to repeat his first race performance of a top six finish.

Although the 30-year-old Lincolnshire rider has slipped to sixth in the championship points table overall, he is only four points behind fourth-placed Glen Richards with four rounds [eight races] still to run in the series.

"My lap times were excellent throughout the race and I'm really pleased with my performance," said Plater, "It's just a shame that I didn't get as good a start as I did in the first race. It's really difficult to overtake other riders around this circuit and my set-up just didn't allow me to make as much progress as I would have liked. The title race has closed right up now and I'm already looking forward to the next round at Oulton Park."

Team-mate Heckles added: "I had the same problems with my fitness that I had in race one. I've just had to grit my teeth and ride to the best of my ability under the most challenging of circumstances. I'd like to thank the Honda Racing team for all their patience and hard work this weekend. I hope to get some rest before the next round at my home circuit, which I'm looking forward to immensely."



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