Eighteen-year-old Kieran Clarke made an encouraging start to his Superbike campaign this weekend at the opening round of the 2004 British Superbike Championship.

With the first of the two fifty minute qualification sessions being damp, Clarke had a race against the clock to adapt to the intensity of Superbike qualifying, and acquitted himself well to qualify in 17th position.

In front of over 28,000 fans Clarke launched all 180 B.H.P of his Colin Appleyard Racing run Yamaha YZF-R1 on a damp Silverstone circuit at the start of race one. For Clarke, a multiple winner in the Virgin Mobile R6 cup, this was not only his first Superbike race, but also the first time he has ever raced on wet tyres!

After 22 laps in changing and challenging conditions, Clarke finished race one in 16th place.

Race two was dry and Clarke taking full advantage from his experience of the first race, made up three places in the opening lap. By the tenth lap Clarke, had made his way up to eleventh place with a string of fast lap times and determined overtaking manoeuvres.

After a closely fought tussle with Steve Plater and Sam Corke, Clarke had the better of the pair and moved up to ninth place by lap 14. Unfortunately Clarke's race ended prematurely on the penultimate lap when he collided with Sam Corke at Woodcote corner.

A considered Kieran Clarke summed up his weekend, " Overall I feel very encouraged the way that things unfolded. Race one was interesting to say the least! It was my first race on wets and it took me a few laps to figure out how much the bike would move around. By mid race I had it figured and my lap times were pretty respectable. I'm really disappointed not to finish race two. I made a great start, feeling really comfortable with the pace and was looking forward to a top ten finish. Roll on Brands!"

Team owner Colin Appleyard shared Kieran's encouragement, "Very encouraging. Of course we are all disappointed with how the second race ended, but we have a lot of positives to take away from the weekend, not least was how well Kieran adapted to the conditions in race one and the race craft he showed in the second."

The next round of the championship is at Brands Hatch on the 12th ofApril. Stay tuned to www.crash.net/bsb for details of how you can win free tickets to the event.