|In his second meeting as a replacement for the injured Jonathan Rea, Alex Lowes (Castrol Honda) was unable to finish a race at round nine of the FIM Superbike World Championship held at Silverstone. In contrast World championship leader Carlos Checa (Ducati) extended his lead in the points standings with a double win, while Eugene Laverty (Yamaha) and his team-mate Marco Melandri took identical double podium finishes of second and third respectively.
Lowes started each 18-lap race in 18th position on the grid, but Lowes was to fall on lap six of race one, and then retire in race two after finding he could not lap competitively on his spare bike, which had some different settings from his crashed number one machine.
Regular rider Ruben Xaus was unable to compete at Silverstone due to injury, and when original planned replacement Karl Muggeridge was ruled out of the running, Fabrizio Lai (Castrol Honda) was drafted in as a late substitute.
He worked diligently in practice and qualified 21st, but was to fall in race one at turn six after losing the front. He posted a finish in 16th place in race two, but just missed out on a point by one place.
With Max Biaggi only 11th and then fourth today, Checa extended his championship lead to 62 points over Biaggi, 343 to 281. Melandri has 272 points, Laverty 208. Jonathan Rea is now 12th overall with 94 points, Xaus 16th with 44 points.
FORET THIRD IN THE SILVERSTONE RACE AND THE POINTS STANDINGS
Fabien Foret (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) got involved in a fight for the podium places at Silverstone after qualifying sixth on the grid and finished 2.449 seconds from his first win of the season, in a race taken by championship leader Chaz Davies (Yamaha) from David Salom (Kawasaki). This was Foret’s fifth podium of 2011.
Some top riders, including Brno race winner Gino Rea (Step Racing Honda) were to fall during the usual intense supersport contest, with Rea particularly unfortunate to first collide with fellow CBR600RR rider Sam Lowes (Parkalgar Honda) in the early laps and then work his way back to a potential podium, only to crash trying to pass Foret.
Gino remounted to take 11th in the race, and go seventh in the championship standings. He had qualified fourth, for a front row start. Lowes crashed out after his collision with Rea, rejoining for a time, but being forced to retire with a damaged machine.
Balasz Nemeth (Team Hungary Toth Honda) made a remarkable run through the field from his 21st place on the grid, going seventh at the flag and in doing so proving to be second best Honda rider on the day. The 26-year-old Hungarian rider jumped up to 14th in the championship with his best finish to date.
Robbin Harms (Harms Benjan Racing Honda) set the fastest lap of the day on the second circuit, but fell from third place on lap four. The Dane had been fifth in qualifying.
Silverstone is a favourite circuit of Miguel Praia (Parkalgar Honda) and he went eighth in the race, one place up on young French rider Florian Marino (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda). Marino had been impressive in the lead in the early laps, but lost traction and several positions as the race counted out over all 16-laps. He had qualified an impressive third.
James Ellison (Bogdanka PTR Honda) slotted into the last place in the top ten, having been 16th on the grid and then being unable to make up crucial early places in the first few corners. The last Honda rider in the points was Alexander Lundh (Cresto Guide Racing Team Honda), 13th after qualifying in 12th.
Vladimir Ivanov (Step Racing Team Honda) went 16th, Imre Toth (Team Hungary Toth Honda) 17th, and Ondrej Jezek (SMS Racing Honda) 18th. Pawel Szkopek (Bogdanka PTR Honda) fell while pushing on from 16th place.
Chaz Davies is now in a strong championship position with 146 points, Salom has 104, Foret 101 and Broc Parkes (sixth today on a Kawasaki) 95.
Honda rider comments:
Alex Lowes (Castrol Honda)
Race result: DNF /DNF Championship position: 30th
"Race one was going OK, even though I made a bad start. I made some passes on other riders, was really enjoying it. I went into one of the corners a little bit fast, and slowed down too much in the middle of the corner, then got on the gas too much on the exit, so it was really my fault. It was a big crash and I felt pretty beaten up. In race two I had not much confidence and feeling on the second bike. The team worked really well and in some parts of the weekend we were pretty fast, but at the end of the weekend crashing out never helps a lot. The team and bike deserve to be a lot higher up, but I am taking some positives away because we had some positives."
Fabrizio Lai (Castrol Honda)
Race result: DNF / 16th Championship position: 31st
"It was a very difficult weekend because it is the first time at Silverstone, first time with this team this bike and all of it was very complicated. Today in race one I used a soft tyre and, before I fell, it was not giving me the best grip even after three laps. In race two I chose a harder tyre and it as very good in the corners, but then the problems was in the rear and I did not have the traction I wanted. I used more traction control to finish the race. I am sorry for this result for the team, all the people and myself."
Fabien Foret (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda)
Race result: 3rd. Championship position: 3rd
"The bike was OK, obviously good enough to take a podium, and my team worked hard. We did not find the best base setting ever this weekend, but the bike was good. It was really good in some areas in others I was struggling a bit. I think maybe I took the wrong tactics, as I felt I could have gone out in front at one stage, but I decided to wait. Then, I could not change my rhythm again, making a few mistakes. At the end I could not make it and I am a little sorry not to perform better this race, even if the bike set-up was not as good as I would have liked."
Balasz Nemeth (Team Hungary Toth Honda)
Race result: 7th. Championship position: 14th
“We started quite far back because I had some problems in qualifying with my set up so I could not do one good fast lap. In the race I made a good start and I could gain some positions in every lap. In the last few laps I saw I had some chances to catch the riders before me and I pushed more. In the last two laps it was a bit hard with some overtaking and I was on the gravel sometimes, but in the end it was a very good result.”
Gino Rea (Step Racing Team Honda)
Race result: 11th. Championship position: 7th
"Fabien went in pretty tight into a left hander at the end and I just went in a bit wide to get underneath him on the right, and the front just tucked. It was a weird crash, but maybe the tyre had just gone off. I did not have the same feeling from the bike after Sam hit me from behind, so maybe it had buckled the rear wheel a bit and it made the bike react differently, making me run on after lots of backing-in. I lost loads of time and it was frustrating just to have to re-pass people and try to catch up to the front guys. I’m a bit disappointed in myself so I feel sorry for the team and we could have had a strong result. Had I not run off twice we could have definitely been on the podium."
Florian Marino (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda)
Race result: 9th. Championship position: 11th
"I had a good start, but if I tried to run a big lean angle at the end to make the bike turn I started to close the front and I was not getting grip. When the rear tyre was OK, I was OK. At the end I was almost crashing every lap so I had to slow down. I was feeling good at the beginning but near the end I was two or three seconds slower than the pace I could do."
James Ellison (Bogdanka PTR Honda)
Race result: 10th. Championship position: 12th
"I had a bit of a plan in the race, to go inside at the first corner and use a part of the kerb, but a few others had the same plan! I needed to get past at least four people to get with the fast guys, but I couldn’t because of the other riders around. It was an uphill battle, but the bike felt pretty good all weekend, and we have changed only clicks here and there on suspension. We lost a bit of practice time with crashes and being taken out, so we were lacking a bit of track time on it."
Sam Lowes (Parkalgar Honda)
Race result: DNF. Championship position: 6th
“I have to apologise to everyone for the non finish, my team especially, and the fans out there. From the pace the race was run at I know I could have done a good job, but that is all ifs and buts and you do not get anything for that. Congratulations to Chaz on his win, but we are really disappointed. I just made a mistake and that is racing.”