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Cooper takes Superstock win with Guintoli eighth on Thruxton debut for Bennetts Suzuki

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Bennetts Suzuki’s Richard Cooper added another win to his season’s tally at Thruxton and the seventh round of the MCE British Superbike championship, while teammate Sylvain Guintoli took a solid eighth placed finish on his first visit to the circuit.

Cooper, who finished second in yesterday’s race, went one better onboard his GSX-R1000 in today’s race, to take the win and reduce his deficit at the top of championship standings. However, celebrations were muted, following a crash that brought out the red flags and an early end to the race.

In the two British Superbike races, Sylvain Guintoli and the team made more progress with the new GSX-R1000 at a track new to the Frenchman this season. The former World Superbike champion finished 10th in race one, before improving to eighth in race two, knocking over half a second off his lap times to highlight the steps the team is making.

His teammate, Taylor Mackenzie, finished 13th in the first race after a mistake on the final lap, dropping him down from 11th, before missing race two due to a technical issue before the sighting lap. Michael Dunlop used the weekend to gain more track time on his GSX-R1000 superbike ahead of the Ulster Grand Prix, but retired from race one before sitting out race two.

Richard Cooper, “It’s good to go one better today and get the win, and also take a few more points away from Danny. The bike was working well weekend. We had really good pace, and really I’d have liked to have won both races this weekend because I think we could have. But on the whole, it’s been a good weekend. However, tonight, thoughts are with the family of Mark Fincham after the sad news we all received after the race.”

Sylvain Guintoli, “It was my first visit to Thruxton and it’s a very different place, different type of track, even from other British tracks. It’s very fast and bumpy, with lots of sliding and spinning. It was a different experience for me, also coming back from the Suzuka 8-Hour. But I adjusted quickly and learned the track quite well, and we made good progress this weekend. We started quite far down the grid in each race but were able to make up some positions. Our pace was not such that we could race at the very front but we improved our lap times and will continued to work and develop the bike try and end the seasons strongly.”

Taylor Mackenzie, “It was quite a positive race one. From 18th on the grid I would have been happy with 11th. I got mugged on the last lap after a mistake and 13th reads a lot worse, but 11th would have been a decent result. The hope was to then push on again in race two and get a good result in the bag and get into the top-10. But again, we’ve had some bad luck with an issue just before we went out that the team will now go away and look at and find out what caused it. We just need a break because we know the potential is there.”

Team manager, Steve Hicken, “It’s been a more positive weekend for the team, on the whole. Cooper rode really hard. To be honest, I think he could have won Saturday’s race, but he went out there today and winning was all he’d have been happy with, and we’ve taken some more points out of Danny [Buchan] at the top of the championship. But, of course, it was in circumstances that no one wants to see, and all of our thoughts are with the family of Mark Fincham tonight.

“In Superbike, it’s been better, too. With Sylvain, our pace improved all weekend and they’re two solid results. It’s still not where we want to be, but we made some steps in the right direction again this weekend, improved our lap times, and learned more about the bike. Taylor had good race pace and it should have been 11th in race one before his mistake. In race two, we had an issue before the sighting lap and unfortunately he didn’t make the start. But his race pace was good this weekend.
“For Michael, this weekend was all about keeping sharp and keeping up to speed on the bike before the Ulster, and a chance to spend more time learning and developing before the Ulster next week.”

Superstock 1000 race result: 1. Richard Cooper, 2. Adam Jenkinson, 3. Danny Buchan.
Superbike race one result: 1. Josh Brookes, 2. Peter Hickman, 3. Jake Dixon, 10. Sylvain Guintoli, 13. Taylor Mackenzie.
Superbike race two result: 1. Peter Hickman, 2. Jake Dixon, 3. Leon Haslam, 8. Sylvain Guintoli, DNS. Taylor Mackenzie, DNS. Michael Dunlop.

Superstock podium for Cooper with Guintoli on Superbike fifth row for Bennetts Suzuki

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Richard Cooper took another podium finish for the Bennetts Suzuki team and the new GSX-R1000 at Thruxton, finishing in second place in today’s National Superstock 1000 race at the seventh round of the MCE British Superbike championship.

Cooper qualified on the front row, and led for periods of the race. Sat in third towards the closing stages, he made a move for second, as Danny Buchan began to pull away at the front. He bridged the gap, but towards the end of the race tyre wear became an issue and he was unable to mount an attack, instead taking second place.

Cooper also made a wildcard appearance in the British Supersport class onboard the team’s GSX-R600. He qualified in ninth place, but a problem on the warm-up lap meant he had to start from pitlane. He recovered to 11th.

In qualifying for tomorrow’s opening British Superbike race Sylvain Guintoli posted the 14th quickest time on his first ever visit to the super-fast circuit, while Taylor Mackenzie will start from 18th on the grid.

Michael Dunlop, who is racing in the British Superbike championship for the first time since his Senior TT, Southern 100, and Armoy road race wins, will start from 25th, as he continues preparations for the forthcoming Ulster Grand Prix.

Richard Cooper, “I’m disappointed really, in the end we ran out of tyre – it’s worn down to the canvas. We all had a few turns at leading, then Danny [Buchan] started to edge away. I passed [Michael] Rutter and caught him back up, but with about five laps to go, every time I shut the throttle, the rear kept coming round on me and I struggled to get into corners. It’s frustrating because I feel we could have won the race, and should have won. The bike’s been working well all weekend, the speed’s been good and I’ve been comfortable. We’ll make some setup changes tomorrow to try and help with tyre life, and hopefully go one better.
“I had good fun on the little 600, too. We qualified well, but had to repair the gear linkage after the warm up lap and start from pitlane. But I enjoyed it.”

Sylvain Guintoli, “This is my first visit to Thruxton and it’s a very unique track. It’s very fast and you can pick different lines to do the lap times. We are improving all the time and have made steps forward, and I’m learning the track more and more. We have two races tomorrow and tyre life is important here, so hopefully we can have two good races and make more progress.”

Taylor Mackenzie, “I was a bit annoyed with qualifying; for one reason or another we didn’t get the one lap in we needed in Q2. But I’m feeling good. We’ve made some progress with the electronics and the engine braking. And the bike’s a rocket ship. It’s so fast, and I’m topping the speed traps more often than not. I think our race pace is quite good. We’re going to make a couple more changes for warm-up, do some work on the front to help with corner entry. The rear’s good; we’ve been working on tyres. The plan is to try and be smooth, be patient, save the tyre, and try and make some progress as the race goes on and hopefully come through.”

Steve Hicken, team manager, “It’s been a solid day today. We’re disappointed with the Superstock result as believe we could have won the race and it was important for our championship to try and get the 25 points. We just ran out of tyre in the end, without that I think we could have had a go. But it’s another podium and shows how well the bike is working. In Superbike, we’ve made progress. Sylvain’s seeing the place for the first time, and we’ve taken some steps with Taylor’s electronics and setup. He didn’t get the lap in in qualifying but I think, come the race, we’ll have good pace and can do the full distance. With Michael, this weekend is just more bike time for him and a chance to try some different things before the Ulster Grand Prix.”

Superstock 1000 race result: 1. Danny Buchan, 2. Richard Cooper, 3. Michael Rutter.
Supersport 600 race result: 1. Keith Farmer, 2. Jack Kennedy, 3. Alastair Seeley, 11. Richard Cooper.
Superbike qualifying result: 1. Jake Dixon, 2. Josh Brookes, 3. Peter Hickman, 14. Sylvain Guintoli, 18. Taylor Mackenzie, 25. Michael Dunlop.

Richard Cooper takes three wins from three starts and sets a new lap record for Bennetts Suzuki at Brands Hatch

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Bennetts Suzuki

Richard Cooper took another win in the National Superstock 1000 championship, making it three wins from three starts, at Brands Hatch onboard his Bennetts Suzuki GSX-R1000, leading today’s race from start-to-finish to make it a perfect weekend after qualifying on pole and winning both legs of yesterday’s two-part race.

In today’s 16-lap affair he led into turn one off the line, and steadily built a comfortable advantage – setting a new lap record along the way – to take another win to bring his championship challenge back on track. After arriving at Brands Hatch with a 45-point deficit at the top of the championship standings, he now heads to Thruxton and round seven of the MCE British Superbike championship just 24 points adrift.

Richard Cooper, “We’re in a good run of form which, to be honest, started at Snetterton. We led just about every lap there until it was outside of my control and we started to run low on fuel, and that, plus the bad luck and DNF from Knockhill, is what’s put us on the back foot in the championship. But we know our pace is good and I have the confidence, and to be honest the bike just gave me that confidence all weekend. I knew I could control today’s race from the start and that we could do the lap times out front on our own, and that was always the plan today. I managed to pull a comfortable lead and to see +3 on the pit board starting the last lap was nice.”

Team manager, Steve Hicken, “This has been the perfect weekend for us in Superstock. We were winning races from the start of the season and without the little bit of bad luck we could still be leading this championship. But that’s all part of racing, and this weekend Cooper’s shown what the Bennetts Suzuki can do and that’s lead from the front and command races. We’re still a way off the championship lead, but we’ll keep working hard and keep doing our best and hopefully we can keep chipping away and get ourselves back in contention.”

In the two British Superbike races the Sylvain Guintoli suffered from a lack of circuit knowledge and a crash in FP3 that left him sore, while Taylor Mackenzie struggled with the engine braking setup issues the team had been working to resolve. Both riders failed to finish race one, before finishing 17th and 15th respectively in race two.

Hicken added, “It’s been difficult again in Superbike; Sylvain’s learning a lot of the circuits and then had a get-off on Saturday morning that set us back, while we’re still trying to get an engine braking setup right for Taylor. We know Taylor’s got the pace and we’ve seen it, and we’re confident that, once we’ve found a solution in that area, we’ll see a big improvement. With Sylvain we’ve also got some ideas to try with his setup, and are working with the Yoshimura team, who he is racing with at Suzuka, to try and get him comfortable enough to push harder.”

Superstock 1000 race result: 1. Richard Cooper, 2. Michael Rutter, 3. Chrissy Rouse.

Superbike race one result: 1. Shane Byrne, 2. Dan Linfoot, 3. Leon Haslam, DNF. Taylor Mackenzie, DNF. Sylvain Guintoli.

Superbike race two result: 1. Shane Byrne, 2. James Ellison, 3. Christian Iddon, 15. Taylor Mackenzie, 17. Sylvain Guintoli

Bennetts Suzuki’s Richard Cooper wins Superstock 1000 opener at Brands Hatch

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Bennetts Suzuki

Bennetts Suzuki’s Richard Cooper took victory in today’s Superstock 1000 race at Brands Hatch, taking maximum points from the two-part race at round six of the MCE British Superbike championship.

Cooper had qualified on pole, and was leading the first half of the race when the red flags came out after 10 laps. It was restarted as an eight-lap sprint, with Cooper picking up where he left off to cross the line first.

After the pitstop, Cooper slotted into second place as the race restarted, but hit the front on lap four. From there he was never headed as the red-flags were again brought out, this time for rain on lap 12.

It means Cooper took maximum points to get his championship challenge back on track, with another opportunity available in tomorrow’s 16-lap race.

Richard Cooper, “I’m a little bit disappointed to be honest because I wanted to win by more. I was feeling good and had a comfortable lead, so I was actually a bit disappointed when the red flags came out in the first part. They were a bit closer after the stoppage but I could keep them behind me. After the pitstop we had a bit of an issue with the rear brake setup, which made it a bit more difficult at the front, but I think we could have gone the distance even though the flags came out again. But it’s good, I’m feeling good and the bike’s working well, and we were running at lap record pace. Tomorrow’s a sprint race and I’m feeling confident, so fingers crossed the weather’s kind. The plan’s to get away and hopefully lead from the front, and have another good race.”

Team manager Steve Hicken, “It’s good to get back onto the top step today. We had a run of bad luck but the potential in Cooper and the GSX-R were never in question, so we’re happy to be back on track and leading races from the front again, and with pole and the win in both halves of today’s race, it couldn’t have gone much better. We had a bit of an issue in the second half with the rear brake after changing the wheel, but fair play to Cooper because he got on with the job and still managed to hold everybody off for the win. Everything’s working well and we know that when it is, we can race for wins, so hopefully we’ll have another one to add to it tomorrow.”

Superstock 1000 race result: 1. Richard Cooper, 2. Danny Buchan, 3. Chrissy Rouse.

Brands BSB beckons for Bennetts Suzuki after successful Southern 100

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Bennetts Suzuki

The Bennetts Suzuki team heads to Brands Hatch this weekend for the sixth round of the MCE British Superbike championship, following the team’s success at the recent Southern 100 road races on the Isle of Man where Michael Dunlop took a hat-trick of victories on the new GSX-R1000.

Taylor Mackenzie is confident of a return to the sort of form that saw him take a fifth placed finish at Knockhill earlier this season. The reigning National Superstock 1000 champion has found a setup he is comfortable with on his GSX-R1000, and after undergoing arm-pump surgery has gone from strength-to-strength, with only bad luck preventing him from replicating that sort of result at the last round. Work on engine braking strategy at a test the week following the Snetterton round means he is feeling confident ahead of tomorrow’s opening free practice session.

Taylor Mackenzie, “We should be on for a good weekend. Snetterton was what it was, but we’re going to Brands looking to pick up from where we were at Knockhill. We did some laps after Snetterton, just to work on the engine braking mainly, and found something that worked. I’m looking forward to trying it this weekend, and with an improvement in our luck we should be back to racing inside the top-10 and pushing for the top-five and higher.”

His teammate, Sylvain Guintoli, has too shown the potential that he and the new GSX-R posses, and is looking to further refine his setup to allow him to be comfortable enough to push and challenge at the front of races.

Sylvain Guintoli, “We’re always improving, but just need to keep working to take us to the next level. We had two solid results at Snetterton, which was a new track for me, but of course everyone wants more and to fight for the results we want to be achieving. BSB is very competitive and the top-15 are all very strong so it is a challenge and it is not easy, but this weekend is another chance for us to continue improving.”

Richard Cooper has been left with work to do in the National Superstock 1000 championship, after a run of bad luck saw him surrender his championship lead at Knockhill, and slip further behind at Snetterton. However, his and the bike’s speed has never been in question, and the Nottinghamshire ace and former class champion is ready to fight for wins this weekend.

Richard Cooper, “I’m ready to get back to it. I feel I’m riding well, the bike’s working well, and we know we are able to win races. I felt comfortable at Snetterton so to lose out the way we did was hard to take, but it’s happened now, there’s nothing we can do, we just need to pick ourselves up and go again this weekend. I feel the pressure’s off me a little bit now. We’ve just got to go out and do what we do and it’s our job now to apply the pressure to those ahead of us.”

Team manager, Steve Hicken, “The Southern 100 was good for us. We’d have liked all four Superbike wins, but three and a lap record for Michael [Dunlop], first time there with the new GSX-R, is a good showing. But it also allowed us to learn more about the bike and keep pushing its development forward, and hopefully we can keep improving this weekend in BSB.

“Taylor’s confidence is high and his speed is there. With a bit of luck there’s no reason he can’t be challenging the more established riders and push on. With Sylvain, we’re getting there. We had two top-10s at Snetterton and they’re two solid results. But they’re not where we want to be, where he wants to be, or where we know we can be. So we’re looking to keep working with him. And in Superstock, we’ve also suffered from some bad luck and it’s cost us the series lead, but Cooper’s ability and the bike’s speed has never been in question. We’ve been winning races and arguably should have had another win at Snetterton. We have got work to do now to catch up, but hopefully that’ll start this week.”

Hat-trick hero Michael Dunlop takes three wins for Bennetts Suzuki at the International Southern 100 road races

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Michael Dunlop took three wins from four starts for the Bennetts Suzuki team at this week’s Southern 100 road races on the Isle of Man, setting a new circuit lap record of 115.707mph along the way onboard the new GSX-R1000.

Dunlop got off to a winning start, taking victory in the event’s opening race. After making a good start to lead the opening lap, Dunlop dropped back to second on lap two. From there, he sat behind race-leader Dan Kneen, before making another pass for the lead on the penultimate lap. He held the advantage until the chequered flag to take the win, the first for the new GSX-R1000 around the Billown circuit.

The 2017 Senior TT winner then backed it up with victory in Wednesday’s seven-lap race, and then took the win in the first of two races on Thursday.

The final, nine-lap Manx Gas Solo Championship race saw Dunlop, Kneen, and Dean Harrison fight for position, and all enjoyed spells at the front of the race, and while he had to eventually settle for third, Dunlop set a new course record of 115.707mph on the last lap.

Michael Dunlop, “It’s been a good week. I can’t lie and say I’m not disappointed to win all four races with the big Suzuki, but we’ve enjoyed some good, close racing, three wins is good, and I’m happy to set a new circuit record, too. We’re still learning with this bike, the team, Steve, all the boys, are still learning and working hard, and we’re getting better all the time.”

Team manager, Steve Hicken, “We’re really happy to take some more wins with the new GSX-R. After winning three from three we really wanted the fourth and there’s no doubt Michael was trying: setting a new lap record on the last lap of the last race. But we’ve had a good week and have learned a lot more about the bike. We were making changes all each time we went out, trying to find a setting that worked well on the bumpy Billown circuit, but we kept improving and kept getting faster, and are happy with the results.”

Corlett’s Trophies 600/1000cc race result: 1. Michael Dunlop, 2. Dan Kneen, 3. Dean Harrison.

Ellan Vannin Fuels Senior race result: 1. Michael Dunlop, 2. Dan Kneen, 3. Jamie Coward.

Island Aggregates Superbike race result: 1. Michael Dunlop, 2. Dan Kneen, 3. Jamie Coward.

Manx Gas Solo Championship race result: 1. Dean Harrison, 2. Dan Kneen, 3. Michael Dunlop

Top 10 for Guintoli after difficult weekend for Bennetts Suzuki at Snetterton

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Bennetts Suzuki

The Bennetts Suzuki team is taking away the positives from a difficult weekend at Snetterton and round five of the MCE British Superbike championship, where Sylvain Guintoli took a brace of top-10 finishes, as Taylor Mackenzie failed to finish either race and Richard Cooper cruelly denied victory in the Superstock 1000 race after running out of fuel.

The improvements in Guintoli’s pace from qualifying to today’s races shows the work the Bennetts Suzuki team is putting in behind the scenes with the new GSX-R1000. From his 14th place grid spot Guintoli raced to 10th in race one, before going one better in race two to finish ninth, all the time closing the gap to the leaders.

It was a weekend to forget for Mackenzie, after an electrical issue prevented him from qualifying any higher than 23rd. Still, the reigning Superstock 1000 champion – who was 10th quickest in morning warmup – was optimistic ahead of the two races. Unfortunately he crashed out on lap three of race one after making up a number of places on the opening two laps. He then retired on the warmup lap of race two with a technical issue.

Sylvain Guintoli, “It’s not where we want to be obviously, but we have made improvements again this weekend. We made a step from qualifying to the races, and we’re always trying to keep developing the package. Everyone’s working hard and we’ll keep plugging away. We’ve had two solid results this weekend but everyone is determined to find more and achieve more going forwards.”

Taylor Mackenzie, “It was probably the worst weekend ever but we were actually quite fast in-between the mishaps. I was really confident, and feel really comfy on the bike now and can ride it hard and how I want. I passed a lot of people off the start in race one and was on the back of the group that went up to about eighth. It’s all ifs, buts and maybes, but without the crash I think we could have been top-10, got a better grid spot for race two, and pushed on from there. The reason for the crash was the lack of track time – we were struggling a little with our engine braking, and we hadn’t got it right and it just pushed me on too much in the corner and it tucked the front. But surprisingly I feel good, and there’s no reason we can’t go to Brands and fight inside the top-10 right away.”

Richard Cooper was doing everything he needed to do in an effort to regain his National Superstock 1000 championship lead. After qualifying on the front row, Cooper was controlling the race from the front and was on course to return to the top step of the podium. Unfortunately, he ran out of fuel on the last lap and had to coast to the line, salvaging fourth place.

Richard Cooper, “This really wasn’t what we had in mind. I wanted to run the race from the front, I felt comfortable doing that and I felt like I was controlling it really. The bike was working mint, I’ve been really happy with the bike all weekend and we were really strong jumping out of the slower corners. I could put a few tenths into everyone here and there and got the gap up to the two second mark. But with two to go it started to cut out in the corners, and on the last lap it was doing it down the straights. And obviously it’s made things harder for the championship now. It’s hard to take, but I know I did everything I could.”

Team manager, Steve Hicken, “It’s been a really strange, really disappointing weekend for us. It started smoothly in FP1, but unfortunately it just went downhill from there. We talk about potential every other week and honestly I’m getting sick of saying it, but with the right bit of luck we will make a far better showing than we have so far. There is plenty of potential in the package and we’re getting there. Two top 10s for Sylvain after qualifying on the fifth row show progress.

“But credit to Taylor, after missing track time and having to start from the last row of the grid through no fault of his own, he knuckled down and got on with it. He made a belting start in the first race to go from last to 13th by turn two. But sadly the lack of track time caught up with us and meant we hadn’t quite got our setup right, and pushing on into turn five he tucked the front and had a pretty big off. We worked flat out to get the bike looking brand new for race two, so it was gutting to see him have to pull off the warmup lap with an electrical problem. But we know that with a bit of luck we’ll see him getting the results soon.

“It was also gut-wrenching to see Cooper have to coast across the line in Superstock. That was probably the best race of his career, the way he controlled it from the front and the pace he was able to run so consistently. He was riding well and the the bike was working well, but we started to run out of fuel with two laps to go and every time it went into a corner it starter to splutter. It’s such a shame as he had a commanding lead and deserved the win.”

Superbike race one result: 1. Shane Byrne, 2. Josh Brookes, 3. Jason O’Halloran, 10. Sylvain Guintoli, DNF. Taylor Mackenzie

Superbike race two result: 1. Shane Byrne, 2. Josh Brookes, 3. Jason O’Halloran, 9. Sylvain Guintoli, DNS. Taylor Mackenzie

Superstock 1000 race result: 1. Danny Buchan, 2. Mason Law, 3. Michael Rutter, 4. Richard Cooper

Mixed fortunes in Snetterton qualifying for Bennetts Suzuki

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Bennetts Suzuki

The Bennetts Suzuki team has endured an up-and-down start to the fifth round of the MCE British Superbike championship Snetterton, with Richard Cooper starting from the front row of the grid on his GSX-R1000 in the National Superstock 1000 race, while it was disappointment for Taylor Mackenzie and Sylvain Guintoli.

Cooper set the second fastest time of today’s qualifying session, narrowly missing out on pole by less than a tenth of a second. However, the former Superstock 1000 champion was well under the existing lap record, and is happy with both the his one lap pace but also his race pace.

Richard Cooper, “Much better this weekend. We struggled a bit at Knockhill but we knew we had to be back on the pace here, and we are. I’m really happy with the bike, the speed is good, the chassis is working well. And I’m also confident that I can do the pace for the full distance. It looks like it’ll be between me and Danny [Buchan], but hopefully we’ve got enough to do the job.

Mackenzie’s qualifying session was brought to an early end, the youngster failing to make it out of Q1 after he was forced to retire with an electrical issue. Mackenzie will start tomorrow’s opening race from 23rd on the grid.

Guintoli progressed from Q1 into the second qualifying session. He set the 14th fastest time and will start from the fifth row of the grid.

Taylor Mackenzie, “I was full of confidence coming here after Knockhill, but unfortunately we’ve had a few issues that have cost us track time in the practice sessions, and then our qualifying was cut short with an electrical issue. From the few laps I’ve done I’ve felt good on the bike. We’re way down on the grid but I think if we can score points in both races we’ll have done okay; it’s damage limitation a little bit for us, but if we can get away hopefully I can get up the order and turn our weekend around.”

Sylvain Guintoli, “The pace isn’t coming as quickly as we’d hoped this weekend. I had a small crash this morning which set us back as well. Everyone in the team is still working really hard and we’re all motivated to work on improvements. It’s not one particular area, we’re working on the whole package, and we’ll keep pushing for two good results in the races.”

Richard Cooper continued to prove the merits of the new GSX-R1000 in Superstock trim, and will start tomorrow’s National Superstock 1000 race from the front row of the grid after setting the second quickest time during qualifying.

Team manager, Steve Hicken, “Difficult day today. We’ve not done the laps we’d have liked, especially with Taylor. We had an issue in qualifying which was the worst time for it to happen and it’s cost him a good grid position. But it is what it is and we have to take it on the chin and move on. We’ll keep doing our best and try to get two good results from the races.

“With Cooper we’re back where we should be. We didn’t quite have the pace to fight for the wins at Knockhill and we gave away a good few points in the championship, but we’re up there again this weekend, so hopefully we can come away with a good result and get back in the championship hunt.”

Superbike qualifying result: 1. Shane Byrne, 2. James Ellison, 3. Jason O’Halloran, 14. Sylvain Guintoli, 23. Taylor Mackenzie

Superstock 1000 qualifying result: 1. Danny Buchan, 2. Richard Cooper, 3. Michael Rutter

Bennetts Suzuki set for Snetterton

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MCE British Superbike Championship

The Bennetts Suzuki team is set for Snetterton this weekend, and the fifth round of the MCE British Superbike championship, looking to build on the positive weekend and progress made last time out at Knockhill.

Taylor Mackenzie scored a career-best result of fifth at the previous round, highlighting the steps the team has made with development of the new GSX-R1000, and how effective his recent surgery has been to relieve arm-pump. He struggled with fatigue in race two after a short recovery period, but with more time to train and prepare for Snetterton, the Scot is confident of more improvement this weekend.

Taylor Mackenzie, “I’m really looking forward to this weekend. The last round was really good and shows how much we’ve improved. We’ve worked in every area, and at Knockhill the bike was working better, I was working better, and it all started to come together. Since then I’ve been able to train more as well, and my arms have had more time to recover, so hopefully we can carry on from where we left off and have another good weekend and keep aiming for that top-five.” 

Sylvain Guintoli also showed improved pace at Knockhill, the Frenchman feeling more comfortable on his GSX-R1000 after the team made a number of changes for Knockhill, using information gathered from the Isle of Man TT.

Sylvain Guintoli, “We had good pace at Knockhill. Our results weren’t quite there for one reason or another, but we were able to put in good lap times and have made lots of progress. We’re still working, but it’s getting there and I’m excited for Snetterton. It’s another new track for me on a bike, but I have raced there in a Hayabusa-powered car, the Radical SR3. I know the layout so hopefully I can get up to speed on the GSX-R quickly and we can keep improving.”

Richard Cooper relinquished his National Superstock 1000 series lead at Knockhill, after a DNF in race one. However, he is now looking to put the pressure on those ahead of him and get back in the championship hunt.

Richard Cooper, “Going into this weekend the pressure is off me a little bit now, and is definitely more on Danny [Buchan]. We were a little bit off the pace at Knockhill, but I don’t see why we won’t be back fighting for the win at Snetterton. We’ve been up at the front everywhere else; Donington, Oulton, Brands, and we’re constantly improving the bike. What I need is to try and get some other riders involved at the front and hopefully get them between myself and Danny, and take a good chunk of points off him this weekend.”

Team manager, Steve Hicken, “Everyone’s really looking forward to the weekend. Knockhill was a lot better for us in Superbike. We’ve made lots of progress and that was really evident. We’re looking to continue that this weekend and keep building on the results. In Superstock, we had a bit of a setback, which has cost us points and the series lead. But now we’re chasing and our job is to put the pressure on. There are plenty of races left and we know we’ve got the pace to win races with the new GSX-R1000, and the aim is to start again at Snetterton.”

Career-best finish for Taylor Mackenzie at Knockhill

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Bennetts Suzuki

Taylor Mackenzie marked the return of the MCE British Superbike championship after a seven week break with a fifth placed finish at Knockhill, onboard his Bennetts Suzuki GSX-R1000.

Mackenzie started the weekend with his best ever qualifying the Superbike class, starting the opening race from the third row of the grid. After the lights went out he picked his way forward until he was in the battle for the podium, and despite dropping back in the closing stages, he took a career-best finish of fifth.

In race two Mackenzie was again racing well inside the top-10, but eventually crossed the line in 11th place, after struggling with physical fitness after his surgery.

Taylor Mackenzie, “I would have taken fifth all day to be honest, but we were in that battle for the podium. There were areas I was making up time, but I missed a gear coming out of the hairpin and they just broke the tow. I didn’t want to push and risk a crash, so I settled for that fifth. It’s more than we could have asked for and shows how far we’ve come on. In race two, after four or five laps, it was just survival really. I haven’t ridden in so long and after the surgery I couldn’t do any strength training, and I was just really struggling. Not with arm-pump, just strength. But I’m going away happy – we’ve made lots of changes and the bike’s better, I’m better. I’ll try and get out and get some laps in before Snetterton, just time on the bike. I saw this as the start of my season and it’s a good place to be starting from.”

Sylvain Guintoli was racing at Knockhill for the first time in his career this weekend, and also started from the third row of the grid. He took an eight placed finish in race one, but was prevented from improving on that performance in race two after being forced wide and off track at turn one on the opening lap. 

He rejoined dead last, but picked his way through the field to take two championship points in 14th.

Sylvain Guintoli, “We didn’t get the results we wanted this weekend but we’re definitely looking at all of the positives. Our pace was good in qualifying and it was our best of the season. We still have areas to improve, and we struggled with rear grip in the first race. Our pace was actually good in the second race but I got forced off the track and it made it hard to make up the time, as our pace was similar to the top-10. It was hard to bridge the gap. We’ll keep working for Snetterton; it’s another new track for me on a bike, although I did race there and finish on the podium in a car race in a Suzuki-engined Radical SR3, so I know the layout, and hopefully I will get up to speed quickly on the GSX-R.”

Richard Cooper finished on the podium in the second Superstock 1000 race, his third place finish helping put the disappointment of a retirement in race one behind him, when a loose bolt came loose and caused the bike to become stuck in sixth gear.

Cooper started strongly in race one before a mistake on lap one dropped him back down the order. He recovered to fourth place and was in the fight for the podium before retiring three laps from the end. In the second race he kept his championship challenge on track, taking third at the chequered flag.

Richard Cooper, “It was disappointing not to finish the first race. We didn’t qualify brilliantly but I made a good start, but then I made a mistake into the hairpin on the opening lap and that cost me a lot of time and a lot of places. I was back in the battle for the podium but three laps to go I couldn’t get out of sixth. It was a silly little problem really, but we found it, fixed it, and got out again and had a good race in race two. We didn’t quite have the pace for the win, but it’s another podium and we’re still in the championship hunt.”

Steve Hicken, team manager, “It’s definitely been a better weekend for us. We’ve got the bike in a much better place, and a lot of that is down the Michael [Dunlop] and the TT; a lot of the settings we worked on with him we started with this weekend. It’s been a brilliant weekend for Taylor, with a best ever qualifying and best ever result. To be passing people like Shakey [Shane Byrne] and Josh Brookes like he did, on the brakes, looking completely in control, shows how far the bike’s come and how he’s developing as a rider. In race two he just struggled with fatigue with his arms – not arm-pump, but it took it out of him. But with more time on the bike that’ll sort, and his confidence will be high now and hopefully we can carry that forward.

“With Sylvain, we honestly thought we were going to be fighting for the podium today, given his pace in qualifying and his long runs in practice, especially when you consider he was still learning the circuit. He just struggled with grip to match the group in front for pace in race one, potentially down to the change in track temperature. And race two was lost on the opening lap when he was forced off circuit. But we’ll look at the positives and look at the pace he had, and continue to work with him and the bike to keep improving.

“It was a shame to have to retire with Cooper in the first Superstock race, we didn’t quite have the pace to run at the very front this weekend but we were still on for a podium. We got it in race two, coming back fighting. We’ll take this weekend on the chin and move on from here.”

Superbike race one result: 1. Jake Dixon, 2. Luke Mossey, 3. Shane Byrne, 5. Taylor Mackenzie, 8. Sylvain Guintoli

Superbike race two result: 1. Jake Dixon, 2. James Ellison, 3. Shane Byrne, 11. Taylor Mackenzie, 14. Sylvain Guintoli

Superstock 1000 race one result: 1. Danny Buchan, 2. Michael Rutter, 3. Matthew Paulo, DNF. Richard Cooper

Superstock 1000 race two result: 1. Danny Buchan, 2. Chrissy Rouse, 3. Richard Cooper