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