Easter weekend saw the Maxxis team heading to Brands Hatch for the opening round of their British Superbike Championship campaign with reigning champions Swan Yamaha, where the team had a challenging start to the season with just a single race taking place after weather and track conditions postponed race two at the legendary Kent circuit.
In the opening race of the season defending champion Tommy Hill struggled with a lack of rear grip and he slid off with three laps remaining at Graham Hill Bend unhurt. Noriyuki Haga also had a similar issue however; he was able to score points in thirteenth position from his second row start.
The second race was postponed to another round later in the season after an earlier incident contaminated the track. The Swan Yamaha team and both riders are now preparing for the next round of the championship at Thruxton in a few days time.
Hill said: “It is a disappointing start to the season and I am gutted that we didn’t have a chance to try and make amends in the second race for myself, the team and the fans but the right decision was made as the conditions were bad. In the first race, I had a bit of a problem with the rear and I knew something wasn’t right. I just struggled with rear grip and was trying to score some points and that isn’t what we wanted to do here. I crashed and it was unlucky but we had a problem with the rear shock and we then worked hard to resolve it for the second race but never got the chance to try it out in the end. We will now regroup and move on to Thruxton where we will be aiming for the podium again as I know we have the pace.”
Haga said: “I am just super disappointed with the result and I wanted a better finish to the race for sure. I was having a problem with the rear grip and it was very slippery so it made it difficult to push hard and I wanted to get points and not crash. It did feel like a long race and it is a shame because if we had better feeling then we could have pushed more and then maybe had a better finish. The cold conditions didn’t help, but maybe we found a solution for the second race, but I was pleased that it was postponed as I think it was the best result in those conditions. I now look forward to Thruxton as I haven’t seen the circuit before.”
Team manager Gary Ekerold concluded: “We had a difficult race one here at Brands Hatch and both Tommy and Noriyuki suffered with rear grip issues. It would appear that they were separate issues though as we believe Noriyuki’s was down to his tyre whereas Tommy had a rear shock problem. The Swan Yamaha team worked hard though and we believed we had solved it for the second race and were looking forward to making amends but we just didn’t get the opportunity. It was the right decision so now the team will move on to Thruxton where we intend to get our championship back on track.”