MSS Colchester Kawasaki's stunning start to the 2011 British Superbike Championship continued at Croft, with two more podiums to celebrate.
Stuart Easton has carried the team's championship hopes in the opening two events but it was teammate Gary Mason who starred in race one. The Lichfield rider showed his class in unpredictable weather conditions to take his maiden BSB podium behind Crescent Suzuki duo Jon Kirkham and John Hopkins.
Tyre choice was crucial and Mason's decision to start on slicks paid dividends, although the mid-race safety car period very nearly scuppered his hopes for a strong result. The 32 year old was ecstatic with the result and even felt he could have challenged for the victory.
“The first race was the longest race of my life, it was such a relief to cross the line and get my first BSB podium”, he said. “When the safety car came out I had a ten second gap and second place was there to be had, but the car took away the advantage and my slicks cooled.”
“I knew the other guys were on intermediates so I had to wait a few laps to get the heat back in my tyres, which was scary as it was damp out the back of the circuit. I really felt I could have had the win, but in the end I decided to take the podium rather than risk a crash. I'm over the moon, it's been a while coming but I'm so happy to get on the podium.”
Mason's hopes of a second consecutive rostrum finish disappeared after the ZX-10R machine developed a judder and he had to settle for seventh. Instead, it was the turn of Easton to lead the Colchester-based team, finishing second behind Shane 'Shakey' Byrne.
Race one was tough going for the Hawick rider though with rain never too far away. With conditions so tough, Easton decided to settle for sixth, before charging through the field from ninth on the grid in race two, ran in dry conditions.
Easton revealed later on that he had decided to play it safe in the first race to protect his championship position, before taking a more aggressive approach in the second.
“The first race was a slog but I'm really pleased with getting second place in race two. The conditions were so tricky in race one that I was thinking more about the championship, something I possibly shouldn't have done as it is only round three, but it is always better to get a chunk of points than a DNF. Race two was a good battle, I had to come through from ninth and by the time I got to second, Shakey had disappeared, but I knew the guys behind were close so I got my head down and kept pushing to stay ahead.”
Team Owner Nick Morgan was full of praise for his riders, and is hopeful that Mason's new found confidence will see both his men challenging at the front in future.
“I'm so chuffed for Gary, he has worked so hard for that podium and deserved it. Absolutely brilliant. I think he has turned a corner with his riding now and he looked so confident in race two, a different rider. Stuart rode a hell of a race in race two, he fought his way with such determination. A few years ago you wouldn't have seen him do that but he is riding with such confidence that he dug his heels in and put in some great overtakes.”