Jon Kirkham fought back after a disastrous qualifying to finish seventh in both British Superbike races at Oulton Park on Bank Holiday Monday.
The Crescent Suzuki rider went slower in Q2 than he had in the first session after a late set-up change, leaving him down in 16th on the grid. But a storming ride through the field earned him nine points, and a better grid slot for race two.
“I was very pleased with that first race. I’d left myself with a lot of work to do after qualifying 16th yesterday. To come through, picking them off one-by-one, to take seventh felt really good”, said the Derby rider.
“I had a second row start then for the second race, but I got a terrible start, so I had the hard work to do all over again. I got up to Michael Rutter in sixth but was struggling to find the grip to get past him, so I had to settle for seventh again.”
John Hopkins claimed Samsung Crescent Racing's first win of the year in race two, and Kirkham believes the feel-good factor surrounding the team will help him when the championship moves on to Croft.
“It was a great weekend. Being in the team camp with all that was happening with Hopper was exciting enough, but to find myself mixing it up with the likes of Shane Byrne felt fantastic. I’m really looking forward to the next round.”
Amongst the euphoria surrounding 'Hopper', team manager Jack Valentine admitted he was impressed with how quickly Kirkham was getting up to speed in BSB.
“JK has been brilliant. We mustn’t forget he’s virtually a rookie to BSB, he’s never before traded positions with the country’s elite riders, but he was doing that this weekend. For him to take the fastest lap in the second race as well – that’s icing on the cake. And equally important, he’s doing all this while looking so smooth, so controlled – and fast!”
Kirkham’s performances at Oulton Park have moved him into eighth place in the championship, just six points away from the all important top six, and a place in the end-of-season Championship Showdown.