Peter Hickman secured an unbelievable double podium at Thruxton, just a few hours after leaving hospital with a diagnosed kidney infection.
The Smiths Racing BMW rider started the race meeting perfectly on Friday afternoon, topping free practice, before qualifying 11th on Saturday. A few hours after qualifying, Hickman began feeling unwell and was taken to Winchester Hospital.
Hickman missed Sunday’s morning practice session and was only discharged from hospital around midday, diagnosed with a kidney infection. To the surprise of everybody, the 31-year-old lined up on the grid for the opening race at 13:30.
Talking about his condition, Hickman commented:
“I only got discharged from hospital at 12 noon today so to be standing on the podium at 2pm was pretty unreal! The weekend had started well on Friday but on Saturday I started to feel unwell and although I managed to put a lap in during qualifying, I became worse on Saturday evening. The paramedics were called out and I was whisked away to hospital subsequently being diagnosed with a kidney infection. I felt a bit better today and got back to the circuit and gave it my best shot.”
After a slow start, expected given the circumstances, Hickman soon found himself up into seventh place. The BMW rider showed great pace throughout the middle part of the race and moved into fifth on lap 17. He then took full advantage of a coming together between Jason O’Halloran and Josh Brookes at the Club Chicane on the final lap to claim the final podium spot.
Speaking about the opening race, Hickman said:
“I was a long way back at the beginning of race one, but I kept chipping away and gradually the front group came back to me. I had a bit of luck on the final lap after Josh and Jason came together but we deserved a bit of luck this weekend.”
Hickman’s pace in the opening race led to a fifth place start in race two. He stayed inside the top six on the opening few laps, before moving up into fourth by the end of the sixth lap.
A great battle would ensue between Hickman, Jake Dixon and Leon Haslam for the final podium spot. After finally getting the better of his rivals, Hickman set his sights on the race leader, Brookes, with only a couple of laps remaining.
Hickman would ultimately run out of time but had managed to cut Brookes’ lead down from almost two seconds, to only 0.305 seconds at the line. After the race, Hickman admitted that the podium battle had allowed Brookes to escape his reach. He said:
“In the second race, we were battling too much amongst ourselves which allowed Josh to make a break, but I had a good rhythm and got second place. We needed a good weekend after a poor start to the season and that’s what we got so to be right back in Showdown contention is just what I wanted.”
Hickman’s courageous efforts in both races see him move up into seventh in the championships standings, just eight points behind the final showdown spot – currently held by Danny Buchan.
Team Co-ordinator, Darren Jones, was quick to praise Hickman’s performance:
“Considering how the day started, it’s ended in a very positive way and although we knew Peter had good pace, given how well he’d gone on Friday, sitting here now with a second and a third is simply superb given how ill he was. He was determined to race and the goal in each race was to be patient and play the waiting game and although he got a bit lucky in race one, you’ve got to be in the position to take advantage of other riders’ errors and he did exactly that.
“In race two, he had the pace to win and perhaps saved his tyre a bit too much as his lap times at the end were incredibly strong. Josh had managed to escape a bit and Pete just ran out of time to catch him, but two podiums has put him up to seventh in the table and right in contention for a Showdown position.”
Round eight of the 2018 Bennetts British Superbike Championship takes place at Cadwell Park in two weeks time.