British Superbikes: Hickman charge frustrated at Assen

Peter Hickman in Assen. Photo: David Yeomans.
Peter Hickman in Assen. Photo: David Yeomans.

Louth racer Peter Hickman returned from Assen with sixth and seventh-place finishes in the MCE British Superbike Championship on Sunday.

The penultimate round of the season, held at Assen, in the Netherlands, began with a weather-affected free practice and qualifying, with heavy rain falling.

Hickman suffered a crash in the early stages and was forced to start the first race from the seventh row of the grid.

“We have the pace in the dry but yet again we are struggling to find a wet setting; crashing when not even trying isn’t good,” Hickman said.

It was always going to be a big ask for Hickman to catch the leaders, but he set off from 19th place and powered the Smiths Racing BMW through to 10th place on the opening lap.

One lap later he was up to ninth and eventually made his way through to finish in seventh at the end of the 18-lap affair.

He said: “I am happy enough with that after starting from so far back.

“I got stuck in traffic too long to get to the front group.”

His faster pace in the first race was rewarded with a fourth-row start to race two and again he began to make progress only for another rider to clip his back wheel which dropped him back to ninth.

But he persisted and moved up to sixth after passing three riders on lap four, although he was too far away from the leading five to make further progress and had to be content with sixth place at the chequered flag.

“Considering how qualifying went on Saturday, I’ve had two good rides today, probably my best-ever results at Assen,” Hickman added.

“But it’s been a frustrating day as I knew I had the pace to run with the front group.

“Starting race one from so far back was a big ask, but I made a great start to get up to 10th, aided by some big moves.

“But it took me too long to get back to the head of the group by which time the front pack had escaped.

“We made a few set-up changes for race two, which were a big help, and I felt I had the pace to go with the front guys, but I got hit in turn three and I lost three places.

“I got back to the front of the group again and was running in sixth but, again, by that time, the front five had gone.

“I know I’ve got the pace to run at the front so it’s a little bit frustrating through no-one’s fault, but we’re still in the hunt for second or third in the championship so we’ll see what we can do at the last three races.”

The final round is at Brands Hatch on October 15 and, with three races and 75 points up for grabs at the Kent circuit, Hickman will be seeking three top results to edge him up into the top three.