THERE was a podium finish for Michael Laverty for Louth-based Samsung Honda in the British Superbike Championship podium at Silverstone on Sunday.
Laverty is pushing hard to close the gap to his rivals in the overall standings ahead of the final round at Brands Hatch in two weeks’ time.
In the opening race of the day Laverty took the lead on the opening lap but as he conserved the tyre dropped down the order to third. He then battled for the second place but on the final lap was edged out on the run to the line to take third. Jon Kirkham finished the race in twelfth after holding off challenges from Karl Harris.
In race two Laverty was forced to settle for fifth as Kirkham finished a disappointing fourteenth. Laverty now sits in fifth place in the overall standings with just one round left of the 2012 season.
In the Superstock 1000 Championship it was disappointment for Jason O’Halloran as he was forced to retire from the race whilst running third with a broken gear lever.
The result ended the Australian’s title hopes with just the final round remaining at Brands Hatch. Gary Johnson just missed out on the top ten with a twelfth place finish.
Michael Laverty said: “The first race was as I imagined, in the early laps I tried to conserve the tyre and it was good enough to hang onto the podium finish. We have compromised on set up but it has been good enough to fight for the podium and hopefully with some more improvements between races we can come back a bit stronger and try and do the same again.
“After the nightmare of Assen it was a relief to be on the podium again today. In the second race I rode hard at the start but after five or six laps the grip went and that was disappointing.
Jon Kirkham added: “I struggled with the tyre choice this weekend and we needed to find some more grip but we just ran out of time. I got a good start and then after the first half of the race I just went backwards.”
Jason O’Halloran said: “It was a hard way to lose the championship but that’s racing sometimes. I was fast all weekend and gave it everything I had, but now the championship is over so I just have got to enjoy Brands Hatch and look forward to the break.”
Gary Johnson said: “I was hoping for more than twelfth but we tried everything we could and now we need to come back at Brands Hatch and try and end the season with a good result.”
Havier Beltran, Team Manager told the media: “It has been a disappointing weekend for the Samsung Honda team. As much as we were up there with Michael at the start of the race we were disappointed that we couldn’t maintain the pace until the end of the race.
“We still have some issues that we need to address and we are going to try something radical at Brands Hatch as we have nothing to lose now.
“It was also disappointing for Jason that we lost a bolt on the gear lever which forced him to retire. That is the Superstock championship gone for us now which is sad that it happened in that way.”