THE LOUTH-based Samsung Honda team celebrated podium finishes at the eighth round of the British Superbike Championship today at their home round at Cadwell Park on Monday.
In the opening Superbike race, Michael Laverty returned to the podium with a third place finish for the Samsung Honda team. Laverty had taken the lead on the opening lap but slipped back to third position by race end. However, this result was enough to secure his position in the season Showdown. Kirkham showed glimpses of a return to form with a fifth place at the line, after an intense battle with several riders throughout the race.
In race two Laverty again took the lead before again being shuffled back to third by title rivals Tommy Hill and Josh Brookes. The second podium finish of the day cemented his position in the Showdown Kirkham meanwhile was hampered by a third row start and endured a difficult second race to finish 12th.
In the Superstock 1000 Championship race, Jason O’Halloran claimed a podium finish with a fine third place at his home round. The Australian dropped down the order at the start to fourth but a determined ride saw him force his way back into podium contention. Gary Johnson returned with the team and continued to build on his previous experience to finish 10th on his return to the Lincolnshire circuit for the first time in several seasons.
Michael Laverty said: “It feels good to know we have the position in the Showdown secured as that was our agenda here this weekend. It is one thing to tick off the list and now we need to keep getting as many podium credits as we can to try and close that gap.
“I was quite disappointed that we didn’t have the pace to match Tommy in race one so we wanted to try and be a bit closer to give him hassle in race two. I was a lot happier with race two even though it was the same result. Two third places is another two credits for the Showdown and it was good to be on the podium twice at the Samsung Honda team’s home round.
“I was settled into the race until Josh came by me and that ruined my rhythm so the end of the race wasn’t as good as the beginning, but I can’t complain as we are in the Showdown and ready to try and get more credits at Donington Park.”
Jon Kirkham added: “It’s been a better weekend overall for us as we were back up on the front row in qualifying and then fifth in the first race so that was a positive start. I seemed to be losing out a bit in some places but the team worked hard and we hope to have that sorted for Donington Park. I was able to hold off the pack in race one but my grid position for race two made it difficult. At the start I got beaten up and it messed up my rhythm but the problem returned and I struggled a bit. Overall though I am happy as fifth place in race one was my best result since the opening round so we will look to improve again at Donington Park for my home round.”
Havier Beltran, Team Manager, said: “It was good for Michael to be back on the podium again today and two third places was more podium credits for his tally which is important. It was great that he confirmed his position in the Showdown and we have some work to do now before Donington Park to try and close the gap we had today.
“It was also good to see Jon back up where he needs to be and now we hope he can maintain this. Jason had a consistent result and that has kept us where we need to be in the championship and for Gary it was great to see him back with the team and building on his previous performances.
“The Samsung Honda team have had a fantastic reception by the fans this weekend and I am pleased that we could score podium finishes here.”