LOUTH rider Peter Hickman grabbed an impressive ninth as he stepped up to make his debut in the World Superbike Championship at Donington Park on Sunday.
Stepping in for FIXI Suzuki in place of the injured John Hopkins, the British Superbike rider more than made up for his unclassified finish in the first race which was caused by an electrical problem.
After making a good start from his 19th grid place, Hickman caught and overtook many more experienced riders and rode hard to preserve his place.
“I am really, really happy with how much I’ve learnt this weekend - getting ninth today was like a win for me,” he said.
“I would like to give huge credit to the team for building such a brilliant bike and working so hard to help me this weekend and I would also like to say a big thank you to everybody at FIXI Crescent Suzuki for giving me this chance.”
Suzuki’s team manager Jack Valentine added: “Peter did an excellent job for us this weekend.
“He came in as last-minute replacement after we lost John and he has done everything – and more – of what was asked of him. His ninth place is a good reward for him for his hard work.”
Though Peter’s race weekend was a success, there was some controversy on Friday as Hickman’s British Superbike Kawasaki team suggested they had not released their rider for the race.
A statement said: “It is being reported in some sections of the media that MSS Bathams Kawasaki rider, Peter Hickman, has been released by the team to compete on a rival manufacturer machine as part of the Donington Park round of the 2012 World Superbike Championship.
“MSS Bathams Kawasaki and Kawasaki Motors UK wish to assert that this is not the case, that Peter Hickman has not been released by the team to take part in the event and has made the decision to take part of his own volition.”
Hickman is likely to return to his MSS Bathams Kawasaki team for their next race at Snetterton next weekend.
More to follow.