British Superbikes: Louth rider Peter Hickman crashes out in sodden season opener

Peter Hickman in action at Donington. Photo: Dave Yeomans.
Peter Hickman in action at Donington. Photo: Dave Yeomans.

Louth racer Peter Hickman finished the first round of the 2018 Bennetts British Superbike Championship with a DNF after crashing out at a rain-affected Donington Park.

Heavy rain disrupted Saturday’s free practice and Hickman had the honour of being the first Superbike rider of the weekend to crash when he just touched the brake going into the Melbourne loop and went down in the first session.

He said: “it was very slippery out there and I was being careful, but going into the Loop I just touched the brake and down I went.”

Following a weather warning for more heavy rain on Monday, the first Superbike race was moved to Sunday when there was a break in the rain and the track was more or less dry.

Qualifying was switched to the morning and Hickman did enough to secure a third-row grid position for the race.

As the lights went out he moved up into 10th and, although there was no chance of catching the leaders, he set about picking off the midfielders, making it up to eighth on lap 13 of 18.

Unable to make further progress he held station to pick up his first championship points.

He said: “That was nothing to shout about really apart from the team working awesome as usual.

“This weekend is a bit of a lottery so we will just get through it and move on.”

On Monday the weather was dreadful in the morning and it was touch and go whether the meeting would be abandoned.

But hard work by the groundstaff and marshals saved the day and racing went ahead in the afternoon.

By the time the Superbikes took their grid positions the track was all but dry, with wet patches in places.

Like most riders, Hicky opted for slick tyres and was running in 15th place for the first few laps before making headway up to 12th.

But on the very last lap he crashed at the Melbourne Loop, his race over.

He said: “It’s been very much a case of ‘steady away’ this weekend as the conditions have been very challenging and after having an uncharacteristic crash on Saturday; we made some massive changes for Sunday’s race.

“I was a bit tentative to begin with, but once I settled in, my pace was as good as anyone’s and eighth place wasn’t the worst result I could have had in the first race of 2018.

“Monday’s race followed a similar pattern and it again took me a long time to get going.

“When it did, my pace was good but when I tried to make a move on Josh Brookes on the final lap, I lost the front and down I went.

“So, just eight points on the board at the moment, but better than none considering the conditions.”

The next round is at Brands Hatch on the short Indy circuit on Sunday, April 15.