British Superbikes: Louth’s Peter Hickman seals highest-ever finish

Peter Hickman claimed his highest-ever finish in the British Superbike Championship EMN-171016-144914002
Peter Hickman claimed his highest-ever finish in the British Superbike Championship EMN-171016-144914002

A strong finish to the season at Brands Hatch last weekend propelled Louth racer Peter Hickman to a fourth-place finish in the British Superbike Championship.

Hickman ended his campaign on the Smiths Racing BMW with a trio of top-seven finishes to seal his highest finish in the high-profile national series.

“I’ve finished every race bar one, have never been lower than ninth and to finish fourth overall behind three world class riders is a good achievement,” Hickman said.

“We were the top BMW team and everyone at Smiths Racing has been fantastic all year so a massive thanks to everyone.”

Qualifying didn’t quite go to plan as he missed out on the final session and was to start the first race from the fourth row, but after John Hopkins withdrew injured, the Lincolnshire rider was elevated to the third row.

Hicky maintained ninth place for the first two laps of race one, and had just moved up into seventh when the race was red-flagged for a multiple crash.

At the restart he was eighth through the first three laps and moved up to seventh where he remained for the duration of the 16 laps, despite appearing to slow and drop back.

“Unfortunately we had an engine overheating problem which in turn meant the clutch was slipping quite badly for more than half of the race,” he added.

Starting Saturday’s second encounter from the third row once again, Hickman held eighth place for most of the race before overtaking Michael Laverty and Brad Ray on lap 15 to move up into sixth which he held to the chequered flag.

In the final race of the championship Hickman was running in 10th in the opening laps, but when series leader Leon Haslam crashed heavily on lap six he was elevated to ninth.

The safety car was deployed for a couple of laps, and once it left the circuit, Hickman made his move and passed Ray.

He chased and then, on lap 17, overtook Shane Byrne, who was soon to become the new champion.

One lap later he passed Dan Linfoot and held his position to complete the race in sixth.

“It’s been a tough final round and we never quite got the bike set-up as I would have liked,” Hickman said.

“I struggled off the line in yesterday’s race and then the bike overheated which caused the clutch to slip so, all things considered, seventh wasn’t bad.

“The team swapped engines overnight, but I got bullied at the beginning of the first race today so I was happy to finish sixth.

“We made more changes to the bike for the second race and it was the best it had been all weekend so I was able to be a lot more consistent.

“I was one of the fastest riders on track at times, but the overheating issue returned and I only just managed to hold Dan Linfoot off on the run to the line.”