Louth-based Samsung Honda started their British Superbike Championship season with a double podium finish as Alex Lowes celebrated a pair of second places at Brands Hatch on Sunday.
In the opening race of the day Lowes took the challenge to eventual race winner Shane Byrne and held off Josh Brookes to claim a podium finish on his debut with the team. In race two he was able to take advantage of a mistake from Byrne to move ahead and claim another second place finish.
Returning teammate Ryuichi Kiyonari scored a fourth and eighth place finish to mark his return to the series. Kiyonari continued to build throughout the weekend, claiming a fourth place in the final race of the day, but a slow start off the line on the opening lap of the first outing meant he had to fight through from outside the top 15 to secure eighth.
In the British Supersport Championship, Jason O’Halloran qualified in eighth place for the sprint race, but an unfortunate crash forced him out of contention.
In the feature race, O’Halloran put in a strong performance from 16th on the grid to finish in 10th place.
Samsung Honda’s team boss Havier Beltran said: “It was a great start for Alex who is still learning the bike and I am really happy with the way that he approached the weekend.
He’s happy and riding with a new outlook and is seeing the fruits of his change which is important and I am confident he can build on this.
“Kiyo’s first race was good, coming through the pack after a poor start was a bit of a feat especially on this circuit where it is hard to make passes.
Alex Lowes said he was pleased to carr on the form from last season which earned his Samsung Honda seat.
“My intention coming into this round was to maintain the consistent form that I had at the end of last season, so I’m really happy with the way things have gone,” he said.
“In the first race I made a good start, which was pleasing considering the difficulties in getting away swiftly that I had last year and then I had good pace throughout and to be able to stick in behind Byrne who is always awesome here was very good.
“Then the second race, another second, and I’m really chuffed to have two podiums. I didn’t expect the pace to be as hot as it was at the start but I rode really hard and wanted to be a get closer to them.
“Then at the end, I thought Byrne would clean me out when he went wide but I was OK and on the podium and that is what I want to keep doing.”
Ryuichi Kiyonari was less impressed, but touched on the positives of the season’s opening weekend.
“I’m a bit disappointed really with my results but we spent a lot of time over the weekend working on settings and trying out parts because of the lack of testing time that we have had,” he said.
“I made a bad start in the first race – I had not practiced many starts on the superbike but I made a better start to the second race but would have liked a bit more grip at the end of the race which is something we will work on ahead of the Thruxton races.
“We’ve learned a lot over this weekend which we will be good for the next round.”