Positive weekend for Santander Salt TAG Racing at Silverstone season opener

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It was a positive start to the 2019 Bennetts British Superbike Championship for Santander Salt TAG Racing, with Dan Linfoot collecting a hatful of points in his first round with the team. Shaun Winfield enjoyed a strong weekend picking up a brand-new personal best, however due to arm pump and brake failure he was forced to retire from both races on Sunday.

The duo headed into Saturday’s qualifying session high in confidence after three solid free practice sessions, where both Dan and Shaun improved every session on their lap times, with Linfoot well inside the top 10.

Both Dan and Shaun improved once again on their times from their performances in free practice, with Shaun qualifying 25th after posting his new personal best around the Silverstone National circuit.

Linny’ headed straight through in Q3, the final eight-minute dash for pole, and he too improved in time, posting a 53.8, lining up at the foot of the second row in sixth place for Sunday’s opening Bennetts British Superbike race.

Under bright sunny skies at the home of British motorsport the opening race of the 2019 Bennetts British Superbike Championship got underway, with Dan and Shaun both making great starts, ending the opening lap in fifth and 22ndrespectively.

The Yorkshireman became embroiled in a battle with Mossey and Redding for third place, until after the safety car headed back in to the pits on lap six.

From then on he started to develop front end chatter and brake issues, riding well around the issues to come home in 13thplace.

After working his way through the field from 25thWinfield found himself in 18thand chasing the group battling for 15th. The 25-year-old continued to push hard with the group, however with just nine laps remaining he retired from the race with arm-pump.

For the afternoon’s second race Dan would start in the middle of the second row from fifth by virtue of his lap time from the opening encounter, Shaun would start from 25th.

From the lights both Dan and Shaun made great starts, with Linfoot leading after the opening lap, and Shaun moving up in to 21st.

Linfoot then became embroiled in a four-way battle for the lead with Elliot, Mackenzie and Buchan. But at half race distance he started to develop front-end chatter, forcing him to drop back in the pack.

Following a safety car deployment, and an extra three-laps added on to the race distance, and Linfoot rode well around the chatter issues to cross the line in ninth place, picking valuable Championship points.

After his great start Shaun started to work his way through the field, and moved his way on to the back of the group that were battling for 15th. Unfortunately, on half race distance Shaun was forced to pull in from a good position due to brake failure.

Dan Linfoot: “The points we’ve gained this weekend aren’t anything that I’m proud of at the moment, but there are some real positives to take from the weekend and that is that when things work, we are fast which is encouraging so soon. 

“We’ve got our own issues that we need to work on, in race two I was fine for the first 15 laps but the last half of the race we had issues again. Just like in the first so we need to dial them out. But I’m not ticked off, hopefully they’re problems which can be resolved easily and we can keep rolling at the next round.

“I wouldn’t have expected to be leading the race at all today, my goal was to sit in the top five and have two top five/six finishes. To have led the race is great though, it’s definitely encouraging and shows that we’ve got some potential.

“We’re testing at Oulton on Thursday so the first thing we’re going to be working on is the issues we’ve had in the races today, and secondly to get going round the track and get a feeling for the bike round there. I don’t think we’ll get as far as making radical changes but getting me comfortable on the bike, and the track, will be a good start for the race weekend.

“I’ve definitely got half a smile this weekend, I’m never happy until we’re on the box but I’m definitely starting to smile.”

Shaun Winfield: “This weekend has been bitter sweet for me. We had a few teething issues with the suspension, and then we had quite bad chatter issues going into free practice.

“We managed to finally solve the problems just in time for qualifying and we did do alright, I posted my fastest lap of the weekend which put me 25th on the grid. 

“In race one I probably got one of the best starts I’ve ever had. I was running P18 when the safety car came out, but just through the nature of the track and how physical it is I suffered with arm pump quite badly. It came going into turn one and turn two I could no longer pull the brake leaver and it got to the stage where I couldn’t even move my fingers. There was then no option for me but to retire from the race.

“I got a great start again in race two which for me is quite surprising, we made a few alterations to the bike to try and make it a bit comfier, I visited the physio down at the medical centre to work on my arm pump and it cured it really. I was riding strong, but then I had an issue with my front brake. It couldn’t have been more ironic really, first race I had arm pump so I couldn’t pull the brake and in the second race I was pulling the brake, but it wasn’t doing anything, so again, I had to retire.

“It hasn’t been ideal, but we’ve got a test at Oulton on Thursday which is a track I prefer. Silverstone has never been one of my favourite tracks anyway, but I’ve gone faster round here this weekend than I ever have done.

“There are positives and negatives to take away from this round, but we’ve learnt and we’re going to take it to Oulton.

Team manager Gary Winfield: “Although the results from the races are slightly frustrating for us all, I see this weekend as very positive. We came here with a lack of testing due to unforeseen circumstances, but I think we’ve proved a lot of people wrong.

“Dan has worked well all weekend and we’ve made improvements to the bike each session, and that showed with him leading the second race, and battling hard.

“We still have a lot to work, but with a test on Thursday at Oulton Park we have time on our side to improve we what we need to run at the front.

“Although Shaun has had two DNF’s, he still showed a lot promise by posting his personal best lap time in qualifying. He’s still adapting to the Ohlins, but with Chris helping him we’re all confident he’ll get there.”

Dan Linfoot sits 10thin the Bennetts British Superbike Championship on 10 points, just 10 points behind Luke Stapleford who sits sixth in the final showdown place.

The team now have a two-week break before heading to north to Cheshire, and to Oulton Park for round two of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship, May 4/5/6.