Positive weekend for Santander Salt TAG Racing at Knockhill
It was a positive weekend for the Swadlincote based Santander Salt TAG Racing outfit at Knockhill in Scotland battling the elements all weekend, with Dan Linfoot walking away with a strong-points haul and Shaun Winfield finding a much stronger feeling onboard his machine, just missing out on the points in Sunday’s final race.
After three great free practice sessions where the pair worked hard on gaining a stronger feeling from the data gathered at the recent test at Knockhill, both Dan and Shaun fell afoul of the typically Knockhill weather on Saturday afternoon.
Prior to qualifying there was a two hour delay due to heavy downpours of rain just minutes before the session was due to get underway, Bennetts BSB organisers, MSVR, ran a longer 40-miniute qualifying session, scrapping the three-tier system.
After great work from the team to change the settings in both Dan and Shaun’s machines, the pair headed out on track in tricky conditions in order to qualify for Sunday’s opening race.
During the 40-minute session, both Linny and Shaun consistently improved their times, but ultimately, they couldn’t get the most out of their bikes due to the difficult tricky track conditions.
Dan posted a time strong enough to line him up 11th on the grid, and in the middle of the fourth row with Shaun starting race one from 28th.
Due to an injury for Tyco BMW’s Keith Farmer, which forced him out of raceday, Danwas promoted on the grid to 10th with Shaun moving to 27th.
The weather took a turn for the worse once again before the start of the race, but the track was half wet/half dry as the riders headed to the grid.
Linfoot decided to change tyres on the grid to a slick rear, and an intermediate front tyre, but the team ran out of time and he was forced to start from pit-lane.
Dan allowed one lap to get his tyres up to temperature and then he began to work his way through the field.
Unfortunately, after making the choice to go with full wet tyres the track had dried by lap 10, and Shaun was forced to retire on lap 12 due to lack of grip.
Linfoot continued his progress through the field, working his way through to 13thplace, posting strong lap times throughout the 30 laps.
‘Linny’ tried to bridge the gap to James Ellison ahead of him but he just ran of time, crossing the line gaining three Championship points.
By virtue of their lap times in the first race, Dan would start from eighth for the second outing with Shaun 26th.
The track had fully dried for the afternoon’s second race, and Dan made a strong start ending lap one in ninth. Shaun had a tough leap off the line, but still ended up 22nd after the opening lap.
Dan started to work his way forward, after holding eighth place before a safety car was deployed due to a crash for Christian Iddon, which happened in front of Linny.
After the safety car returned to the pits on lap eight, he started to battle with Hickman and Bradley Ray, who were chasing the leading group.
He then found himself in sixth place with his sights firmly set on Ray, who was just ahead on track, but with five laps to go the race was stopped and declared a result, with Dan coming home in seventh place collecting vital points once again.
After the safety car came in, Shaun battled with Matt Truelove and Sam Coventry for 20th place. The trio swapped places, but he struggled to catch the group ahead.
The 25-year-old had quickly regrouped and went in pursuit of the group, and after a coming together between Truelove and Dean Harrison he inherited 16th place.
He was catching Coventry, who was ahead of him, at a rate of 0.8 seconds a lap before the race was stopped with five laps to go, meaning Shaun just missed out on his first points of the season.
The team’s sidecar outfit enjoyed a strong weekend with Chris ‘Stalker’ Walker and new passenger Ashley Hawes taking to the podium in the second race on Sunday afternoon, finishing in third place, after a strong ninth place finish in Saturday’s first race.
Dan Linfoot: “I’m walking away from this weekend thinking what could have been, we showed such strong pace in free practice but the rain just before qualifying didn’t help us, and the conditions before the first race wasn’t ideal.
“I was in two minds what to do regarding my tyre choice and it was unfortunate that we had to start from pit-line, but again my pace was good considering the conditions, so to get points from that I was happy with.
“Race two I felt comfortable, the bike felt great but our pace at the end of the race wasn’t strong enough to get me in to the top five, however we’ve still come away with strong points, which is what I wanted at the start of the weekend.
“We’re now in the top ten of the Championship standings and that is something to build on for the next round at Snetterton.”
Shaun Winfield: “It’s been a positive weekend for me, Friday and Saturday’s free practice sessions were strong, and we made great progress with the bike. The rain has caused lots of issues, not just for me but everyone.
“I made the wrong choice on tyres for race one, and I will learn from that, I felt it could have rained again but it didn’t, and I had to pull in, I just had no grip.
“Race two I made a bad start and got held up on the first few laps, the safety car helped me bunch back together but the rider in front of me messed up in the last corner when the car pulled in, so I lost the group. I was catching Coventry as fast as I could at the end of the race and felt I could pass him in the last four laps, but the race got stopped.
“I’m looking forward to Snetterton now, we have a little break to sit down and work things through as a team so I’m expecting bigger and better things at the next round.”
Team manager Gary Winfield: “It’s been a strange weekend to be honest, we showed great pace in free practice and after the final session on Saturday morning it looked very positive but then the rain came and really caused issues.
“The first race we had to start from pit-lane because we made a late decision to change the front tyre, but Dan came through really well to finish 13th and in race two he did brilliantly to come home with some strong points.
“It was unfortunate for Shaun, he made the wrong tyre choice in race one but he rode really well in race two and was unlucky to not finish in the points, but all in all it’s certainly been a positive weekend for us.”
Dan Linfoot now sits 10th in the Bennetts British Superbike standings on 59 points.
The team now has a three week break from action before heading to Norfolk for round six of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship at Snetterton, July 19/20/21.