Top ten finish to 2019 Bennetts British Superbike campaign for Santander Salt TAG Racing
It was strong finish to a challenging 2019 Bennetts British Superbike campaign for Santander Salt TAG Racing, with both Dan Linfoot and Shaun Winfield battling the elements all weekend long at Brands Hatch with Linfoot finishing Sunday’s final race in 10th place, ending the year on a high.
After interrupted free practice sessions, where tricky weather conditions caused both Dan and Shaun to complete just 19 laps between them, the duo headed into Saturday afternoon’s three tier qualifying session chomping at the bit to get laps under their belts.
The track had finally dried ahead of the final three tier qualifying session, however damp patches still lingered in certain parts of the circuit.
Shaun struggled to progress through to the second stage, qualifying 29th on the grid, after posting his fastest lap of the weekend.
‘Linny’ would line up for the opening race in 15th after a challenging session for the 31-year-old, just missing out on Q3 by four tenths of a second.
As the lights went out on Saturday afternoon for the opening encounter of the weekend, Dan made a strong start, making up one place after the opening lap holding 14th, with Shaun keeping his spot of 29th.
The Yorkshireman then began to battle his way through the field, making his way into 12th place by lap six. However, the very next lap, the race was red flagged due to track contamination.
After his strong start, Shaun began to battle withh Hector Barbera and started to catch the group ahead, but on lap six his machine cut-out forcing him to retire from the race.
His team worked around the clock to repair the failed part, however they ran out time meaning ‘Munch’ missed the 12-lap re-start.
Dan started the re-run from 12th on the grid, and after a great start he ran in 11th, holding off a group of three riders behind. But, on the final lap he lost out to Tarran Mackenzie, crossing the line in a solid 12th place.
For Sunday’s second race, Dan would start 12th on the grid with Shaun 29th.
As the lights went out on a chilly Sunday afternoon at Brands Hatch, both riders made a great starts with Dan sitting 10th and Shaun 28th.
Over the next four laps Dan posted his fastest lap of the weekend as he chased down Peter Hickman, who was on the back of the leading group. However, by mid-race he had dropped to 11th and began to battle with Honda Racing’s Xavi Fores.
The pair duked it out over the remaining laps of the race, but on the final lap Linnymade a slight mistake, which saw Fores get the better of Dan, who took the flag in 12th.
After settling down following the first lap, Shaun began to make his way forward and found himself in 24th by mid race. But, with five laps to go of the 20 lap race he was forced to retire with front-end issues.
By virtue of their lap times from the afternoon’s second race, Dan would start the final race of 2019 from 10th on the grid with Shaun starting 28th.
Both Dan and Shaun made great leaps off the line, with Linny holding his grid spot of 10th and Winfield 28th.
Dan then quickly became embroiled in a battle with Andrew Irwin and Taylor Mackenzie, the Yorkshireman pushed hard all race long, lining up Irwin for passes each lap, however he just couldn’t find a way past.
On the final lap he made his move, but the Northern Irishman quickly responded and beat Dan on the race to line, meaning he finished 2019 inside the top 10, taking the flag in 10th.
Shaun started to battle with Josh Owens after the opening lap, swapping and changing places with the Kawasaki rider. But with seven laps remaining Owens pulled into the pit-lane with a technical problem, meaning Shaun rode a lonely end to his race taking the flag in 23rd.
Dan Linfoot: “All in all, I’m pleased with how we’ve ended this weekend, we have made some progress with our issues and I feel really pleased with how we’ve all worked.
“Race three I felt really good, the bike felt strong which is a great feeling. The team have been fantastic all year, and I’ve made no secret at how much we’ve stuck together through the tough times.
“It all bodes well for next year now because I know we’ll be just as strong as a unit, and I’m really hoping that transfers on to the track. We’ve got a lot to work on throughout testing but I’m ready for it, I’m excited for the challenge and I know we’ll be a lot stronger.”
Shaun Winfield: “It’s been a challenging weekend for us really, we’ve hardly had any track time due to the weather which hasn’t helped us at all. We’ve had such limited time on track I honestly think we’ve done about 50 odds laps, which is so unusual.
“All three races were good really, apart from the first race on Sunday where I had to retire through a technical issue, but race three I loved. I enjoyed the battle I had with Josh and I felt really comfortable.
“Although it hasn’t been a great year, I’m leaving Superbikes with such a smile on my face, I’ve had some great experiences that I will be leaning on in 2020. I know I have made the right decision moving too Superstock, and I’m really excited for the challenge ahead.”
Team manager Gary Winfield: “It’s been a challenging year for us really, but I can’t fault the efforts of all the lads in the team and riders for their efforts. 2019 hasn’t gone the way we wanted but we have all the focus on 2020 now.
“This weekend has been challenging for us, the weather hasn’t treated us kindly at all but I’m happy with how it has all ended, we have seemed to have made a breakthrough and I’m looking forward to taking that through in to next year where we are aiming for a much stronger year.
“I need to thank all of our sponsors, partners and fans who have supported us all year long, they’ve stuck by us and I can’t thank them enough for all their hard work.”
Dan Linfoot finished the 2019 Bennetts British Superbike Championship in 14th on 89 points.
The team will now turn their attentions to the 2020 Bennetts British Superbike Championship, where testing for the new season will begin in a few months’ time.