Bittersweet Opening Weekend for Santander Salt TAG Racing at Donington Park

BSB R1 Donington Park 08-08-20 TAG BSB 095
It was a challenging weekend for Santander Salt TAG Racing at the opening round of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship, with Dan Linfoot and Jack Kennedy battling technical difficulties throughout the three days, collecting a handful of points over their three races. But it was a successful weekend for both Shaun Winfield and Liam Delves who collected points in both of their races, with Liam finishing narrowly outside of the podium.
The weekend got off to a solid start for Dan and Jack, with the duo working through many different set-up changes onboard the new Yamaha R1, with Jack ending the two practice sessions in 13th place and Linny 21st.

Saturday afternoon’s short 25-minute qualifying session saw the pair improve in time once again, Kennedy posted a 1:06.605 to line up 12th on the grid with Dannotching up a 1:06.866, which would line him up in 19th for Saturday’s opening encounter.

From the lights the pair made good starts, with both battling hard to move their way up the field, but by mid-race the pair experienced lack of grip from their soft rear tyres forcing them to lose the tow to the group ahead, meaning that the Irishman would cross the line 13th and the Yorkshireman 14th.

Sunday would bring better fortunes for the superbike pair, after overnight changes the team were confident of better results in the remaining two races of the weekend.

Race two would see Jack start from 17th on the grid, with Dan lining up next door in 18th by virtue of their lap times from race one.

Having made overnight changes, Kennedy made a fantastic start from 17th on the grid, moving up to 13th after lap one with Linfoot dropping 4 places to 21st.

Jack quickly became embroiled in a battle with Alex Olson, Peter Hickman and Lee Jackson, swapping and changing places during the opening 10 laps. As the race progressed Kennedy and Olson battled with each other for 15th position, catching Joe Francis who lay ahead. With four laps to go they had passed the BMW rider. Jack, now riding in 15th, went in hot pursuit of Olson, missing out on 14th place by just 0.860 of a second.

Dan’s unfortunate start to the race saw him have to try and claw his way back through the field but as he reached lap 10 he could no longer continue his challenge and was forced to retire from the race.

Race three got off to a difficult start for both Dan and Jack who started the race in 21st and 16th respectively.

Lap one saw Kennedy fall 3 places to 19th whilst Linfoot gained a place working his way into 20th. As the race went on both riders struggled with technical issues which hindered their progress throughout the pack. By mid-race both were forced to retire.

Shaun Winfield enjoyed a solid opening weekend in the Pirelli National Superstock 1000 Championship, after solid work throughout the free practice sessions, he headed into Saturday morning’s qualifying session full of confidence.

The Derbyshireman once again improved in time and posted a 1:08.571 to line up in 21st on the grid for the afternoon’s opening encounter, just 0.9 of a second off pole position.

From the lights he made a good start, moving his way in to 14th place following the opening set of laps. He then became embroiled in a battle with a group of riders, swapping and changing places for the remainder of the race.

On the final lap however he made a slight mistake, meaning he would drop from the lead of the group to 15th as he crossed the line, collecting his first point of the 2020 season.

By virtue of his lap-time from the opening race Shaun would start Sunday’s second race from 19th on the grid.

Race two of the Pirelli Superstock National 1000 Championship was red flagged early and restarted later in the afternoon.

Winfield left the lights from 16th position on the grid. After the opening lap Shaunmade up two places, moving him into 14th sat in a group with four other riders.

The quartet then began battling for 12th position, leading them to swap positions as further laps progressed.

With only one lap to go Shaun strived for 13th place, racing hard with Jordan Weaving but he just could not find a way past the South African, taking the flag in 14th collecting two championship points.

Liam Delves also enjoyed a strong opening weekend with the team, qualifying on the second row for the opening Pirelli National Superstock 600 Championship following on from a top six finish in the combined practice times.

Sunday’s race saw the teenager get a great start from the lights, but after the first lap he had dropped to seventh place. He quickly regained his composure and started to battle his way back through the field.

By mid-race he found himself in fifth place and hunting down the group ahead who were battling for third, but with only a handful of laps left the safety car was deployed.

Once the car returned to pit-lane Liam pushed his way through in to fourth, but as he caught the final podium position, he ran out laps, taking the flag in fourth place. A solid start to his championship campaign.

Jack Kennedy: I’m a little bit frustrated with how the opening round has panned out as it’s not really what I had hoped for going into the weekend. Despite the team’s best efforts we just kept getting bad chatter throughout all the races, which meant I couldn’t push the pace.

“We thought we had it sorted during morning warm up finishing up 7th but it came back again during the races today. I gave it everything I had but it just wasn’t to be this time, we will move on to Snetterton and look to improve from the valuable information we have gained this weekend.”

Dan Linfoot: “I am disappointed in the results and the DNF’s this weekend, I’ve been looking forward to getting back to racing after the break. It was nice to be back but a shame that I wasn’t able to bring home the results that I feel capable of.

“We have continued to face technical difficulties throughout the weekend, especially during the races. I feel I can perform well for the first five or so laps of the race, but then I am struggling and need to pull in due to chatter. As a team we are working hard and want to come back stronger at the next round.”

Shaun Winfield: “It has been great to get back racing again this weekend in a fresh Championship.

“The weekend started off positively and we made good progress. Although I wasn’t pleased with my qualifying position, I was under a second off pole and this gave us something to work towards for the races.

“I was pleased with my pace in Race one and it felt good to battle with other riders again. I made a slight mistake on the last lap which cost me, but I still came home in 15th. Race two I was delighted to pick up more points and this has given us a good starting point for the rest of the year.”

Liam Delves: “I am really really pleased with my first weekend with the team. What a great experience! We worked extremely well together as a unit, which was reflected in our result.

“I was slightly disappointed to qualify 6th but I put that behind me to focus on the race. I made a decent start and the bike felt really good. I picked my way through the bunch ahead, maintaining my focus.

“I could sense a podium but it was just out of reach, however the main thing for me is that I’ve walked away with points and I feel confident that at Snetterton I’ll be able to challenge for the podium again.”

Team manager Gary Winfield: “Overall it has been a challenging weekend for the Superbike team, but we are pleased and proud with the success of both Shaun and Liam.

“We are looking into ways to resolve the chatter issues we are facing, taking feedback from the riders after each session and feeding this into changes we make. We have a plan in place which we hope will see us coming back stronger at Snetterton.

“It is great to see Shaun back with a smile on his face again, enjoying his racing and picking up points.

“Liam has made a fantastic start to his campaign and we are really pleased with what he has been able to achieve this weekend. We are confident this is going to continue throughout the year.”

At the end of the weekend, Linfoot sits 18th in the standings on 2 points just behind Kennedy who sits 17th with 4 points. Winfield sits 17th in the National Superstock 1000 Championship on 3 points. In the Pirelli National Superstock 600 series,Delves sits 4th with 13 points.

The team now have a three-week break before heading south to Snetterton for round two of the 2020 Bennetts British Superbike Championship.