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RACE REPORT – Round 2, Oulton Park

The early May Bank Holiday weekend saw the TAG Honda team spring in to action at Cheshire’s Oulton Park circuit for the first UK round of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship.

With a 2-day test immediately before the race weekend, many teams took advantage with preferred settings and securing lap times ahead of Saturday’s practice sessions. The test further benefitted the Superstock riders, Matt Truelove and Shaun Winfield as they also prepared for their first race of the season onboard their Honda CBR1000RR-R SP Fireblade machines, enjoying the sunshine at the 2.6-mile track.

If there was an award for the amount of laps completed, Fraser Rogers would win every time! Consistently putting in low 1:35s however didn’t unfortunately reflect in Sunday’s Qualifying session – placing Rogers 18th on the grid ahead of 18 lap race one. Jaimie van Sikkelerus took to the grid in P26 with a lap time of 1:36:842. Making up 6 places, Rogers finished in a comfortable 12th whilst van Sikkelerus kept pressure on the group of riders he was grouped with to finish 22nd.

Monday’s action saw a slightly reversed timetable. The second Bennetts British Superbike race was the Sprint race, with 12 laps to prove themselves – both Rogers and van Sikkelerus lined up for the attack. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be for Rogers as a challenge into Shell Oils caused Rogers to run wide and off the track. Saving the bike, Rogers returned to the race from the very back, pushing for his fastest lap of the weekend 1:34:929 and finishing P20. Also posting his fastest lap of the competition to date, van Sikkelerus finished 21st, moments behind Rogers.

Due to an unfortunate incident involving many riders, the ABK Beer 0% BMW Motorrad F900R Cup race was cancelled, resulting in another change to the scheduled proceedings. This change allowed the current timetable for Bennetts British Superbike race three to continue at the originally proposed time, but delayed the Superstock 1000 class from 14:35 until 17:20 that evening.

Race Three saw van Sikkelerus return to the P22 grid position ahead of the factory Honda machine of Dean Harrison, and Rogers place his highest starting position of Round 2 in 15th. As the race began, neither rider was able to pursue much more of themselves or of their bikes. Holding their own and continuing on good form, Rogers returned a P14 finish, as van Sikkelerus returned with a P20 finish after a bit of cross-country; 2nd overall Pathway Superbike end to Round Two.

Stepping out after a reasonable qualifier, the Superstock machines piloted by Shaun Winfield and Matt Truelove took to their grid positions of P9 and P11 respectively; this their first and only race of the season so far. As the lights went out, Truelove was able to get a clean start and well into the mix very early on with the top 10 riders. Frustratingly for Winfield, he fell victim to one of the worst starts of his racing career which caused him to drop back quite quickly. Knowing the fast group at the front would quickly pull away, the lads settled into a confident race-pace and returned with a P11 finish for Truelove and P13 finish for Winfield.

#74 Jaimie van Sikkelerus said, “It’s been a tricky weekend at Oulton Park on board the 1-litre bike. My familiarity with the circuit comes from the 600cc, so I feel I am re-learning my craft again with the Fireblade. Had some really good lap improvement times and some good battles out there – one leading me on to the grass during race three! The bike feels great, and the data has given me a lot to learn from which is really positive. After a good test at Donington Park earlier this year and having previously shown good pace there – I am looking forward to next weekend. I have some general medical checks to complete this week to make sure I am 100% and ready to race at Donington. I know my mind is certainly telling me we are!”

#18 Shaun Winfield said, “Round 1 at Oulton Park was always going to be a difficult one back. Having very little testing beforehand due to an on-going illness, the off season hasn’t left me with a lot to go on. The team gave me a bike which felt great, it was my own and I knew the biggest battle I was going to have was against myself. Setting a new PB for me with a 1:37:0 (narrowly missing out on my 1:36 target) put me on row 3 of the grid. A late start to the race couldn’t be helped, so I just had to give it my best where I could. I then launched one of the worst starts I have ever had; but pulled one seriously impressive wheelie! I could find my pace consistently enough, but not to be entirely competitive and I settled into 13th over the line. I have amazing family and team support around me and I will be concentrating more on getting back to full health and right back up at the sharp end again. I want to send my love and best wishes to all the riders affected in the F900 Cup incident and hope to see everyone back racing again very soon.”

Gary Winfield, Team Manager said, “Overall a very positive weekend. It’s been great to see all the classes back in action, with the Superbike, Pathway and Superstock riders showing their unwavering passion and determination to make 2024 a truly successful and enjoyable season. Each rider has their own goals to achieve and they are certainly happening, although some a little harder on themselves! Oulton Park has always brought its challenges, but the lads have performed well and the team have got stuck in to ensure we are all bringing a strong performance.”