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RACE REPORT – Round 4, Knockhill Racing Circuit

Arriving at a very wet and rather breezy Knockhill on Free Practice Friday wasn’t near enough to dampen the spirits of the TAG Honda team or the riders.

The fourth round of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship, and third round for the Superstock duo was a soggy weekend in Scotland. Fraser Rogers claimed the most championship points so far in one weekend with two P6 finishes on Sunday whilst Jaimie van Sikkelerus bowed out of the final race after developing further complications with his on-going injury woes.

Saturday’s qualifying session was dry and saw Rogers flying aboard the Honda CBR1000RR-R SP Fireblade, where he secured the first fastest time in Q1 and secured his place in the Speedy Fast15 for Q2. Jaimie van Sikkelerus had tussled with the wet-dry-wet conditions adapting well and qualified 26th. However, the rain soon came and with tricky conditions at Knockhill the race was reduced to 25 laps; Rogers finishing 13th and van Sikkelerus finishing 20th.

The heavy rainfall on Saturday caused a change to the race schedule, meaning that the Pirelli National Superstock class got off to a late start for the first of their two-race weekend this season. Despite the torrential downpour earlier, the Superstock machines of Shaun Winfield and Matt Truelove took to the grid on full slicks, finishing a slightly reduced race of 18 laps in 9th for Matt Truelove and 12th for Shaun Winfield.

Sunday saw heavy rain at the 1.3-mile circuit and for the second race of the weekend the rain was not holding off. Rogers battled through the conditions to cross the line in 6th,his highest finish to date. After experiencing difficulties with visibility van Sikkelerus persevered with his first Superbike experience in the wet returning with a commendable 20th.

Not before the final BSB race went ahead, the Superstock lads returned for their second race of the weekend. With full wets, the bikes made a great start, fighting at the front quite quickly. Visibility was very poor, but both Matt Truelove and Shaun Winfield kept their calm and pushed on. Truelove got himself into a great battle for 5th as Winfield consistently recorded faster and faster laps. Truelove kept his cool as another Honda rider, Scott Swann lost the front of his machine to crash out and further Truelove’s position to claim a P3 podium finish with Winfield not far behind in 7th!

For the final race of the weekend the rain started to ease and with glimmers of blue sky at Knockhill, Rogers lined up 8th on the grid and van Sikkelerus in 21st. A decent start off the line for Rogers, the TAG Honda Superbike was early in the mix with the top 6 riders. As the Rokit BMW of Leon Haslam came through, it was all to play for. Friends and BSB rivals, Charlie Nesbitt battled Fraser for 7th. Holding on confidently, Rogers gained crucial time pulling away from Nesbitt as Haslam crashed heavily out of turn four and the race was declared at just over two-thirds, with Rogers taking his second P6 of the day. Unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be for teammate van Sikkelerus who returned the bike before the end of the race feeling unfit and unsafe to continue.

Matt Truelove said, “I am delighted with how the race weekend has gone. With only very limited testing time on the new 2024 Honda Fireblade and arriving at a very wet Knockhill, it was a bit of a guessing game as to how it may go. The team have been brilliant working with the constantly changing conditions to put a great machine out there for me where I felt confident to perform. Delighted with the result on Saturday, I knew there was more to come on the Sunday and finishing top 3 with a podium was the best feeling ever!”

Fraser Rogers said, “I have always enjoyed Knockhill, despite its challenges so I was feeling quite confident ahead of the weekend. The weather made sure that the confidence wasn’t locked in! But we had a great setup and getting through to Q2 for the Fast15 as the first bike was a major boost! I found my pace during race 2, as I was struggling badly in race 1 with visibility through my visor which hampered my results. I knew after the Sprint Race I was going to give it my best shot for race 3 and I’m really pleased with the finish. The team have been amazing again, making sure that the bike was running as competitively as I could be and I’m feeling very proud to have spent my first Fathers Day with my girls by my side with some great points in the bag!”

Team Manager, Gary Winfield said, “We are all so pleased for Matt Truelove this weekend bringing back some well-deserved silverware! Our second season with Matt on the bike has really showcased his abilities as a competitor and all-round great guy! Quietly confident, Matt was clear in the direction he wanted to move in on the new bike and it has truly paid off. We are delighted for Shaun (Winfield) as he consistently put in lap after lap chasing down a P7 finish in race two. We will shortly be testing Shaun on the new 2024 Fireblade and look forward to developing our second Superstock with him. Jaimie van Sikkelerus felt he wasn’t returning to racing in full-fitness but determined to carry on, he had our full support and we know what he will be capable of when we reach Snetterton in a couple of weeks. A fantastic result for Fraser Rogers, whose determination is unwavering! Fraser has a winners mindset and he is chasing down a podium finish; Knockhill proved how close he is getting. We come away from Knockhill with good memories, solid data and some very wet trainers!”