It was another solid day's work for ILR Kawasaki's Victor Cox as he again rode well to finish 4th and 9th respectively in the latest round of the Metzeler National Superstock 1000 Championship at Donington Park on Sunday.
Indeed, it was a good weekend for the team with Ash Beech scoring his first points of the season with a fine ride to 14th in the second race to follow on from a determined 20th place finish in his first outing of the day.
The Donington double header was part of the support programme for the European round of the World Superbike Championship and with three sessions marked down for Friday, it promised to be a busy start to the weekend for the team.
Strong winds greeted the riders for the free practice session in the morning and it was a good start for both Victor, 7th just under a second off the fastest time, and Ash, 16th at 1.83s. The first of the afternoon's two qualifying sessions was dogged by crashes and red flags, and this combined with a very low track temperature made for a challenging time for the teams and riders with the session eventually being cut short. Cox finished down in 13th at 1.50s with Beech also dropping down the order to 21st at 2.64s, the second session however would see a big improvement. With the team working hard on bike set-up Victor went over one second quicker to finish 7th, half a second off pole, meanwhile Ash was busy securing his best grid position of the season with a fine 16th and posting a lap of 1:34.62, again a full second quicker than his first qualifying time and almost within a second of Victor.
However in Race One, Beech barely had time to get himself into the groove when he found himself in the gravel at the very first corner. Clipped on the approach, Ash found himself with a damaged brake lever and with no brakes he was faced with no choice but to take evasive action and head for the gravel. Re-joining the race down in 34th and last position, an undaunted Beech got the bit between his teeth and embarked on a damage limitation exercise which would see him climb 14 places to finish 20th and post the 14th quickest lap of the race, a great performance.
Cox meanwhile was again at the cutting edge and challenging for top honours. Jason O'Halloran had taken an early lead into Redgate from Danny Buchan, Jimmy Storrar and Keith Farmer with Victor also in the hunt. Championship leader Farmer then ran wide at the Melbourne Hairpin, dropping him to 13th on the second lap and out of contention. O'Halloran then came under pressure from Steve Brogan who was pushing hard, but on the approach to Goddards, Brogan crashed out unhurt. Behind O'Halloran and second placed Storrar, a fierce battle for second place was raging between Buchan and Cox. Buchan then took over second from Storrar at the Melbourne Hairpin as Cox looked on from behind waiting to pounce should the opportunity present itself. Buchan then ran wide but recovered to just hold on for third with Victor fourth, just over a second away from a place on the podium.
The grid positions for the second race were determined by the fastest laps in the first encounter which meant that Victor lined up on the front row of the grid in third, with Ash's fourth row start just rewards for his determined ride in Race One.
However, struggling with grip and brake issues, Victor was soon locked in a three-way battle with Jonathan Railton and Patrick Medcalf for eighth place with Keith Farmer just over a second ahead of the trio, eleventh place man Freddie Russo was a further seven seconds back. At the flag it was Railton, Cox in 9th and Medcalf in that order with less than a second covering them. Further back, but no less significantly, Ash Beech was riding to a brilliant 14th place and his first points score of the season. The 23 year old was again highly impressive throughout and it was a well deserved and satisfying end to his weekend.
Ash Beech: 'The weekend started well as always and my plan was to stay out and do as many laps as possible in every session. The first race started badly as I got clipped on the run down to the first corner and my front brake lever was folded round, with no brakes I ran into the back of another rider and ended up running into the gravel. I managed to pull the lever back straight and re-joined in last place but I just kept pushing and came through to finish 20th, my lap time was good and I moved up a row on the grid for Race 2.
The second race went well although I just took a bit long to get past the other rider I was dicing with, and as a result I lost too much time. I came here with the intention to start scoring points and I have achieved this so now we can start pushing and aiming for Top 10 finishes.
I would just like to thank the ILR Kawasaki team for providing me with a great bike in the Ninja ZX-10R.'
The focus for ILR Kawasaki now turns to the roads as team manager/rider Ian Lougher goes straight from Donington to the North Antrim coast. With his sights firmly set on the Isle of Man TT races at the end of the month, the International North-West 200 sees Ian in competitive action for the first time in 2012.