It was a faultless ride from the Trowbridge man who virtually led the race from start to finish, on a circuit he has performed well at in the past. His team-mate Filip Backlund, paying his first competitive visit to the circuit, also rode a great race to bring the second Ninja ZX-10R home in fourth and put the disappointment of his Thruxton crash in the previous round well and truly behind him.
As in previous rounds free practice and qualifying again saw the riders divided into two groups and for the first time this season Victor and Filip were in different groups. After promising runs in Free Practice both riders were confident going into the first qualifying session. Filip's group was first out on the track and the 23 year old immediately got with the pace, finishing the session in third with a best time of 1:39.98, just 0.17s off the fastest time and good enough for 6th overall. Even better was to come in the next group as Victor went quickest through the second and third sectors to storm to a lap of 1:39.56 and secure overnight pole position.
Second qualifying also took place in good conditions and once more both riders were well to the fore in their respective sessions. Filip again took his session by the scruff of the neck and went quicker still, to finish fastest overall in Group B with a time of 1m:39.03s, the best time of the weekend at that stage and a marker for the second group to aim at. Only one rider managed this, and Victor was only .05s slower at 1m:39.08s to finish second in his group. All this meant that ILR Kawasaki had two riders occupying the front row of the grid with Filip and Victor in second and third respectively, a great effort by both riders and the team.
As the race got underway in bright sunshine, Victor quickly settled into second at the first corner with Filip also getting a good start to slot into fourth. Cox soon hit the front with Backlund leading a five man Kawasaki chasing pack in fourth. Victor still led at the end of the lap from Joe Burns, Hudson Kennaugh and Filip and it stayed this way on the second lap where Backlund was the first rider to lap in the 1:39's.
On the third lap Filip was getting into the groove and started applying some pressure on Burns in third but he had bit of a moment on the next lap which resulted in him losing touch slightly as he still held on to fourth. By the sixth lap it was still Cox in front as he put in the fastest lap of the race with a 1:39.48, as Backlund determinedly held off a challenge from Josh Day.
At half race distance things began to close up among the top six, but at the front Victor was totally focused and riding a smooth and assured race with 100% confidence in the team's Ninja ZX-10R.
On the tenth lap the first three began to open a slight gap on Backlund who was still having to contend with the presence of Day in fifth, but on the next lap Filip managed to give himself some breathing space as he opened the gap to half a second. Meanwhile at the front Victor was contending with a challenge of his own as Kennaugh closed to within 0.31s, but he too responded to the threat and managed to take a few tenths of a second out of the South African to extend his lead to just over half a second as the riders sped on to their last lap.
Again Kennaugh pressed, but Victor was having none of it and he punched the air in delight as he crossed the line a worthy race winner. Meanwhile Filip, hampered by a bit of oil on his rear tyre from an oil leak in the latter stages of the race, had eased off and settled for fourth.
Cox's superb performance propels him to second in the championship and with Backlund now occupying fifth in the standings, it was a great weekend for ILR Kawasaki.
Victor and Filip arrived in Hampshire with one common goal of doing well for the team but with slighly different personal aims. Filip was looking to build on his excellent performance at Brands Hatch, whilst Victor was looking to kick-start his 2013 season following, by his own admission, a disappointing 12th place finish in Kent.
Free practice and qualifying again took place with the two group/race shoot-out system and Group B free practice saw Victor and Filip finish 7th and 12th respectively in far from ideal conditions. First qualifying saw an improvement in the weather and with it a big improvement in times as Victor went round over five seconds quicker to finish 6th in the session and 11th overall just 0.61s off provisional pole, Filip meanwhile was starting to get to grips with the unfamiliar Thruxton track and he also improved, by almost 5 seconds, to finish 15th in the group, 28th overall at 1.89s off the pace.
However, with only 7 laps completed between them, any intentions Victor and Filip had of a further improvement were dashed by the awful conditions that had greeted the riders for the second session. The organisers soon took the decision to red-flag and abandon the session, a move both riders agreed was the right one given the amount of standing water on the circuit. This meant that the grid would be determined by alternate positions from each group's combined qualifying, leaving Victor on the third row in 12th and Filip with a lot of work to do on Row 8.
To much relief the race got underway in dry conditions and as the riders sped through at the end of the opening lap, Victor had gained six places and was up to sixth, just over a second off the race leader whilst Filip had moved up three places to 25th. On the second lap, Cox was half a second clear in fourth as Filip was firmly embroiled in traffic in 26th position. For the next four laps Victor and Jonathan Howarth battled for fourth place whilst maintaining a decent gap on the chasers, Filip meanwhile was settling into the race and had moved up to 22nd. On Lap 7, Cox was demoted to sixth by Joe Burns but he was still very much in the thick of things, Backlund meanwhile was involved in a three-way Kawasaki dice with Paul Curran and Dominic Usher for a place in the Top 20.
As Burns moved clear into fourth, Victor now turned his attention to fifth place man Howarth and as the race entered the tenth lap he was right on his case, however further back Lee Johnston crashed out taking Filip and Dan Stewart with him, this brought the race to a premature conclusion with a race result declared leaving Cox in sixth and a bitterly disappointed Backlund on his way to the medical centre for a check-up.
The next round of the championship takes place at Oulton Park on 4-6 May, in the meantime team owner/rider Ian Lougher will make his first competitive appearance of the season when he competes in the Ian Watson Spring National race meeting at Oliver's Mount, Scarborough this weekend.
With 58 riders challenging for 38 places on the grid, free practice and qualifying took the form of the two group/race shoot-out system with Filip and Victor in the second group.
Backlund, who has settled easily into the team, quickly showed that he hasn't arrived in the UK simply to make up the numbers as he finished the free practice session in third place overall, just 0.48s off the pace. Cox meanwhile was taking things steady on his Pirelli shod ZX-10R and finished 16th overall.
First qualifying was held in better conditions and Filip proved his performance earlier in the day was no fluke as he went round the 1.2 miles circuit almost 5 seconds quicker to finish the session as the highest placed Kawasaki rider in second. Victor improved by over 6 seconds to finish 14th.
With the weather slowly improving, team boss Ian Lougher knew the pace would intensify even more for the second session and decided to make a few small changes to the bikes.
This indeed proved to be the case as the second session saw both riders improve further to finish 5th and 16th respectively, Filip was only 0.39s off pole with Victor just 0.24s further back. Such is the competitive nature of this class, just over 1 second covered the top 30 riders.
Unbelievably in Sunday morning's warm-up session the water pump shaft bolts worked loose on both Victor and Filip's bikes, Victor took no part in the session as Filip managed to put in 10 laps.
Thanks to a bit of eleventh hour work on the team's part, both riders were able to take their place on the grid for the race.
On the next lap the gap increased by another second over a Kawasaki express train consisting of Adam Jenkinson in second, Peter Ward, Backlund, Jonathan Howarth, Jonathan Railton, Hudson Kennaugh and Danny Johnson with Victor a further 1.4s adrift of this group in 13th.
At half race distance the lead was down slightly to just over two seconds with Filip now firmly embroiled in a frantic five rider battle for second. Positions remained the same for the next few laps but with nine laps to go McGuinness' lead was reduced considerably thanks to a big slide coming onto the start/finish straight which almost pitched him over the handlebars, and as the race reached two thirds distance the Morecambe man had been pegged back and now led by under half a second from Johnson, Ward and Backlund who had now pulled a gap on the chasers. Victor meanwhile was still battling on in 13th with Joe Burns, Rob NcNealy and Kyle Wilks for company.
With six laps to go Filip moved into second and was now on McGuinness' rear tyre with Jenkinson and Ward still a threat, and as the race neared it's conclusion at 20 laps, the battle for the podium places was between those four. A bit further back, Victor was now up to 12th and starting to close on Howarth and Jimmy Storrar.
Three laps remained as Jenkinson and Backlund moved ahead of McGuinness with Ward beginning to lose touch slightly on the first three. There was nothing in it between Jenkinson and Backlund as they crossed the line to start their last lap with just 0.09s separating them.
Despite Filip's best efforts he just couldn't find a way through and the two passed the chequered flag virtually together with Jenkinson getting the nod by the narrowest of margins at just 0.06s with McGuinness almost a second adrift in third. Victor held on to finish a clear 12th, just over half a second from a top ten finish.
The action now moves on to Hampshire with the next round of the championship taking place at Thruxton this weekend.
20th-21st March 2013
Brands Hatch (Indy)
19th March 2013
14th March 2013
Despite the far from ideal weather conditions, Victor Cox and his new team-mate Filip Backlund took advantage of the test with the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R to get back in the groove after the winter off-season and it was a good opportunity for both new and established team personnel to work together for the first time and to get to know one another.
The tests allowed both riders to blow away the cobwebs after the long winter break. In the first session Victor and Filip eased themselves back into the swing of things. In the second session Victor was third quickest in the Superstock class and second fastest through the first sector speed trap. Filip meanwhile was fourth fastest through the start/finish line speed trap with Victor fifth. The third and final session saw Victor finish second quickest with Filip just over half a second back in sixth.
Although no-one was pushing too much because of the cold temperatures, nevertheless it was pleasing to see Victor and Filip on the pace. Victor was quick as always and I was equally impressed with our new signing Filip Backlund who was actually running quicker than Victor with ten minutes to go.
It's great to have Victor on board again for 2013 and Filip has shown himself to be very professional, positive and good to work with. He knows what he wants from the bike and immediately gelled with everyone in the team.
We are all looking forward to working with him for the rest of the season.''
12-14 October 2012