Ben Burke blasted to his debut victory of the 2012 season, as the Metzeler National Superstock championship enjoyed a weekend’s racing on the world stage at Donington Park (11-13 May).

The Seton Tuning Yamaha trio of Ben Burke, Bjorn Estment and Mark Wilkinson looked to add valuable points to their season’s tally around the historic 2.5 mile Leicestershire circuit, with two 12-lap races over the weekend.

Ben Burke lined up in second spot having narrowly missed out on pole position in the dying seconds of qualifying. Making a superb start reminiscent of Oulton Park last weekend, Ben led the opening exchanges as the leaders moved clear of the 

chasing field. Locking horns with Alex Olsen, the 23-year old pushed the Triumph rider for most of the distance holding the lead until the seventh lap, taking a well-deserved second as the chequered flag signaled the climax of the opening event.

Bjorn Estment fought back from a slow start to claim his first top ten result of the season in Saturday’s 12-lapper. The South African rider bounced back after dropping to 13th from the lights to close down the leading pack as the race progressed. A classic last-lap move into Goddard’s under fellow Yamaha protagonist Danny Murphy saw Bjorn clinch sixth by just over a tenth of a second.

Mark Wilkinson elevated his Seton Tuning Yamaha from a grid slot of 26th to 21st at the flag. Despite finishing outside of the point-scoring positions, Mark added valuable track and set-up time to increase his experience during his first season in the UK.

The second outing of the weekend for the Superstock riders was to prove even more eventful for the Colchester-based Seton Tuning Yamaha squad. Ben made another strong start, taking the lead on the opening lap from Lee Jackson and James Rose. Once again, Olsen pushed to the front and took the flag ahead of Ben only to be penalised with a 10-second time penalty for overtaking under a yellow flag. This elevated Ben to the top step of the podium for his first win of the season, leapfrogging him into third place in the title race.

Buoyed by his result in the opening race, the team made a few adjustments to Bjorn’s Yamaha that saw him pushing with the leading pack, comfortable in fourth and looking good for a debut podium finish. However, his race came to a premature end on the fourth circulation as he high-sided on the exit of the Melbourne Loop, heavily crashing out of contention.

Looking to make amends for race one, Mark pushed hard throughout the 12 laps of race two. Holding off the constant advances of Joe Collier on the final lap, Mark claimed the final point-scoring position. Constantly improving throughout the weekend, Mark will be full of confidence when the series returns to Donington Park in September.

bjorn_estment_donington_park.jpg       mark_wilkinson_donington_park.jpg 
Ben Burke: “What a big weekend. After two qualifying sessions I was set to start on pole until the last second when I got pushed back into second on the grid. Race one was a good battle, I managed to put it on the second step of the podium, my first this year. Race two was also hard fought with several tussles with other front runners. I came home second but was later awarded 1st place as Olsen overtook on yellow flag conditions. I'm proud of the race I ran and although it doesn't feel the same winning by default, I'm extremely happy to take those crucial extra points into the next round. Thank you goes to the team as always, we really are running the best bikes in the paddock with a strong team to match. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all the sponsors involved for their continued support.”

Bjorn Estment: “I had a really bad start in race one, dropping back to 13th. I proceeded to fight back on the Seton tuning by NFB Financial Services Group Yamaha up to the top 10, then closed down a 3-second gap to the bunch fighting for 5th and ended up 6th with a pass in the final corner. A good race all round!  

I was sure I had the pace to run with the front bunch in race two, and I knew a podium was on the cards after some educated changes to the Seton Tuning Yamaha. A good start led to me sitting comfortably in 4th for the first series of laps before a little too much throttle and not enough grip led to a really gutting premature end to proceedings! A massive thanks to NFB Financial Services Group for their continued and loyal support, Phil and Scotty for their hard work, and all who make living the dream possible!"

Mark Wilkinson: "I had a really good day today, the team worked really well to improve the bike for me all weekend. I'm pleased to get up into the points again. It was a good learning weekend for me with set-up and track knowledge so all up I’m confident we are on the right path. Congratulations to my teammate Ben on his win, and I hope Bjorn is OK after his get-off. I'm looking forward to Snetterton now for the next round of the Championship!”

Phil Seton, Team Owner: “That was a phenomenal weekend, and I'm really pleased with the results and how the whole team worked together. Ben rode two very mature races, taking the safe points for second in both once Olsen had got past him. Although he was fast, Ben knew he couldn't quite match Olsen but put in some consistently fast times to consolidate second. Although it may not be the way anyone wants to be handed a victory, we'll take the extra points from race two as it gives Ben his first win this year and sets him up for the rest of the season.

Bjorn had another really good weekend until the final race. He put in a really strong performance in race one, off the back of his best qualifying position, resulting in an excellent sixth. He was running really well until the high-side in race two. Fortunately initial fears of a suspected broken leg were dismissed but he may have suffered ligament damage to his shoulder. We'll give him a few days to rest to see how he feels.

Mark is progressing with every round. Coming from the front of the Australian championship last season, Mark has found just how tough and competitive Superstock is over here but he is very focussed, learning constantly and improving all the time. He made good steps in the first race and it was great to see him back in the points in race two.

The team, and Ben in particular, is set up nicely for the next round at Snetterton at the end of the month which will be the mid-point in the Superstock season.”

The next round of the 2012 MCE British Superbike Championship takes place at Snetterton, Norfolk, 25-27 May.

Images © Steve Hutchings


Results - Donington Park

Metzeler National Superstock 600
Race 1 Result:
1. Olsen, 2. Burke, 3. Dixon, 4. Jackson, 5. Rose, 6. Estment, 21. Wilkinson

Race 2 Result:
1. Burke, 2. Rose, 3. Jackson, 4. Olsen, 5. Blackshaw, 15. Wilkinson, DNF Estment

Championship Points:
 1. Rose - 71, 2. Dixon - 70, 3. Burke - 66, 4. Olsen - 58, 5. Whitaker - 55, 15. Estment - 17, 22. Wilkinson - 5


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