28 - May - 2012

ben_burke_snetterton_2012.jpgSeton Tuning Yamaha's Ben Burke dominated the Metzeler National Superstock 600 race at a sun-drenched Snetterton 300 to claim back-to-back victories and the lead in the Championship (25-27 May).

The 23-year old Australian from Orange, NSW started the 12-lap race from second on the grid and was tipped by circuit commentator Fred Clarke as a pre-race favourite. Ben made a strong start, tucking in behind pole man Dixon as the field negotiated the tricky infield section for the first time.

Dixon crashed out at the start of lap 2, leaving Rose, Burke and Jackson to fight for the lead. Having shown Rose his front wheel in a dress rehearsal, Ben made the decisive move for the lead on lap 6, powering his Seton Tuning Yamaha YZF-R6 past his fellow Yamaha compatriot. As he looked to make a break at the front, Ben posted the fastest lap of the race on lap 9 with a blistering time of 1:56.807 as he eked out a half-second lead.

Rose was not finished and over the closing stages pushed Ben all the way to the finish, unable to match the Australian’s outright pace on the drag to the line. With his second win in as many races, Ben now stands joint first in the championship with Rose.

Bjorn Estment and Mark Wilkinson produced two of their best rides of the season to date at the Norfolk circuit. Qualifying in 14th and 21st respectively, both riders benefitted from strong starts and the jostle for position through the opening corners to round out the opening lap in points-scoring positions.

Bjorn had fought his way through to eighth, and would better this by one more place on lap two as he muscled his way past Oulton Park race winner Grant Whitaker before making the position his own with a solid performance over the remaining laps.

Mark Wilkinson made a fantastic start to the opening race of the day, crossing the white stripe in 13th at the close of the first lap. Embroiled in a healthy battle with more seasoned racers, Mark elevated his Seton Tuning Yamaha into ninth and could almost feel the heat from teammate Bjorn Estment’s Yamaha two places up the road. Looking to post his best result of the season, Mark unfortunately overshot Murrays, managing to keep control as he grass-tracked at speed, before rejoining just outside of the top ten. A further off-track experience would see Mark relegated to 15th at the flag, but another solid point-scoring finish.

sam_warren_snetterton_2012.jpgSam Warren triumphed in the battle of the former Supermoto champions in Saturday’s 10 lap Motorpoint British Supersport Protected by Datatag Sprint around the 2.97-mile circuit. Despite finishing outside of the podium positions, the 30-year old Derbyshire rider mixed it with a gaggle of Triumphs at the sharp end, passing Iddon on the final lap to claim sixth.

Sunday’s main Supersport event would prove to be one of the highlights of the season to date. From the lights, the racing was fast, furious, and full of incident as Sam looked to re-establish the Seton Tuning Yamaha onslaught on the 2012 crown.

Starting from the head of row 2, Sam lost a few places as the packed field headed into the tight Montreal hairpin for the first time, but intelligently bided his time before making a series of excellent passes to see him running fifth mid-way through lap 5.

As the field headed through Nelson’s, Sam was hit from behind by another motorcycle, sending him momentarily off-track, and head-butting his screen. Keeping it rubber side down, Sam rejoined back in eighth as the Safety Car was called out.

With the lights going out on the safety car two laps later, Richards fired over the line for the start of lap 8, and Sam made what would become his signature move - a draft pass on the inside into the fast right-hander of Riches. By lap 10, Sam was in contention, as he made it a five-way battle for the lead.

Out-braking Luke Mossey into Riches at the start of lap 13, Sam found himself deservedly in a podium position, moving up to second behind Richards on the penultimate lap with a similar move on Kennedy.

As the front runners headed into the final lap, Sam made the move for the lead once again at Riches but was forced back into fourth the following corner. The action was relentless on the run in to the flag, Sam desperately trying to find a way past Kennedy through the long right hander at Coram. The riders fanned out four abreast on the long uphill drag to the line, with Kennedy taking the win and Sam claiming fourth - all four riders covered by just a tenth of a second in the most dramatic climax to a Supersport race this season.

After losing a position on Saturday, Sam moved back up to third in the title chase, as the season moves north of the border to Knockhill for round 5 (22-24 June).

bjorn_estment_snetterton_2012.jpg       mark_wilkinson_snetterton_2012.jpg
Ben Burke: “I’m glad I got the win in the end. I was on the back of Jimmy Rose for the first half and when I passed him I felt I could make a break. I didn’t quite get out in front as far as I thought but made a defensive last lap and it sort of worked for me. A big thanks to the whole team again this weekend, we’ve now got the joint lead in the Championship. Also, well done to my good mate Pat Medcalf, who scored his first podium today in the Superstock 1000 race.”

Sam Warren: “Well another eventful weekend for us! Having popped it on the front row for qualifying, I was hopeful I'd have a race at the front, but getting one of the worst starts I’ve ever had meant we were way down the pack. Clawing my way up to 6th was OK, despite some problems we were having with set-up. So onto the feature race and with a new engine and revised settings, I managed to get off the line and only lose about 4 places this time! As the race progressed I felt strong, but shortly after passing Wilson, he hit me from behind nearly highsiding me. Luckily I stayed on - minus a screen.

Back in 8th, I charged through, and thought I'd positioned myself perfectly by passing Richards into Riches on the last lap. But he barged through into the hairpin, which let McConnell and Kennedy through. I got good drive onto the start/finish but it wasn't enough. It’s not often you finish under 1 tenth behind the leader and end up 4th! Anyway, back into 3rd in championship, and I know the team are gonna work night and day to fix some of the issues we've got. A big thank you as always to the team and all sponsors.

I'd just like to say a massive thank you to Mick Spencer for everything that he did for me at the start of my racing career. He guided me through my early years in Supermoto and really made me believe I could be somebody in racing. My thoughts are with you and your family.” 

Bjorn Estment: “To be totally honest, I have got the best out of a bad weekend! After the really unfortunate technical problem in the first lap of Free Practice 1, I was left stranded and out for the whole session and the rest of the day including Q1! Massive thanks to my crew chief Scott McLennan, Sam Palmer and Chris Beedon for all their hard work to rebuild the engine and get it back for me to get out for Q2 and get on the grid! 14th was where the Seton Tuning machine was to be and after a blistering start I managed 7th in the race just missing the couple of tenths to stick with the front bunch. Good points and a couple of places up in the championship, which I will look to carry on for the rest of the season. Massive shout out to NFB Financial Services Group for their continued support."

Mark Wilkinson: "A very successful day for me. We ran inside the top 10 for the majority of the race. Unfortunately for us I lost the front going into Murrays and had to run off track. I got back on and pushed hard to try to gain the positions back but by doing that I got bad arm-pump, which I suffered with for the remainder of the race. Our times were good and we are showing that were moving forwards. We head to Knockhill full of confidence. Thanks to the Seton Tuning Yamaha Team and my family and sponsors in Australia, Plaza Autos, the Oil Warehouse, DH Engineering, ROMPDesign and Cumagutsa!”

Phil Seton, Team Owner: “Ben did a fantastic job with an amazing, brilliant, level-headed ride especially under constant pressure from Jimmy Rose. I’m a little disappointed for Sam in both races as he deserved more than he got, especially in the main event where he came back through the field after being hit to take the lead on the last lap.

It was another great result for Bjorn. An engine failure on the first lap on Friday morning meant the team had to return to the workshop to build him a new engine. He made good headway with his set-up and it paid dividends in the race. It was a real shame for Mark as he was running so well before his off-track excursion, but shows that he is gelling well with the bike and the team. All in all, a good day with points all round for the riders.”

Ben Burke Image © Paul Walker
Sam Warren, Bjorn Estment & Mark Wilkinson Images © Steve Hutchings


Results - Snetterton 300

Motorpoint British Supersport Championship Protected by Datatag
Race 1 Result:
1. Kennedy, 2. Richards, 3. Wilson, 4. Mossey, 5. McConnell, 6. Warren

Race 2 Result:
1. Kennedy, 2. Richards, 3. McConnell, 4. Warren, 5. Iddon

Championship Points:
 1. Kennedy - 146.5, 2. Richards - 119, 3. Warren - 107, 4. Wilson - 103, 5. McConnell - 91

Metzeler National Superstock 600
1. Burke, 2. Rose, 3. Jackson, 4. Fisher, 5. Hastings, 7. Estment, 15. Wilkinson

Championship Points
=1. Burke - 91, =1. Rose - 91, 3. Dixon - 70, 4. Whitaker - 63, 5. Jackson - 62, 13. Estment - 26, 23. Wilkinson - 6


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