The Seton Tuning Yamaha quartet of Sam Warren, Ben Burke, Bjorn Estment and Mark Wilkinson all scored points at the second round of the 2012 MCE British Superbike championship at the ultra-fast circuit of Thruxton in Hampshire (13-15 April).

At a circuit that has become dominated by the Triumphs in recent seasons, Sam Warren looked to extend his lead in the Motorpoint British Supersport Championship Protected by Datatag.
The 29 year old Derbyshire rider qualified in the middle of the second row for the opening 12 lap sprint on Saturday afternoon. A spirited and determined performance saw Sam lead the middle portion of the race, eventually taking the chequered flag in second spot behind Glen Richards to extend his lead to 19 points over Ben Wilson.
Scoring the fastest lap time of the race, 1:17.188s, Sam took the overall lead in the Speedy Fastest Laps League, and lined up on pole position for the main 18-lap Supersport event. A sluggish start saw the Yamaha rider forced back to 6th at the close of the opening lap but still in contention for his fourth podium finish in a row.
Thruxton is renowned for close, fast-paced action, and this was to be no exception. Wilson took the early lead with a brace of Triumphs and the Yamaha duo of Sam and Jack Kennedy hounding the Kawasaki over every inch of the 2.36 mile circuit.
Moving up to third on the brakes into Club on lap 6, Sam would then briefly enjoy the lead on lap 9 as the six-wheeler produced an exhilarating battle at the front of the field. With the order swapping with every lap, Sam looked to be in a strong position for a final draft pass into the Club chicane. However, after taking Wilson for fourth, Sam had reached the grip limit of his tyres on this highly abrasive tarmac and paid the ultimate price, crashing out of arguably the race of the season to date.
As a result, Sam has relinquished his championship lead by half a point to fellow Yamaha rider Jack Kennedy. However, Sam will look to regain the lead in the title race as the series heads to his home circuit of Oulton Park in three weeks time.
The Seton Tuning Yamaha trio of Ben Burke, Bjorn Estment and Mark Wilkinson all got their championship challenges off the mark with their first points of the season in an equally hotly contested Metzeler National Superstock race. 
Relishing the chance to unleash the full potential of the Seton Tuning Yamaha in the dry for the first time this season, all three riders improved significantly upon their grid positions to all finish within the points as the chequered flag signalled the end of the 14-lapper.
Ben made a blistering start from the lights, elevating his Yamaha up to fourth at the Complex on the opening lap to be running at the sharp end. The young Australian rider locked horns at the head of the field throughout proceedings and looked to be assured of a podium finish. Tim Hastings was the runaway victor, but five riders vied for the final two podium slots. With the lap counter running down, Ben hit third and looked strong for at least 16 points. However, as the leaders headed into the final lap, back-markers would come into play, and Ben would be squeezed into fifth as they reached the breaking zone for Club on the final lap.
Bjorn and Mark, starting from the fifth and seventh rows respectively, worked impressively throughout the race, gaining confidence and position with each successive lap. Bjorn would bring his Yamaha home in 13th while Mark would complete the point-scoring positions with a strong 15th in just their second outings for the team.
Sam Warren: “Having diced at the front in the sprint race, getting 2nd and fastest lap, I was very confident going into the feature race. I made my usual slow start, but pushed to the front like in the sprint race and felt very comfortable. Then I ran into tyre issues and was unable to maintain my pace. Dropping back for 4th near the end of the race, I knew it was damage limitation, but there was nothing left of the tyre and it caused a slide that I was unable to get back at Segrave. Luckily nothing is broken in my hand and we'll be fit for Oulton. Thanks for all the team for a cracking job, sorry I couldn't bring home the bacon but we're still in the hunt.”
Ben Burke: "What a weekend. The weather was touch and go but that seemed to add to the excitement. Practice and first qualifying went well with me putting myself 11th on the grid. I was confident I could go faster in Q2 with a fresh tyre but never got the chance as it was raining. We used this time as wet set-up practice as I wanted to improve in the wet and I did. The Seton Tuning Yamaha bikes finished that session 3rd, 4th and 5th, with me fastest of the three. All of us were very happy that we could do well in the race whether it was raining or dry. Sunday's race was dry and I got away to a flyer right up in the leading bunch and we were all having a fierce battle. I was third on the last lap where I had planned to be, hoping that I would slipstream my way into second. I was riding defensive but Johnny Blackshaw pushed me wide on the first chicane and we dropped off second a touch. Just as we caught up again there was a bunch of back markers that the five of us all scrambled to get past coming into the super-fast Church corner. Luckily we all managed to pass safely and came out all side by side up the back straight. It was a lottery who was going to come second. I am happy with my fifth placing and have put some good points on the board. Congratulations to my fellow Superstock riders, with all of us scoring our first points of the season. Well done to Sam for his podium in the first race, I was sorry to see him fall in the second. I would like to thank all of my team and sponsors for their hard work and support. I especially would like to thank Keith and Karen for coming on board helping and getting involved signalling for me all weekend."
Bjorn Estment: "It was a tough weekend with limited dry time to find a good setup, however we did manage to achieve a points scoring finish which finds us sitting in 17th overall! My ideal lap time was just .2 of a second off the podium and I topped the speed trap by over one and a half mph! Roll on Oulton where we can possibly put the NFB Financial Services by Seton-Tuning Yamaha in the form we showed at Brands Hatch.”
Mark Wilkinson: "It was a very positive weekend for me. My first BSB point after a difficult race. We improved all weekend and showed some really good form. I'm starting to get a handle on the bike and really looking forward round 3. Thanks to the entire Seton Tuning Yamaha Team for the amazing weekend!"
Phil Seton, Team Owner: “Overall a very positive weekend. I’m really pleased with Sam and the team’s performance and he is still second in the championship by just half a point. It is early days, so all in all a pretty good position to be in. Fortunately he just has a few bruises and some swelling from his crash, nothing broken, and will be fit for Oulton.
The Stock lads did well. It was great for Ben and a real coming of age for him to get third in Q2 in the wet. Bjorn and Mark also both scored points and we are now getting to grips with their bike set-up, so it is all going in the right direction.”
Round 3 of the 2012 MCE British Superbike Championship takes place at Oulton Park, Cheshire over the May Bank Holiday weekend (5-7 May).
Sam Warren Image © Matt Hutchings
Ben Burke, Bjorn Estment & Mark Wilkinson Images © Steve Hutchings


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