Team Suzuki Press Office – October 13.
The Bennetts Suzuki team are at Brands Hatch for the final round of the MCE British Superbike championship this weekend with sights firmly set on adding to the success enjoyed last time out at Assen, where Sylvain Guintoli took the team’s first Superbike win with the all-new 2017 GSX-R1000.
The race two victory, which came after the Frenchman narrowly missed-out on the podium in race one, served to highlight the progress the Bennetts Suzuki team has made with development of the new Superbike. That development, coupled with a return to a circuit the former World Superbike Champion has plenty of experience at, means the target this weekend is a return to the podium.
In the National Superstock 1000 Championship, Richard Cooper is still fighting to win the 2017 title, but will also be in action in the Superbike class, deputising for the injured Taylor Mackenzie. While Cooper admits the Superstock title is a tall order, sitting 15 points off the series lead with just one race left, the Nottinghamshire ace is aiming to end the campaign on a high, and add another race win to his impressive season tally.
Mackenzie has, unfortunately, been ruled-out of action for the final round of the season. The youngster, who was still recovering from a broken foot at the previous round, suffered a nasty high-side in qualifying at Assen. As a result, he has been declared unfit for this weekend’s action, after breaking his shoulder in two places and damaging his rotator cuff.
“The win at Assen meant a lot. It showed that we had improved the bike in recent rounds and that we’ve been getting better all the time. We knew that we would be developing the bike this year, but it was nice to see that progress continues and get us into the position where we can challenge for results. Brands Hatch is a different track to Assen, but we have three races this weekend, so hopefully we can find a good setting early in practice, and have three good races to finish the season.”
“It’s going to be a busy weekend, riding both the Superstock bike and the Superbike, but it was an opportunity that would be a shame to miss. Of course, it’s never nice when your teammate is injured, but with the bike already built for Assen, it was easy for me to step in for the team to run a second Superbike. With Superstock, the aim is to win the race. The rest is out of my hands. Either way, we have had a good season and won a lot of races. With the Superbike, after racing it at Assen and at the Stars of Darley meeting, it’s beginning to feel like my bike now, and I’m looking forward to having three races on it over the weekend.”
“I’m pretty gutted to be missing out this weekend, to be honest. Ironically my foot is pretty much brand new, but it’s my shoulder that’s the problem now, and I can hardly move my arm. It’s a real shame. It’s been a difficult year but I’ve shown my potential and the team has certainly shown the potential of the new GSX-R. We’ve had some strong results – fifth at Knockhill, seventh at Silverstone – and coming into the final rounds of the season the team has made big progress with the bike, highlighted by Sylvain’s win at Assen. It makes it an even tougher pill to swallow, but I’ll bounce back stronger next season.”
Steve Hicken – Team Manager:
“It’s been a busy season for us, but, we knew it was going to be developing a completely new motorcycle. Yet we showed how much potential the bike had from the off, being immediately competitive in the Superstock 1000 class, and were it not for some bad luck along the way, I think we’d be in a stronger position going into this weekend. We also turned it into a winner on the roads, with wins at the Southern 100 and the all-important Senior TT on the Isle of Man.
“Developing a bike to work within the Superbike rules of BSB was always going to take a bit more time, but we’ve made steady progress all year, constantly learning more-and-more about the bike, and that shows with the recent results.
Heading into the final round we’re aiming to finish the season on a high, and hopefully we can be celebrating some more success this weekend.”