Team Suzuki Press Office – October 15.
Richard Cooper – 1st – SST
Sylvain Guintoli – DNF/ 12/ 11 – BSB
Richard Cooper – 10/ DNF/ 10 – BSB
Bennetts Suzuki signed-off the 2017 MCE British Superbike Championship season with another race win for Richard Cooper in the Superstock 1000 class, as he narrowly missed-out on the championship crown racing the all-new GSX-R1000 in its debut season.
Cooper was also standing-in for the injured Taylor Mackenzie in the Superbike class, and took a brace of top-10 finishes from the weekend’s three races, retiring out of race two early – and from another potential top-10 – to ensure he was on the grid for his final Superstock outing of the season.
His team-mate, Sylvain Guintoli, recovered from a crash in yesterday’s race to come from the back of the grid to take two points-scoring finishes to cap off the year.
Racing the 2017 GSX-R1000, the Bennetts Suzuki team was quickly up-to-speed in the highly-competitive Superstock 1000 class, winning at the first round of the year at Donington Park. Cooper arrived at the final round 15 points adrift of the championship title, and did his part by winning the race, leading from start to finish. His title rival, Danny Buchan, finished second, to take the championship by 10 points.
In the Superbike races, Cooper finished in 10th place in Saturday’s race, while Guintoli suffered a fast crash on lap three at Clearways, losing the front on fluid dropped by another machine.
Cooper, racing in the same retro livery he used in his wildcard appearance at Assen, was racing inside the top-10 in today’s opening Superbike race, before pulling in. He then raced to another 10th in the final race.
Guintoli, coming from the back of the grid, came through the pack to finish 12th in today’s first race, and followed-it-up with an 11th in the third and final race of the weekend.
“It’s been a good weekend and a nice way to finish the season. Superstock was still the main focus, that was the championship I’ve been racing for this year. Today, I did what I needed to do, but to be honest it was always going to need a lot of luck. In Superbike, I’m really happy with the performances to be fair. I was coming into a weekend where everyone else has done 12 rounds, and has already been to Brands Hatch before, so to get two top-10s is really good. It could have been three, but I pulled in ahead of the Superstock race. It was good for me but also it’s given the team a lot of new data to work through over winter.”
“We were unlucky this weekend. In race one I got some fluid on my visor and I thought it had started to rain, and so did the guys in front. We slowed up but I was already leaning the bike over. Bradley [Ray] was on the inside and I actually hit his bike and went down. It was a fast one and quite lucky to get away with it with so many others going down as well. But with the way the rules work, it ruined the rest of the weekend. Only the lap-times from the restarted race counted for the grid, so I was at the very back. I managed to come from 22nd to 12th, which was good. The last race was better and we reduced the gap to the front. All-in-all a tough weekend, but the bike was a lot better than last time we were at Brands and felt like we’d made some improvements; it’s just a shame the weekend went how it did.”
Taylor Mackenzie missed the weekend’s action through injury, but was present to support his teammates at the final round of the season. Mackenzie suffered a broken foot in race two at Silverstone, after notching up a seventh-place finish in race one. He missed the following round at Oulton Park, but then suffered a broken shoulder and torn rotator cuff at Assen during qualifying.
“It was difficult being a spectator today. As a racer you always want to be out there. It’s been an up-and-down year, but we showed our potential early on with some strong results. I also had a run of some bad luck which cost us points in the middle of the season. The back-end of the season saw us, as a team, make some big steps with the bike, and from Silverstone we were able to kick on, but unfortunately that’s where my season ended. I’ve learnt a lot, and I am looking forward to coming back stronger next season.”
Steve Hicken – Team Manager:
“It’s been a solid weekend to finish a challenging year. As we keep saying, we always knew it was going to be a year of development – it always is with a brand-new motorcycle, but we’ve made a lot of progress from day one to where we are today. In the GSX-R1000’s debut year we’ve come within 10 points of the Superstock 1000 Championship and taken a win in the British Superbike Championship, as well as plenty of other strong results.
“Today, we knew lifting the Superstock title was a long-shot, but Cooper did what he needed to and took another win. Then, to come in for only his second round on the Superbike and take two – what could have been three – top-10 finishes also shows the level he and the bike are at, and he’s done a great job this weekend and given us lots more data to go away and work on over the winter.
“Sylvain was unlucky in race one this weekend and that’s probably dented our hopes of better results this weekend. It was a fast one and the bike took a bit of a knock, and in the races he’s had to come from quite far down on the grid, but each time he’s worked his way forward and taken two point-scoring finishes. As a team we’ll go away now and work hard to come back strongly next season.”
Superstock race result: 1. Richard Cooper (Bennetts Suzuki GSX-R1000), 2. Danny Buchan, 3. Josh Elliot.
Superbike race one result: 1. Shane Byrne, 2. Christian Iddon, 3. Josh Brookes, 10. Richard Cooper (Bennetts Suzuki GSX-R1000), DNF. Sylvain Guintoli (Bennetts Suzuki GSX-R1000).
Superbike race two result: 1. Shane Byrne, 2. Christian Iddon, 3. James Ellison, 12. Sylvain Guintoli (Bennetts Suzuki GSX-R1000), DNF. Richard Cooper (Bennetts Suzuki GSX-R1000).
Superbike race three result: 1. Josh Brookes, 2. Jason O’Halloran, 3. James Ellison, 10. Richard Cooper (Bennetts Suzuki GSX-R1000), 11. Sylvain Guintoli (Bennetts Suzuki GSX-R1000).