Gloucester-based Smiths Racing BMW enjoyed a great weekend at Oulton Park for round nine of the
Superbike Championship whereby a pair of top eight finishes saw Peter Hickman
clinch the final position in the title-deciding Showdown.
It was also a good meeting for team debutante Alex Olsen who marked his first ever ride in the series with an excellent ninth place in the opening race on the Smiths BMW S1000RR.
Both riders showed well during practice and qualifying with Hickman taking seventh for the first of the three races held over the weekend and Olsen only two places further back after qualifying in a brilliant ninth place.
However, the race was only three laps old when Hickman crashed at Druids bringing out the red flag as organisers checked for track contamination. Despite the best efforts of the team, the Lincoln-based rider was unable to make it for the 14-lap re-start, bringing to an end his 100% points-scoring record, and that left 27-year-old Olsen to fly the flag for the team.
The Sittingbourne rider ran in the top ten throughout the race and eventually crossed the line in an excellent ninth place for his first ever BSB finish. Despite the result, Olsen had to start Sunday’s second race of the weekend, from 13th on the grid whilst Hickman’s DNF meant he was all the way back on the seventh row.
Conditions at the Cheshire venue were perfect for both of today’s races and a brilliant start from Hickman in the opening encounter saw him leap up to 13th at the end of the first lap with Olsen two places further back. Hickman soon worked his way up into the top ten and having overhauled Tarran Mackenzie two laps from the end, he moved up to eighth where he finished with Olsen having a mixed race and he eventually finished just outside the points in 16th.
Hickman started the third and final race of the weekend in ninth place with Olsen in 14th but whilst Olsen was ultimately forced out of the race due to an electrical issue, Peter ran in the top ten throughout. With his Showdown rivals running close to him, he knew what he needed to do to seal his position in the top six standings and eighth place in the race meant he successfully achieved the chance to fight for the title.
Peter Hickman: “Practice and qualifying had gone really well and I was confident of a top six finish in the first race so for it to end with a crash through no fault of my own was very disappointing and I was lucky not to pick up injuries. It made race two difficult with having to start a long way back on the grid, but we did what we needed in race three and it’s great to be in the Showdown again. I’ll be giving it my all at the final three rounds and will ensure I leave nothing on the table.”
Alex Olsen: “It’s been a great start for me and to finish inside the top ten on my BSB debut was more than
I could have hoped
for. It’s been difficult to get used to the electronics on the bike and I’ve
had a lot to learn so I’ve tried not to change too much and just try to be
consistent with my lap times. Today was more challenging but the more I’ve gone
out on the bike the more I’ve learned, and track time is what I need. I haven’t
been to Assen since 2014 but I went well then so hopefully that will be the
case again in two weeks’ time.”
Darren Jones, Team Co-ordinator: “On the one hand, it’s been a tough weekend but on the other hand, it’s been a great weekend and to make it into the Showdown for the third year running, and be the top BMW team again, is brilliant. The DNF in race one made it hard work for everyone, not least the team in rebuilding what was a fairly damaged bike, but Pete did a great job in today’s first race and then rode to his pit signals in race two. He did exactly what he needed to do so full credit to him and the whole team for all their hard work during the year with the new Smiths BMW S1000RR. For Alex’s side of the garage, they’ve all had a whole new lease of life and it’s been really good working with such a young, enthusiastic rider. A top ten finish first time out in BSB is no mean feat so we’re all excited about seeing what he can do in the final three rounds.”
The series now moves to Assen for the first of the three Showdown rounds over the weekend of September 20/22.