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The Bennetts #suzuki team has given the all-new GSX-R1000 its first British championship race win after #richardcooper took victory in today's National Superstock 1000 race at the Donington Park British Superbike Championship opening round in the UK.
Cooper, who finished second in yesterday's two-part race, started today from pole position. After leading the way into turn one, he was holding a podium position when the race was red-flagged. Again, starting from pole in the restart, he battled at the front for the full race distance and grabbed the lead when it mattered, with a last-lap pass securing his and the team's first victory of the season.
"I'm really happy, and happy for the team, too, as they've worked very hard to get us to this point. It looks like Superstock is going to be competitive all year and we're up against some good riders, but to get a second and a win in our first weekend with a new bike is really good. We still need to improve the bike. It gets out of corners so well and drives forward well, but we need to improve our corner entry. We'll work on the set-up to try and sort it, and then the bike's on the money. It's early days, but it's a good start and hopefully we can continue like this."
In the MCE British Superbike class the team endured a more challenging weekend: Taylor Mackenzie crashed out of both races - the first after coming through the pack from 22nd on the grid to crash out of 12th, before he lost the front at Goddards halfway through race two while fighting for a top-10 finish.
Sylvain Guintoli was also unlucky to crash out of the first Superbike race, the Frenchman had held a top-six place early on but fell at the ‘Esses.’ In race two, he secured a seventh-placed finish to get some solid championship points on the board, with the team looking to further develop the new Superbike for the second round at Brands Hatch.
"I'm obviously disappointed to crash in both races, and apologies to the team after the hard work they put in this weekend. But there's so much potential there. I made up loads of places in race one and if we'd finished we would have at least been in the points, probably in the top-10 from 22nd on the grid. Race two was also good and it was good to be #racing with Sylvain. I passed him but then lost a couple of places, but I was feeling comfortable. I'd never ran so high in Superbike and I was settling into a nice rhythm, and the plan was to chip away and try and make some passes towards the end of the race and get that top-10 finish. I hit the bump on the way into Goddards but to be honest I'm still surprised I crashed. We'll draw a line under it now and go again next time."
"I expected it to be a weekend of learning, and we've done some good work with the bike. There's definitely lots more to come but also some real strong points. We definitely don't need any more power, but we need to manage it a bit better. The bike's also really stable, but we need to get it to turn a bit better to improve our lap-times. I could have done without crashing; I took too much kerb and as I opened the gas it just pushed the front. However, we've still made some good steps. There are some fast guys on fast bikes out there, and we can definitely compete with them, but we knew it could take a bit of time. We've got our homework now, and some things to test back-to-back. We've got all the pieces of the jigsaw, they just need piecing together."
Roads campaigner Michael Dunlop was also in action in both of today's Superbike races, as he sought more track time on the GSX-R1000 he will race in the Isle of Man Superbike and Senior TT races. He brought the bike home with 16th and 17th placed finishes from the two races.
"This was purely a test for us. It was just about getting more miles-in on the Superbike and working on our base setting. Every time we went out, we were going out to improve the base set-up. It's feeling good, every time I go out I'm going quicker, and I was quicker than I've ever been here before. We'll just keep plugging away. [Richard] Cooper's getting there with the stock settings, so we're focussing on getting the Superbike ready and it's going good."
Steve Hicken - Team Manager:
"It's been a really up and down weekend. We're obviously really happy with the performances in Superstock this weekend. To start the season with a podium yesterday and then follow it up with a win today is more than we could have asked for with a new bike, but at the same time we knew the base package of the new GSX-R1000 was really strong. There are some areas we need to improve the bike, mostly corner entry, but it's fantastic to be able to give the GSX-R and #suzuki their first win in the British Championship.
"In Superbike, we're not there yet. We know the potential of the bike is there, but that doesn't stop us being disappointed this weekend. The crashes weren't what we needed, but no one knows that more than Taylor and Sylvain and they won't need me to remind them. But we can take the positives; Taylor had gone from 22nd on the grid to 12th in race one, and in race two was definitely on for a top-10 finish. Seventh in race two for Sylvain doesn't look anything special, but it was never going to be easy to take a new bike and get it right straight away, and we need to get it to work better with the BSB-spec electronics, as well as having a few other areas we need to work on, too. So, I'm not too disappointed with seventh, but at the same time that's not why we come here, so we'll go away with the data and work hard to make sure we improve at Brands Hatch.
"With Michael, this weekend was all about getting more laps-in on the Superbike. It wasn't about results for him, and he's gone faster around here this weekend on the new GSX-R1000 than he ever has done previously, and we're happy with the work we've done."
Superstock 1000 race result: 1. #richardcooper (Bennetts #suzuki GSX-R1000), 2. Danny Buchan, 3. Ian Hutchinson, 4. Michael Rutter, 5. Chrissy Rouse.
Superbike race one result: 1. Leon Haslam, 2. Luke Mossey, 3. Christian Iddon, 16. Michael Dunlop (Bennetts #suzuki GSX-R1000), DNF. Sylvain Guintoli (Bennetts #suzuki GSX-R1000), DNF. Taylor Mackenzie (Bennetts #suzuki GSX-R1000).
Superbike race two result: 1. Leon Haslam, 2. Josh Brookes, 3. Glenn Irwin, 7. Sylvain Guintoli (Bennetts #suzuki GSX-R1000), 17. Michael Dunlop (Bennetts #suzuki GSX-R1000), DNF. Taylor Mackenzie (Bennetts #suzuki GSX-R1000).
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