Jake Dixon and the RAF Regular and Reserve Kawasaki team made their World Superbike Championship debut at Donington Park last weekend with the 21-year old putting in a brilliant ride in Sunday’s second race to claim ninth place.
Despite the team treating the event primarily as an opportunity to gain some valuable miles and testing with the Kawasaki ZX-10R prior to the next British Superbike Championship round, the Ashby-resident was on the pace throughout the weekend. With no electronic aids on the BSB-spec machine, unlike its WSB counterparts, a strong performance in qualifying saw Dixon post a lap time of 1m29.168s to place 16th and on the sixth row of the grid.
Unfortunately, Jake was out of luck in Saturday’s 21-lap race but he bounced back on Sunday afternoon and more than made amends with a superb ride. A great start saw him jump up the order to 13th at the completion of the first lap and although he slipped back to 15th a lap later, he was soon moving his way back up the leaderboard.
By lap four he was back up to 13th and this became 11th on lap nine when Marco Melandri retired the factory Ducati and Leandro Mercado crashed out. Locked in battle with Raffaele de Rosa, Jake overhauled the Italian on lap 14 to move up into a stunning top ten position and his excellent day saw him claim an eventual ninth and seven World Championship points after Lorenzo Savadori retired the factory Aprilia.
Team-mate Jordan Weaving was also in action on the Briggs Equipment Kawasaki ZX-10R for round four of the Pirelli National Superstock 1000 Championship. Having qualified in 13th place, just 1.3s off pole setter Danny Buchan, the South African took a strong 11th in the first 50-mile race and looked on course for a top ten finish in the second before he was unfortunately taken out at Redgate by another rider towards the end of the race.
Lee Hardy, Team Owner: “We’re over the moon with how the weekend went both in terms of getting through everything we wanted to on the testing front and also in terms of how competitive Jake was. We made numerous changes to the bike, include both the rear shock and the front head angle, and Jake gained a lot more confidence as they gave him the feeling he’s been looking for. Unfortunately, we experienced a few grip issues in race one but in race two we opted for the SC1 harder tyre, being the only rider on the grid to use it, and had a great race.”
“Jake was able to put in some very strong lap times throughout the race and gave an excellent account of himself, possibly being more competitive than he or the team thought. He truly excelled and defeating former Moto2 World Champion Stefan Bradl on the factory Honda, despite running BSB-spec rules was no mean feat. The team worked really well and, going forward, we’ve learnt a lot and have put ourselves into a strong position going into the next BSB round.”
“For Jordan, he was a little bit apprehensive going into the weekend but he qualified well and had a fine ride in the first race. He had good pace in the second race too and was well on course for a top ten finish before he sadly got knocked off by another rider. He was thankfully ok although obviously disappointed at the same time but he’s making good progress all the time and his transition from the 600cc bike to the 1000cc is going really well.”
The team now turn their attentions to the British Superbike Championship, with round four of the series taking place at Knockhill on June 17-18.