Michael Laverty off to a flyer at British Superbike Championship
A sensational day's racing during the opening British Superbike Championship meeting of the season at Silverstone yesterday saw Tyco BMW take one win and four other podiums; a terrific start to 2016 for the Hector and Phillip Neill Moneymore-based outfit.
Michael Laverty (Tyco BMW) got his Superbike title campaign off to a magnificent start leading the opening race from start to finish holding off race-long challenges from Dan Linfoot and Shayne Byrne.
Byrne, debuting the Be Wiser PBM Motorsport Ducati, went into second on lap 11 of 14, but despite all his efforts he could not stop a faultless display from Laverty, who won by half a second from four-time champion Byrne and Laverty's team-mate Christian Iddon, taking his first BSB podium in third position.
Laverty said after his ninth BSB victory: "It was hard near the end of the race, as my hands were so cold I lost the feel of the bike plus the rear tyre was going off. However it was good enough to get the job done. The Tyco BMW Team had worked hard pre-season and the boys deserve full credit for that result."
Alastair Seeley and Michael Dunlop retired from the race while Glenn Irwin, on his Superbike debut, scored two points for 14th position.
Race two saw Laverty lead the way from the second lap only for Peter Hickman (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) sweep into the lead on lap six and two laps later Laverty dropped from second to sixth, his finishing position, in four corners when he had a 'tear off' problem that saw him momentarily lose concentration.
Hickman led Byrne and Iddon onto the final lap and in the last complex of corners he ran slightly wide to allow Byrne momentarily into the lead only to see Ulster Grand Prix and Macau Grand Prix 2015 winner Hickman hit back through the final bend, out-accelerating Byrne, who was sideways in his efforts to win, taking the chequered flag by nine one hundredths of a second in an unbelievable finish.
Iddon was again third with Irwin and Seeley 13th and 14th respectively with Dunlop again retiring at half-distance.
Hickman, better known for his road race performances, was delighted with his race win, saying: "I thought I could win race one until we had a small technical fault. Fair play to the JG Speedfit team who had changed the bike completely from pre-season and we only managed 22 laps practice before the race. The bike never missed a beat and it was good to give the team something back, as they had worked 24 hours a day to get us here."
It was also a good day for Newtownabbey's Andy Reid who, in his first race back from breaking his wrist at Oulton Park last season, took his Quattro Plant Kawasaki to a three-and-a-half second victory in the Supersport race. Always in the leading group that included Andrew Irwin, who was forced out on lap five when he appeared to be clipped by James Westmoreland and had his tyre burst luckily staying on board, but out of the race when in fourth position.
Reid said: "Feels really good to pick up where we left off last year. I rode a smart race in the early laps, sussing out places where I could pass. Once ahead on lap four I just kept chipping away and hopefully that is the first of many this season."
Tyco BMW finished second and third in the British Superstock 1000cc championship race with defending champion Josh Elliott battling hard the entire 11 laps with team-mate Ian Hutchinson and Michael Rutter.
In the end Elliott took the runner-up position four seconds behind race winner Taylor Mackenzie, but a mere third of a second ahead of Hutchy.
Elliott said: "That result was for my team members, as I had written-off a machine in practice. It's amazing to finish second having only been ninth on the grid."
On Hutchy's podium team boss Phillip Neil said, tongue in cheek: "He's not supposed to be riding like that. He's our man for the TT, but that will set him up well." Clogher rider Keith Farmer finished sixth on his Quay Garage Honda.
Newtownabbey 16-year-old Aaron wright won both KTM Junior Cup races in which 14-year-old Scott Swann, in his first BSB appearance, finished sixth and seventh in the two races while Derriaghy 23-year-old Carl Phillips finished second in the British Superstock 600cc race on the Sandown Kawasaki.