Donington Park was the venue for round ten of the MCE British Superbike Championship and, in a weekend that promised plenty, it proved to be a painful meeting for the Marham-based RAF Regular & Reserve BMW team with Alastair Seeley crashing out of the first race and subsequently withdrawing from the second.
With team-mate Jake Dixon recuperating from his broken hip sustained last time out at Oulton Park, Seeley was riding solo for the weekend and after some solid laps during the free practice sessions, the Carrickfergus rider posted the 13th fastest time during qualifying to line up at the head of the fifth row for Sunday’s opening 20-lap race.
However, his first race was over before it had even begun as he crashed out on the sighting lap at Coppice. A leak from the clutch cover found its way onto the rear tyre and when the Ulsterman approached Coppice two thirds of a way round the lap, he was fired over the high side and cartwheeled into the gravel trap.
It was a painful end to the weekend for the Carrickfergus rider and instead of leaving the Leicestershire venue with a haul of points, both he and the team were left to reflect on what might have been.
Seeley said: “This weekend promised a lot but it ended in the worst possible way with the oil leak and not the way I’d hoped at all. Oil got onto the back tyre on the sighting lap and the bike flicked me off without warning at Coppice and that was my day over. I’m a bit battered and bruised but fortunately nothing’s broken. I’m disappointed as we were going a lot better this weekend and setting good times so I’ll focus now on getting fully fit for the next round in a fortnight’s time.”
Lee Hardy, team owner, added: “After qualifying, I was happy with how everything had gone and had it not been for the final sector, Alastair would have been in the top ten for sure. We looked at the data and some on board laps and changed a few things for race day and opted for the harder SC1 tyre which was a bit of a gamble but one we thought was worth taking and the right way to go – 20 laps is a long way around Donington and we didn’t think an SC0 would last the full race distance.
“Sadly, we never got to find out if our tyre choice was successful as a leak from the clutch cover leaked oil onto the rear tyre and Alastair crashed out on the sighting lap. It was a heavy crash and although nothing was broken, he was extremely battered and bruised whilst the bike was also considerably damaged. In light of that, we pulled out of the remainder of the meeting and will now look to come back stronger for the next round and make up for the disappointment of this weekend.”
The series now heads to Assen, Holland with the penultimate round of the Championship taking place on September 30-October 2.
Championship Standings (after 10 rounds): 21 Seeley 23pts.
Picture by Tim Keeton – Impact Images Photography