Stuart Easton gave Hydrex Honda their own piece of history at Croft on Sunday as he took both his and their first ever British Superbike Championship victory when he brilliantly led the opening 20-lap race from start to finish. The diminutive Scot was never headed at all and despite coming under extreme pressure from James Ellison on the Airwaves Yamaha, the 26-year old never put a wheel wrong, giving a delighted team boss Shaun Muir that much yearned for debut win. The success couldn’t have come at a better place for the Guisborough team who are based just a few miles away from the North Yorkshire circuit.
The 26-year old again qualified strongly in third and, as has become the norm, he grabbed the holeshot in the first race to lead the field round at the completion of the first lap. Fellow Honda rider Josh Brookes sat on his rear wheel for the first two laps but once Ellison relegated him to third, it became a two-man scrap for the win. However, Easton does not have the reputation for being one of the smoothest riders on the grid for nothing and he didn’t make one single mistake for the remainder of the race, giving Ellison no opportunity for overtaking. It was Hydrex Honda’s first BSB win in 5 years of BSB competition and Easton’s first in 47 races.
Hopes were high of a repeat performance in race 2 but it was Brookes who took the initial advantage before Stuart moved into the lead half way round the first lap, remaining there until lap six when Championship leader Leon Camier moved through at Tower Bend. Stuart hung on to Camier for the next few laps but slowly the Yamaha rider began to ease away and, comfortably ahead of third placed Brookes, he settled for a safe second for his, and the teams, most successful BSB weekend to date.
Meanwhile, new team recruit Tommy Hill settled well into the team and was never outside the top eight all weekend. Seventh in practice, the Surrey rider got a sluggish start in the opening race and dropped back to ninth but he re-grouped well and fought his way back up to seventh at the chequered flag. A better start in race 2 saw him occupy sixth for the majority of the 20 laps and here was where he finished, taking a 19-point haul from the two races, a solid effort indeed.
British Supersport 600cc Championship contender Tom Grant, now signed to the team for the rest of the season, again impressed although his 12th place finish wasn’t a fair reward for his efforts. Fourth and the front row in qualifying promised much but he never recovered from a bad start and having climbed up to ninth, a couple of late mistakes saw him drop back down the order.
Speaking afterwards, a delighted team manager Shaun Muir said:
“It’s been an historic weekend for the Hydrex Honda team with our first ever BSB win and we’re all absolutely over the moon with Stuart’s win. I’ve been delighted with the Superbike results all weekend and it’s been a full team effort. Stuart and Tommy have worked well together all weekend, sharing information and ideas, and the victory is just rewards for everyone’s efforts, particularly Stuart’s as he’s been one of the best 3 riders in the Championship throughout the season. He took more points off James in the race for 2nd overall so we’ve still got plenty to aim for in the final two rounds and now we’ve got our first win, we can’t wait for the second!”
“Tommy did everything we expected of him and got quicker and quicker all weekend. The bike was alien to him and the characteristics of the Honda aren’t best suited to Croft but he got his head down and worked hard all weekend with two top seven finishes being exactly what we hoped for in his first ride for the team. I’m pleased for him and for Mick Shanley’s side of the garage and they can look forward to Silverstone with a lot of eager anticipation so, overall, it’s been a fantastic weekend for our Superbike team.”
“In the Supersport class, Tom Grant did exceptionally well in qualifying, working really hard, and he was rightfully rewarded with a front row position. He made a poor start in the race though and got pushed back to 12th and then was simply over eager, making too many mistakes which he knows he shouldn’t have done. Sixth could still have been his today after the poor start so he needs to learn from the experience and show a bit more maturity in the future, which I’m sure he’ll do, and, overall, his efforts and riding bode well for the final two rounds.”
The championship now heads to Silverstone, Northants with the penultimate round of the series taking place on September 25-27 although the team will be out in force with their roads’ specialist Guy Martin at next weekend’s International Gold Cup meeting at Oliver’s Mount, Scarborough.