Final Round – 10/11 October – Oulton Park
MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship in association with Pirelli
Stuart Easton and Tommy Hill ensured Hydrex Honda’s 2009
British Superbike season ended on a high note at the weekend when the duo recorded a win and four podiums at Oulton Park. The second ‘triple header’ meeting of the year saw Easton take his first ever pole position and he carried this form over in to the races taking his, and the teams, second win, also claiming yet another second place. Hill, meanwhile, was equally strong throughout the three days of action and he took 2nd, 3rd and 4th in the three races season to firmly prove what a valuable addition to the team he’d been.
In what was without doubt the race of the season, Saturday’s first race saw Stuart and Tommy go head to head with the Airwaves Yamaha pairing of Leon Camier and James Ellison throughout the 12 laps. Hard overtaking manoeuvres were taking place with frequent regularity and it all came down to a last lap showdown. New champion Camier looked like he had seized control but a determined Easton wasn’t to be denied and he dived up the inside at Hizzy’s chicane, holding on for his second win of the season. In a truly memorable race for the Hydrex Honda team, Hill also moved past Ellison on the final lap to take third, the first time in their history that the team had had two riders on a BSB podium.
The opening race on Sunday saw damp conditions after consistent morning drizzle but a dry line got bigger as the race progressed and, after being pushed back to third and fifth respectively, the appearance of the pace car on lap 10 allowed Stuart and Tommy to close right back up to Camier and Ellison. Hill was soon back up to fourth and, on lap 13, Easton overhauled Ellison, once more at Hizzy’s, to set up another final lap showdown. He attempted the same manoeuvre as what he’d done the previous day but, on this occasion, Camier was able to hold his line and he had to settle for second, albeit just 0.08s adrift at the end of the 16 laps. Meanwhile, Tommy held on for fourth, less than two seconds behind at the chequered flag.
With typical autumn conditions greeting the riders in the final race of the year on late Sunday afternoon, it looked like two more podium positions would be heading the way of the Hydrex team. However, on the fifth lap, with Tommy in second and Stuart in third, the Scotsman clipped the kerb at the Britten’s chicane and he crashed out, amazingly his first crash of any description of 2009. That left Hill unchallenged and he was able to take his best result for the team in second.
There wasn’t as much joy in the British Supersport 600cc Championship class for Tom Grant when he had to take a ‘ride-through’ penalty for jumping the start. The infringement dropped him from inside the top 10 to outside the top 20 but he gamely continued and had managed to fight his way back up 17th by the end of the race, just missing out on the points.
Speaking afterwards, race winner Easton said: “On the whole it’s been a good weekend – I got pole position, won the first race and then pushed Leon extremely hard in the second so it’s only the final race that let me down. I could see Leon was edging away and I was desperate to pass Tommy, which led to me getting a bit frustrated. When you’re so close to someone through that chicane, you can’t see the kerb and I just got caught out when the bike decked out. It’s a bit disappointing to end like that but I can’t complain too much as it’s been a great year with wins and podiums along the way so a big thank you to everyone connected with the team.”
Team manager Shaun Muir added: “It’s been the team’s most successful year ever and for a moderately funded team, we can all be extremely proud of what we’ve achieved. It’s been a tough championship once more but our results have been higher than expected and, like we did in 2008 with James Ellison, we’ve re-launched the career of Stuart Easton and he’s moved on to a whole new level. He’s done so much for the team and I think it’s fair to say we’ve both complimented each other throughout the season and together we’ve reaped the rewards.”
“Tommy deservedly won the ‘Rider of the Day’ award and for him to take two podiums at the final round, and be in contention throughout, was very, very pleasing. I think the decision to bring him in for the final third of the season raised a few eyebrows but that decision has been fully vindicated and he’s proved that in the right team and environment, he can be a serious challenger for the BSB title in 2010.”
“I’ve got to say a massive thank you to all of our loyal sponsors and to the entire team, particularly to Mick Shanley and Pete Jennings for jointly managing and coordinating the team, and collectively we’ve proved that with dedication and support, it is possible to achieve results of the highest order. The challenge now is to get the riders, mechanics and funds all in place for 2010 so we can maintain the level we’ve got to now and improve our standing even further – the number one plate is what we’ll be firmly aiming for.”