THE FHO Racing squad celebrated a double Pirelli National Superstock Championship win with rider Alex Olsen, as Peter Hickman just missed out on his first Bennetts British Superbike Championship podium of the year at Thruxton.
In a busy weekend which brought huge improvements across the board, all four riders left the circuit feeling happier about the latter half of the season despite a mixed bag of results.
After his best qualifying so far this season, Hickman lined up second on the grid for the opening race, finishing in a strong fifth position. In race two, he started from sixth and got straight up to fourth, sticking with the leaders all the way to the flag but was simply unable to match the pace of the Yamahas ahead. In Race Three, he looked on course for another fourth but unfortunately, a mechanical issue hit on lap 14 while running fourth and he was forced to retire.
Team-mate Ryan Vickers started the first race from 12th and after getting caught up in another rider’s incident, lost several places and had to battle back, eventually crossing the line 11th. Lining up ninth for the second, he was hoping for a solid result but crashed out on lap four. And more bad luck followed in the final race, as he was forced wide when another rider crashed in front of him. He dropped to the very back and spent the remainder of the race playing catch up, making it all the way to 13th at the flag.
In the Superstock class, Alex Olsen dominated the weekend on his FHO Racing with Kobelco BMW, qualifying on pole for the first race and scoring his first win of the year after a hard fight. For Race Two, he lined up second and again took control, taking his second win of the season in a shortened, restarted race as he doubled up in style.
It was a harder weekend for team-mate Jack Nixon, however, as he made his Thruxton debut on 1000cc machinery. Starting 16th, he picked up a couple of points with a 14th in race one and backed it up with a 13th in the second – despite missing a gear at the restart.
Peter Hickman, Superbike
R1: P5, R2: P4, R3: Retired
“It seems like every race weekend we go to at the minute it’s over 30 degrees but it’s been a strong one for us. All through the weekend we’ve had the pace – we didn’t have the pace for podiums against the Yamahas but out and out pace we actually have, although not for a full race distance – so best of the rest was as much as we could do.
“I didn’t get my first race quite right to be honest so changed my tactics and bike for the second and it made an improvement. We were a long way in front of fifth and finished fourth which was great. I hung with the Yamahas as long as I could!
“In the last one, we were a good five seconds ahead of fifth again when the earth cable on the battery broke which was devastating. Gutted wasn’t the word. But, when you look at the weekend as a whole it’s been good. I qualified second with my fastest ever lap at Thruxton and now we just need to look ahead to Cadwell and let’s see what we can do there.”
Ryan Vickers, Superbike
R1: P11, R2 DNF, R3: 13
“The weekend started well, Friday was good but I didn’t do so well in qualifying so race one was hard. We got caught up in someone else’s incident and lost three and a half seconds. I had to work hard to catch the group ahead, but managed to make up a few positions and ended up P11 which wasn’t bad I was actually happy with that.
“On Sunday’s first lap I just lost the front, it was a strange crash, nobody in the team can say why we crashed. We ran a different tyre on the front so for the final race all we could think of was changing the tyre back.
“I started the final race a long way back as a result and again I was caught up with Dean Harrison’s spill when he was collected by Josh Brookes and I ran onto the grass and rejoined last. I fought back and managed to get up to p13. It’s been a hard one, I was fast and on the pace but it’s still not good enough so I hope I can improve a bit more at Cadwell.”
Alex Olsen, Superstock
R1: P1, R2: P1
“The weekend has been good, it’s a shame it’s taken until Thruxton to start winning races again but it’s nice to be back on the podium and good to get the championship back underway.
“We were seventh when we arrived here and now we’re fourth, one point off third and 30 off the lead so it’s closed it right back up, the championship’s back on track.
“The bike is working well and the tracks coming up should be good for us so we want to try and keep this up. When the bike is working well, when everything gels it just seems to happen and when everything clicks it makes the job a lot easier. It’s been a great weekend, I’m really happy.”
Jack Nixon, Superstock
R1: P14, R2, P13
“I’m not pleased with the results, position wise as a racer you always want to be further up but I am pleased with our progress and I have to remember I am a rookie and have only been here once before on a 600.
“It was tricky because Alex rides so differently to me but the team has worked so hard to get me feeling comfortable and thanks to them we actually made quite a big improvement, my pace was a lot better by the end of the weekend.
“I had a few bits of bad luck which seem to be theme of the last few rounds, I had my air bag go off so I was quite pleased for the red flag , it gave me another chance but then I missed a gear as soon as I got off the line and went back to 22nd and after an eight lap dash I was up to 13th so my pace was quite good. The result wasn’t what I wanted but I’m actually pleased with how we’ve moved forward.”
Faye Ho, Team Principal:
“We genuinely came here expecting a very tough weekend with our Superbikes but in fact, it was anything but. While we may not have got that podium, Pete has ridden exceptionally well all weekend and fourth, top BMW and best of everyone else aside from the Yamahas is actually something we need to be proud of – it gives us something to build on.
“As for Alex, he has had a fantastic weekend. We knew he would go well at Thruxton and I know he felt he could win both and he did just what he said he was going to do. He gave us two brilliant races and was clearly the strongest rider in class all weekend. I’m very proud and delighted to see him win both.
“I know Ryan and Jack are both going home a little bit disappointed and I can understand why, they are both competitive riders and like all of us, were wanting more this weekend but sometimes it doesn’t work out. They both did show flashes of brilliance and we all know we can get back on track.
“From here we go to our team’s home round, Cadwell Park, and everyone will be working hard determined to keep ourselves on the podium as well as hopefully pick up a few more wins there too.”