THE FHO Racing team picked up a string of points finishes in a challenging weekend of Bennetts British Superbike Championship action at Brands Hatch.
In a weekend which brought a mixed bag of results among the squad’s four riders, both Superbike rider Peter Hickman and Superstock pilot Alex Olsen were able to boost their points scores with solid finishes in all races.
Hickman started 13th on the grid for the first two races, crossing the line 11th in the first. But after a strong start in Race Two, he was forced off track as another rider crashed and tagged him in the opening lap and dropped all the way back to 29th and last. A heroic fightback followed as he carved his way up through the field to finally cross the line an impressive 12th. He ended the weekend with an eighth place in the final race.
It was a tough weekend in Kent for the squad’s other Superbike rider, Ryan Vickers. After a strong start, qualifying eighth for the first race, he was running ninth when he crashed out on lap eight. And the bad luck continued into Sunday when he crashed on the fifth lap and beat himself up a bit, ruling him out of the final battle.
FHO Racing by Kobelco riders Alex Olsen and Jack Nixon had contrasting results, with Nixon starting the first race from fifth and Olsen just behind in seventh. The pair started well and were running sixth and seventh when, on lap seven, Nixon had a fast off which sent his machine flying over the fence and into nearby woodland. Olsen meanwhile, pushed on and was up to fifth when the race was stopped early due to a crash further down the field.
After a huge team effort where the squad worked late into Saturday night to rebuild Nixon’s bike, Olsen was feeling confident as he started from pole for Race Two after the fastest lap the day before.
Getting a flying start, he took the lead and led for the opening five laps of what became a five rider battle for the victory, the lead swapping several times over the 15 lap scrap, with Olsen in the mix all the way to the flag, where he finished fourth. Nixon had a very good start but struggled as the race went on, suffering a few teething troubles with his newly-built machine, eventually dropping back to 17th.
Peter Hickman, Superbike
R1: 11th, R2: 12th, R3: 8th
“It was a tough weekend, not what we were necessarily expecting, We were fast on Friday but things really changed when the temperature rose a lot – it appears to affect our bike more than any other manufacturer so I was actually slower on Saturday and on Sunday with lack of rear grip.
“The bike just doesn’t want to hook up coming out of corners so doesn’t provide a fast lap time so it’s been tough. One positive I can take away for myself was being top BMW in all three races.
“In the last race, we did actually make a bit of an improvement, we still had the same problem but we managed to make it much, much better even in the hot conditions so at least we’ve learnt something of the direction to go in if it’s ever this hot again. It’s just been a hard weekend.”
Ryan Vickers, Superbike
R1: DNF, R2: DNF, R3: DNS
“The weekend didn’t really go to plan! Friday was good, I was really happy with where the bike was, within the first 14 laps I did my fastest lap of Brands by a long way and qualifying also went well.
“In Race One I was battling hard and feeling really strong and closing the gap on the top five, but unfortunately when I was overtaking the last person in the group I just lost the front – it was just a strange one it caught me out. Then, in Sunday’s first race I got into a decent rhythm but the heat caused a lot of people to crash, and I was one of them.
“Unfortunately, it was quite a big one, it was on the exit to the last turn, very very strange – as soon as I touched the gas the rear came around on me and fired me off in a massive highside and I was lucky not to be injured too bad, I’m a bit banged and bruised but nothing serious. I can only offer my sincerest apologies to the team, to Faye to everybody, but I’m taking some positives away and we’ll come back stronger.”
Alex Olsen, Superstock
R1: 5th, R2: 4th
“Overall, the weekend was pretty good, we went a second faster than we did last year but it doesn’t seem to be enough at the minute. I think we are doing the best we can with the bike we’ve got and the best the team can give us but it’s not enough to be competitive against the Hondas, unfortunately.
“All in all, I’ve got more points on the board, it’s not the podium that we deserve or the team deserves but it’s still more points and it’s a race result.
“I think it’s been a successful weekend, we’ve gone quicker than we have done here, we’ve improved and we finished in one piece so I guess that’s all that matters.”
Jack Nixon, Superstock
R1: DNF, R2: 17th
“Unfortunately, the weekend didn’t go to plan. It started well, I went 0.4secs under the lap record in qualifying which was a bit of surprise to be honest and I felt I’d really gelled with the bike, especially in the cooler conditions, it was working well and we seemed to have rectified a few issues I’d been struggling with most of the year,
“Race One started well, we managed to follow the front group for the first eight laps but struggled a bit with brake fade which ended up causing an incident at the end of the back straight,
“I was lucky to get away with it but the bike on the other hand didn’t. This led to a few teething troubles with the newly built bike on Sunday. I ran up front for a few laps but then I had a few technical problems and dropped back. Overall, there are plenty of positives to take away but we just need a bit of luck now.”
Faye Ho, Team Principal:
“It has been another challenging race weekend for the FHO Racing team but as always, I’ve been very impressed with the hard work and determination demonstrated by everyone, even when things haven’t gone the way we’d have wished.
“While we have had some bad luck, we’ve had some very positive moments – seeing Alex leading the second race and battling all the way to the flag was a huge boost and that’s where we should be. It was a shame he just missed out on a podium but to be so close gives us something to work on and we know we can improve.
“Despite not getting the results we deserve, the team has been incredible. Following Jack’s off on Saturday, everyone pulled together and worked late into the night to get his machine rebuilt and ready for Sunday and I am very proud of how well they worked together, they showed true commitment and as always, a real fighting spirit.”