In Saturdays 15 lap sprint race, Irwin, Joe Francis & Jack Kennedy got the jump away from the lights.
After Francis tucked the front early on, by lap 4 it was a battle of Northern Ireland, with Irwin, Farmer and Kennedy locked together in a spectacular clash, to the delight of the spectators basking in the sunshine in the Fife countryside.
On lap 13, Farmer made his move on Irwin for the lead and held on take the teams first victory since October 2011. It was noteworthy that all three podium finishers were current or previous Appleyard Macadam riders, perhaps very fitting in that the event marked the 2 year anniversary of a grid memorial held for Colin Appleyard MBE, after his sad passing in 2015.
The weather on Sunday for the gruelling 26 lap Supersport feature race, was similarly (unusually) glorious and expectations were high for a battle royale between Farmer and Irwin.
The front row featured Farmer in Pole Position (due to having the fastest lap in Saturdays race), with the Kawasaki’s of Ben Currie in P2 and Irwin P3. Irwin and Currie led away from the lights and the front three riders soon made a slight gap back to Allingham in P4. On lap 3, Farmer made a successful pass on Currie and set about shadowing Irwin, conscious of the need to preserve the tyres as much as possible.
For the next 20 laps around the twisty, undulating circuit, Farmer and Irwin pushed to the absolute ragged limit, but with neither rider putting a wheel wrong. Allingham had consolidated his claim for the final podium position some 4 seconds adrift of the leaders, with Kennedy a couple of seconds behind him.
Farmer seemed to struggle with grip for drive out of the final hairpin and as they began the final lap, Irwin with a lead of 0.25 seconds, it looked as though the positions would remain unchanged at the flag.
However, Farmer had other ideas and as the two leaders braked into the final hairpin, the Appleyard Macadam rider dived up the inside and placed his Yamaha R6 on the apex of the turn.
Irwin was on the power earlier as Farmer gathered everything up, but after leaning on each other out of the corner and on the run to the chequered flag, it was Farmer who took the victory by a tenth of a second to the delight of the team- providing a great birthday present for Peggy Appleyard.
Irwin, despite the obvious disappointment of having led for all but the final seconds of the race, was extremely gracious and sporting in defeat, congratulating Farmer and each member of the team. He will surely be a force to be reckoned with for the remainder of the season and his maiden win will come soon enough.
The Championship now looks wide open and, after heading the British Supersport contenders at the recent official test at Snetterton, Farmer and the team have every reason to feel confident going into round 5 in Norfolk at the end of the month. Appleyard Macadam’s challenge for the Pirelli Superstock 600 championship suffered a less fortunate ending, however there were some positives the team can take away.
Brad Jones reported of a good base setting after FP1, requiring only a few minor changes to his machine for the second session having finished the initial practice in P2, with an almost identical time to Championship leader Dan Stamper. Unfortunately, after just 2 laps in FP2, Brad crashed out of the session, losing out on valuable track time before qualifying. Brad Jones's Yamaha R6 was swiftly repaired ready for Qualifying on Saturday.
After improving his times from the practise sessions, Brad's fastest lap was only 0.2s from the Pole Position time, but due to the close nature and very short lap at Knockhill, his time would place him 7th on the grid and with work to do in the race - if he was to get away with the leaders.
When the time of reckoning came on Sunday lunchtime, Jones was ready for the 22 lap fight, with track and weather conditions perfect.
Into turn one at the start, Brad held his position but couldn’t make up any places from the lights. However he soon made his presence known to the other riders, passing Dan Stamper and Tim Neave for 5th place on lap2.
He passed Tom Neave, but then got caught up in a battle with another ex-Appleyard Macadam rider, a Wildcarding Ryan Watson for a few laps.
He made the pass on Watson stick on Lap 6, but the leaders Jordan Gilbert and George Stanley had meanwhile broken away with a gap of 2 seconds for Brad to make up.
The number 12 Yamaha R6 matched the leaders pace for the next few laps, pulling away slightly from Watson and Neave, but couldn’t bridge the gap to get back onto the lead group.
On lap 10 the charge came to end, when the rear of Brads bike came around, losing traction over a bump in turn one- a fast crash.
Luckily Brad was not injured, but devastated to have ended the race in the gravel in tattered leathers.
Shortly afterwards, George Stanley crashed out of second place, promoting Tim Neave and Ryan Watson to second and third respectively.
Crashes from Jones, Stanley & Tom Neave also promoted Stamper to fourth place, in doing so extending his lead in the Championship.
Jones however once again demonstrated that he has the pace to run right at the very front of one of the most competitive production classes in the world and the team will give him every support to ensure that he achieves his obvious potential.
The next round of the British Superbike Championship series will begin on 30th June at Snetterton.
|Dickies British Supersport|
|Pirelli National Superstock 600|