The Bank Holiday weekend saw only Kevin Keyes in action at the third round of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship for Team #109, with the Dickies British Junior Supersport pairing of Eunan McGlinchey and Brendan Glover not in action. It proved to be an eventful weekend for Kevin in the Pirelli National Superstock 600 class, but despite a crash in both qualifying on Sunday, and warm-up on Monday morning, the Edenderry rider scored an incredible podium finish in the race, crossing the line in second, to add another strong haul of points to his tally for the campaign.
The weekend started off well for Kevin, finishing the opening practice session in third, with less than a tenth of a second separating him and the leading rider. Free practice two was scheduled for later that afternoon, and it was yet another strong third place for the Offaly rider, less than a second off the leader. As the team moved into qualifying, positive changes to the bike saw Kevin make even more progress, as he scored his first ever front row start, putting the Team #109 Kawasaki in the middle of the leading row, in second position.
The session wasn’t all positive however, when after a rider moved across in front of Kevin near the end of the session, he was left with no option but to take to the grass to avoid contact, and as a result crashed the Kawasaki. The team worked hard during the night to repair the damage and get the bike ready for the following day, but as Kevin and the rest of the field took to the track for morning warm up, an issue with the bike saw Kevin unfortunately suffer another crash.
With the bike back in the garage, the team once again worked tirelessly to repair the damage, and with just minutes to spare before the start of the race, Kevin took his position on the grid and was ready for the off. From the start Kevin held firm and slotted in behind pole sitter Ryan Vickers, making the most of his front row grid position. As the race progressed Kevin was passed by Aaron Clarke, but remained inside the top three, and despite the pain of his earlier crashes, he persevered to stay within touching distance of the front.
After a crash from Aaron Silvester further back the field, the safety car was deployed for a number of laps while they attended to the rider and bike. When the incident was clear, and the safety car reentered the pits, the action got underway once again, and after a fantastic effort, Kevin managed to make his way back into second position when Aaron Clarke crashed out, and in the closing laps held off the attacks from Joe Sheldon-Shaw and Aaron Clifford to earn a well deserved podium, and keep a grip on second in the championship standings, extend his lead to six points.
Speaking after the race Kevin said; “The weekend as a whole for us was looking really positive, we had a few good practice sessions on Saturday, beefing improving my times again in qualifying to take my first front row start and second on the grid. Unfortunately I crashed near the end of qualifying,and then again in warm up on Monday morning leaving the team work to do to get the bike ready. The guys done a great job, and I am so grateful to have such a good team of people around me.
From the back of an ambulance on race morning, to standing on the podium in the afternoon was something I never dreamed of, but we never gave up the fight and I believed in myself that I could do it. I just want to once again say a massive thank you to all of the team for their efforts over the course of the weekend, they did an awesome job. I also have to say a big thank you to the BSB medical crew for all their help after my crash. They looked after me, pointed me in the right direction and made sure I was good to race. I also want to say a big thanks to Louis Valleley and Mike de Bidaph of Gearlink Kawasaki for helping me make the grid. Finally as always I have to thanks to all my sponsors, Fernside Homes, Bretland Construction, Cotter Motorcycles, Dara Core, Gareth Kavanagh of Snap-On, JLC Cranes, James McCann Photography, Eoin Gorman, Team #109, Glenn Irwin, 151’s, Shoei Helmets, Sidi Boots, and Spidi Leathers. Also to all my supporters, Sarah Craven, James Foley, Mary Reilly, Veronica Craven,
David Brennan, David Foley, Greg O’Reilly Crash Repairs, Lauren Maher, Cody Galvin, Edenderry St.Patricks Parade, and Edenderry and District Lyons Club.”
Team manager Paul Tobin also commented after the race saying; “This weekend the Dickies British Junior Supersport lads weren’t out this weekend, so it was Kevin flying the flag for this team over the Bank Holiday. He had really good pace in both free practice one and two, trying little changes here and there to the bike, and made really good progress throughout. Come qualifying again he had great pace, doing his fastest ever lap of the circuit during the session putting the bike in second. Unfortunately he came across a slower rider near the end of the session and tipped off, but he didn’t let it deter him and he was ready to go again on Monday morning. Come race day he unfortunately had another crash in warm up. It was a quick one and he had to be taken to the medical centre, and thankfully after he was assessed he was passed fit to ride and it was all hands on deck to get the bike ready again. We have to say a big thanks to Louis Valleley and Mike de Bidaph for their help and support in getting the bike back running again. With very little time to spare and with Kevin feeling very sore from the crash, he rolled out of pit lane and took his place on the grid. We told him look go out, do your best and just get some points and we’ll take it from there, but he rode an extremely courageous race, fighting from start to finish, digging deep to score a fantastic podium. We were very proud of him doing what he did, after what he went through over the
course of the weekend, and now we look forward to going back to Donington Park, where Kevin also showed very well in the opening round, scoring his maiden podium in the class back in April.”
The next round for Team #109 will be the World Superbike Championship round at Donington Park
over the weekend of the 25th – 26th May, with Kevin once again in action in the Pirelli National
Superstock 600 class.