Hickman books his place in showdown

Peter Hickman. Photo: Dave Yeomans.

Peter Hickman has secured his place in the end-of-season showdown and will now go on to challenge the other five riders for the 2018 British Superbike championship.

But the weekend’s races at Silverstone were not without some considerable drama and Hickman’s top-six place was in doubt right up to the last of the three races.

The racing was moved from the international circuit that is normally used at Silverstone to the short national circuit after problems with the track surface caused the MotoGP races to be cancelled recently.

The weather played its part in qualifying with Hickman suffering with lack of grip in the damp conditions.

He made it through to the second stage of qualifying and started the first race later that day from the fifth row.

But he got a clean start and moved though the midfielders to finish the race in eighth place to pick up eight championship points and extend his points lead from Danny Buchan, who was just a few points behind him in seventh place in the rider standings.

There were two further races on Sunday, with Hickman lining up on row four at the start of the first 30-lap encounter.

He got a good start and began his move forward and was up to ninth place on lap 12.

But it all went wrong for the Smiths Racing rider when he was forced to retire with a broken oil pressure sensor.

As if that wasn’t enough bad luck he returned to the pit garage for adjustments after the warm up lap and had to start the final race from pit lane.

But he was handed a lifeline as the race was red flagged on the second lap. This gave the pit crew sufficient time to rectify the problem on the bike before the re-start.

With the race reduced to 26 laps, Hickman rode like the wind to try to gain as many points as possible and was up into seventh place by lap 16.

But that is where his luck ran out and with 10 laps remaining his gear lever broke, leaving him stuck in third gear.

He began to drop down the order as other riders went past and he finished the race well outside the points in 19th place.

But with his main rivals also suffering problems, Hickman was able to hang on to his showdown position, just four points ahead of Buchan.

It is a quick turnaround for the team as the next round is at Oulton Park this coming weekend, September 14-16.

Hickman will begin his showdown campaign as one of the six riders to challenge for the title.

Timetable: Friday - free practice one 10.15am, free practice two 3.05pm; Saturday - free practice three 10.45am, qualifying 4pm; Sunday - warm up noon, race one (18 laps) 1.35pm, race two (18 laps) 4.35pm.

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