ILR Kawasaki's Ash Beech produced his best performance of the season to finish 9th in the latest round of the Metzeler National Superstock 1000 Championship at the Snetterton 300 circuit on Sunday, however there was disappointment for his team-mate Victor Cox who saw his hopes of a strong points score effectively ended as early as the second lap of the race.
Like last year, Cox was 6th in free practice with a lap of 1:54.87s and he was fourth quickest through the Sector 1 speed trap, but it was the performance of Beech that was equally pleasing. Buoyed by his first points score of the season at the previous round at Donington Park, Ash put in a strong lap of 1:55.38s to finish the session in 9th place. With an improvement of almost a second and a half, Cox went one place better to finish 5th in First Qualifying and also post the third quickest times through the first two sector speed traps, whilst Beech dropped to 14th however he too improved on his free practice lap time by over one second.
It was another slightly better lap time from Cox as he finished 10th in the second session with Beech also going quicker by 0.32s to finish 16th and equal his best qualifying performance of the season so far.
So with the Norfolk circuit basking in glorious sunshine, Victor lined up on the third row of the grid with Ash just one row behind. Both riders got a good start and at the end of the opening lap Cox was 8th with Beech 15th but as the leaders reached Montreal Hairpin on the second lap, Howie Mainwaring went down and his bike almost collected the Ninja ZX-10R of Cox who was forced to take evasive action and head for the grass. Re-joining the race well down the order, Victor knew his race plan was now to salvage as many points as possible and this he did brilliantly as he eventually fought his way back to 11th to secure five important points which moved him one place up the championship standings to 6th.
Beech meanwhile was also riding really well and the young Moorside rider was now up to 13th and within striking distance of four riders in front of him. At half race distance he was twelfth just behind Josh Elliott, Joshua Day and Daniel Johnson and for the next few laps he settled in behind and waited for the opportunity to pounce. As the race entered the closing stages, 11th placed Ash could sense that a top ten finish was very much on the cards and a combination of Lee Costello crashing out and a determined last lap run propelled him to 9th place and seven well deserved championship points.
Speaking afterwards Beech commented: 'I was a bit disappointed during qualifying as I couldn't get a clear lap, and qualifying is so important in this class. But after every session I have been doing practice starts because that has been a problem in the other races. I got a good start in the race and got my head down, the race went well and I am very happy to be in the top ten and I can't wait to get back on the bike.
The bike was perfect all weekend and I would just like to say a big thanks to the team and all my sponsors.'
It's back to the roads again for ILR Kawasaki as team manager/rider Ian Lougher takes part in the world famous Isle of Man TT races.