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McGuinness fights hard to maintain top six position

John Freeman

Local man John McGuinness put in a battling performance at Thruxton on Sunday when he finished ninth in round 2 of the Metzeler National 1000cc Superstock Championship. The Padgetts Honda ace fought his way through the pack from a poor start and the ninth place and seven championship points saw him maintain his sixth place in the Championship table.

With some 54 riders trying to qualify, trying to find a clear lap in qualifying was almost one of the hardest things to do and this was indeed the case in the first 30-minute session with John finding himself in 17th place, albeit just 1.2s off pole. In the second and final session, he improved his time by three quarters of a second to jump up to 12th but this didn't tell the true story as, again, his flying lap was hindered by backmarkers. When the ideal lap times were shown (adding together each riders' best section), John actually had the fourth fastest time so his true pace was actually more indicative of a front row start!

With superb weather bathing the Hampshire circuit, John was keen to make a good start in the 15-lap race and get away with the leading pack and he did just that pulling alongside the riders on the second row going in to the first corner. However, no sooner had he done this, then he got pushed on to the inside kerb and he had to ease off slightly and this was enough to see him drop back and he ended the first lap in 15th place. However, the Morecambe man knows plenty about racing motorbikes and he got his head down to slowly pick off the riders in front of him.

Fighting his way to the front of a ferocious eight-man battle for 11th place by lap 4, he then prompty pulled away from the group to hunt down the riders immediately ahead of him. By lap 10 he was up to ninth but despite his best efforts, his pace was identical to those riders in front of him and the gap stayed constant so he had to settle for ninth at the chequered flag, pleased with his efforts but slightly disappointed not to have been in the top six group.

Talking afterwards, John said: "I've got mixed feelings after today's race as whilst it was nice to fight way through the field, it's frustrating at the same time as I'm sure if I could have got a clean first lap under my belt, I would have been in the group fighting it out for the lead.

"The first couple of laps are becoming a bit of an Achilles heel for me and I need to dig deep and push as hard as everyone else because I know my race pace is as good as anyone else's out there - if I can nail those first two laps, I know I can repeat the results I was getting last year. It's a solid finish and I'm pleased to still be 6th overall but I know there's more to come.

"The bike was absolutely awesome and the team did a superb job once more so I'm determined to give them the result they deserve at the next round."

• The next round of the Metzeler National 1000cc Superstock Championship takes place at John's local circuit Oulton Park from May 1-3.

Report by Phil Wain. Picture by Glynne Lewis