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Apr 21, 2014 - 04:02 PM
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Double Podium For Smiths Triumph At Brands Hatch
Posted by: newsla on Apr 21, 2014 - 04:00 PM
Double Podium For Smiths Triumph At Brands Hatch

The Smiths Triumph Racing Team overcame a tough first day of the 2014 Motorpoint British Supersport Championship at Brands Hatch this Easter weekend to end up with Graeme Gowland and Billy McConnell taking hard earned podium places in today's second race.


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Easter Sunday was extremely difficult for the Gloucester-based former British Supersport champions with wet qualifying conditions seeing both riders suffer tumbles on the factory-supported Triumph Daytona 675Rs but Gowland, from Allendale in Northumberland, fared better to take second place on the grid whilst 27-year-old Aussie McConnell lined up in a lowly 16th place for the 'Sprint' race held later in the day.

After a delayed start, the 18-lap race got underway and 28-year-old Gowland, riding with an injured shoulder, immediately slotted into second behind pole setter Glenn Irwin with Adelaide rider McConnell up to sixth. However, conditions proved difficult and at half race distance, Graeme fell uninjured on the exit of Graham Hill Bend and it was left to Billy to get a result for the team, eventually crossing the line in a well-deserved sixth place after a race long battle.

Easter Monday's 20-lap race was held in much more favourable conditions and a brilliant start from the pairing saw Gowland in third and McConnell in fifth at the completion of the opening lap. By lap five they had hit the front with Alastair Seeley on their tails in third as a thrilling battle ensued in front of the bumper bank holiday crowd at the Kent track.

The trio were never more than a few metres apart for the first half of the race with positions changing frequently and although it was Seeley who ultimately made a small break to take the win, Gowland and McConnell battled all the way until the chequered flag. On the run in to the line, it was Graeme who got the better of Billy by just 0.071 seconds thus ensuring both they and the team were able to celebrate their first podiums of the season.

Graeme Gowland: "It was certainly a hard opening day of the season and I damaged my shoulder in Sunday's crash and lost a bit of movement so it's nice to end the weekend with a podium. We caught a backmarker at the worst part of the track which allowed Alastair to make a break and after that it was a straight fight between Billy and me all the way to the end. It was a great battle and I'm pleased to come out on top so hopefully this podium is the first of many. The bike's working really well so massive thanks to the team for everything they've done for me since I've come on board."

Billy McConnell: "We come here to race but I've battled with Graeme and Alastair for the last couple of seasons now and we trust and respect each other so it was all good clean stuff. The bike was sliding a lot and I'd obviously have preferred to have finished second rather than third but Graeme just edged me so third it was. After a difficult qualifying session, we've scored some solid points this weekend and the big testing plan the Smiths Triumph team put into place over the winter has certainly paid off but we need to ensure we keep the foot on the gas and not let Alastair open up any kind of gap over us."

Rebecca Smith, Team Manager: "After a really positive pre-season testing programme we were hoping to hit the ground running this weekend but, obviously, with what happened in qualifying and in the first race that didn't happen! Sunday was the first time the boys had ridden the bike in the wet and we've got a bit of work to do to find a good wet setting so a solitary sixth place from the first race wasn't the kind of outcome we'd hoped for.

"We've done a lot of work with K-Tech Suspension over the winter and knew we would be strong in the dry and both Graeme and Billy showed what they were capable of. Two podiums is a good way to end the first weekend of the year and with both riders getting some good points on the board, we've plenty to build on next time out. It's important to keep pushing and ensure we get the most out of each race and today more than makes up for Sunday."

The result sees McConnell holding fourth in the Motorpoint British Supersport Championship with Gowland in fifth going into the second round which takes place at Oulton Park over the May bank holiday weekend (May 3/5).

Motorpoint British Supersport Championship Race One (18 laps)
1 Glenn Irwin (Kawasaki)
2 Luke Jones (Triumph)
3 Alastair Seeley (Yamaha)
4 Alex Olsen (Triumph)
5 Luke Hedger (Kawasaki)
6 Billy McConnell (Smiths Triumph)
DNF Graeme Gowland (Smiths Triumph)

Motorpoint British Supersport Championship Race Two (20 laps)
1 Alastair Seeley (Yamaha)
2 Graeme Gowland (Smiths Triumph)
3 Billy McConnell (Smiths Triumph)
4 Luke Stapleford (Triumph)
5 Glenn Irwin (Kawasaki)
6 Luke Jones (Triumph)

Championship standings (after one round)
1 Seeley 41pts
2 Irwin 36
3 Jones 30
4 McConnell 26
5 Gowland 20
6 Olsen 18

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