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Team Yamaha's Karl Harris has withdrawn from this weekend's Brands Hatch British Superbike round for family problems. Raceways Yamaha's Jon Kirkham has been drafted in for this afternoon's qualifying session.

Harris had looked odds-on for his debut pole position of the season after topping the timing sheets in two of the three Free Practice sessions and was confident of a race win to turn his difficult season around. However, Harris' season came to a premature end when personal issues forced him to return home from the Kent circuit.

Kirkham, hot off a front row start for the Metzeler National Superstock finale, was swiftly drafted in and ably stepped up to the plate to post a third row start to qualify in P9 in superlative style, ahead of Sunday's two 30-lap races. The 23-year old from Derby called upon all of his experience to elevate the Rob Mac Racing YZF-R1 comfortably inside of the top 10 in all three Superbike qualifying sessions, with a fastest lap of 46.560s. Remarkably, Kirkham achieved this on Harris' settings, and with just a change of rear-set positioning.


Kirkham's performance paid testament to the hard work of the team, the quality of the Rob Mac Racing Yamaha Superbike package, and his own adaptability as a rider. Apart from a few laps at Cadwell Park, Kirkham has never ridden the Rob Mac Racing Superbike against the clock in a timed session, and to qualify ahead of a host of vastly more experienced riders has pulled the whole team back to a high ahead of tomorrow's races.

Jon Kirkham: "What a great opportunity this has been for me. Obviously, I hope all is well for Karl, but to get a ride on the Superbike, even at this late stage of the season is fantastic. It's going to be a hard weekend for me physically as I am already competing in two classes and to add another two races into the mix will be very demanding. I'll make a decision overnight as to my race schedule for tomorrow, perhaps I'll look to sit out the Superstock race, as I'm still in with a chance of the Autumn Henderson R1 Cup - we will see."

Rob McElnea, Team Principal: "The whole team is totally gutted. We were all on such a high, Karl had been riding so well, consistently fast all weekend. We wish Karl well and hope things get sorted for him, it's such a shame that he won't get the chance to end this nightmare season on a high. Jon did an amazing job, to jump on the Superbike with 10 minutes notice and pull off a qualifying position like that has astounded us. Obviously he is race sharp from his Superstock and Henderson R1 Cup duties, this provides us with real proof that the R1 Cup works for these guys. It's great to see another young rider come up through our ranks, fingers crossed for Jon's performance tomorrow but we have every faith in him to do us proud."

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