Ryan Vickers and the RAF Regular & Reserve Kawasaki team got their 2021 Bennetts British Superbike Championship campaign underway at Oulton Park at the weekend and it proved to be a strong meeting at the Cheshire venue as they secured a brace of top ten finishes.
Vickers had strong pace throughout practice and qualifying around the 2.69-mile circuit and 13th on the grid for Saturday’s 14-lap race wasn’t a true reflection of how quick the Thetford rider was as his ideal lap would have placed him third. This pace would be seen during all three races.
A good start immediately saw him gain two places and he soon moved up inside the top ten with ninth place taken on the fifth lap. With riders lap times extremely close, overtaking was no easy task and ninth place was the outcome but with the seventh fastest lap of the race, it gave the 21-year old a much better starting position for Sunday’s opening 18-lap race.
A strong start saw him move up the order to fifth on the opening lap and this had become a brilliant fourth next time around with Ryan part of an en eight-rider battle for the position. Positions changed hands frequently but he remained in the top six for the first half of the race before a drop off in tyre performance saw him unable to maintain his pace and he eventually finished in 11th in a race that deserved better.
Starting the third and final race of the weekend from eighth and the third row of the grid, a similar pattern to earlier in the day emerged and Ryan spent two thirds of the race running comfortably inside the top six. In the closing stages though, he again lost a bit of grip and as a result slipped back to ninth at the chequered flag but, nevertheless, it had a been a fine weekend and he deservedly left Oulton with a good haul of points to his name.
The team were also in action in the Pirelli National Superstock 1000 Championship race with new signing Lewis Rollo, the Scot qualifying for the 14-lap encounter in 11th place. A superb start saw him jump up the order to fifth on the opening lap before he was forced to take to the slip road at the chicane next time around after being pushed wide by another rider.
It saw him drop back to 17th and it was hard work from there on in but he continually moved forward for the remainder of the race and was duly rewarded with 12th place and four hard-earned championship points.
“It’s been a really positive start to the season and it’s the strongest I’ve ever been at Oulton. I started all three races well and it was the closest to the front I’ve ever been so it felt nice to be in that position for a large portion of the races," said Vickers.
"We need to work on the tyre life a bit more as that was what ultimately prevented the results from being even better and if we can do that, we’ll be able to maintain the pace for the full race distance. Everything with my new crew chief, Stuart, is going really well and there are plenty of positives to take away from the weekend so massive thanks, as always, to the team and sponsors.”