Honda Racing’s Tom Neave clinched the Pirelli National Superstock Championship at Brands Hatch on Sunday after a nail-biting final round saw him have to fight his way through the pack from 19th on the grid.
The Lincolnshire rider came into the meeting with a 22-point advantage over season-long rival Billy McConnell (RichEnergy OMG Racing BMW) with Alex Olsen (FHO Racing BMW) just a further point back.
Mixed weather conditions in qualifying saw McConnell fare best in fourth place with Olsen back in 14th and Neave even worse off on the seventh row. However, with Sunday’s race seeing a dry track, Neave was able to utilise his pace, which had seen him end free practice, held in similar conditions, second fastest, and he rode a mature race to steadily move forward.
He needed to as well, with McConnell doing everything he needed to do to stand a chance of adding the Superstock crown to the British Supersport title he won back in 2014.
The Australian hadn’t won a race all season and, instead, it was his consistency that put him in contention for the title with eight previous podiums. However, he duly won the race after a race long battle with Jordan Weaving, the gap between the two just 0.043s at the chequered flag.
But Neave had been making good progress all the way through the 12 laps and eighth place saw him take the title from McConnell by an eventual five points. Olsen finished ninth in the race and third overall.
“We had really good speed in the dry across the weekend and everything was working really well, but we got caught out in qualifying,” Neave said afterwards.
“The track dried up with about eight minutes to go, and unfortunately we didn’t get the tyres swapped in time which was just one of those things and no-one was to blame. It hampered my grid position but I was second fastest in the dry and that was a true reflection of my speed and pace.
“To come through to eighth in the race and win the title is an absolute dream come true. It’s been a hell of a year and the best season to win the title in, I’m not just saying that as I’ve won this year but the riders and depth in field has been unreal.
“I’m so grateful to Honda for giving me this opportunity three years ago when I wasn’t too proven, so the championship is for them and I cannot wait to see what the future holds.”