C&L Fairburn Properties/Jackson Honda’s Billy McConnell extended his lead in the Pirelli National Superstock Championship at Thruxton this weekend.
Taking second and fourth place finishes across round six, the Australian moved 24 points clear of nearest rival Davey Todd, on the Padgetts Honda, in the standings.
With 33 degrees air temperature and 44 degrees on track, it was a punishing three days for all concerned but a solid opening day on Friday saw Adelaide’s McConnell place fifth overall in practice with a time of 1’16.955s on the CBR1000RR Honda Fireblade. And he improved that considerably in Saturday’s qualifying session with a lap of 1’16.017s placing him second on the grid for the 15-lap race later in the day.
Held when the temperatures were at their highest, managing the tyres for the duration of the race was always going to be the main task around the high-speed 2.36-mile circuit and a strong opening lap put McConnell in third behind fellow Honda rider Todd and the BMW of Alex Olsen.
There was never more than three tenths of a second between the trio for almost the entire race distance and although he held second from laps nine to eleven, it looked like third would be the outcome when Todd overtook him with four to go. However, as the race wore on, he began to experience issues with his front brake and he ultimately had to settle for fourth although results of other riders meant he extended his championship lead from 10 to 17 points.
Lining up for Sunday’s race, again held over 15 laps, in fourth and on the second row, McConnell made a number of moves in the opening laps and was lying in second place on lap six when, unfortunately, the race was stopped due to a crash involving polesitter David Allingham - the Irishman sustaining a leg injury in the spill.
Re-started over eight laps, McConnell completed the opening lap in second place and, once again, he was locked in battle with Olsen. The duo were never more than a tenth of a second apart but despite his best efforts, the Australian was unable to find a way by and crossed the line in a hard-fought second place for his seventh podium of the season. Nevertheless, the result saw him add another seven points to his championship lead and he’s now 24 points ahead of Todd.
“With second and fourth place finishes, it’s been a good weekend overall and whilst it would have been nice to have taken another victory, I’m pleased to have extended my championship lead,” McConnell acknowledged as round six concluded.
“Both races were tough, for different reasons, with the front reservoir snapping off around lap six in the first race which led to the fluid bottle rattling around! It was upside down at one stage and the front brake was getting a bit spongy so it was damage limitation really.
“We improved the package for Sunday and swapped the rear for the re-start so had the package to win but I had a few scares with the front. I hung in there and it was better to get a second than a DNF and we’ve gained some good points over our rivals this weekend.”