Double top for McConnell at Oulton Park
THE Smiths Triumph Racing Team enjoyed an excellent second round at thr Motorpoint British Supersport Championship at Oulton Park with Australian ace Billy McConnell bagging a resounding double victory to take over the championship lead.
And to add to the team's celebrations, team-mate Graeme Gowland overcame a crash in Sunday's Sprint race to take a podium in today's Feature race to maintain his championship challenge for the Gloucester-based 2012 British champions.
Having qualified on the front row for Sunday's 12-lap race, McConnell and Gowland, aboard the factory-supported Triumph Daytona 675Rs, were ideally placed to take the challenge to rival Alastair Seeley and that's exactly how the scenario unfolded. Positions were exchanged regularly at the head of the field before 27-year-old McConnell from Adelaide seized the lead on the fifth lap and from that moment on he was never headed.
However, his task was made easier when Seeley and 28-year-old Gowland, from Allandale in Northumberland, crashed at Druids on the seventh lap fortunately escaping injury. McConnell, unaware of the incident, pressed on and went on to take his first win of the season by eight seconds.
Today's longer 16-lap race saw a no-holds barred contest between the Smiths Triumph pairing and Seeley once more but on this occasion it went all the way to the chequered flag.
It was Gowland who held sway in the early stages but on the fourth lap, McConnell hit the front for the first time before Seeley edged ahead as the race entered its final third. But with a superb move at Lodge corner, Billy wasn't to be denied the double and crossed the line in front to complete a superb weekend double.
Gowland was only half a second adrift of his team-mate in third and the results now mean that McConnell leads the championship by 13 points with Gowland in sixth courtesy of his two podiums in the first four races.
Billy McConnell: "What can I say, it's been a great weekend for myself and Smiths Triumph and a big thanks to the team, especially my crew chief Jason Jones and John Trigger.
"Together with the guys at K-Tech suspension and Tim Seed working his magic with the electronics, I've got a great package beneath me and everything's working really well.
"The speed of the motor has come on in leaps and bounds and the hard work everyone is putting in is paying dividends.
"I was unaware Alastair and Graeme had crashed in Sunday's race so kept chipping away and was then able to ease off in the closing stages whilst the second was tough all the way to the end.
"We come for race wins so to have taken them both is superb. We're all pulling together and I've got a great feeling with the bike so a big thanks to the whole team for their effort and commitment."
Graeme Gowland added: "After injuring my shoulder at the opening round, the last thing I wanted was to have another spill but there was no warning in Sunday's race and before I knew it, I was down on the ground.
"I did a bit of damage to the other shoulder but I dug deep in the second race and got rewarded with a good podium. I could see Billy and Alastair were having a real tussle and thought it could end in tears but Billy took a good win and with my third place, it's been a good meeting for the team.
"I'm looking forward to the break now so I can get myself 100% fit and then really go for the race wins from Snetterton onwards."
Team manager Rebecca Smith said: "We had a good test here at Oulton Park just over a week ago and knew we'd be strong in both the wet and the dry and we've shown how strong we were all weekend.
"We were confident of some good results and, more importantly, so were Billy and Graeme. The first race crash for Graeme was unfortunate but he fought back well to take a good podium whilst Billy really showed how confident he is at the moment.
"He found a really good feeling with the bike and took two excellent wins so we couldn't be happier right now.
"We've only had two rounds though so we'll keep our feet firmly on the ground and look to build further at the next round at Snetterton."
The next round of the Motorpoint British Supersport Championship takes place at Snetterton over the weekend of June 13/15th.
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