THE Snetterton 300 circuit provided a weekend of challenges for the Anvil Hire TAG Racing team.
Sole British Superbikes rider Richard Cooper (pictured) posted a ninth-place finish, and Supersport teamster Sam Hornsey posted a career-best seventh at an otherwise unfortunate race meeting for the Swadlincote-based squad.
Cooper’s team-mate Mitchell Carr missed the 16-lap race after an incident in yesterday’s qualifying session.
The former Australian Supersport champion, returning from a broken hand sustained last time out at Oulton Park, was nudged by another rider at the start of the first shootout session and was ruled out with a nasty shoulder injury.
After struggling with set-up in practice, Cooper qualified the Kawasaki ZX-10R superbike lower than usual, 18th on the grid.
The 31-year-old from Nottingham made a good start and ended the first lap in 11th place.
Despite suffering from a lack of ultimate pace, Cooper was able to run just outside the top 10 for the duration of the race, narrowly missing out on 11th to fellow Kawasaki rider Barry Burrell.
With his best lap from the opening race elevating him to 15th on the grid for the afternoon’s second outing, Cooper again made a good start to occupy 10th in the opening laps.
Cooper once again spent the race with Burrell in tow, along with Isle of Man TT legend Ian Hutchinson and former Australian champion Josh Waters in what would ultimately be the battle for ninth due to some retirements among the frontrunners.
He led the gang of four out of the final corner and across the line to bring home seven championship points.
Cooper said: “Having had such a great weekend at Oulton, we came to Snetterton on a high.
“Unfortunately we knew we were up against it from the first practice session and although the team worked really hard and never gave up trying to improve the bike, we never quite found that last bit we needed.
“Qualifying was a real disappointment but we got away well, especially in race two, but we’re up against great riders and at a track like Snetterton, with its long straights, you need everything to be just right.
“We had some luck, but ninth was a decent result in the end – it’s just that I believe that both me and the team are capable of being in the top six.
“Overall though, there are plenty of positives.
“We didn’t crash and the team threw everything at it this weekend. If we can find that last little bit then we should be back up there at Knockhill.”
Cooper remains 11th in the championship in TAG Racing’s debut year in the blue riband class.
Supersport rider Hornsey brought home the team’s biggest points haul of the weekend on the team’s Triumph Daytona 675.
The 20-year-old Shropshire rider scored a 10th-place finish in Saturday’s 10-lap sprint race, before improving to a career-best seventh in Sunday’s 15-lap feature, where he was involved in an crowd-pleasing battle for fifth with local rider Taylor Mackenzie and Glenn Irwin.
The results move Hornsey into the top 10 of the championship for the first time in his career.
In the National Superstock 1000 championship, Burton’s Shaun Winfield finished 23rd in his first championship race on the Kawasaki ZX-10R, while brother Gary failed to make the race after being beset with electrical problems in practice.
The next outing for the team is at Scotland’s Knockhill circuit, in a fortnight’s time.
Team manager Steve Randle said: “In many ways it has been a tough weekend, but there have been quite a few highs as well.
“We’re chuffed to bits with Sam, who put his best ever performance in and really used his head and didn’t let the pressure get to him.
“Coops did well to take ninth in race two on a weekend where we’ve been struggling to get a good set-up, and Shaun did a good job to make up 11 places on his qualifying position and finish 25th in his first Superstock 1000 race.
“Gary and Mitchell had nightmares though.
“Gary’s bike had an electrical problem in the free practice sessions and although we eventually traced it to a damaged wiring harness, he went into qualifying without having done a single lap.
“Mitchell was just so unlucky to have been knocked off and the dislocation is a bad one, being knocked both down and backwards.
“We’ll have some more information after he sees the specialist.”