IT WAS a weekend of mixed emotions at the Oxford TAG Triumph team’s local Donington Park race.
Scott Smart scored a season’s best seventh place to move up the championship standings to 11th, but there was disappointment for teammate Richard Cooper as he crashed out on the first lap.
Smart said: “It has been our best race of the season and it was good to be battling with (championship leader) Alastair Seeley and making some good passes.
“I only wish that I had gotten a better start in Saturday’s race, as I was stuck in a big group and couldn’t make good progress.”
Having delivered a strong sixth place finish in Saturday’s 12-lap sprint, 30-year-old Cooper went into Sunday’s longer feature race hoping for one of his traditional jet-propelled getaways.
Starting from fifth on the grid, the Nottingham-based rider was unable to get his Daytona 675 cleanly away from the line and found himself in the middle of the pack on the charge into the first corner.
Some inspired riding saw Cooper drag his Triumph up to seventh place as he approached the end of the lap, but it was all in vain as a small mistake saw him crash out at the first gear Melbourne hairpin.
By contrast, Maidstone-based Smart made rapid progress from 12th place on the grid.
Setting some of the fastest times of the race, the former 500cc Grand Prix rider found himself battling with series leader Seeley.
The pair traded places, with the Oxford TAG Triumph rider having pulled a small gap when the race was ended prematurely on the 15th lap when a rider from another team crashed out and deposited oil on the race track.
Smart’s seventh place at the flag represented his best of the season, and was just reward for the hard work carried out by both team and rider in developing the new-for-2013 Triumph.
Cooper was left to dwell on what might have been following his crash.
He said: “After setting the second fastest time in warm-up I was confident going into the feature race, but I made a bad start and then went into the hairpin too fast.
“I was lucky to avoid hitting another rider but I am very disappointed for all the team.
“I’m not saying that we would have finished on the podium but I definitely felt that we could have had our best result of the season here today, so it was especially disappointing to go out on the first lap.”
Sunday’s feature race also saw contrasting fortunes for the hard-working squad’s teenage stars, with Shaun Winfield grabbing a championship point and Sam Hornsey pulling out with a technical problem.
Winfield only just made the starting grid after his team worked to replace a damaged gasket, which led to oil leaking on the formation lap, and the 19-year-old put in a steady shift, moving up to 15th in the final classification.
For Hornsey, Sunday’s race was a disappointment. Having qualified a career best seventh for Saturday’s sprint, the Shropshire rider featured strongly in a frantic battle for eighth, eventually finishing 11th.
He was, however, unable to replicate the performance in the feature event, as his machine expired on the sixth lap.
The British championship now takes a one week break before taking in its only foreign round with a trip to the iconic TT Circuit Assen in the Netherlands, on September 21 and 22.