RICHARD Cooper was on podium pace in round seven of the Motorpoint British Supersport Championship at Oulton Park, carding a brace of seventh-place finishes, with Oxford TAG Triumph team-mate Scott Smart recording two top-10 results.
Sunday’s 15-lap feature race saw 30-year-old Nottingham star Cooper make a lightning start from his eighth place qualifying position, firing his TAG Performance Centre-prepared Daytona 675 into fifth place at the first corner.
As is often the case, the supersport race proved the most thrilling of the day.
The Oxford Products-backed rider played his part, running strongly in an eight-rider battle for the win in a race run at a blistering pace.
Battling with riders including defending champion Glen Richards, sprint race winner Stuart Easton and series leader Alastair Seeley, Cooper’s bid for a first podium of 2013 ended at the two-thirds distance, when a small mistake saw him drop off the leading group.
Despite this, he was still able to race home in seventh place, equalling his result from Saturday’s 10-lap sprint race and moving him up to joint eighth in the championship.
Smart, a joint season’s best of eighth in Saturday’s sprint, was unable to replicate his team-mate’s rapid getaway and found himself involved in the group behind the leading eight.
The Maidstone-based rider was able to use all of his experience, as well as the improved speed of the Daytona 675, to make up four places in the last five laps and finish ninth at the flag.
His 15-point haul equals his best of the season.
Cooper said: “The team has worked hard to find a lot more speed this weekend and I was able to stick with the leading group.
“I feel guilty about making a mistake as you always want to at least be in there right to the end, but this is the strongest we have been with the new bike and I will be going all out to reward the team with a podium before the end of the season.
“We’re coming up to some circuits that should really suit us.
“Cadwell Park is a unique place and I have had some good results there in the past, including my first podium of the season last year.
“And I feel that our bike should be at its best on the fast and flowing tracks like Assen and Silverstone.”
Smart added: “We had some good close battles today.
“The team has been working hard between the races and we’ve made some progress with the bike here this weekend.
“We’ve got plenty more to try though, and we are looking forward to Cadwell Park in a fortnight’s time.”
Meanwhile, Triumph’s 19-year-old pairing of Sam Hornsey and Shaun Winfield ensured that the team recorded a 100 per cent finishing record in Cheshire.
Winfield, from Swadlincote, enjoyed a good battle with Dutch supersport champion Stuart Voskamp in both races, besting the world championship points scorer both times out, while Hornsey scored points in both races with 13th and 14th place finishes.
The Shropshire rider deserves particular credit, as he was riding less than two weeks after undergoing an operation to plate his broken left wrist.
“It was a pretty tough weekend,” he said.
“I wasn’t sure that I would actually be able to race here, but I’ve come away with two points scoring finishes for the first time this year, so I am happy with how it’s gone.”
In the Pirelli National Superstock 600 race, 16-year-old Gary Winfield finished 27th on the Oxford TAG Triumph Daytona 675R.
Next stop for the Triumph squad is the Cadwell Park circuit in Lincolnshire, on Monday, August 26.