RICHARD Cooper will look to build on a promising last outing as the British Superbike Championship heads to Brands Hatch this weekend.
Cooper (below) moved into the championship’s top ten on board his Swadlincote-based Anvil Hire TAG Racing Kawasaki after 11th and ninth placed finishes at Knockhill, in Scotland.
Now the 30-year-old from Nottingham, in both his and the team’s debut season in the premier class, will look to build on those displays at the Kent grand prix circuit.
But Cooper knows he has to improve his qualifying speed if he is to give himself a chance in the races.
“We dug deep and pulled out two good results at Knockhill, but we are handicapping ourselves with the qualifying,” said Cooper.
“The team are all working really hard and we’re finding a good race set-up, but we are struggling to get the best out of the soft tyre in qualifying.”
Experienced superbike star Gary Mason will join the team for round five, deputising for the injured Australian champion Mitchell Carr on-board the team’s Kawasaki ZX-10R.
With Carr still recovering from the shoulder injury sustained after being knocked off during practice at Snetterton, Mason, 35, will step into the breach and provide a welcome boost of experience.
The Lichfield rider is a veteran of more than 200 superbike races and has twice (2003 and 2005) finished eighth overall in the championship.
“My return may be a surprise to some fans but I see this as a real opportunity to relaunch my career,” said Mason.
“I recently lost one of my best friends in Simon Andrews and his motto was ‘never give up’. You’ve got to want it and I am really hungry. All you can do is give it 100% and I can guarantee that I will be giving it all I have at Brands Hatch.”