Jack Valentine has high hopes for Crescent Racing’s British Superbikes season
Team boss Jack Valentine is hoping for a championship challenge on two fronts from his Crescent Racing Suzuki outfit – with what he believes is his strongest ever rider line-up.
Both 2010 Superstocks 1000 champion Jon Kirkham and former Moto GP star John Hopkins are in their debut British Superbikes (BSB) season, yet Valentine is confident his duo – currently eighth and second in the standings – can book a top six place, and unlock a shot at the title.
'The season's gone really well. John has been quite a revelation because he's the first American to win a BSB race, which he did back at Oulton Park. The hard bit is he's having to learn every single circuit, so he has been doing a great job so far,' said Valentine. 'Jon has moved up to Superbikes with us as I've always believed he has had a lot of potential to make the top grade and he is right on the verge of getting into the title fight, as much as the top six, and that's the target we've set him.
'He's already excelled himself and won a race at Croft when we had a one-two there, and we think there is a lot more potential from him yet.
'So I have probably got the best team I've had since I took over in 2008; I'm really pleased with the guys we've got.'
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Swan Yamaha racer Tommy Hill topped the timesheets after yesterday's two free practice sessions, and the man who dominated the last round at Knockhill is one of a number Valentine knows his team will do well to beat around Snetterton.
'It's going to be the usual – Shakey Byrne; probably Ryuichi Kiyonari is due to start making a comeback, it's his kind of a circuit; Tommy Hill.
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'But I think this circuit will suit the guys who've got a really good machine set-up, the bike is handling well and they are confident, because there are some pretty fast turns like Corum. If the bike doesn't feel right around there, it starts to cause problems.
'You get asked many times who's going to win, who's going to do this. I know we have got the riders to win, as do two or three of the other teams, and it's up to us as a team to build them the best motorcycle we can, give them everything possible, look after them through practice and qualifying, and then it is down to them in the two races.
'But it's really tough – probably the highest level it's ever been, BSB.
'It's a really tough series and every major manufacturer and people with interest in the sport are watching it.
'And it's international too – an international series, the best domestic series in the world and probably the biggest motorsport property in the UK at national level outside Formula One and Moto GP.'
The final three rounds of the championship see the top six riders elevated into a battle for the title – with the final round at Brands Hatch GP featuring three races.
Crescent Racing were 2004 BSB champions thanks to the efforts of John Reynolds and Valentine is determined to add another this year, with a format that makes for a thrilling climax to the campaign.
'This team, myself and my guys and riders, we just want to win the championship,' said Valentine.
'That's the objective. The showdown is the most exciting part of the season, those last three rounds are just unbelievable – I get goose-pimples just thinking about it.'