Jon Kirkham hoping his luck will change at Snetterton
Jon Kirkham's Crescent Racing Suzuki boss Jack Valentine believes the Derby rider is on the fringes of a serious British Superbikes championship challenge – but the man himself is playing it cool.
The mean two-wheeled machines ride into town this weekend, with Sunday's round six double-header around Snetterton's new 300 format.
A top six standing by the time August's Cadwell Park – round nine – is out of the way would see Kirkham battling in the title shoot-out over the final three meetings.
Currently the 26-year-old sits eighth, but the winner of last year's Superbikes support series – Superstock 1000 – hopes a couple of turns in his favour will see him close in on the leading pack, starting at Snetterton.
'I've had mixed results,' admitted Kirkham. 'I've been really fast in the races but I've had bad starts and bad qualifying. I did qualify pretty well at Knockhill, but then had a bad start and a problem in the first race and came off in the second with (team-mate) John (Hopkins) and ended up having to pick my bike up and come through.
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'But then at Croft I won the race from 16th on the grid and got the fastest lap at Oulton Park and finished seventh. So I've just had a bit of bad luck here and there. I need to get up at the front and run with the front lads.
'Obviously it's a lot more competitive this series than Superstocks, and the bikes are proper race pedigree bikes. There's not as much room for error on them – they're absolute beasts.
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'But I'm enjoying my riding and everything. I'm glad I've got Thruxton and Knockhill out of the way and getting on to some better circuits like Snetterton; we've got Brands Hatch coming up and Oulton Park.'
Needless to say Kirkham is a big fan of the new-look Snetterton, which gets its first competitive Superbikes outing this weekend.
'It's a big, big track,' said Kirkham. 'I knew the old circuit and raced it many times. There is a lot to it now, fast corners and then slow hairpins, so it mixes it up and I'm really looking forward to racing here. I think it will be really good. It's more interesting that it was before, two straights and a few corners in between, whereas now there is a real lot to it out the back.'