Francis set for first full season in Bennetts BSB
After making his debut for the team at his local circuit of Oulton Park, team principal, John Jameson recognised the potential of the 20-year-old from Chester, so agreed a deal that will see Francis ride in the Bennetts British Superbike Championship next year.
On signing, Joe Francis said. "It is great to have signed for PR Racing for the 2019 season and I would like to thank the team and their partners from giving me this opportunity. There will be many challenges ahead as I continue to learn to ride a superbike, but as a team, we have made a great start in that journey and it will be exciting as we continue that momentum going into next year."
Team Principal, John Jameson added. "We are really excited to sign Joe for 2019. Since joining the team, he has shown a real understanding of the bike, finishing just outside of the points in 16th place in his first ever race on a superbike was exciting to watch. He is keen to make an impression in what is shaping up to be a very exciting championship."
Strong weekend at our home round of Oulton Park
All the team are in a buoyant mood heading in to Assen for the penultimate round of the 2018 British Superbike Championship. Joe’s maiden outing on the superbike saw him just miss out on Q2 while Superstock rider, Sam Coventry scored a 2018 personal best with a P6 finish.
After the racing, Joe Francis said. “The weekend was great. I loved my first taste of the BMW superbike. Oulton is a great track but also very difficult, so it was a lot to take in. The whole weekend went well we just worked as a team and chipped away every session. We nearly made Q2 in our first attempt, which was great. Then to finish P16 in my first race, in difficult conditions, was a mega achievement.
“I would have loved to get a point, but I just couldn't quite get up to the guys in front. I enjoyed every moment of the entire round and the team were very welcoming and great to work with. I would like to thank them for all of their work. I'm now excited for what the future holds and I know we will just keep working hard and chip away to get better every time we race.”
Sam added.” Sure was a good weekend! We worked hard and it paid off. To finish Sunday with P6 in damp conditions and recording a fastest lap at one point. I can’t thank the team enough for giving me a great bike.”
Thanks to all the team and sponsors for a great weekend!R10 images courtesy of David Yeoman’s Photography
Both riders continue to build in confidence
On the most abrasive and fastest circuit in the British Superbike calendar, both Lloyd and Jones Bowker Motorrad riders finished in the top 20 in their respective races. Luke showed a great level of maturity as he continues his steep learning curve to make the superbike his own. On the other side of the garage a mechanical issue prevented Sam Coventry from using all his track time leading up to the race, but a great effort saw him finish P17.
Luke commented. “It was a good weekend and the progress we made saw our lap times fall every session. Everyone worked hard all weekend, unfortunately the results don’t show how much we have moved forward with the bike. Being only being 1.1 seconds off the top rider’s lap times in the last race was a great leap in confidence! We need to keep this pace going into Cadwell and continue to make more steps in the right direction.”
Superstock rider, Sam added. “A tough weekend at Thruxton, I arrived feeling good after a strong top ten finishes at Brands Hatch, but also knowing I had to work hard as it’s a tricky circuit to master. Lack of track time after both free practice sessions and then a mechanical problem in qualifying didn’t help, but I worked hard in the race to finish 17th and significantly improved on my lap time. Looking forward to Cadwell in two weeks.”
“I must thank Gary and John Crockford for their track walks and the whole PR team for all their efforts in fixing the issue on the bike and giving me a great machine for the race. Roll on the next round.”
P18 for BSB rookie in debut race
Luke Hedge made his first race debut in the Lloyd and Jones Bowker Motorrad colours at Brands hatch for Round 6 of the British Superbike Championship to finish P18 in race one. On his return to the team, Sam Coventry also had a strong outing to finish in the top 10 for both his Superstock races.
On his debut, Luke said. “It was a great first outing, which we used as a test weekend to find the settings that work for me. There were a few issued in race two that meant I could not push as hard as I would have liked, but I can’t thank the team enough for their tireless support. We managed to pull a good Sunday out off the bag considering it was my first ever BSB race and I was really pleased with an 18th place.”
“The second race didn’t go to plan, but we finished and in doing so gained a lot of valuable data heading into the next round. I would also like to thank all my sponsors especially MIST Safety UK ltd for keeping me out on the bike.”
On Sam’s strong finish in the Pirelli National Superstock 1000 he commented. ” Great weekend at Brands Hatch, qualifying went well and we are very happy with three top eight finishes on my return to Superstock 1000.”
“I achieved and exceeded all my expectations this weekend, especially coming back from my injuries from Snetterton. It’s great to be back with Lloyd and Jones Bowker Motorrad, a huge thank you to everyone involved and my sponsors Dragons Logistics, Oxford Products, Factory Agencies, Tudor Installations, PGS Garage Services.”
Overall a positive weekend for both riders, as we had two bikes out, and each side of the garage worked well together. The plan is to now get the bikes ready for Thruxton and build on our results from this weekend!
Coventry re-joins PR Racing for 2018
Sam Coventry returns to PR Racing to ride in the Pirelli National Superstock 1000 replacing Luke Hedger who is standing in for the injured Kuba Smrz.
On signing for 2018 Sam said. “I’m really pleased to be back with the Lloyd and Jones Bowker Motorrad BMW team and I’m looking forward to getting back on the BMW. My plan is to make a good start for round 6 at Brands, as I am familiar with the bike and the team and then improve from there, big thank you to John and Julian for giving me this opportunity.”
John Jameson added.” Sam is a talented rider and we are pleased to have him back in our team. The grid is as competitive as ever, but we believe Sam will do well and build on the progress he made last year.”
Mechanical issues hamper Hedgers debut
In what started as a very positive weekend for the BSB rookie with a strong outing in FP1, Luke Hedger running under the number 26, failed to start either of the two BSB races due to mechanical issues. The Lloyd and Jones Bowker Motorrad BMW rider had to withdraw from making his debut outing in BSB after an engine problem during the Sunday morning warm up session.
Luke Hedger said. “It’s was a tough weekend for the whole team. Everyone worked hard to improve the bike every session and we were making progress, so it’s disappointing not getting a chance to race. As we were working through the settings we lost some valuable track time that we needed. We are committed as a team and we will work hard to have a bike ready for Brands Hatch. A big thank you must go to Mist Safety UK Ltd and all my other sponsors for getting me to this point.”
“We are all immensely disappointed not to have Luke out on the track for Knockhill. The guys work tirelessly to resolve the issue, but it wasn’t meant to be. We are positive that the issue can be resolve in the next few days and allow Luke the track time he needs before heading off to Brands for the next round.”
Hedger steps up for the injured Smrz
A dislocated collar bone that required surgery and a lengthy recovery period has left Kuba out of the BSB Championship for the foreseeable future. The misfortune of Smrz has handed Superstock rider, Luke Hedger an opportunity to step up to the premiership of British superbike racing.
John Jameson. “It was always our intentions to bring Luke into the BSB Championship, with Kuba injured, it is just earlier than planned. After sitting down with Luke, he has assured us he is ready for the next step. After his fantastic performance on the stocker at Snetterton and the recent testing on the Superbike, we are confident that he will do well.”
Luke Hedger “I am so excited to ride the superbike and buzzing that I get the chance to ride with the best riders in Britain. I’ve already had a little run out last week to help get me comfortable on the bike and feel the difference between the Superstock & BSB spec machines. The plan is to hit the ground running at Knockhill, but I’m under no illusions that there will be a lot to learn as I make the switch. I can’t thank PR Racing enough for having the faith in me to let me loose on the superbike, and a massive shot out must go to my personal sponsors, who without their support this would not be possible.”
Luke will make his debut on the Lloyd and Jones Bowker Motorrad BMW at Knockhill for Round 5 of the BSB Championship on the 6th July.
Round 3: Mixed results at home round
Great start to the weekend with Kuba pushing hard and Luke running in the top 8 in free practice. Unfortunately, Kuba’s crash in FP2 all but destroyed the BMW and needed a rebuild from the ground up. As a result of the crash he underwent physio at the circuit, but the lack of testing on the rebuilt bike and his stiffness from the 150 mph crash made it a difficult weekend for the BSB rider.
In the Superstock 1000cc championship, Luke was going well and missed the melee early on in the race, losing track position he had to take up the his fight for points from the back of the field. Pushing hard he forced his way back up the field and finished in P12. If the race was not reduced from 18 to 15 laps, I am confident Luke would have broken into the top 10.
In some of the hottest temperatures we have seen at Oulton Park, Kuba had a solid race 1, finishing P14, just missing out on P13 by several 100’s of a second. A technical issue in race 2 ment Kuba retired in lap 13.
We have a few weeks off as several riders head to the roads and then we are back for Snetterton in June.
Round 2: Breaking into the points
Both riders had a solid weekend breaking into the points in both the Superbike and Superstock rounds. Kuba had a fantastic start to his BSB qualifying with a P5 finish in Q1, however, during a flying lap in Q2 the traffic from Graham Hill Bend through to Surtees slowed him down and prevented a better gird position for the first race. After a slow start to race 1, Kuba climbed into the top 15 by the finish and scored his first championship points of the season with a P14 finish.
As the conditions favoured Kuba for race 2, we were confident of a good finish. Early into the race his visor started to mist up and by the end he was struggling to see two feet in front of the bike, so had poor visibility for a majority of the 30 lapper. Unable to push as hard as he wanted to, he just missed out on the points.
We had lots of positives to take away, and Luke is starting to get to grips with the BMW with a P15 standing in the Superstock championship. We have several test sessions scheduled before the next round, with visits to Cadwell and Oulton Park, so we are looking forward to our home round of Oulton Park during the May bank holiday.
Round 1: Glimpses of what is to come!
After the team’s promising start to the first round of the 2018 BSB season, with both riders running in the top 10 during free practices in their respective championships, our expectations were soon dashed after Kuba became a member of the Craner club during Sunday’s revised qualifying season.
Although the crash at Craner Curves was minor and Kuba was unhurt, the mud and dirt from the inclement weather conditions penetrated the wiring of his BMW. To diagnose and isolate the issue with the electronics took the team longer then we would have liked, so Kuba failed to make the grid for the first race of the year.
With no lap time from the first race, Kuba started from the last spot for race 2. He made a good start, but the gremlins were soon to strike again as the same issue that plagued the team earlier with the electronics saw Kuba retire to the pit lane at the end of lap 7.
Making his debut for the team, Luke was also running well throughout the Pirelli National Superstock 1000 free practice.
In his first round in Lloyd and Jones Bowker Motorrad colours he crossed the finish line in the points in 2 out of the 3 races over the Easter weekend, where he managed a very respectable 10th and 12th, finishing the weekend in a championship position of P13.
We now just a have less than two weeks to get the bikes in order and off to Brands Hatch - Indy for the second round.
Final shakedown before season starts
The team’s final shakedown before the start of the season took place today, at Donington Park, as part of the official British Superbike media launch and pre-season open 1000 test session. Supporting the team’s new livery for 2018, both riders decided not to participate in the morning sessions due to the inclement weather. However, as the sun came out in the afternoon and began to warm up the track, both Kuba and Luke were out in the final 1000cc season and enjoyed a shakedown ahead of the BSB season's opening round in less than two weeks' time.
It was important that both riders had track time ahead of Round 1. Obviously, we would have liked to be out in all our sessions, but we had nothing to gain and everything to lose if the bikes were damaged so close to Round 1.
After this outing and recent testing in Spain, Kuba and Luke are confident in the bikes performance and we are all looking forward to the start of the season.
Announcing Rider Line-up for 2018
Czech contender Jakub Smrz will return to the 2018 British Superbike Championship grid with the PR Racing LLoyd & Jones Bowker Motorrad BMW team, aiming to build on his previous season with the Liverpool-based squad.
Smrz was a consistent point’s scorer last season with the highlight of the year coming at Silverstone when he scored the team a top five finish. The team now have the additional boost of new partner Bowker Motorrad BMW, based in Preston. On resigning for the team, Smrz said: "I’m very happy to be staying with PR Racing for another year so I need to say thank you to John and Julian for the opportunity. Last season we started from zero but improved throughout the season and scored some good results and I felt very happy and comfortable with the team.”
“Last year we had some highs and lows, but we found a lot of areas we can work on and it’s great to stay on the same bike and build on our experiences. We had a very positive test in December so we have already started to develop and improve some of those areas and I can’t wait to get back to Spain and get our 2018 season started."
The team will also have an entry in the Pirelli National Superstock 1000 Championship with Luke Hedger joining the team’s 2018 line-up.
Hedger added: “I’m really excited to finally announce my plans for this year. I can’t wait to get the season started with PR Racing on the Bowker Motorrad BMW. I’m thrilled that John has given me this opportunity. I believe with a year of experience under my belt in the Superstock 1000 class, and in a well-established team I can battle for the 2018 championship. “I am excited to get to Spain and get some laps in on the BMW ready for the first round at Donington Park. I would like to say a massive thank you to John from PR Racing, Bowker Motorrad BMW, and all my sponsors for getting me to this point.”
John Jameson concluded by saying. “2018 will be a busy season from the team having three competitive bikes, but we are all excited about the opportunities this will bring to both the BSB and Superstock 1000 Championships. We are off to Spain next week to get the bikes and riders ready for the opening round in just over seven weeks.