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Rain stops play for Smart-Weeden
Rain stops play for Smart-Weeden

Finn Smart-Weeden and his team were full of hope as they headed to Knockhill for the latest round of the Pirelli National SportBike Championship, but it wasn’t to be for the rider from Kent.

Having spent a day testing at Cadwell Park trying to locate the gremlins that plagued him at the Donington Park round in May, Finn was confident of a better showing at Knockhill.

The weather was changeable, alternating between bright sunny spells, torrential rain and thunderstorms, resulting in an ‘interesting’ weekend for Faversham’s Finn Smart-Weeden

Friday’s free practice sessions were both held in the wet with the Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School Faversham Sixth Form student showing improving times every session.  On Saturday Finn qualified twelfth, only two tenths of a second behind sixth and a full half a second ahead of thirteenth, so he was comfortable with that and felt he could improve in the races. 

Saturday’s race was a race of two halves – dry to start, then the rain started, the crashes happened and on lap seven the red flag came out – two hours later, after sheltering from the rain, in the Superbike pit garages, the race was restarted, on wet tyres, from lap six positions. The Painter’s Forstal resident finished ninth with the seventh fastest lap time and good sector times/speed trap records. 

Sunday’s warm up session felt good but then it started raining and a wet race was declared for that afternoon’s race.

The seventeen-year-old, starting from seventh, didn’t get the best launch of the line but was making ground and had retrieved eighth place by the entry to the chicane on turn five, where it all went horribly wrong. The back wheel lost grip and the bike came round flipping Finn over the handlebars, in a classic high-side crash. The bike stayed upright and clipped Finn on the head after he’d landed on the track, causing him to barrel roll across the track and through the gravel pit.

The motorbike careered into the safety barriers, sustaining significant structural damage. Finn was diagnosed with a mild concussion but no broken bones or other severe injury. His LS2 helmet and Knox gloves protected him and prevented more serious injuries but both were destroyed in the crash. During the eight lap second half – six riders crashed out at the same corner!

Finn should be good to go for the next round of the BSB National SportBike championship, to be held at Snetterton 5-7 July, but due to concussion protocols had to withdraw from this weekend’s NG Road Racing event at Brands Hatch.

Speaking after the weekend, Smart-Weeden said: “I wasn’t looking forward to high-siding the Aprilia RS660; it is more powerful than the Kawasaki Ninja400 I was riding the last four years where that sort of crash is much less likely. It did hurt but I am being sensible, taking it easy, and should be recovered fully before the next round at Snetterton in July.

“Despite this weekend’s crash and the technical challenges we have had this season, my race results have been good and my pace is getting better every round. I want to thank all my sponsors and, this weekend especially, my protective clothing and equipment suppliers.”

Race images courtesy of Flat Out Photography and Dennis Penny. Preparation photo courtesy of Georgia Smart.