The Swan Yamaha team had mixed start to the Showdown as Tommy Hill claimed a double podium finish whilst Michael Laverty secured a second place in race one before a crash left him scoring just two points in the second race at Donington Park.
The opening race of the day saw both Swan Yamaha riders in an epic dice for the first victory of the Showdown. Laverty had taken the early lead in the first race before Shane Byrne stole the position on the third lap. Laverty then dropped to third as Hill moved ahead but with four riders switching places after Hill made a move on Byrne at Goddards it gave Laverty the chance to take the lead. Laverty then maintained his position until the final threea laps when John Hopkins edged ahead and Laverty and Hill completed a double podium performance in second and third respectively.
The second race almost ended prematurely for Laverty when he collided with Byrne at Redgate on the opening lap and as the pair ended in the gravel he then had to pick up the Swan Yamaha to try and salvage some points. He was able to finish in 14th position and set the fastest lap of the race in the process. Hill had taken the lead on the opening laps but was passed by Hopkins and despite his best efforts finished in second place to put him three points behind in the overall standings.
Hill said: “I was gutted with the first race result today despite finishing on the podium as we just didn’t have the speed. The Swan Yamaha team changed the engine between races to see exactly what the problem was and how we could fix it for race two. We got into a rhythm over the opening laps and then the pace dropped off and I knew the guys behind us were closing in. I knew we had to do something so I made a lunge from about six bike lengths back and I didn’t quite make it. In the second race I saw Michael make a brave move when he dived for the apex. I just let them carry on as I knew what would happen. I settled down into a rhythm and John Hopkins came passed me and there wasn’t much I could do. It hasn’t been the worst weekend for me with two podiums but we needed wins and we need to change that at Silverstone.”
Laverty said: “I was happy to be on the podium again in the first race. I got to the front but to be honest I was surprised when Shakey came passed me as I wasn’t sure he would have the pace after the way the weekend had gone for him. I let him run the pace and then I knew I had to get my finger out and make a move to get back in the lead. I passed Shakey with the melee at Goddards but then it was all a bit busy as we went into Redgate! I was on the outside but then I saw John Hopkins went for the same line so I took a chance on the inside and it paid off. I held John off for a few laps but I didn’t want to do something risky and end up in the gravel; there will be fairing bashing to come but I didn’t want to risk it in the first Showdown race! I was feeling confident for the second race and I wanted to get to the front as soon as possible. Shakey had done the same move in race one and we went for the apex but he hadn’t seen me. It is frustrating but it was a racing incident. It will be an uphill task now but we knew we had the pace which makes it even more disappointing. The pressure is slightly off me now as I can just try for wins rather than being too conservative but anything can still happen and I will fight until the bitter end for the title.”
Team Manager Gary Ekerold said: “Coming off the three wins at Cadwell Park it was always going to be hard to manage expectations of the Swan Yamaha team but for Tommy it has been a great weekend with two podium finishes. Michael obviously had a disappointing second race but we have banked points for the championship and now we look ahead to Silverstone where we know we can be strong.”