It was an inspired weekend for Matteo Baiocco and the Rapido Sport Racing Ducati squad at the penultimate British Superbike round at Silverstone. Set-up changes based around the work of the Factory Ducati World Superbike helped the team to post their best results of the season with ninth and eighth positions.
Shifting the centre of gravity further towards the back of the bike allowed the Italian to get the power down sooner out of the corners, with lap times reflecting these improvements to see Baiocco a whole two seconds faster in qualifying than he had been at this circuit in 2012. Seventh on the grid was not only a season’s best – it was a best ever for the Rapido Sport Racing team.
Despite not getting the best of starts, the Factory Ducati test rider remained in the top ten in the early stages, and latching onto the back of championship contender James Ellison put in consistent lap times to pull away from the chasing pack. Moving into ninth place at two thirds race distance the Italian was lapping half a second faster than the Westmorland in eighth, but after closing up to the back wheel of the BMW rider he was unable to find a way past.
Ninth by a comfortable margin, Baiocco brought the 1199 Panigale RS home in its highest finishing position in the British Superbike Championship eclipsing the two tenth places scored by the team earlier in the season.
Race two saw the sole Ducati in the BSB class start tenth on the grid, but another slow getaway left Baiocco back in 15th at the end of lap one. An incredible mid-race surge then saw the Italian blast past a whole gaggle of riders – including the likes of Noriyuki Haga and showdown contender James Wesmoreland – with new-found confidence. Going one better than he had in the previous race, Matteo set another record for the team to cross the line eighth, and following this sensational weekend both team and rider head to the series finale at Brands Hatch brimming with confidence.
Rapido Sport Ducati team principal Steve Moore said: It’s been an amazing weekend for everyone in the team – we’ve all worked so hard and to finish P8 feels like a win. The progress we’ve made with the Panigale has given Matteo so much confidence – we’re still struggling with the starts but to make seven overtakes past the likes of Haga and Westmoreland on the brakes shows just how stable the bike now is. Right from the first qualifying session we could see that Matteo was on it, and I'm very proud of the effort everyone has put in to make this happen.
Matteo Baiocco said: We improved the bike a lot in the second race to give us more feeling. In race one I had to brake very late to stay with the other guys which was very hard, so to fix it for race two was important. I made another bad start – I don’t know why! It wasn’t easy, the other bikes were very quick in a straight line, but we are very strong on the brakes and in the corners so I could overtake. If I can start high up at Brands I think we will have another good weekend.
National Superstock 1000
Both Ducati Panigales finished inside the points in the ultra-competitive National Superstock 1000 class this weekend, although Tristan Palmer and Robbie Brown found themselves with opposing fortunes during Sunday’s race.
The Ducati Manchester Team once again struggled with set-up on the bike. 29th on the grid was the best Brown could manage, and the team decided to go for a radical set-up change before the race.
Warm up on Sunday morning showed positive signs, and when the red lights went out Brown made a fantastic start to go from 29th to 17th after just three laps of the iconic Silverstone GP circuit. The rider from Biddulph continued to make progress as the race went on, and at the chequered flag was an impressive 14th scoring two championship points in the process.
Rapido Sport Racing’s Tristan Palmer was struggling to keep his Panigale in the top ten, losing out on the long Silverstone straights but making up time in the corners he eventually crossed the line tenth.
Robbie Brown said: We’ve worked so hard this year and it’s been really hard to find a set-up in the dry. We’re consistently fastest in the wet, but then to be 29th on the grid was really tough. We changed just about everything on the bike between qualifying and the race, and I’d like to say a big thank-you to Steve (Moore) at Rapido Sport Ducati for helping us to find a set-up. This should hopefully give us a much stronger starting point for Brands Hatch next time out.