The Sendo Ducati Dienza Performance Team had another successful weekend at round four of the Think! British Superbike Championships, at Oulton Park, Cheshire, yesterday (3 May). Two fourth positions for the Sendo Team was a very positive and strengthening result and a step in the right direction for Team Manager Enzo Di Clemente and his squad.
Again Leeds based, 31-year-old, Australian rider Dean Thomas was consistent throughout the weekends practise and qualifying sessions. Looking strong all weekend Dean was hopeful of a podium position, qualifying a healthy third position on the grid, another front row start for Thomas and he was confident of a good race result.
A massive crowd turned out for the Bank Holiday races to watch some of the best Superbike riders that the world has to offer. Sendo Director Howard Lewis attended his first race meeting of the year and was impressed by the set up and the team's results. Commenting he said 'It's been a great weekend, it's the first time that I've come to watch the team and they have made it all worth while. Dean was unlucky not to get a podium place but it's been a great opportunity to see what happens behind the scenes and how everything works. Sendo are happy to be sponsoring and associated with such a professional team like this and fingers crossed the team will continuing progressing through the season.'
Proceedings got off to a hot start when the first race was delayed after two privateers had a coming together on the sighting lap down at Lodge corner. Resulting in a massive fireball and leaving debris scattered across the track, both riders were unhurt but the race distance had to be shortened by two laps.
Once the light went green Dean got a fantastic start, Glen Richards pushed Michael Rutter out onto the grass and Dean was able to settle into a comfortable third place. Trying to stay in the tow of Suzuki riders Yukio Kagayama and John Reynolds, Dean couldn't match their lap times of 1:37's and settled down riding a smooth race in third position. Dean began to suffer with severe arm pump put was fighting to but it to the back of his mind, his lap-board was showing that he was being hunted down. Michael Rutter on the Honda had battled his way through the field and now had his sights set on the big twin Ducati in front of him. It wasn't long before Michael got the better of Dean and powered past him on the 13th lap.
Speaking with Dean after race one he said 'The two Suzuki's were locked in their own tight battle, Michael came past me and I did my best to try and stay with him. I kept him in my sights for the last few laps but just couldn't manage to get close enough to pass him.'
Race two proved to be another dramatic affair, Gary Mason on the Yamaha got a flying start and Dean managed to tuck in behind him into second. It wasn't long before the two Suzuki's picked their pace up again and made the move on Dean and Gary demoting them to third and fourth places. Again it was Honda's Michael Rutter that got another bad start and was carving his way through the field. Gary was making himself as wide as a bus and Dean and Michael were both struggling to find a way past. Michael made a brave move on Gary forcing him out wide, which let Dean underneath and up into fourth.
Dean managed to hold on to that position for the rest of the race, however, Rutter began to suffer with problems towards the end and Dean was closing in on him. A few more laps and that podium place would have belonged to Thomas. Extremely happy Dean said 'I'm really content with the results this weekend it's been a great achievement for the team and me. They have been working really hard to get the bike set up right for me and we are beginning to get somewhere now. I'm hoping it won't be long before I will be stood on the podium it's so close and I know we are capable of doing it. I could see Michael had some kind of problem towards the end of the race as he was dropping a lot of time. I was catching him fairly fast and kept my head down in the hope that I would be able to make the time up. It wasn't to be this time but we are heading to Mondello in a couple of weeks time, the majority of the riders have only ever been there once before so it's an open minefield as to what will happen.'
Team Manager Enzo Di Clemente backed up Dean's comments saying 'It's been a very good weekend for us, we've made a lot of positive changes to the bike and they seemed to have paid off. We were pleased to welcome Howard Lewis from Sendo to the race and he was very happy with the investment he has made into the team, which we are extremely grateful for. His help with the team has been fantastic and we have been lucky to gain a vast amount of press coverage so far this season. Sendo (www.sendo.co.uk) is becoming ever popular in the UK and we aim that by sponsoring our team it will give them the maximum amount of exposure.'
Dean is now lying 7th in the Championship with a total of 74 points, only two points behind Ryuichi Kiyonari. His next race is at Mondello Park, Ireland on the 23rd May 2004
Information provided by Chris Martin @ www.braking-zone.com