A top-ten finish for the second successive race maintained the impact that Harworth motorcycle racer Dean Hipwell is having on the Pirelli National Superstock 1000 Championship.
The 27-year-old Hipwell tackled an accident-hit 11th round of the series at Donington Park. And although he was 11th at the chequered flag, he was promoted to tenth after the disqualification of fellow rider Michael Rutter, of Bridgnorth, Shropshire.
What’s more, he was sure he could have gained a further two places in the 36-strong field if he and his CDH Racing team had been able to find a better set-up.
Considering they struggled and changed just about everything on his Kawasaki bike in a desperate bid to improve its handling, Hipwell said he had to be “relatively happy with the weekend’s work”.
The prestigious championship is viewed as the forerunner for the Superbike stars of the future. But Hiplwell cut a frustrated figure during Friday and Saturday’s qualifying sessions as a decent set-up eluded him and CDH Racing.
For Sunday morning’s warm-up session, changes to the bike neither improved, nor made worse, the handling, so a lot of head-scratching was needed to find a solution. After a few more minor changes, the 27-year-old project engineer ended up putting his bike in 15th place on the grid for Sunday afternoon’s race.
As the action got under way, Hipwell progressed to 14th before two riders went down at the Melbourne Hairpin, and then two more crashed at the Old Hairpin.
Fortunately, ‘Hippo’ managed to avoid the carnage, but the race was red-flagged and stopped because the prone bikes and riders on the Donington track posed a danger.
The restart was delayed while the riders recovered and the track was cleared of debris. When things got going again, the race was over ten laps, with Hipwell 14th on the grid -- the position he had occupied when the red flag came down.
He made good progress, moving up to 12th by the end of the first lap. And lap two saw him up to 11th when Sittingbourne rival Rob McNealy had problems with his BMW machine and dropped right through the field.
By now, the Harworth hotpot was sandwiched between the BMWs of Oldham’s Ashley Beech and Kirkby Mallory’s Leon Jeacock as they jostled for position. Although he held off Jeacock, he could not make up the ground to Beech, who moved four seconds ahead of him.
On lap seven, Fraser Rogers, of Grimsby, who had been in front of the trio, encountered problems that resulted in him losing ground and enabling Hipwell to nip into 11th. He continued to struggle with the handling of his Kawasaki and constantly ran wide at some of the corners, allowing the BMW of Newcastle’s Barry Teasdale to close in and overtake him on the eighth lap, opening up a gap of just over one-tenth of a second.
But Hipwell stuck to his guns and when one of the race’s front-runners dropped out on the penultimate lap, he was elevated back to 11th before gaining that extra position once the race had finished.