Photo: Kerry Rawson
Goole’s Charlie Atkins set the fastest lap in both British Talent Cup races at the opening round in Silverstone but left the circuit disappointed. In race one, he crossed the line just 0.217 seconds behind the race winner but with the field so tight it meant he finished the race in sixth position. In second race of the afternoon a jump start meant that despite being the fastest rider on track and a titanic fightback, Atkins was out of the battle for the podium.
With the winter break finally over Charlie Atkins was glad to be back on his British Talent Cup Honda NSF250R Moto3 machine.
The morning free practice session was cool and the skies cloudy but all 23 riders were determined to get a good start to the season. Atkins posted the third quickest time in FP1 a 1:03.304 less than quarter of a second behind the fastest rider.
The sun was out for FP2 and the track temperature had improved significantly. On the warmer track lap times fell significantly. Atkins continued to improve his lap times as his familiarity with the Moto3 came back. By the end of the session he was top with a 1:02.197.
The times were very close with the top 15 riders separated by less than a second.
The was a bright start to Saturday morning and the 23 British talent Cup riders were up early again as their qualifying session started at 09:00. In a thirty-minute session that saw the top fifteen separated by less than a second Charlie Atkins would line up fifth on the grid for the races. His lap time of 1:02.025 was just 0.171 off pole, which just shows how tight the times were.
Atkins made a great start to the race launching himself into third place in the early exchanges. Maintaining position was difficult with around a dozen Moto3 riders fighting for the podium. Atkins slipped down to ninth as the laps went by but he recovered later to cross the line in sixth place.
The racing was so close and exciting that although Atkins crossed the line sixth he was only 0.215 seconds behind the race winner. He also set the fastest lap of the race a 1:01.647.
After a jump start Atkins was quickly penalised by the race officials and ordered to undertake a ride-through. Initially misunderstanding the penalty Atkins took a long circuit penalty, costing him valuable positions, before realising he had to come in for a ride-through.
When he rejoined the race he was dead last and six seconds behind the nearest rider. Atkins knuckled down and decided to send the right message to the British Talent Cup organisers by mounting a fantastic come back.
Atkins set a number of fast lap time and clawed back the deficit and just a few short laps. By lap 14 he was running eighteenth. Three laps later and he had gained another two places. With seven laps remaining Charlie Atkins was eleventh and with the gap ahead to the leading group a huge 15 seconds further progress was halted by the number of laps remaining.
Charlie Atkins said, “Race one was good and I was in the fight for the podium. Unfortunately, when the racing was as tight as it was, nothing is guaranteed. Race two was so frustrating! I made a mistake at the beginning of the race and then took two penalties. The only thing I could do was ride the bike as hard as I could to try and salvage something. This wasn’t my weekend but I’ve got the pace so I’ll try and make it count at the next round.”