Hucknall rider Richard Cooper got off to a pleasing and promising start to his new challenge in the British Superbike Championship last weekend.
Cooper (31), of Keats Drive, has been signed up by the professional team, Anvil Hire TAG Racing, based in Swadlincote, Derbyshire, for the prestigious 12-round championship.
And he began with a couple of points-scoring finishes in the opening round at the tight and twisty Brands Hatch Indy circuit.
Cooperman, as he is nicknamed, finished eighth and 15th in the two races, securing a total of nine points to leave the Kent circuit 12th in the championship.
He started the squad’s first-ever Superbike race by bagging an impressive sixth place on the grid after a dramatic wet-weather qualifying session last Saturday.
After Cooper had got off to a flier, the race was halted by red flags to signal that a rival’s bike was spilling oil on the track. But despite a lengthy delay, he still coped well with the thrilling 12-lap dash around the 1.2-mile circuit and brought home TAG Racing’s Kawasaki ZX-10R machine in eighth.
With the starting positions for the second race determined by the riders’ best laps in race one, Cooper lined up in 13th on the grid. He did slip back to 16th at one stage but fought back hard after 30 gruelling laps.
The highly-rated rider commented: “It was good to get sixth on the grid for the first race, even though we always knew that wasn’t representative of our pace in the dry.
“That said, I felt comfortable in the race and had it not been stopped, we would probably have finished fifth.
“I’d have liked two top-ten finishes, but I was happy to have fought back into the points in the second race.
“There are a lot of positives to take away. Our bike is certainly fast, but it’s hard going around here.
“We have a lot to try in the next round, but getting two solid rides under our belts is a good start to the season.”
Cooper has been racing motorbikes competitively since the age of 12. He has made the step-up to Superbikes after extensive experience in the European and British Superstock classes. He was national Superstock 1000 champion in 2011.
The next round of the British Superbike Championship is at Oulton Park in Cheshire over the weekend of 3rd to 5th May.
This will be followed by trips to well-known circuits such as Silverstone, Cadwell Park and Donington Park between May and October.