Ben Burke shocks the locals with a hard fought win and Patrick Li claims his best ever result as the A1 Motorcycles BCperformance race team travelled to the Zhuhai International circuit, China to take on the Chinese Superbike Championship over the weekend of 22-23rd March.
In addition to contesting the Australasian Superbike Championship, the Melbourne based motorcycle dealership A1 Motorcycles and BCperformance will be contesting the remaining rounds of the Chinese Superbike Championship with Ben Burke and Patrick Li after a good showing on their respective debuts.
Competing in the Superstock 600 class Burke who had never seen the circuit before turned up for the practice sessions and qualified a near stock Kawasaki ZX6R on pole for his class and 7th overall to get the weekend off to a great start. Li who had also never raced in his home country steadily picked up his pace to qualify 5th in class and 15th overall around the ultra fast 4.3km circuit.
With 2 ten lap races scheduled over the Saturday and Sunday as part of the Pan Delta Festival and the 600cc machines mixed in with the more powerful Superbikes meant for some exciting racing to keep the 50,000 plus crowd entertained. Saturday’s race started great for both riders as Burke forced his way through to 2nd overall into the first corner and Li got through cleanly to finish the first lap in 14th. Gaining a slipstream from the faster 1000cc machines Burke passed the race leader towards the end of the first lap but hit a small bump under braking for turn 11 which just forced him wide and had to take avoiding action by running into the deep gravel trap. It took Burke and the marshals some time for them to dig the bike out and Burke rejoined in last place and 1 lap down, although not giving up he pushed on and finished 6th in class and 23rd overall. Li rode smooth and consistent to hold 4th in class and 14thto the finish.
Sundays race 2 was held in perfect conditions and again the huge 50,000 crowd were back to watch the racing. Burke again got off to a flyer and was 7th on the first lap from his 23rd position on the grid and pushed on to claim his first China Superstock 600 win and 5th overall. Li pushed himself to finish the race faster than the previous outing to claim 6th in class and 16th overall. A fantastic result for both riders and even more impressive as both had never seen the circuit previously and were riding identical Kawasaki ZX6R’s sourced and provided by Li and his A1 Motrcycles store, that had been road bikes only 3 days before.
Burke gives his thoughts on his first visit to China “Well the trip was an experience, I was fairly naive with regards to the language, food and people. Having now spent 10 days there I was impressed with the workings of it all and not even our team taxi driver, Nigel could put me off the day’s racing with his very exciting road skills!” Burke goes on to thank his team and the circuit “ The track and marshalling facilities were very impressive and I would like to thank the organisers for making us feel so welcome but I would like to thank my team mate Patrick Li and his partner Vicky Gan and their families for giving me this opportunity most of all”
The team will return to China for the second of the series again at Zhuhai on 14-15 June but next up will be the second round of the ASC at Mallala on 16-18 May were Burke and Li will be joined by Ninja 300 cup riders Kyle Buckley and Phil Burke.