By NICK MCGRATH
BEN Burke is just three rounds away from claiming his maiden Metzeler National Superstock 600 championship title after a seventh place finish at the annual August Bank Holiday ‘Party in the Park’ consolidated the Spring Terrace gun’s lead at the top.
Burke has excelled in his second season in the lower tier of the Motorpoint British Supersport Championship, claiming a handful of chequered flags on his way to 154 championship points through eight rounds of an exhilarating title race.
And last round’s proceedings - the first round after the championship’s summer break - didn’t disappoint.
The 3.5 kilometre Lincolnshire circuit is one of the more physically demanding and technical circuits on the calendar, and the one Burke and Seton Tuning Yamaha teammates Bjorn Estment and Mark Wilkinson have the least experience at.
Burke qualified 14th fastest, but elevated his machine through the pack with a determined start to consolidate a place inside the top ten from the opening lap.
Maintaining his top 10 status nearing the end of the 10-lap sprint, Burke looked likely to climb higher, however, a red flag incident on lap 10 brought a premature close to proceedings with the Australian claiming seventh.
James Rose, Burke’s only real threat to the 2012 title, took third to narrow his opponent’s championship lead to eight points with three rounds left.
“I came into this round knowing it was going to be a hard one for me due to the lack of racing I’ve done on the track,” Burke said, adding after a slow start to qualifying, he was confident of being able to produce his best come the main race.
But it wasn’t meant to be.
“The race went well although I could not hold the leaders and I set another personal best lap time and rode a consistent race placing seventh.
“This meant I salvaged good points and maintain my championship lead.
“Big thanks to the team and all sponsors keeping us on the grid.”
Team owner Phil Seton was rapt for Burke.
“I’m really pleased for Ben as Cadwell is not his favourite place and a very difficult and scary track to learn,” Seton said.
“He did just what he needed to do and got a respectable finish to lead the championship into the last three rounds.
“All in all a good result for him.
The team will now regroup for the final third of the season starting with Donington Park on September 7, a venue which proved hugely
successful for Burke back in May.