Alastair Seeley has slipped 50 points behind Smiths Triumph rider Billy McConnell in the British Supersport Championship after a tough weekend at Knockhill in Scotland.
The Carrick rider finished sixth in Saturday’s Sprint race and fifth in the main Supersport race on Sunday on the Mar-Train Racing Yamaha, conceding more ground in the title race even though he has moved up to joint third position in the championship table with Luke Stapleford.
Seeley was challenging at the rear of the leading bunch in Sunday’s race, which saw the safety car deployed after Chaz Beale crashed in the early stages.
Smiths Triumph rider Graeme Gowland, who won his third race in a row with victory in the Sprint showdown on Saturday, crashed out at turn two to hand the championship initiative to team-mate McConnell.
A mistake by Seeley halfway through the race left his hopes of battling for a podium place in tatters and he became embroiled in a battle with fellow Northern Ireland rider Glenn Irwin for fifth, with Seeley coming out on top.
The race was won by Luke Mossey from McConnell, with Luke Stapleford and Jake Dixon the top four.
Double British champion Seeley said: “We struggled with the same problem in both races this weekend with the bike backing into the final turn. While others enjoy that style of riding, I prefer a more in-line set-up on corner entry, which left me struggling both on corner entry and corner exit.
“I was also struggling to get the bike off the line this weekend, but that’s racing. There’s no doubting the speed of the Mar-Train Racing R6 and the strength of the package – we just need to make the most of it at Brands in a few weeks’ time and get back into the championship mix.”
Gowland won Saturday’s Sprint race at the Scottish venue from McConnell and Stapleford, which was halted prematurely when rain began to fall in the final laps. Seeley was sixth with Gearlink Kawasaki’s Irwin 10th.
McConnell leads the championship on 152 points from Gowland (111), Seeley (102), Stapleford (102) and Irwin (100).
David Haire finished 19th on the Rig Deluge Honda in Sunday’s race.
In the MCE British Superbike class, Japan’s Ryuichi Kiyonari returned to winning ways for the first time since 2011 as he won the opening race on the Buildbase BMW.
Kiyonari took the win by 4.861s over championship leader Shane Byrne and his on the Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki team-mate Stuart Easton in third, with Milwaukee Yamaha’s Josh Brookes fourth.
In race two, Byrne managed to hold off Kiyonari to take the spoils after the BMW rider had almost high-sided at the hairpin. Chris Walker finished third ahead of Brookes and Easton.
Keith Farmer finished 15th and 14th on the PR Kawasaki.
Marty Nutt twice finished third in the Ducati TriOptions Cup races, while Marshall Neill finished 10th in the National Superstock 1000 race.
In the Superstock 600 class, Andy Reid extended his championship lead with a brilliant win on the FFX Yamaha, holding off Tarran Mackenzie to win by half a second.