Hickman, the outright lap record holder around the TT Mountain Course, was drafted in to the team at the last minute as a replacement rider for Markus Reiterberger, who was hospitalised due to a serious bout of flu.
The Lincolnshire rider completed his free practice on Saturday in warm, sunny conditions and recorded his fastest ever lap around the Leicestershire circuit with a 1m 28.567s. Hickman then went into qualifying held in damp conditions and secured an incredible second row start as fourth fastest competitor.
But Saturday’s first race was run in wet conditions and Hickman was naturally apprehensive having not ridden the World Superbike-spec BMW in the rain. Knuckling down, Hickman was in eighth position at the end of lap one, before passing Toprak Razgatioglu on lap two and remained in seventh position for much of the race. On lap 11, he was overhauled by Leandro Mercado, but series leader Alvaro Bautista crashed one lap later elevating Hickman back to seventh place which he held to the chequered flag to take nine world championship points.
Hickman said: “I am really happy to be in the top 10; it’s a great result for me and the team, especially as I had not ridden the bike in those conditions before. It was fully wet for the race which was a bit of an unknown for me. The start was not the best as I fell back to about 10th but I fought my way back through to seventh. I am really happy with the bike; I am still learning and trying to understand what the bike will and won’t do, especially with the electronics. But I am happy and so is the team so it’s all good.”
The short 10 lap Superpole race was held on Sunday morning with Hickman starting from the second row, but the race ended prematurely for him when, while running in 12th place, his BMW encountered an engine fault. Despite reacted quickly and pulling off the circuit to avoid spilling fluids from his machine, a number of other riders slipped off on the oil which immediately brought out the red flag.
Starting the final race from the fourth row in 11th place, Hickman held his position throughout the 23-lap affair to pick up a further five world championship points.
Hickman said: “I was struggling with rear grip in that last race. There was not really sufficient time to make the changes on the bike based on what we had learned in the first race due to what happened in the Superpole race. But overall, I think I did a good job for the team and I have to thank Sean Muir and BMW Motorrad for giving me the chance to race at world level this weekend. I must also thank Dunlop UK for releasing me from the event I was to do in France, plus of course my Smiths Racing team for their support. It’s been a good experience for me this weekend to work within a World class team and I have really enjoyed it.”
Hickman returns to British Superbike action next weekend, July 19-21, when the series heads to the Snetterton circuit in Norfolk.
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Images courtesy of BMW Group.