BSB – Round Two – Reviews

British Superbike Championship Positions (after two rounds)

1 Bradley Ray (Suzuki) 79pts
2 Shane Byrne (Ducati) 69
3 Leon Haslam (Kawasaki) 65
4 Glenn Irwin (Ducati) 48
5 Michael Laverty (BMW) 36
6 Christian Iddon (BMW) 33
13 Jake Dixon (RAF Regular & Reserves Kawasaki) 19

Pirelli National Superstock 1000 Championship Positions (after two rounds)
1 Billy McConnell (Suzuki) 82pts
2 Andrew Reid (Aprilia) 66
3 Keith Farmer (BMW) 57
4 Joe Collier (Aprilia) 55
5 Chrissy Rouse (BMW) 52
6 Josh Elliott (Kawasaki) 37
8 Michael Rutter (Bathams Racing BMW) 34

Dickies Junior Supersport Championship Positions (after two rounds)
1 Eunan McGlinchey (Kawasaki) 110pts
2 Kade Verwey (Kawasaki) 81
3 Matthew Bower (Kawasaki) 61
4 Brian Hart (KTM) 57
5 Michael Large-Taylor (Kawasaki) 49
6 Elliot Pinson (Kawasaki) 45
19 Harris Beech (Yamaha) 6

Honda Racing’s Jason O’Halloran took his first Bennetts British Superbike Championship podium of the year in race one at Brands Hatch Indy this weekend, aboard the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade.
Lining up on the grid in eighth place The O’Show had a flying start as the lights went out, moving immediately into fifth place. Making strong passes throughout the 30-lap race and moving the Fireblade into the front pack, O’Halloran took third place by mid-race distance, holding onto the spot and crossing the line to celebrate his first podium of 2018.

Starting the second race from the second row of the grid the Aussie was run wide into the first corner, but having made some decisive passes, it wasn’t long until he was running fifth. The race was red flagged on lap seven with rain starting to fall, and a gamble by O’Halloran and the team saw the restart with an intermediate rear tyre. With heavier rain falling and O’Halloran struggling with grip the race ended early for Honda Racing.
Meanwhile teammate Dan Linfoot was forced to miss the races due to an injury picked up in FP2 on Friday. The Yorkshireman crashed out of the practice session sustaining a fracture to his C6 vertebrae. Having been released from hospital today, Linfoot will see a specialist this week. It is likely he’ll miss the next round at Oulton Park, with a plan to return to his Fireblade at the fourth round at Snetterton in June.

The Honda team will now prepare for an official test at Oulton Park on 26 April, ahead of the third round of the championship at the Cheshire circuit on 5-7 May.

Jason O’Halloran
Race one was fantastic, we came from the third row and it’s always really tough to pass here. I made some good passes with the Fireblade and moved forward the whole race to finish on the podium. Not only did we catch Haslam, but passed him and held him off. He’s one of the strongest guys in the championship, so to pass him we’re making progress. I felt that I had the same pace as the leaders but starting on the third row hurt us, especially with the battles I had coming through to get to the podium. I’m really pleased with the CBR, we made some adjustments over the weekend which had a really positive effect and I am feeling much more comfortable and happy with the progress we’re making. Race two started well for us in the dry conditions, it was spitting with rain but it wasn’t too bad I didn’t think. I got a bad start and was run wide at turn one, around here the lap time is so close and when you feel that you’ve got more than the people around you, it’s a nice feeling. I passed Shakey, Cooper and got up into fifth and thought ‘I’m in a great place this early, just keep doing your thing and keep moving forward!’ The race was red flagged and we went with a wrong tyre choice in the second part, choosing a rear intermediate tyre. When I rolled out of pit lane I thought ‘great we’re on!’ The track wasn’t too wet, it was damp and I felt like we’d made the right choice, but it just kept raining and the heavier the rain got the worse it got, I had no traction and was spinning hard, I stayed out for as long as I could, but in the end it was safer to pit. I’m now turning my attention to Oulton Park; we have a test coming up so for us that is going to be fantastic, hopefully we get some decent weather. We have some ideas from what we’ve learnt this weekend and a few things we’ve been planning to try over the last few weeks but haven’t been able to with the weather. So yeah, I’m looking forward to the test day and love racing at Oulton!

Havier Beltran
Team Manager
What a mixed weekend for Honda Racing at Brands Hatch Indy! We had the high with Jason P1 in the first practice; sadly Dan crashed in FP2 and was sidelined with an injury for the rest of the weekend. We then had the drama in qualifying with Jason’s crash and getting the CBR back out for Q3. Then there was race one and Jason on the podium! I’m so pleased for Jason and the team finishing third in the opening race, he fought well and made some great passes so that’s something to take with us and move forward with. Race two was disappointing, we were hoping to build on the podium during that race, but the rain came down and it was red flagged. It didn’t look too bad, but the rain certainly came down and the inter rear was the wrong choice for us. Inevitably Jason returned to the garage under the circumstances and that was end of play for us. We based the tyre choice on the conditions out there, it was greasy and not wet enough, but hindsight is all very well, it was a gamble that sadly didn’t pay off. We now have to build on what we have learnt from this weekend, take the podium positive and move ahead to Oulton Park in a few weeks time.

Rookie Superbike rider Tarran Mackenzie impressed many in the paddock with a top ten finish in only his third outing on his McAMS Yamaha YZF-R1, whilst Josh Brookes and his technicians improved after a difficult start to finish the final race in fifth.

It was a mixed start for the squad at the tight and twisty Brands Hatch Indy circuit as 2015 Champ Josh Brookes struggled to get the power down during practice and qualifying, eventually securing 20th on the grid. On the other side of the garage, Superbike rookie Tarran Mackenzie impressed when he made it through to Q3 to secure ninth on the grid.

Despite some major chassis modifications overnight, Brookes again struggled in relation to his own high standards, finishing race one in an uncharacteristic 13th after making up seven places at the ‘tricky to pass’ circuit. The determined Australian looked much more in sorts for race two before the heavens opened for a complete restart in wet conditions and a storming ride restored him to a strong fifth place finish as he battled through the pack.

after injuring his wrist at Donington Park, Tarran Mackenzie continued his stellar rise through the ranks to finish the opening race in his first point scoring finish of eleventh. He then went two better with a mature ride in heavy rain to take ninth place in race two.

McAMS Yamaha Superstock rider Matt Truelove had a challenging start in the Pirelli Superstock 1000 series, running top 15 pace throughout practice and qualifying but was unlucky not to score points in the opening race after slipping off at the renowned Druids hairpin early on. Setting the fourth fastest time in Sunday’s warm up, he improved on his grid position finishing 19th in race two. Yamaha supported Ryan Vickers continued his dominant run, powering his YZF-R6 to another victory in the Pirelli Superstock 600 class to comfortably lead the series.

Josh Brookes “We obviously started the weekend on the back foot and made a radical change from practice to race day. We went the wrong way slightly before the first race but the changes for race two in the dry, definitely gave me a better feeling on the bike. I think the changes were accentuated in the wet restart and I felt really confident. We’re still not where we need to be but I feel like we have a good direction to go in for the test at Oulton Park.”

Tarran Mackenzie, “I’ve got to be happy with this weekend, we’ve been there or thereabouts since practice and qualifying, both wet and dry. My targets for the year were top 15 then top 10 and we’ve manged to achieve both of those in three races so I’m really chuffed!”

Superstock rider Matt Truelove; “This round has been disappointing as we seemed to have decent pace for a top 10 all weekend but the races didn’t go our way with someone else taking me out and a struggle in race two. It’s frustrating but we take the positives and move on to Oulton.”
Ryan Vickers Superstock 600; “We’ve had a really good start to the season, it’s all down to the team really they’ve put a great package together for me to go out there and do it. I’m really happy to take maximum points from both races we’ve had, we’re getting the hard work done now so then we can maintain it throughout the year. I can’t thank my sponsors enough and everyone at Yamaha.”
Team Manager Grant Bunting summed up; “We’ve obviously had a really challenging weekend on Josh’s side of the garage but we know the direction to go in after a positive experience in the dry of race two and a really strong wet-weather setting when it rained. As for Tarran, what can you say, his performances in both wet and dry for a young Rookie rider with so little experience was phenomenal. All in all, plenty to think of before the Oulton Park test.”

Jake Dixon and the RAF Regular and Reserves Kawasaki team came away from the second round of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship at Brands Hatch wondering what might have been with their strong pace and form unfortunately not borne out with the results they deserved.

With mixed weather conditions during free practice, Jake was down in 16th place overall albeit only half a second off the quickest time but both he and the team made good strides forward in qualifying which gave a truer reflection of their capabilities. Improving his lap time by over three tenths of a second, the 21-year old subsequently lined up in seventh on the grid for the opening race and a good start saw him immediately slot into sixth spot.

Here he remained until lap eight when he got pushed back a place to seventh but in the final third of the race, he moved back ahead of Michael Laverty to climb back up to sixth and this was where he finished to pick up ten hard earned points and his best result of the season so far. The Ashby resident started the second race from the slightly higher position of sixth and with a brilliant start he immediately moved up to third which was where he was when the race was stopped early on lap six due to rain.

Restarted over the shorter distance of 22 laps and in damp, tricky conditions, the race soon developed into a five-rider fight for the win with Jake in the midst of the action. Consistently in the top three places, Dixon looked set to claim his first podium of the season but on lap 17 he got on the throttle a little bit early exiting Graham Hill Bend and unfortunately crashed out, a cruel end to a weekend that promised so much.

Weaving was also in action on the Briggs Equipment Kawasaki ZX-10R in the two Pirelli National Superstock 1000 Championship races and he qualified in an excellent fifth place for Saturday’s opening 24-lap encounter. The South African made a strong start and ran in the same position in the early stages before suffering a brake issue on lap eight. It dropped him down to 11th but he battled back to claim tenth at the chequered flag.

However, this became ninth as Josh Elliott was excluded from the results due to a technical infringement thus losing his seventh place finish. Starting Sunday’s race from fifth place on the grid once more, Jordan completed the first lap in the same position but that was as good as it got as the gremlins that had plagued him the day before returned thus ending his race ended early.

Jake Dixon: “It’s been a tough and disappointing weekend and to have picked up just ten points from the two races is nowhere near what I feel it should have been. We chipped away all weekend and the bike was working really well in the dry and sixth was a solid result in the opening race and I felt really confident in race two when I was running in third. It was a shame the rain came but in the restart I felt equally comfortable in the wet and put myself right in contention for the race win. When Leon (Haslam) came by, I got squeezed a bit and tapped the power on that little bit early and I got highsided. It just hasn’t fallen for us in the first two rounds but we’ve good pace in both the wet and dry so fingers crossed our luck will turn at round three.”

Lee Hardy, Team Owner: “It’s definitely been a frustrating weekend and one where we’ve been left to ponder what might have been. Both riders showed a lot of promise but it just didn’t go our way. Jake struggled a bit with set-up during practice and qualifying, particularly onto the start and finish, but we continually improved and had good pace in both the wet and dry which could be seen in his sixth place in race one. We were in a lot better position compared to this meeting twelve months ago and we were well on course for our first podium in the second race. Jake was putting together a strong ride but you need to bide your time when conditions are tricky and he was just that little bit eager on the throttle after Leon passed him. It caused him to crash out but we know we can run with the front boys and will do everything to get two good results next time out so we can start climbing the table.”

“Jordan was flying in qualifying and a possible podium was on the cards so it was a real shame he suffered the problem with the front brake in race one. It was more brake fade than anything else but he had to slow right down to make an adjustment before getting going again but it at least meant he was back amongst the top ten. With another good starting spot for race two, we were hopeful of some good points but it wasn’t to be so we need to get to the bottom of the brake issues he’s been having so that he can finally be rewarded with the results his pace deserves.”

Michael Rutter and the Bathams Racing team were back in Pirelli Superstock 1000 Championship action at Brands Hatch at the weekend and although the two races proved to be tough encounters, the Bridgnorth rider left the Kent venue with a brace of top ten finishes.

After Friday’s opening free practice sessions saw mixed weather at the circuit, Saturday dawned warm and sunny and Michael was immediately on the pace on the BMW S1000RR during the morning’s solitary qualifying session. Indeed, a time of 46.852s placed him eighth overall which meant he lined up for the afternoon’s 24-lap race in the middle of the third row.

A trademark strong start saw Michael jump up the order to sixth and here he remained until half race distance when fellow BMW rider Chrissy Rouse overhauled him. As the race wore on, he also fell into the clutches of Alastair Seeley and Sam Clarke and both riders overtook Michael in the final third of the race as he slipped back to cross the line in a slightly disappointing ninth place. However, this became eighth when Josh Elliott was excluded from seventh due to a technical infringement.

Starting Sunday’s second 24-lap encounter from sixth on the grid, Michael made a superb launch off the line to move into fourth but at the second corner, he got pushed wide by another rider and it dropped him all the way down the order to eighth. From that moment on, he was involved in an eight rider battle for fourth and although less than three seconds covered the octet at the chequered flag, Michael had to settle for tenth place and six points thus ending the weekend in eighth overall in the Championship table.

There were also three races on the schedule for the Dickies British Junior Supersport Championship where Alveley’s Harris Beech was having just his second road race outing. The youngster again made a favourable impression picking up his third successive points scoring finish in the opening 15-lap race with another 15th place result. However, he then improved second time out to 13th only for his weekend to end on a low note when he crashed out of 12th on the final lap of the third and final race, fortunately without injury.

Michael Rutter: “We’ve been missing Alec (Tague) from the team this weekend so have been up against it a little bit and although we ran the same set-up as what we did at the same meeting twelve months ago, I was struggling for rear grip a lot more this time, especially coming onto the start and finish. I just couldn’t get the power down and although I knew the pace would be hot this year, I was disappointed with eighth in the first race as I know I could go quicker than what I did.”

“I felt with a good start, I could run with the top six so with the launch off the line in race two being near perfect everything was looking good but it was a usual manic first lap and a couple of riders came flying up the inside of me at Druids and I got pushed way wide. All the good work was undone there and then and after that, it was an extremely hectic race. My pace was as good as anyone’s but with everyone’s lap times being so similar, it was near impossible to overtake. Tenth wasn’t ideal but on the plus side the changes we made to the bike were better so I’m looking forward to round three and getting back towards the top three.”

Norwich-based Morello Racing had a tough weekend of racing at Brands Hatch, venue for round two of the Pirelli National Superstock 1000 Championship, but riders Josh Elliott and Sam Clarke battled hard for three top eight finishes.

With the teething problems of the opening round seemingly behind them, both riders were a lot more comfortable on their respective Kawasaki ZX-10R mounts and it was reflected on the timesheets with both riders showing good pace in Friday’s free practice sessions around the 1.2-mile Indy circuit. And this was carried over to Saturday morning where warm, dry weather in qualifying saw Josh record the fourth quickest time and Sam the ninth.

The first 24-lap race got underway later that afternoon and Enniskillen’s Elliott immediately slotted into fourth where he remained until half race distance when he dropped back to fifth. He slipped further back as the race wore on, primarily due to a lack of grip, and was disappointed to have finished seventh which was one place ahead of team-mate Clarke. The Australian put in a strong determined ride to claim his first top ten finish of the season in eighth.

Unfortunately, after the race Josh was removed from the results due to a technical infringement stemming from the map accidentally supplied by Kawasaki UK not being in line with the British series rules. Sam, who was running a different map on his Kawasaki ZX-10R, was promoted up the order to seventh.

That placed the duo in eighth and tenth on the grid for Sunday’s second 24-lap race and a superb opening lap saw Josh leap up the order to fourth and Sam slot into sixth. The latter had a moment coming out of Graham Hill Bend and was out of the saddle which saw him lose a couple of places and both riders would suffer with a lack of grip once more as the race wore on. They battled manfully throughout the 24-laps and although they were unable to lap at the they pace they were capable of, Sam claimed his second seventh place finish of the weekend with Josh just three tenths of a second further behind in eighth.

Josh Elliott: “It’s been a tough weekend but after the problems at Donington, the bike was working a lot better in practice and qualifying with the first few laps of the opening race going to plan. I felt comfortable sitting behind the front three riders but around lap six or seven, the rear was spinning and sliding a lot coming out of the corners and I struggled from that moment on. Seventh was a disappointing outcome given where I’d qualified.”

“Unfortunately, it was all for nothing as we were disqualified due to an issue that was out of our hands. We regrouped for Sunday’s race and I got a good start to move from tenth to fourth to slot in behind the leading pack. The first 5-6 laps were fine but the grip from the tyres just fell off a cliff and it just got worse and worse and I was pretty powerless to do anything about it. After no points on Saturday, I had to salvage as many points as I could so it was very much a case of damage limitation.”

Sam Clarke: “Although I’d ridden at Brands before, it was on the GP circuit and the Indy track is a lot different so it was a bit like starting all over again but I was more than happy with ninth in qualifying as my goal for the weekend was to be consistently in the top ten. I didn’t make the greatest of starts in race one and got stuck behind Michael Rutter for about 20 laps as he was incredibly hard to pass. Once through, I made a bit of a break and was pleased to bring the bike home in P8.”

“Race two started even better as I moved up to P4 but I was out of the saddle at turn three and dropped back and, like Josh, I suffered from a lack of grip after that particularly coming out of the corners. Two seventh place finishes is a step in the right direction though and it was good to be fighting at the sharp end so I’m hungry for more.”

Steve Buckenham, Team Owner: “It’s been a mixed weekend and after the electrical problems we suffered at Donington behind us, we were hopeful of a strong weekend. Josh qualified well for the opening race and I felt for him finishing seventh as he deserved better but it was all to no avail as the map that had been supplied to the team by Kawasaki UK was 600rpm over the allowed limit. The bike had been dyno’d on Friday and went through practice, qualifying and the first race before we got pulled and although the team was exonerated for any wrong doing, it was frustrating to say the least.”

“All things considered, the boys did a great job over the weekend and although they’re still both experiencing issues with the set-up, it was nice to see them both fighting it out at the sharp end. It’s certainly been a tough opening two rounds and we’ve got plenty of work to do so we’ll work hard between now and the next round at Oulton Park to ensure we come out fighting.”