THE HOME OF SOME OF THE MOST EXCITING AND INTENSE RACING ACROSS A BRITISH SUPERBIKE WEEKEND, THE SUPPORT CLASSES ARE IN FULL SWING FOR '21
The support classes for the Bennetts British Superbike Championship are well underway for 2021 so we thought we’d take a little look at the story so far. The action in the Pirelli National and Junior Superstock championships, the Honda British Talent Cup, the British Supersport, GP2 and Junior Supersport series and the Ducati Cup has provided some fabulous entertainment for the fans at home and trackside as the stars of the future – and the past in one particular case! – get to grips with their season.
The HEL Performance British Supersport Championship had a busy start supporting the British round of World Superbikes with four races over the weekend to kickstart the championship into life. Former British Motostar champion and Supersport 300 campaigner, Tom Booth-Amos, joined the throng as a wildcard and unsurprisingly took three of the four wins, with Kam Dixon the other. Cameron Dawson took two second-place finishes at the former home of the British Grand Prix, quietly going about his business before taking a double win as the grid joined BSB for the first time this season at Thruxton. With Adon Davie and Ash Barnes showing championship-challenging consistency, the race for the title is wide open.
Time rolled back at Brands Hatch as two of the oldest competitors in the Ducati Performance TriOptions Cup took the top two steps of the podium to the delight of the crowd. Housewives favourite and former World Superbike and MotoGP veteran, Chris Walker, lit the imagination of the cheering fans as he took full advantage of the changing conditions to dominate the second of the Ducati races at Brands Hatch. Not to be outdone, TT legend John McGuinness got in on the act and chased Walker hard, settling for a close second at the flag. It really was a joy to watch as two legends of the sport proved that sometimes age IS but a number! It also put a brief halt to Josh Day’s championship domination, the reigning champ has already won the first three rounds of the ’21 season as Ed Best and Elliott Pinson do their best to chase Day down.
Former Champion, Jack Kennedy, leads the Quattro Plant British Supersport Championship after the opening four rounds. Kennedy has finished on the podium in seven of the eight races so far, taking two wins into the bargain, wrestling the championship lead from early pacesetter, Appleyard Macadam’s Brad Perie. The Kendal man launched into the season with three wins from four races, but a difficult Brands Hatch saw Kennedy take full advantage, but Perie came back strong at Thruxton with a win in the Sprint Race. Interestingly, the Dynavolt Triumph team seem to be coming to the fore at a fair rate of knots as the team adjust to the new bike with Kyle Smith taking two wins and two further podiums in the last four races.
In the GP2 class that runs with the Supersport class, RS Racing’s Charlie Nesbitt has taken the bull by the horns and stamped his authority on the prototype class from the opening race at Oulton Park. The Swindon youngster has taken six wins and two second places over the opening four rounds with the highlight being his first overall race win in the first race at Thruxton, taking the flag some 4 seconds ahead of Perie. Experienced campaigner, Mason Law, is giving chase as only Mason can with Jack Scott also taking five podiums so far, although two DNF’s haven’t helped his charge up the standings.
The Honda British Talent Cup unearths some real talent for the future. The series that catapulted Max Cook and Scott Ogden onto the European scene as well as Eddie O’Shea more recently, the field this year has brought Evan Belford and Carter Brown to the focus of the watching public as well as the continued performance of Casey O’Gorman. Sadly, for O’Gorman, a nasty crash at Knockhill and the subsequent injuries have kept the youngster out of action since Knockhill. O’Gorman, and teammates Belford and Brown have shared the victories so far with Belford the most consistent rider with three wins to his name. A postponed second race at Thruxton due to a Hampshire deluge means three races next time out at Donington for the BTC brigade as the championship heat continues to rise.
Junior Superstock is almost always guaranteed to provide action. The category is a schooling in 600cc racing as riders step up from Junior Supersport and the British Talent Cup. The step-up in size, weight, and power from a 250cc NSF Honda to a 600cc middleweight machine is the biggest change a young rider will make. The racing lines change and the strength that’s required changes, meaning a whole new learning curve for the new protagonists in the class.
It’s no surprise to see the sophomore riders at the front this year, riders like Joe Talbot, Jack Nixon, Zak Corderoy and George Stanley are the main protagonists for ’21 with worthy cameos from James Alderson and Liam Delves. It’s Nixon who leads the way, despite his first DNF of the season at Thruxton, from Stanley, Talbot and Corderoy – Stanley and Talbot are now the models of consistency in the top four with no DNF to their names so far. The championship will undoubtedly go to the wire as the season unfolds, but it’s Jack Nixon who firmly holds the cards so far with all to play for.
Finally, we turn to the National Superstock Championship, possibly the hottest championship of them all, certainly in terms of the depth of field with former champions and race winners littering the glittering field. The reigning champion, Chrisy Rouse has endured a tough start to his title defence after his switch from BMW to Kawasaki machinery. Three podiums but crucially three DNFs have seen the likeable Geordie chasing the racing somewhat as he seeks the missing link between the bottom step of the podium and the top. The top step over the last three races has been Olsen’s Land as the FHO Racing BMW man took his debut Superstock win in front of his home fans and Brands Hatch then scored a double victory at Thruxton just one week later. After career-threatening injuries sustained at Silverstone last season, Alex Olsen has made a full recovery and the victories so far are testament to his determination and the skills of the surgeons who operated shortly after the incident at Copse.
Championship leader going into Thruxton, Billy McConnell, endured a difficult Hampshire round aboard his RICH Energy OMG Racing BMW as a tight 4th place finish in race one gave way to a disappointing 11th place in Race 2. Star of the weekend was undoubtedly Buildbase Suzuki’s, Luke Stapleford; deputising for the unfortunate Tim Neave, injured at Brands Hatch after a solid start to the season, the former British Supersport Champion showed he’d lost none of his fabled tenacity or talent to haul the Hawk Racing machine to a pair of 2nd place finishes and launching himself to 10th in the standings after just two races!
Early season winner, Taylor Mackenzie had a weekend to forget as his early-season form deserted him and his Batham’s BMW but rest assured, the English Scotsman will be back as the circus moves to one of his favoured circuits, his home ground of Donington Park. Strong performances from Fraser Rogers and former BSB race winner, Luke Mossey have bolstered the championship race winner's list already this season and with the consistency and confidence growing in Tom Neave, it all bodes well for an exciting time ahead.
The support classes are the bedrock of the race weekend and the action this year has shown that the talent and bravery of the riders within are a match for any series anywhere. We can’t wait to see the championships progress over the next few rounds. With a Donington and Cadwell back-to-back, a week off, then Snetterton and Silverstone back-to-back the championships could well have a quite different look to them by the time we take a look at them again after Silverstone.