IT'S A QUICK TURNAROUND FOR THE TRAVELLING VILLAGE THAT IS THE BENNETTS BRITISH SUPERBIKE CHAMPIONSHIP AS THEY ROLL INTO THRUXTON CIRCUIT AFTER A TWO-YEAR ABSENCE
Here we go again… IT’S RACE WEEK!! No sooner has Brands Hatch finished than the build-up to Thruxton has begun! The first of two back-to-back race weekends takes us to Thruxton, the former airfield circuit that provides some of the closest racing of the year – and based on the season so far, it’s going to be even more spectacular than usual! The shortened 2020 season meant that the travelling village didn’t make it as far as Hampshire, so the massed ranks of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship and its support classes make a welcome return to the fastest circuit on the calendar.
McAMS Yamaha man, Taz Mackenzie, was crowned King of Brands on Sunday evening after amassing the highest points score from the three races while team-mate, Jason O’Halloran, endured a difficult Saturday in Kent. The Wollongong Wizard second in the standings going into the third round of the year, slipped from his R1 Yamaha in Qualifying, leaving him a lowly 18th on the grid for Race 1. Sunday was a less torrid affair with no ground lost to Christian Iddon in the title battle as the championship top three of Iddon, O’Halloran, and Mackenzie scored 52, 52, and 61 points, respectively.
Iddon’s team-mate, Josh Brookes appeared to have made a breakthrough in the set-up on his VisionTrack Ducati in the final race of the weekend; looking strong in the mixed conditions in the red-flagged third Superbike race, Brookes fought off the challengers in the dry second part of the race and seems to be finally moving in the right direction after a nightmare start to his championship defence. Thruxton is a happy hunting ground for Brookes, as well as the scene of his first BSB win, it’s a strong track for the Bringelly man and an ideal place to mount to get the title defence underway fully.
The best of the rest from Brands Hatch were SYNETIQ BMW’s Danny Buchan who returned a hattrick of fourth places around the full GP circuit to firmly keep himself in the title hunt and Oxford Racing MotoRapido flyer, Tommy Bridewell who, after qualifying second fastest and snatching two second place finishes, limped out of the final race with a broken chain. Both riders will be a force to be reckoned with at Bridewell and MotoRapido's local circuit as they ride with the confidence that consistent results bring.
Like Silverstone, Thruxton is a favourite circuit for almost every rider as it’s one of the few places that really allows the rider to use all available horsepower, spinning up the rear tyre in search of that all-important drive. It’s a remarkable sight through Church and Village as the rear tyre smokes and slides, protesting at the abuse metered out by the pilot’s right wrist! The asphalt at Thruxton is notoriously abrasive which has a massive effect on tyre life to a point where the popular SCX Pirelli rear boot has been withdrawn from use this weekend. It’s the right move, as nowhere else in the UK does the surface have such a detrimental effect on the rubber and after two years away from the circuit and no testing there, Pirelli has made the call to leave the new soft tyre at home.
Last time out at Thruxton it was Andy Irwin and Josh Brookes who shared the wins aboard their Honda Racing and PBM Ducati Panigale machines as the Ulsterman took race one and the Aussie race two. The McAMS pair have ground to make up and a point to prove at Thruxton after a torrid 2019 visit that saw Mackenzie side-lined and O’Halloran carrying the effects of the early-season shoulder injury. Shane Byrne still holds the fastest-ever lap from Q2 at 1:13.843 and remains the only time a rider has gone under the 1m 14s barrier. Interestingly, Josh Brookes posted the fastest lap of the weekend in Race 2 last time out at Thruxton as only the second man to drop into the 1m 14s bracket across the weekend with a 1:14.655 after team-mate Redding topped FP3 with a 1:14.916 lap on Saturday morning.
Expect a battle royale over the three Bennetts British Superbike races as well as the support classes with points to be won and points to prove across all classes. National Superstock will be a feast for the eyes as the different electronics packages will provide strengths and weaknesses for the BMW, Honda, Suzuki, and Kawasaki riders. RICH Energy OMG Racing's Billy McConnell leads the way in the championship however Fraser Rogers Aprilia RSV4 will be a force but just how well he can preserve that rear tyre will be key around his local circuit as the big Italian machine runs fewer electronic aids than the competition due to its 1100cc engine capacity.
The final word goes to Brad Jones, who crashed at Clarke Curve on the opening lap of Saturday’s BSB race at Brands Hatch. Our thoughts are with him, his family, friends, and team as he fights his biggest battle yet.
Catch the action live on Quest TV on Saturday and Sunday, starting at 1pm as well as via the Eurosport app and live timing and circuit commentary with the legendary Fred Clarke and pit lane reporter, Larry Carter right here, just click 'live timing' https://www.tsl-timing.com/event/213004