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Phwoooar, what an opening weekend to the Bennetts British Superbike Championship! Who would have put money on Glenn Irwin (Honda Racing) doing the treble at Silverstone (other than Glenn himself, obvs)?! An impressive performance came from the RICH Energy OMG Racing Yamaha team as they took their best BSB weekend ever with a raft of team ‘firsts’ and four visits to the podium (should have been five but we won’t mention that…) for Kyle Ryde and Brad Ray. FS-3 Kawasaki and SynetiQ BMW stood tall on the podium with Rory Skinner and Andrew Irwin, showing some real pace between them and more importantly, their team-mates in close attention, too.

Eighteen riders scored points at Silverstone and all eighteen of those, plus one or two who didn’t, will be looking hard at securing a showdown place come September at Snetterton. Yes, yes, it’s early days and yes, Silverstone is ‘funny old place’, but points make prizes, and those podium credits count whether it’s Silverstone or anywhere else. Glenn Irwin’s 15 Silverstone podium credits already improves on his 12 of last season and the same for Ryde and Ray on 6 and 4 respectively. Will the same riders add to their tally around the undulating rollercoaster of a circuit nestled in the heart of leafy Cheshire, or will we see other names coming to the fore…?

Well, after testing last week it appears that Peter Hickman (FHO Racing BMW) could be a spoiler to the party at a circuit we know he loves (after Cadwell Park and probably the TT, of course). Brad Ray led the times in the Cheshire sunshiiiiiiiiine from Glenn Irwin, Hicky and Lee Jackson (put 10p on LeeBob for the podium this weekend) with Jason O’Halloran and Josh Brookes within touching distance. Kyle Ryde showed well at a circuit he quite openly doesn’t enjoy as did Rory Skinner, but again it was the absence of Leon Haslam (VisionTrack Kawasaki) and Tom Sykes from the top twelve that keen onlookers observed.

For Tom Sykes there is good reason for him to be a little bit off the pace around the parkland circuit on account of the fact he hasn’t ridden there since 2008 and is used to fast, flowing Grand Prix-level race circuits (Oulton Park is the track most visiting Europeans struggle at due the close proximity of Armco and large trees – I’m sure Davide Giuliano still has nightmares about the place) and fancy electronics (none of that malarkey here, old son!) so he will need time to adapt, obviously.

In Leon’s case, it’s a slightly different story; the 2018 champion is used to the circuits, used to the electronics and not too much has changed other than the larger tyre profile in 2020 and the addition of the Pirelli SCX as an optional race tyre (which in reality is quite a big set of changes) for 2022. Also, the pace has increased somewhat already this season as Brad Ray and Kyle Ryde traded lap records at Silverstone, five riders were under the Snetterton lap record in testing and Brad Ray again was just 0.030s outside the Oulton Park lap record during testing just a week ago. There are certainly some hungry young riders out there!

Who will win in Cheshire this weekend? No idea, but you can be sure the podium fight will be VERY interesting with title rivals and team-mates all wanting a share of the spoils and the same piece of Cheshire asphalt. Remember to keep an eye on that championship top eight, too, as it’s more important this year over any other because the competition for places is higher than ever! If you’re there, maybe drop over to Lodge Corner for at least one BSB race, y’know, just in case there’s a bit of drama…

Exciting times? Ohhhhhh, yes!

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