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Now the dust has settled on Thruxton - not that the dust had much chance to do anything other than getting wet, but the metaphor remains! - we can take our usual look back at the happenings in Hampshire. The weekend offered so much but the weather did its best to spoil that for the watching fans both trackside and at home. In the showdown battle, the first four slots look to be fairly nailed on – yes, yes, barring any mishaps – for O’Halloran, Iddon, Mackenzie, and Buchan, and with Bridewell and Hickman grinding out the results, it’s likely the rest are left fighting over the remaining two slots. And that, dear reader, is where the focus will become more intense with only four rounds remaining; twelve races to nail that showdown spot, and the pressure will ramp up with every passing race.

Jason O’Halloran provided a Thruxton thriller aboard his McAMS Yamaha R1 over the weekend as the Aussie took his second treble of the season. It’s probably a good thing that the Showdown is still a part of BSB as the last time a Yamaha was almost this dominant it caused the showdown to be introduced in the first place! Confidence is everything for a motorcycle racer and at this point in time, the Aussie is all about confidence. Nearest rival in the Championship, Christian Iddon, had a difficult weekend around the Thruxton Thunderdome* (*not our description…) a 2nd, a DNF not of his own volition, and a 9th place returned Iddon’s worst round of the season so far and now both title protagonists have a single DNF to their name. It’s only Mackenzie and Buchan that remain as the riders scoring points in every race so far this season; how telling will that be? Probably not very at this stage of the season, to be honest but it's credit to them and their consistency.

The weather did its level best to put a spanner in the works across the weekend as British Summertime continued at its unpredictable best. Deluges, wind, rain-not-rain, dry, drying, standing water, the marshals, and race direction had it all to deal with over the weekend and as always did an admirable job of keeping things as on track and on track as possible. Postponing the Honda British Talent Cup until Donington Park was an excellent decision; the lack of size and weight, as well as experience of some of the competitors in the class, would have made things exceedingly difficult and to save them from a pain in the wallet and the backside, it was unquestionably the right decision. It’s not the first time the decision has had to be taken, and it won’t be the last.

Speaking of decisions, the removal of the long lap penalty for the final BSB race at Thruxton shows just how flexible Race Direction can be. Back in ’19 there were complaints about its location, exiting the penalty loop right onto the racing line through the complex, and again this season as Ryan Vickers, desperate not to lose too much time after being penalised for shortcutting the final chicane, launched out of the loop almost into the side of Brad Ray; had the RICH Energy OMG Racing man not briefly rolled off to avoid the RAF Regular and Reserves rider, it could have been a nasty collision. Tip of the hat to Stuart Higgs and Race Direction for adjusting the penalty system to incur a 2-second time penalty rather than accept the risk of the penalty loop exit. Long lap penalties work, it’s just unfortunate that some of the British tracks don’t lend themselves to having them installed.

What of the rest of the field? A mention in despatches for Honda Racing’s Glenn Irwin had a lucky escape as he crashed at almost 120mph in race one, thankfully without injury, and before that Kyle Ryde on his Thruxton Superbike debut, was equally lucky not to be run over by Jo Francis as he was nerfed off at turn one on the opening lap before collecting an innocent Francis. Chapeau to Buildbase Suzuki’s Danny Kent after taking his maiden British Superbike podium in race three to cap off an excellent showing at his local circuit. The former Moto3 World Champion is looking increasingly at home on the Buildbase Suzuki as the season progresses and as the championship moves to circuits he knows well, the confidence will continue to climb. Ryde's team-mate Brad Ray put on an excellent show in Race 2, proving once again that when the situation is right for the Kent rider, he's as fast as anyone in the Championship. Expect to see more of the same from Brad Ray as the championship moves to Donington and Cadwell, two circuits that have yielded some of his best championship results.

With just 19 points separating FS-3 Racing’s Rory Skinner in 7th from Ryan Vickers in 11th, it’s going to be a battle royale to secure those final two positions. Other than the riders already battling, Messrs. Skinner, Jackson, Ray, Irwin G., and Vickers, it’s difficult to see anyone else getting involved in the scrap, although if Josh Brookes manages a miraculous turnaround in form and Danny Kent continues to ride the crest of confidence – and with some strong tracks coming up for Kent and the Suzuki, it’s far from improbable – and currently just 39 points shy of the final slot, it’s all to play for, and make no mistake, that fact won’t be lost on Kent and his crew.

As for Josh Brookes, the season seems lost already. The double BSB Champion looks a shadow of the force he was last year as he battles to the lower end of the points finishes and with no sign of the nightmare season ending, it could be a long slog to Brands Hatch in October. Yeilding just two points from the three races at a track where he’s traditionally stronger than the competition set alarm bells ringing ever-louder as to just what is going on. Public opinion in times like these are always offered and usually without any basis of truth or knowledge whatsoever so it’s not ours to speculate what is or isn’t going on with the PBM Vision Track rider, because, let’s be honest, nobody outside of the team does either and if they do, they’re keeping tight-lipped. It’s a tough career sometimes, when it’s good the rewards and adulation are second to none but in circumstances like these the goldfish bowl gets smaller and smaller and the microscope ever-more powerful.

It’s a weekend off for the teams and riders coming up before a fairly punishing schedule takes hold as the series goes to Donington Park and Cadwell Park in quick succession before a weekend off for MotoGP sees another pair of back-to-back rounds at Snetterton and Silverstone. At this rate, it’ll be Christmas before you know it! One thing is for certain, though, nobody in that top eleven can really afford an injury after this point in the season as the knock-on effect could be increasingly detrimental to the most intense part of the season but also neither can they afford not to push for that final two showdown places. It's going to be epic!

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