The British Superbike championship arrives at the famous Cadwell Park circuit in Lincolnshire for round eight of the season. It will be the penultimate round before the Showdown starts so big points and finishing are the key. It’s Shane Byrne in form after a double at Brands Hatch, with Leon Haslam chasing hard after taking being winless since Knockhill. The Cadwell Park track is spectacular for fans, as it is the point in the season where both wheels are off the ground (intentionally) at the famous Mountain.
Shane “Shakey” Byrne is leading the championship after an incredible double at Brands. He has won three out of the last four races this year, and I wouldn’t bet against him extending that run this weekend. Shakey comes into the Cadwell circuit having had a total disaster at the track last season. Unbelievably, Byrne hasn’t won at the track since 2003, when he won his first title! Personally, I find that incredible! Don’t put it past him to end that run.
Leon Haslam returns to the Cadwell Park track for the first time since his HM Plant Honda days back in 2008, where he did the double. He comes into the round with a 25-point deficit to Shane Byrne and desperately needs to reclaim some of them points by taking wins, giving him an advantage going into the showdown with his podium credits. He finished 2nd to Byrne in both races last time out, so he has what it takes to run with the leader, but can he beat him? Only time will tell.
3rd in the championship is home to Jason O’Halloran, who has shown his skills in the 2016 season. The Australian who has fought back from horrific leg injuries after a Thruxton crash last year, has been something of a revelation this year, but this is the first time he would have been to the track on a BSB Factory Honda. His most recent result at the circuit is a 2nd to Danny Buchan in the Stock 1000 series, meaning the Aussie has the pace to go on to take another BSB win this weekend. Can he do it? The Honda rider will be looking to make it a special day for Honda, who are based in Louth, just down the road from the track.
In an upside down year that has seen him drop in and out of the top six in the title as well as the top 10 in races, Michael Laverty is 4th as it stands. The Tyco BMW rider and former GP star took his latest win in race two at Thruxton after Byrne’s early departure. Laverty won at Cadwell Park back in 2011 on the Swan Yamaha, which he later followed up with a 2nd place. If the Ulsterman can find the form he had five years ago, he is sure to be up there come MONDAY (Bank Holiday race day, don’t forget)!
Dan Linfoot is still waiting on his first BSB race win. After a mistake at Snetterton on the final corner whilst leading and a red flag whilst challenging Shakey in race two, Linfoot hasn’t finished in the top six, let alone step on the podium to gain podium credits, should he get through to the showdown. Cadwell doesn’t seem the track to see him recapture his form either, as recent results show his best finish has been a 7th. If anyone can turn it around though, then Linfoot is your man!
Richard Cooper has been a little bit off the boil recently with a podium drought currently sweeping into his side of the Buildbase BMW garage. The Buildbase BMW rider got another podium in race two at Brands Hatch Indy, but needs wins if he is to be there at the end of the season. The rider from Hucknall, Nottinghamshire, will be looking to make a return to the podium at Cadwell Park, after his 8th and 7th last season. Cooperman is without doubt capable of making a fist of things, but he is just three points ahead of in-form Luke Mossey, who occupies 7th in the standings.
The battle for the showdown is boiling up nicely, with 57 points being the gap from 12th to 6th, with five races left until the top six are locked in. It will be a dogfight, as returning riders like John Hopkins get back to the front, recovering from injuries and Danny Buchan getting back on a Kawasaki he enjoyed so much success with. These two aren’t really in the hunt for the showdown so they could really be decisive in who gets through. BSB is ridiculously close this season, and even riders like Laverty and Linfoot aren’t safe yet. Keep your eyes on Luke Mossey, James Eliison, Christian Iddon and the in-form Glenn Irwin to launch a big attack on the top six.
The BSB riders have also had a game of musical chairs during the three-week break. Howie Mainwaring-Smart left the Smith’s BMW to join the vacant seat at ePayMe Yamaha. Stuart Easton, who left the team earlier on in the season, joins Moto Rapido Ducati, who parted company with former Stock 1000 champion Danny Buchan. Buchan re-joins forces with MSS Tsingtao Kawasaki Racing, the team he rode for in 2014 on his way to Stock success. Ryuichi Kiyonari has also left the Halsall Bennett’s Suzuki team, who are yet to replace him.
You can find out what will happen on Sunday. As well as joining us for our live text commentary by Kiko Giles, you too can also watch it live, free to air on Quest! You can follow @PitCrew_Online for the live text commentary and also @MotoGPKiko for all things bikes and boring. If you are on Instagram, then you can follow ‘crewontwo’ for all the bike racing pics from across numerous series!
Thanks to Gareth Davies for the wonderful images he continues to provide.