Qualifying for round three of the 2018 British Superbike Championship in Oulton Park got underway in scorching heat, under the blazing Cheshire sunshine. The conditions should not have been conducive to fast lap times, but Shane Byrne had different plans as he set a 1’33.979 to break the lap record by half a second and take pole position for tomorrow’s first BSB race by two tenths of a second.
Joining Byrne on the front row tomorrow will be Jake Dixon on the RAF Regular and Reserves Kawasaki, which represents a return to form for Dixon after a difficult opening two rounds of the championship, and the second PBM Ducati of Glenn Irwin, who has been quick all weekend, and also at the test last week. Any of the front three could be in with a shot at the win tomorrow – they all look particularly strong.
Leon Haslam will line up fourth tomorrow for race one, with Jason O’Halloran and the second JG Speedfit Kawasaki of Luke Mossey alongside him on the second row of the grid. After taking his first win of the season last time out at Brands Indy, Haslam will be keen to return to the top step at a circuit at which he was so prolific at last season. Also, O’Halloran will be wanting to make up for the tyre choice error in race two a few weeks ago at Brands, which ultimately led him to retire, and Luke Mossey will be eager to get on the podium after a disastrous round two of the 2018 championship.
The head of row three will be occupied by Tommy Bridewell on the Halsall Suzuki. Oulton Park is the place of Bridewell’s most recent BSB win, back in 2016 on the Tyco BMW, and a repeat would be a dream result for the number 46. Peter Hickman, who had a cash in Q2 and could therefore only manage one lap in Q3 after his Smiths BMW team repaired the S1000RR, and Bradley Ray complete the third row, and Ray will be desperate to make a good start tomorrow so as to not lose too much time to the leaders.
James Ellison was the fastest of the riders to get knocked out in Q2, and will go from tenth place tomorrow, ahead of Danny Buchan and a presumably disappointed Josh Brookes who reckons he has made some good improvements coming into this weekend with the McAMS Yamaha, but could nonetheless only manage twelfth on the grid.
The Moto Rapido Ducati of Taylor Mackenzie is fourteenth for race one. He will be joined by Richard Cooper and Kyle Ryde who made a good qualifying session on row five. Row six will be made up of Tarran Mackenzie, Jakub Smrz and the returning Ryuichi Kiyonari, whilst Gino Rea, Sylvain Barrier and Michael Laverty will start from the seventh row. Mason Law will be 22nd on race one’s grid, ahead of Martin Jessopp and Dean Harrison on row eight. The ninth row will consist of the number 8 Yamaha of Shaun Winfield, the Gulf BMW of David Johnson and Karl Phillips’ Gearlink Kawasaki. Connor Cummins will be last on the grid for race one.
featured image courtesy of suzuki-racing.com