After much anticipation ahead of this season, the 2019 British Superbike season got underway under steaming sunshine in Silverstone.
Starting from pole, Tarran Mackenzie had to see his McAMS Yamaha teammate, Jason O’Halloran, take the holeshot. This would set the tone for the rest of the race as far as the battle for the win was concerned.
Behind, Scott Redding (Be Wiser Ducati) maintained the third place with which he started the race, ahead of Josh Elliott (OMG Racing Suzuki).
Can't really put it into words right now. Just thank you to everyone who's supported me and sent me so many lovely messages! My team @OMGRacingUK have been working so hard and gave me a great bike!! To all my sponsors who have stuck with me I appreciate all the support ❤️ pic.twitter.com/Zx9NI5bxO5
— Josh Elliott (@JoshElliott_10) April 21, 2019
There was a gap appearing behind Elliott back to fifth-placed Dan Linfoot (Santander Salt TAG Yamaha).
Then the safety car came out after an incident which could have been much worse than it was in reality. Glenn Irwin (Quattro Plant JG Speedfit Kawasaki) collided with Dean Harrison’s Silicone Engineering Kawasaki after the TT winner crashed in Becketts. Both riders and their bikes were lying in the middle of the track, but fortunately for both of them, and everyone else, both the bikes and the riders were avoided. Ben Currie (Quattro Plant JG Speedfit Kawasaki) also went down at the same moment, but in a separate incident.
This safety car saw the pack bunched back up after the initial laps, but the same pattern arose once the race went green again.
Both McAMS Yamahas once again took off out front, gapping Scott Redding behind quite comfortably. Josh Elliott had soon tired of the view of the Panigale V4R’s bizarre tailpipe, and made his move on Redding before ten laps were up on the change of direction from Copse to Maggots.
Elliott then caught the McAMS Yamahas, who had yet to engage each other. Once on the back of Mackenzie, Elliott looked a few times at passing the 2016 British Supersport Champion in the same place as he passed Redding, but the #95 was strong enough to hold the 2015 National Superstock 1000 Champion at bay, even when he started to drop off his teammate in the mid-race.
In response, Mackenzie made a push in the final third of the race, and started to make a gap to Elliott behind whilst simultaneously closing in on O’Halloran.
Despite being within range of the Australian for a few laps, Mackenzie did not launch an attack until Brooklands on the final lap. Mackenzie dived to the inside, and blocked his teammate’s line, forcing O’Halloran a little wide and compromising the #22’s line into Luffield. O’Halloran ran a little wide in the mid-corner, and Mackenzie emulated Jorge Lorenzo in 2013 when he was up against Marc Marquez in the MotoGP. The #95 cut to the inside, and jammed his R1 on the kerb. He had turned too tight, and had to sit up slightly to avoid touching the kerb and taking both himself and his teammate out of the race. O’Halloran didn’t budge, and the contact between the two riders sent O’Halloran – who had led the race in its entirety – tumbling.
The Australian was enraged. He had dominated the race, after dominating the weekend and preseason, yet still had victory snatched from him on his McAMS Yamaha debut by none other than his teammate.
Certainly, the competitive relationship between Mackenzie and his teammate could have gotten off to a better start, but as far as Tarran is concerned he did what was necessary to win. He had one opportunity in the race to pass his teammate for the victory, and he took it. The outcome was harsh on O’Halloran, who had ridden a fantastic race, and it was unfair on the team, who had done enough to deserve a 1-2. However, Mackenzie should not be condemned – his move was one of the rider he was at the time: one in search of his first BSB win.
O’Halloran’s retirement meant that Josh Elliott, who had dropped a way off the back of the two R1s out front in the last ten laps, took his first BSB podium in his first attempt with OMG Suzuki, who also enjoyed their first BSB top three.
Certainly, whilst the main talking point of the race was what happened between the two McAMS teammates, the most impressive performance was no doubt that of Elliott. A post-race penalty for Mackenze then promoted Elliott to first, giving both him and OMG their first win in the premier class of British motorcycle racing. The win also meant that OMG Racing Suzuki took the lead in both the teams’ championship and the riders’ standings.
The expectations will now be high for Elliott, perhaps unfairly, but nonetheless it will be interesting to see how he will react.
That demoted Mackenzie to second. He will undoubtedly be out for redemption in race two.
Scott Redding benefited from O’Halloran’s fall to claim a podium on his BSB debut. Whilst third was his result, his real position was fourth, and he will be keen to improve on that for the second race.
Luke Mossey rounded out the top four in what turned out to be a stunning race for the OMG Racing Suzuki squad, and one that would have far surpassed all their pre-race expectations. Mossey was able to break away from the battle for sixth behind in the middle of the race, and was closing on Redding ahead by the end.
That battle for sixth became a battle for the top five after O’Halloran’s fall, and it was Tommy Bridewell (Oxford Racing) who came out on top in that fight ahead of Andrew Irwin (Honda Racing) who impressed with sixth on his debut aboard the Fireblade.
Also impressing was Luke Stapleford (Buildbase Suzuki) who took seventh on his full-time debut in BSB, and came home ahead of yet another impresser, this time in the shape of WD40 Racing’s Claudio Corti who was eighth.
Danny Buchan (FS-3 Racing) ran wide in Brooklands in the early laps, but recovered to ninth by the end to be the top Kawasaki at the flag, ahead of BSB debutant Xavi Fores (Honda Racing) who rounded out the top ten.
Christian Iddon (Tyco BMW Motorrad) seemed to retire at one point in the race as his name dropped down the timing column, but in the end he was the top BMW in eleventh, ahead of impressive rookie Ryan Vickers (RAF Regular and Reserves Kawasaki) in twelfth, Dan Linfoot in thirteenth, Peter Hickman (Smiths Racing) and Keith Farmer (Tyco BMW Motorrad) who rounded out the points in fifteenth.
As well as the initial wave of retirements in the initial stages of the race, James Ellison (Smiths Racing), Shaun Winfield (Santander Salt TAG Racing) and Josh Brookes (Be Wiser Ducati) all retired.