It’s another Bank Holiday and another round of the British Superbike Championship this weekend, as the series heads to Donington for round three of the 2019 season.
Josh Brookes (Be Wiser Ducati) got his championship back on track in Oulton Park three weeks ago, after a non-scoring round one at Silverstone for the Aussie. Two wins for Brookes and the PBM Ducati Panigale V4R, in which he led from lights to flag on both occasions, slingshot the #25 rider straight into the championship top six, just fourteen points off the championship lead and with the highest podium points score of any rider as we approach the third round.
Arguably, Donington should suit the Ducati even better than Oulton Park, being a wider, track with less hard braking zones. Certainly, that would make for low hopes for the opposition, as it was not just Brookes in Oulton Park who was faster than the rest, but also Tommy Bridewell (Oxford Racing) who was able to go pretty much right with Brookes in both races at round two and goes to round three as the joint-championship-leader. The #46 has since been to Imola at the World Superbike race to replace Eugene Laverty for the GoEleven squad, and performed quite impressively. It will be interesting to see this weekend if anything Bridewell learned on the WorldSBK-spec Panigale can be translatable this weekend. Similarly, the WorldSBK Ducati riders will be watching this weekend somewhat keenly to see how the bike performs at Donington, even though this weekend the BSB riders will go right at the end of the back straight and cut out the Melbourne Loop.
The anticipation of Ducati performances will also extend to Scott Redding (Be Wiser Ducati) who is searching for his first BSB win this weekend at – almost – the circuit where he took his first Grand Prix win back in 2008 in the 125cc class.
Away from Ducati, perhaps it will be once more the McAMS Yamaha pairing of Jason O’Halloran and the rider joint with Bridewell at the top of the standings, Tarran Mackenzie. O’Halloran’s season has not gone to plan so far, having scored just twenty-two points from the first four races thanks to events (mostly) out of his control in Silverstone, and then missing some pace in the second race in Oulton Park.
Whilst O’Halloran missed pace in the second race in Oulton Park, Mackenzie missed pace in all the weekend, apart from the second race when he finished fifth to retain his championship lead on countback. Both Mackenzie and O’Halloran will be looking for podium returns this weekend, at the place where the current model YZF-R1 scored its first podium back in 2015 with Josh Brookes – and this weekend they will be missing out the part of the track which in theory should suit the Yamaha the least.
— Yamaha Racing UK (@YamahaRacingUK) May 23, 2019
Whilst the Melbourne Loop section of Donington Park will be not so sorely missed by the Yamaha and possibly Ducati riders, it probably will be missed by the Kawasaki riders. The ZX-10RR has always been impressive in hard braking zones, and the hardest of the braking zones at Donington where at the Melbourne Loop section. Danny Buchan (FS-3 Racing) will nonetheless be hoping to continue his impressive form from Oulton Park – where he scored two third places – into this weekend and close his nine-point deficit to the championship leaders.
Buchan is not the only Kawasaki rider facing an important weekend – Glenn Irwin (Quattro Plant JG Speedfit Kawasaki) is also at an important point. The start of his BSB career with Kawasaki has not gone to plan, and Oulton Park saw the #2 in what seemed almost like desperation. Nothing seemed to work for him three weeks ago, but he had an impressive time at the Northwest 200 last week with a couple of podiums, so it will be interesting to see this weekend if changes which worked on the roads will also work in BSB.
On the other side of the Quattro Plant JG Speedfit Kawasaki garage there is some change, as the injured Ben Currie is replaced by Hector Barbera, who will be running the #80, who won his first Grand Prix at Donington in 2003 by six tenths from Andrea Dovizioso. Certainly, for a non-British rider, Donington is a fairly comfortable introduction to British Championship racing.
Featured Image courtesy of Ducati