After the usual break for the Isle of Man TT, the British Superbike Championship is back in action this weekend, three weeks on from a historic round at Donington Park.
Scott Redding (Be Wiser Ducati) became the fiftieth rider to win a BSB race in the first outing at Donignton three weeks ago, and backed up that debut win with two more on Sunday to take the triple. Redding was able to make winning a BSB race look fairly straightforward in Donington, however that is expected to change this weekend in Brands Hatch, where Redding has never raced. It will be interesting to see how the #45 fares at a track where the whole field, essentially, have infinitely more track knowledge than him. This will be a new experience for Redding, since in Oulton Park he at least had the benefit of eighteen laps at the test day in the run up to the race weekend to learn where he was going.
On the other side of the Be Wiser Ducati garage is the double winner from twelve months ago, Josh Brookes. That double came on the McAMS Yamaha in 2018, and with the Panigale V4R that Brookes is piloting this year having won the last five BSB races – with Brookes doubling up in Oulton Park before Redding’s Donignton treble – and with Brookes’ record in Brands, where he is second only to Shane Byrne for total wins, it is hard to see past the Aussie to at least take an overall this weekend.
However, the McAMS Yamaha riders, Tarran Mackenzie and Jason O’Halloran, should be able to take the fight to Brookes and the V4R with the YZF-R1 which suits the fast, flowing nature of Brands Hatch quite well. Both McAMS Yamaha riders have arguably disappointed since round one at Silverstone, where they were quite dominant, with only one podium between them since then, courtesy of Mackenzie in the third race at Donington. Perhaps it is important to remember that 2019 is just Mackenzie’s second season in BSB, and the first year for O’Halloran in BSB outside of Honda. Either way, the expectation will be there for the two riders this weekend, one in which they will both be expecting top results.
Tommy Bridewell (Oxford Racing) has enjoyed a fantastic start to the BSB year, and that earned him a place on the WSBK grid for the previous two rounds at Imola and Jerez in place of the injured Eugene Laverty at Team Goeleven. With Laverty expected to be back on the World Championship grid from the next round in Misano, Bridewell can now return his entire focus to BSB, a championship which is distinctly within the possibilities of the #46 – one that he can win. However, Bridewell is yet to win in 2019, and that monkey must be removed from his back quickly if he is to seriously contend for the title.
In addition to Redding’s success in Donington, the triple podium of Xavi Fores (Honda Racing) and the impressive performances of Hector Barbera (replacing Ben Currie at Quattro Plant JG Speedfit Kawasaki) meant it was a weekend for the international riders three weeks ago. With Currie out injured, Barbera is back this weekend for his first taste of Brands Hatch, whilst Fores – fresh from the announcement of his participation with the HARC-PRO Honda squad at the Suzuka 8 Hours in July – returns to Brands Hatch for the first time this decade in search of more top threes.
Peter Hickman (Smiths Racing) has had a slow start to the BSB year, scoring just forty-one points in the opening three rounds. However, despite missing out on the Senior TT on the Isle of Man, it was quite a successful week for Hickman, so it will be interesting to see if he can bring that form to the short circuit.