This weekend the British Superbike Championship heads to Scotland and Knockhill for round five of the 2019 season, with Tommy Bridewell (Oxford Racing) leading the general championship.
Despite holding the points lead, Bridewell is at a deficit to both Be Wiser Ducati riders, Josh Brookes and Scott Redding, in the podium points which will already hold a greater significance for these three riders at this stage of the season, such is the format of the championship. Since the podium points structure was changed to 5-3-1 (five for a win, three for second, one for third) a few years ago the importance of reaching the top step in the first part of the season has grown in importance, and it is something Bridewell is yet to do in 2019, nor has he achieved it in the BSB class in Knockhill.
In comparison, the Be Wiser duo have won each of the last seven races, with Brookes doubling in Oulton Park at round two, as well as last time out in Brands Hatch; whilst Scott Redding did the triple at Donington back in the end of May. It has been Bridewell’s consistency that has him at the top of the points, but the high peaks of the PBM riders have countered their troughs to allow them to be clear at the top of the podium points.
This weekend, with respect to the Ducati riders, will be an interesting one, as Knockhill is arguably the track at which the Panigale V4R is likely to have the least advantage compared to its rivals, such is the lack of time at full throttle at the Scottish track. That said, the anti-wheelie provided by the winglets will be of some help in the undulating front straight off the bottom-gear final corner. Furthermore, the Ducati’s advantage cannot be underestimated – not only has the V4R won the last seven races, it has taken fourteen of the last twenty-one podium positions and hasn’t been off the podium since race two in Silverstone. Even still, not only does Knockhill fail to play to Ducati’s biggest strength, but it has also never seen a victory by any of the Ducati riders expected to be fighting at the front this weekend, despite a plethora of podiums from Josh Brookes in Scotland throughout his BSB career.
Perhaps, then, this weekend could provide an opportunity for the non-Ducati riders to reclaim some ground. Particularly, Tarran Mackenzie (McAMS Yamaha) will be hoping to make the podium this weekend after his double-DNS last time out in Brands thanks to his qualifying crash and resulting concussion. In his home race, Mackenzie and his nimble Yamaha could have a strong chance to take it to the V4R and pick up their first win since Silverstone race two.
Additionally, Peter Hickman (Smiths Racing) will be hoping to arrive on the podium this weekend for the first time in 2019, as will the two Tyco BMW Motorrad riders, Christian Iddon and Keith Farmer. The three were quite well-matched in Brands Hatch, and the non-stop layout of Knockhill should suit the 2019 S1000RR and its sweet handling chassis well.
In the absence of Mackenzie in Brands Hatch, it was Danny Buchan (FS-3 Racing Kawasaki) who was the ‘best of the rest’ behind the Ducati riders. Buchan went 3-3 last year in Knockhill, and will be looking to add to his two 2019 podiums achieved so far (3-3 in Oulton Park) this weekend, and to put Kawasaki on the top step for the first time in BSB this year.