This weekend the British Superbike Championship heads to Thruxton for round seven of the 2019 season.
Scott Redding (Be Wiser Ducati) arrives in Thruxton as the championship leader – both overall and in podium points – and off the back of another strong weekend in Snetterton where he took a double-victory. Redding now has six wins in 2019, more than any other rider, but Thruxton is yet another new track for the ex-MotoGP rider, and one of the most unique of the British Superbike calendar.
Thruxton has the highest average speed of the year, faster than any MotoGP track. Mostly, riders spend their time on the right side of the tyre, well in excess of 100mph, with smoke pouring off the rear Pirelli. The Hampshire track is a particular challenge for the riders, since with its speed and character comes enjoyment, so the riders want to push, they want to spin the rear tyre because it is fun. However, to win, of course you have to protect the tyre, and the rider who can balance the speed with protecting the rear tyre is generally the one that will come out on top. Perhaps this is no different to any other circuit, but the sheer amount of time spent on the side of the tyre with a lot of speed and a lot of power means that Thruxton is quite peculiar.
In the past, Josh Brookes (Be Wiser Ducati) has proven particularly successful at the game of tyre management in Thruxton, winning the second race last year as well as the first one in 2017; both races in 2015 on his way to the title; both races in 2014; race two in 2012 and race two in 2010. Brookes’ success in Thruxton has lasted a long time. With the success of his teammate, Redding, in 2019, there is perhaps no better circuit for Brookes to go to in his attempt to try and reclaim some momentum in the championship and to try to close the deficit he currently suffers to Redding in the podium points standings.
Peter Hickman (Smiths Racing) has seen success in Thruxton, too, winning in 2017 when Brookes crashed out and going 3-2 last year despite being hospitalised on Saturday night. Whether Hickman can replicate this form this year with the 2019 BMW S1000RR, vastly different to the old model, remains to be seen but regardless the #60 should be one to watch this weekend.
Tommy Bridewell (Oxford Racing) and Tarran Mackenzie (McAMS Yamaha) had difficult weekends in Snetterton, at least results-wise. Both riders arguably had the pace to win, but came away with the same score-card, with one third place and one DNF each. It will be important for both riders to rebound this weekend, since the two Be Wiser riders extended their advantage at the last round and with the Showdown edging closer podium points are becoming increasingly important.
On the other side, the battle for the all-important sixth-place is getting closer. Xavi Fores (Honda Racing) currently holds sixth in the championship, but only twenty-two points back is Christian Iddon (Tyco BMW Motorrad) in ninth. Between Fores and Iddon are Hickman and Fores’ Honda Racing teammate Andrew Irwin. These are the four riders fighting for the last spot, and they have three rounds, including Thruxton, to decide amongst them who would get it.
At Tyco BMW Motorrad, Glenn Irwin has arrived from Quattro Plant JG Speedfit Kawasaki to replace Keith Farmer for the rest of the season, following Irwin’s departure from the 2018 championship-winning squad. At Quattro Plant, Hector Barbera is replacing Irwin after his good impression in his replacements so far this year, first for Ben Currie, and then for Irwin in Snetterton.