As the Bennetts British Superbike Championship heads to the Cheshire countryside for it’s fourth meeting of the season at Oulton Park, let’s recall what took place during the first half of the truncated 2020 season.
The action got underway at Donington Park with Honda Racing’s Andrew Irwin making the headlines for both the right and wrong reasons.
Northern Irishman Irwin took the first two races of the season ahead of brother Glenn before controversy reigned in the final race of the weekend when Andrew collided with VisionTrack Ducati’s Josh Brookes, which led to the Australian rider crashing out of the race at Hollywood.
While replays showed that there was a gap that many believed Irwin was right to attempt to exploit, the BSB officials took a rather dim view on the incident, claiming that the Honda rider had made ‘unfair and avoidable’ contact and disqualified Irwin from the race and ordered him to start the next race from the back of the grid. The incident had no effect on the race winner as Oxford Products Ducati’s Tommy Bridewell took the spoils.
After a decade of trying, Christian Iddon finally claimed his maiden BSB in race one of the second meetings at Snetterton. The Mancunian rider was embroiled in a tough battle with VisionTrack Ducati team-mate Josh Brookes before taking the lead with five laps remaining and then sprinting clear of the Australian to claim a comfortable victory.
Brookes took his first victory of 2020 in the second Snetterton race after an intriguing tussle with championship leader Glenn Irwin. The two men battled hard and traded the lead until a mistake by Irwin allowed Brookes to build a decisive lead. The Honda rider attempted to snatch the lead back at Agostini’s but ran wide thus shutting the door on his hopes of victory.
Irwin responded with a win of his own in the third race of the meeting to prevent a Ducati hat-trick and extend his lead in the standings by 23 points. Despite being as low as seventh at the end of the first lap, Irwin showed great determination to fight his way through the pack and eventually take the lead during lap 10. The Honda man wouldn’t surrender his position and finished 1.138s ahead of nearest challenger Tommy Bridewell.
The championship front runners had their noses bloodied at the third meeting of the season at Silverstone as two more riders took the spoils to take the tally of BSB competitors taking victories in 2020 to a magnificent seven.
Tarran Mackenzie on the McAms Yamaha took an emotional win one tenth of a second ahead of Buildbase Suzuki’s Kyle Ryde with Yamaha team-mate Jason O’Halloran taking third place. Mackenzie showed tremendous pace to fight his way through the pack from twelfth position to take the second victory of his BSB career, his first coming at the same venue in 2019.
Buoyed by his maiden BSB podium in the first Silverstone race, reigning British GP2 Champion Kyle Ryde backed up his impressive form in the early rounds to claim victory in races two and three in Northamptonshire. In the second race, Ryde perched himself behind long-time race leader Josh Brookes before opening up the taps and making his move on the Australian on lap 27. Ryde soon pulled the pin and scorched clear, eventually coming home a comfortable 1.686s ahead of the Ducati rider.
In the third race of the weekend, Ryde put in a dominant performance and controlled the pace of the race to romp home 1.549s ahead of race one winner Mackenzie.
Going into the Oulton Park round, it’s Glenn Irwin who heads the championship some 35 points clear of VisionTrack Ducati’s Josh Brookes and Oxford Products Ducati’s Tommy Bridewell. Ryde’s brace of victories at Silverstone catapulted him into fourth place ahead of McAms Yamaha’s Jason O’Halloran (the only rider in the top seven to have not yet won a race in 2020). Christian Iddon sits in sixth place, five points clear of Tarran Mackenzie.
It’s all to play for now as we enter the business end of the season with race one of the weekend at Oulton Park getting underway at 16.15 on Saturday (September 18th).