Paul Bird’s British Superbike Ducati team have announced the signing of Glenn Irwin for the 2023 British Superbike season.
The Northern Irishman retuning back to a team he has previously ridden for between 2016 and 2018, alongside series legend Shane Byrne before a short stint with FS-3 Kawasaki Racing, and then settling in the Honda camp for 3 seasons.
Glenn has been very vocal about his desires to continue racing with the Honda brand but after being approached by Paul Bird recently, Irwin has decided a move over to Ducati machinery aboard the updated for 2023 Ducati Panigale V4R is the move that he believes will take him to British Championship success.
In an interview given to the BBC Sport website, Glenn confirms he will not attend the Isle of Man TT in 2023 as a competitor, with PBM Ducati. “I love doing the event but I don’t love it as much as my kids”. It would seem for now after a desperately sad year, where 6 people lost their lives at the TT and with the recent tragic passings of Chrissy Rouse and Victor Steeman that perhaps Glenn has decided to stick with the safer of the 2 events, BSB over the Isle of Man TT.
Irwin believes he has a better chance of winning the BSB title in 2023 with PBM, even if it means he has to sacrifice entering the Isle of Man race where PBM won’t make an appearance. With this in mind it seems to have aided Glenn in choosing the best option for him for the season, after all his earnings and security come from the British Superbikes and I say fair play to someone thinking of their family first.
On the move, Glenn says“Re-joining PBM after four years apart is something I’m relishing as I feel I’ve improved as a rider and as a person during that time. The experience away has taught me a lot and to be coming back to the most successful team in the paddock is a fantastic opportunity. I’m in a stronger position now and we both know how each other works so the timing is perfect. I want to win, and Birdy wants to win and with Tommy as a very strong teammate, it will drive us all on. I’ve proved I can challenge for the title this year, so the plan is to go one better next season.”
Team Owner Paul Bird “With Glenn joining Tommy, I think we have an unbelievable line up for 2023 with the riders that finished second and third in this year’s championship. It’s great to have Glenn back as we have had a lot of success together in the past and he’s probably left what I would regard as one of the best, if not the best, team in the paddock to come to us. After a disappointing season for PBM, it will be good to be back at the sharp end.”
Seemingly the worst kept secret in silly season is finally announced. Tommy Bridewell will race with the Paul Bird Motorsport squad for 2023 in the British Superbikes.
Bridewell had been rumoured to be joining the PBM Ducati lineup for a few weeks now and the rumours gained traction when Steve Moore, Team Principal of the Oxford Products Ducati team, which Bridewell has ridden with for the last 4 years, took to Twitter to say “Thank you Tommy Bridewell, Stacey Jo and the Bridewell family for a mega 4.5 years. They said we’d never get along, but the results made our team! I’m so proud that he was in demand from several big factory teams. He has earned his place. Now we’ve got to try to beat him.”
On the same day Bridewell was quoted by Ducati on social media“It was nice to end the @OfficialBSB season on some strong results. It was my last race with @MotoRapidoBSB, I’d like to wish them every success in their future and a huge thank you for everything they have done for me.”
On signing with PBM Ducati, Bridewell said “This is my best shot at winning the title with a team that knows all about winning British Championships. I’ve known the team for a long time and this represents a fantastic opportunity as I’ve strived for years to beat them. There was a consensus that we should work together and PBM can guide me towards our goal. I’m confident in my riding and the team can give me the technical support I need. The job comes with added pressure but it’s one I’m relishing.”
Team owner Paul Bird said “I’m delighted to have Tommy joining the team for 2023. He came up to me in the paddock as a 15-year-old when he was just starting out and told me he would ride for me one day and now it’s going to happen. He’s done a great job on a Ducati over these past couple of years and has been one of our toughest rivals so to have him on board with us is fantastic and we can’t wait to get started.”
We are still awaiting confirmation of who will fill the second seat alongside Tommy Bridewell. Lots of rumours are floating around at the moment but until it is confirmed, we have to keep biting our nails and waiting for news.
I’ve written this intro something like 10 times. Deleted it and started again! Deleted it and started again! Deleted it and started again! Deleted it and started again! I’m struggling to find the words to describe what happened this weekend that you can follow in a logical pattern and order which will make sense by the end of this article. A roller coaster of action, emotion, shock, confusion, anger, deflation and a whole other host of feelings towards situations beyond our control. Huge amounts of disappointment for some, while others breath a huge sigh of relief, albeit with a concerned eye on the health of their racing colleagues but appreciating that one third of the Showdown battle is behind them.
Oulton Park in the Autumn of 2021 changed the season for two McAMS Yamaha riders. One rider’s fortunes were changed for the better, where the other lost a season’s worth of hard work in 2 days. Of course, I am referring to Tarran Mackenzie’s success and Jason O’Halloran’s disastrous ‘two crash weekend’ 1 year ago. Well it seems ‘The Curse of Oulton Park’ his struck again in 2022 for the same team, though it seems it has swept through the McAMS team like a case of the common cold! Take this in for a second… The McAMS Yamaha pairing of reigning champion, Tarran Mackenzie and [the man who up until Saturday inhabited second place in the championship standings] Jason O’Halloran have failed to finish a single race this weekend. 6 FULL RACES. GONE! The British Superbike Championship has been turned on its head.
Jason O’Halloran – Image courtessy of McAMS Yamaha
A typical Oulton Park race, of which we have seen many over the years, where riders try to pass on the tight, twisty, undulating circuit but ultimately the attempts are short in supply and the laps tick off one by one in the countdown to the checkered flag. The first shock of Race 1 came when a charging Tarran Mackenzie crashed his Yamaha R1 on the entry to Shell Oil’s hairpin, trying to bridge the gap to the front group after his poor start from his qualifying position of 5th on the grid. Oulton Park, 1 – Tarran Mackenzie, 0. The first mistake of the Showdown coming from the reigning champion. Before you know it, fans and teams alike looking at Bradley Ray entering the final lap with a 3.1 second lead over the following group of Tommy Bridewell in second place, followed by Jason O’Halloran, Peter Hickman and Leon Haslam. A group of three riders chasing Ray, but who will round out the podium on the final lap?
Now here’s the rub! After cresting Clay Hill and entering the Druid’s right-hand turn for the final time, there was contact between the motorcycles of Peter Hickman [FHO Racing BMW] and Jason O’Halloran [McAMS Yamaha] resulting in a crash for The O’Show. Hickman letting the brake off and moving for an inside line overtake, O’Halloran turns in and the end result is a trip to the gravel trap ending O’Halloran’s first race in the Showdown. A potential podium chance gone. Oulton Park, 1 – Jason O’Halloran, 0. Being it was the final lap, the incident was investigated after the race and resulted in Bennetts British Superbike Race Direction disqualifying Peter Hickman from the race, handing him 2 points on his racing license and a 3-place grid penalty for Race 2. Official BSB later released the onboard footage from Hickman’s BMW and Leon Haslam’s Kawasaki following behind.
Hickman was quick to defend his position, taking to Twitter to issue a statement.“Of course, I’m absolutely gutted that JO and McAMS Yamaha didn’t finish that race, that was never my intention and never would be. I’m just glad he’s ok. I am however shocked at Race Directions decision, don’t get me wrong they have a tough job to do but disqualification… 2 points on my race license and a 3 place grid penalty is absolutely way over the top. We are racing, not playing today [Hicky meant tiddly] winks! I stand by what I said on Eurosport after the race, there was a gap, he was weak in that area and I was strong, and I had a chance of a podium so… of course I had a go. It’s a huge shame that he tagged the back of my bike and went down, but we are racing on very small margins and sometimes it happens. As for comments about not having a go at passing someone because they’re in the showdown and lack of respect etc I… completely disagree, but each to their own eh! Thanks for the support from everyone as always, I’ll be on the grid again tomorrow and trying just as hard. Hicky.”
Jason O’Halloran took to his own social media outlets to post a picture of his accident damaged Yamaha in the McAMS garage and wrote“All my guys and I have worked so hard this year to put ourselves in a position to win this championship. A little bit of respect would go a long way.”
DNF – Mackenzie, O’Halloran, Andy Irwin, Jeacock, Vickers, Stacey.
Race 2 – Start 1
Unlike last year (which was shorts and a t-shirt) it was freezing cold on Sunday. Raining on and off and blowing a gale. Not the best weather for a British Superbike race. Declared a wet race, then after a slight delay and the rain abating, it was declared a dry race meaning any sudden rain would cause a red flag.
Dry Race – Image courtessy of Official BSB
LAP 1 Away from the lights it’s Brad Ray who gets the holeshot, followed closely by Jason O’Halloran and Tommy Bridewell. As we return to the scene of Saturday’s Race 1 incident at Druid’s corner, racing fans and teams look on in shock as Tommy Bridewell puts a move on Jason O’Halloran, that sends the McAMS Yamaha rider barreling through the same gravel trap as the previous day. Oulton Park, 2 – Jason O’Halloran, 0. Race direction investigates the incident as the race continues to circulate.
Oulton Park, Race 2 – Image Courtesy of Official BSB
Tommy Bridewell was ordered to perform a Long Lap Penalty (which is down at Hissy’s chicane while you perform the slalom between the barriers) but a lap later, while entering the Hislop Chicane Tarran Mackenzie slipped off his Yamaha R1 and slid into the path of Peter Hickman. In a split second, contact was made between Hicky’s BMW and Mackenzie’s lower body and legs. Oulton Park, 2 – Tarran Mackenie, 0. The race was then red flagged. The Mackenzie family and McAMS Yamaha later released a statement officially ending Tarran’s season due to a fractured femur, which after surgery leaves the Scottish / Derbyshire-man unfit for the remaining rounds in the 2022 season. While the medical team were dealing with Mackenzie on circuit, Bridewell gave an interview to Eurosport insinuating that he also thought O’Halloran was going too slow in the Clay Hill / Druid section and he thought the move was on.
Statement from McAMS Yamaha with reference to the Oulton Park Round.
Race 2 – Start 2
Shortened to a 14-lap race and Bridewell’s unserved long lap loop penalty was changed into a time equivalent, which effectively put him to the rear of the grid. Race 2 kicks off again for the second time, only for the race to be stopped again due to rider contact at Britten’s Chicane a few laps later. This time it was contact between Rory Skinner, Christian Iddon and a luckless Kyle Ryde. Iddon and Ryde both a victim of ‘wrong place, wrong time’. Entering the Britten Chicane, Iddon and Skinner had the same idea at the same time. Iddon lined up Ryde on the brakes into the left / right chicane and as he moved left to pull off the maneuver Skinner behind had lined Iddon up for the same move. All happening in a split second, with only a heartbeat to react Iddon realised the move wasn’t on and lined up to slide in behind Ryde but Skinner had already put his own move into action. The result was Skinners FS-3 Kawasaki crashing into the rear of Iddon’s Buildbase Suzuki, sending Skinners bike careering across the track to collect Ryde’s Rich Energy OMG Racing Yamaha from behind, bringing down the Yamaha rider.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t the end of the crash for Skinner himself. He was scooped up between the rear wheel and subframe on the Suzuki GSXR of Iddon and dragged into the back wheel. This caused Iddon’s rear wheel to lock and dropped them both to the ground. Red Flag x 2. Iddon later confirmed he has a broken bone in his hand and has also been ruled out of the Donington Park round this weekend due to the sports concussion protocol. Skinner has also suffered multiple fractures in his hand and requires surgery. It is yet to be confirmed if Skinner will attend the Donington Park round or not.
Lee Jackson. Winner of Race 2 – Image Courtesy of FS-3 Racing
Race 2 – Start 3
A relatively tame version of events, barring poor Kyle Ryde’s Turn 1 slip off which can only be put down to cold tyres. In comparison to the first two attempts, the restart running to the finish was a welcome relief to everyone but the delay had affected the schedule for the remaining races of the day. After the two earlier versions, the surprise of the restart was Rich Energy OMG Racing Yamaha’s Bradley Ray seemingly not having an answer for the FS-3 Kawasaki of Lee Jackson or the Oxford Products Ducati of Tommy Bridewell who took the win and second place respectively after Bridewell had made up half the grid at the restart, before the red flag, to then make up the rest of the grid on the 3rd restart. Lee Jackson returning to the winning step of the podium for the first time since his earlier win at Oulton Park back in the summer.
It was announced by McAMS Yamaha that a battered and bruised Jason O’Halloran would not take part in the remaining race of the day. Oulton Park, 3- Jason O’Halloran, 0. Race 3 turned out to be a very tame affair and the surprise came in the form of a battle for the win between Honda Racing UK’s Glenn Irwin and Oxford Products Tommy Bridewell, with Bridewell claiming the victory. Another great result for Race 3 was the addition of Tom Sykes and his MCE Ducati making it into the top 6, not more than a handful of seconds from the winners. In race three the temperature had dropped significantly and with the news that his closest rivals weren’t taking part in the remaining race, it seemed Brad Ray could also ensure he had a solid finish to a chaotic race meeting.
DNF – O’Halloran (Did not Start) Mackenzie (Did not start) Delves, Neave, Iddon (Did not start) Skinner (Did not start).
The overall championship has been turned on its head. McAMS Yamaha have dropped down the order to be replaced by Tommy Bridewell, Lee Jackson and Glenn Irwin, however Bradley Ray has extended his championship lead from the 13 points he had on O’Halloran coming into Oulton Park, to 40 points over Tommy Bridewell in 2nd place overall.
Tommy Bridewell, Oxford Products Ducati – Image courtesy of Official BSB
Donington Park this weekend. Who will take the second round of the Showdown in their stride and come out on the other side leading the championship?
Who do you think is going to be the 2022 British Superbike Champion?
The Showdown is finalised and now the nail biting starts. Round 8 of the BSB season was an important one for a small group of riders. Some hoping to secure their spot in the showdown, while others hoping to snatch a spot away from their competitors. In with a chance to enter the showdown were Danny Buchan, Peter Hickman and Leon Haslam and hoping to retain their place were Lee Jackson, Glenn Irwin, Tommy Bridewell, Tarran Mackenzie and Kyle Ryde.
As is always the case with British Superbikes, there is a trend for riders who have struggled in the earlier part of the season to start hitting the top 10 and Round 8 was no different. A surprise podium for Kyle Ryde after a poor showing in the last few rounds, joined by Christian Iddon in 4th, who has the skillset for this position but perhaps not the backup from him machinery. Leon Haslam fought back into the top 5 again in Race 1, as he seems to be getting the Vision Track Kawasaki dialed in albeit too little, too late. Also a surprise top 10 finish from Danny Kent and Takumi Takahashi in 11th. While regular top 10 finishers Peter Hickman, Glenn Irwin and somewhat regular top 10 finisher, Tom Sykes were in the mix too.
Danny Buchan needed to have a strong round to gain a position in the title Showdown but a lap 1 pileup seemingly caused by yet another Ryan Vickers DNF took him out along with Josh Owens, effectively ending his chance to secure a position in the top 8 positions. Tommy Bridewell was also left looking at the championship standings through gritted teeth after his Race 1 DNF when his Oxford Products Ducati Panigale stopped along the start finish straight causing his retirement from the race. Eurosport’s Steve Day and Jamie Whitham confirmed that Tommy had accidentally hit the kill switch on his bike and with the modern superbikes, it simply is not a case of flicking it back on. The bike needed to stop and reset the whole system, by which point Tommy was at the rear of the field.
Race 1. A dominant victory from Rich Energy OMG Racing’s Bradley Ray has seen him extend his lead in the championship, but more importantly his podium credits too. A very strong 2nd place from Tarran Mackenzie sees him gain a few more points in the chase for retaining his championship, especially with their championship rival Jason O’Halloran continuing a sudden avoidance of the podium positions after a poor Cadwell Park by finishing Race 1 at Snetterton down in 12th place. His position within the Showdown is secure, but with full podium credits going to rival Brad Ray, never has it been more important for the O’Show to turn in a championship winning performance. Congratulations to Kyle Ryde. Ryde ended his recent run of poor form with a 3rd place podium finish secured his place within the Showdown and no doubt gives the young rider a huge sigh of relief, and much needed boost of confidence.
Race 1 Results: – Brad Ray, Taz Mackenzie, Kyle Ryde, Christian Iddon, Leon Haslam, Lee Jackson, Tom Sykes, Peter Hickman, Glenn Irwin, Danny Kent, Takumi Takahashi, Jason O’Halloran, Josh Brookes, Tom Neave, Storm Stacey.
Race 2 started well for Ray, Mackenzie, Ryde and O’Halloran until a wheel-to-wheel collision between Andy Irwin and Jason O’Halloran caused Irwin to crash and dropped O’Halloran down the field to 6th place. Bradley Ray and Tarran Mackenzie continued to gap the field, with Bridewell chasing hard in 3rd. The laps counted down with a steady away race after an overtake from Mackenzie into the lead, with the battles continuing further down the field. Danny Buchan putting a harsh move on Lee Jackson when trying to pass up the inside at the right-hand hairpin, with contact from Buchan’s bike into Lee Jackson. Luckily Jackson was able to take the brunt of it and continue the race while Buchan moved on to attack Sykes on the MCE Ducati, which allowed Jackson to come through with him. Buchan moved on to attack McAMS Jason O’Halloran to further compound the Australian rider’s frustrations, also allowing Lee Jackson past. One lap to go and Bradley Ray has done his research behind Mackenzie. Closing right up on the rear wheel they entered the last lap Bradley Ray timed his slipstream to perfection, putting his move on Mackenzie in the chicane at the midpoint leaving no way back for Taz.
Race 2 victory cemented for Ray followed by Mackenzie, Bridewell, Glenn Irwin, Hickman, Ryde, Buchan, Jackson, O’Halloran, Sykes, Skinner, Brookes, Stacey, Neave, Mizuno.
Race 3. Started in much of the same way as Race 2. Not a slugfest, no wild moves. Plenty of tyre saving going on after Taz took the lead from Ray. Storm Stacey’s stricken Kawasaki brought out the safety car at the midpoint of the race. Upon resuming the race, when rounding the last corner, it seems Mackenzie had misjudged his distance to the safety car and closing speed, as by the time Tarran made his jump for rolling race restart, Mackenzie, Ray and Glenn Irwin overtook the safety car while it was still on the track, albeit just slowing down while entering the pit lane. Each rider was handed a 2 second time penalty which affected the finish positions of Race 3. Bradley Ray had enough of a gap to maintain 1st place. Glenn Irwin finished in 2nd on the track but was demoted to 4th after the penalty which put Peter Hickman in 2nd place and Tarran Mackenzie just managed to pickup 3rd on time after his penalty. A bit of a mess really and it took some time to explain to the riders what happened, but Stuart Higgs of British Superbike explained that the result stands and the rules must be applied. Tarran was later hit with 2 penalty points on his racing license as he lead the field into the early race restart.
The second most important round of the year? The final round before the Showdown positions are confirmed.
With 3 races to go until the top 8 contenders for the British Superbike Championship are promoted into the Showdown, their points reset to 1000 and their podium credits applied, Snetterton is one of the most important rounds of the year. People are saying that the pressure is now off for Bradley Ray, Jason O’Halloran and Rory Skinner, who have already mathematically secured a place in the Showdown, but those people are wrong. The pressure is relentless now. Podium credits are King.
At the point of writing this piece, there are only 2 podium credits between O’Halloran and Ray should the showdown start now. O’Halloran is on 48 while Brad Ray is on 46, with Tarran Mackenzie back on 24 podium credits. After a poor round at Cadwell Park, O’Halloran has lost his advantage to Ray significantly while also losing the lead in the current overall standings. However, under the British Superbike format and rules, maintaining the lead is not the priority as the points total will be reset after the Snetterton round. All the riders in the top 8 of the standings will enter The Showdown. Their points total will be reset to 1000 points and their podium credit will them be applied (e.g. O’Halloran would be on 1048 and Ray on 1046).
Podium credits are accrued over the whole season and applied at the start of the Showdown phase. Five for the win, 3 for a 2nd place and 1 credit for a 3rd. This is exactly what the format is designed for. It creates a winner takes all situation and if O’Halloran and Ray continue to share the wins into the final round, it would create a next goal wins scenario where whomever wins the final race would take the championship gold and glory.
Rory Skinner isn’t under as much pressure as the likes of O’Halloran and Ray due to the fact he has 9 podium credits and without being defeatist, I don’t think anyone expects him to challenge for the 2022 championship. Skinner is effectively the grey man that will want to perform at his best for himself and his team in the hopes of finishing as high up as possible but Skinner becomes a victim of the scoring system where he could potentially move from 3rd overall to 7th or 8th due to his lack of time spraying the champagne this year.
The riders who haven’t quite done enough to secure their spot in The Showdown, but are currently inhabiting the remaining places available are: –
Lee Jackson – Cheshire Mouldings FS3 Kawasaki
Glenn Irwin – Honda Racing UK
Tommy Bridewell – Oxford Products Racing Ducati
Tarran Mackenzie – McAMS Yamaha
Kyle Ryde – Rich Energy OMG Racing Yamaha.
There are also 3 riders capable of securing a spot in The Showdown at the expense of one of the riders named above: –
Danny Buchan – Synetiq BMW only 14 points from the Showdown.
Peter Hickman – FHO BMW only 34 points from the Showdown.
Leon Haslam – VisionTrack Kawasaki only 35 points from the Showdown.
There are 75 points up for grabs at Snetterton. It is a very important round for these riders too. Riders like Jackson, Irwin, Bridewell, Mackenzie and Ryde are vying to keep their place within the showdown while Buchan, Hickman and Haslam are trying to swipe their spots away from them. Couple this with a recent dip in form for Kyle Ryde, and a poor Cadwell Park round for reigning champion Tarran Mackenzie, those final spots are looking like they’re up for grabs.
As it stands, Tarran Mackenzie has good form at Snetterton landing himself on the podium in all 3 races during 2021, taking 2 wins and a 2nd place. O’Halloran took two 3rd place finishes and a race win. It goes without saying the McAMS boys are expected to be running at the front during the Snetterton round and with Bradley Ray’s recent form, he should be right in the mix too.
The Norfork circuit, not far from the Southwest coast nr Norwich is another one of Motorsport Vision’s venues, owned by Jonathan Palmer’s company who also own Cadwell Park, Brands Hatch and Oulton Park. Snetterton is another airfield circuit, originally RAF Snetterton Heath opened in 1943 and closed in 1948 after World War 2 when it was handed back to the local landowners. Soon after in the 1950’s it became a venue for two and four wheeled racing and has changed layout somewhat over the years to its current one, with the addition of the infield section in 2011 to make up the Snetterton 100 track, 200 and the 300 track formats. The Snetterton 300 layout used by British Superbikes is 2.969miles long and is the second longest racing circuit in the country. To this day it continues to host all manner of racing events, including British Superbikes and British Touring Cars.
Well, that wasn’t what we were expecting, was it? I for one am a little shocked at the somewhat disappointing round for the insanely dominant McAMS Yamaha team. I expected a Yamaha 1, 2, 3 in every race with Bradley Ray in 3rd but it just goes to show that Cadwell is the Monaco of BSB.
Qualifying is everything and with round 7 trailing the Superpole method (just one flying lap to set your time) it goes to show how your weekend can go to s**t before the lights even go out for Race 1. Seems the season has fallen apart for a few names this weekend too. So where do we start?
I said on a podcast recently that I thought Bradley Ray wouldn’t be able to turn up the pressure on Yamaha counterparts Jason O’Halloran and Tarran Mackenzie. I (WRONGLY) claimed that Jason and Taz would turn the amplifier up to 11 where Brad would be at 10 due to the pressure of having never fought for a BSB title. How wrong was I? Where Jason and Tarran seemed to let the races slip away from them for one reason and another, Brad Ray was there to pickup a win and a couple of second place finishes to seriously stick it to rival Jason O’Halloran. Even going as far as to swap the positions in the championship standings. Bradley has moved from second in the standings to 1st overall. Ray now also sits on 46 podium credits v O’Halloran on 48 credits meaning not only has Ray taken the lead in the overall points in the build-up to the Showdown, but he has also closed the podium credits to 2 points. Meaning if the Showdown started tomorrow, O’Halloran would be in 1st place on 1048 points to Ray in 2nd place on 1046 points.
It couldn’t be closer if it was engineered. It makes me very nervous for O’Halloran as he also saw his season slip away in 2021 in the Showdown rounds. Fingers crossed this is not a repeat of that. The positive for O’Show to take is Tarran Mackenzie also seemed to have a somewhat disappointing round buy his own high standards. Were it not for Ray’s dominant performance, we would have said Cadwell Park clearly isn’t a Yamaha circuit this year, as surprising as that sounds due to it being a circuit rewarding of the best handling bikes.
Race 1 started with contact between Danny Buchan on his Synetiq BMW and MCE Ducati’s Tom Sykes. Both riders starting further up the grid than they are used to this year and a move by Buchan in the hairpin at the penultimate corner saw him line up for the inside of Sykes, only for Tom to tip in and close the door to Danny meaning a rear wheel to front wheel collision sent both riders on to the grad re-joining much further down the field. However, a lifeline was thrown to both riders in the form of a serious collision on the mountain section involving Dan Jones and Lee Jackson’s stricken FS3 Kawasaki motorcycle. Dan crested the mountain, unsighted to the Kawasaki ZX10 and ultimately collided with the bike. The race was red flagged, Dan was transported to hospital by Air Ambulance. Luckily for Dan a bruised lung, some internal bleeding and a broken collar bone were the worst of it. He considers himself lucky to be alive after a big one.
The race was re-started with everyone in their original positions, barring the riders that were unable to make the restarted race. Ray, Rory Skinner and Danny Buchan were able to lead off from the front of the grid. Cadwell Park doesn’t create the same racing spectacle as we saw, for example at the previous round at Thruxton. Cadwell is a very tricky place to overtake and it can be a bit of a procession. Hence my earlier remark as to it being the Monaco of BSB.
Rory Skinner was able to pull off a strong aggressive move under Ray at Chris curve, a long right-hand corner leading into a right / left flip flop chicane called the Gooseneck. Ray was able to take the position back and tick off the laps down to a race win and a very impressive 2nd place podium finish by Rory by just under a second with Danny Buchan rescuing a podium from the jaws of a top 10 finish that would have been prior to the red flag earlier. The biggest surprise of Race 1 was the lack of pace shown by the reigning British Champion, Tarran Mackenzie. Although not a great weekend for him, he remained positive while bemoaning a lack of rear grip but saying he just needs to look to the next round at Snetterton.
Race 1 Podium: – Bradley Ray, Rory Skinner, Danny Buchan. O’Halloran finished 4th with Mackenzie in 11th.
Race 2 on Sunday was slightly different in terms of a great start off the grid saw Buchan lead off with Bradley Ray and Tommy Bridewell chasing. Such was the lead the front three were able to clear, they were the only riders to make it to lap 16 when the race was red flagged due to a DNF for ‘King of the Mountain’ Josh Brookes when he slipped off his MCE Ducati over the mountain section leaving his V4 Panigale in the middle of the track. Race Direction were quick out with the red flags to ensure we didn’t have a repeat of the Dan Jones crash, and fair play to Josh Brookes, he was up on his feet straight to the bike to do his best to remove it from the racing line.
Race 2 was somewhat rejuvenating for riders such as Leon Haslam on his Vision Track Kawasaki and Andy Irwin on his Synetiq BMW. In desperate need of some form, Haslam, Buchan, Hickman and Irwin were able to bring their bikes inside the top 10 to a better run of results finishing in front of both 7th and 8th place current holders in the overall championship standings, Tarran Mackenzie and Kyle Ryde. Based on Thruxton and Cadwell Park, suddenly it doesn’t look such a shoe in for Mackenzie to be in the showdown and if I were Kyle Ryde, I would be very nervous indeed. It could be that if Taz and Kyle have a bad weekend at Snetterton, any of Buchan, Hickman or Haslam could find themselves in the Showdown at their expense.
Race 2 Podium: – Danny Buchan, Bradley Ray, Tommy Bridewell. O’Halloran finished 8th with Mackenzie in 11th again.
Race 3 was quite simply a belter. Not so much in terms of the win. The front running riders were showing so little signs of being able to put a move on each other that most of the TV time went to covering the fight for 4th downwards. Stars of the show? Leon Haslam and Rory Skinner. They must have swapped positions 10 times. Skinner kept slinging it up the inside of Haslam at Chris Curve, which had quickly become his signature move while Leon kept out-dragging Rory down the Park Straight into Park Corner for Rory to turn a tighter line and cut back in front. It must have been frustrating for both riders to keep putting the manners on the other, only to have them chomping back again at the first opportunity with Haslam ultimately taking the honors again for 4th place over Skinner in 5th. Another strong finish by Peter Hickman and Andy Irwin bringing up the tail end of the top 10 with O’Halloran in 9th and Mackenzie in 10th.
Race 3 Podium: – Buchan, Ray, Bridwell.
MCE Ducati had another poor weekend with Sykes not finishing Race 1, 10th in Race 2 and 18th in Race 3 while Brookes finished 10th in Race 1, crashed in Race 2 and finished 11th in Race 3.
Neither of Paul Bird’s bikes are in the Showdown this year for the first time since it’s incorporation. A tough season for the Cumbrian team but rumours are circling around whether Paul Bird will continue to run a team with his interests lying elsewhere with his son racing cars and other family members taking up other competitive sports outside of motorcycles. Paul said himself recently on a podcast he cannot do this forever. Only time will tell on this one as Paul Bird has made no secret of the fact he expect his riders to win races and compete for the British Superbike title and there’s no doubt he will be disappointed with how 2022 has gone.
Other riders / teams/ thoughts of note at Cadwell…
A disappointing weekend for Lee Jackson of FS3 Kawasaki after a DNF in Race 1, which meant a poor race qualifying position for race 2 battling back to 13th place, and a 10 second time penalty in race 3 for jumping the start meaning he finished the race in 12th place. Not what Lee needed however due to his strong season so far, he has only lost out to his team mate in the standings and now finds himself in 4th place overall behind Skinner, but we are now at the point where the podium points are more important than ever and finishes outside the top 10 are not going to help this underdog story come to the publishing table.
Crowe Performance BMW’s Chrissy Rouse had 2 crashes in the races and a 21st place finish over the weekend. A tough round for the popular Northeast rider on his privateer bike. Fingers crossed for a strong Snetterton round in 2 weeks.
Buildbase Suzuki’s Christian Iddon picked up a time penalty after wiping out MCE Ducati rider Tom Sykes on the run downhill into the Mansfield corner with a late move for the inside. Christian tried to pick the bike up and get out of the move but unfortunately it collected Tom Sykes causing the Ducati DNF while Christian was able to re-join after quite the excursion on to the grass which looked more like a hare and hounds scramble than a BSB race. These things happen in racing and Cadwell Park is a very difficult circuit to pass on, so any move can end up in such a position when riding on the limit. Luckily for Christian he has a reputation for being one of the safest riders on the grid. Tom didn’t have much to say on the incident and the weekend in general, barring a disappointing result after a positive Superpole session, he’s looking forward to Snetterton.
Shout out to Ryan Vickers of FHO BMW for 3 points finishes. Just what the doctor ordered for re-building confidence after quite the run of race DNF’s. Hopefully Ryan can build on this positivity now and continue this on to Snetterton and beyond.
Special mention to Tito Rabat too. Seems he took one look at Cadwell Park and said ‘no thank you’. I wish I wasn’t correct in my assessment of Tito being another big name to turn up at BSB and do nothing. Thruxton and Cadwell was never going to be the way to do it though. I feel very vindicated in my opinions before the Thruxton round. Shame to see him go though. The ever smiling, popular Spaniard could have brought a lot of publicity to the series on foreign soil. I wonder if he was smiling after doing a lap of the circuit or whether he had turned green?
Finally… Where has Kyle Ryde gone? Can someone please send out a search party? After such a strong start to the year, Ryde’s confidence has taken such a knock which seemed to start at Brands but really kicked in at Thruxton. Ryde has never ridden a Superbike at Cadwell Park and, in fairness, he was only 1 second a lap from the leader’s pace but in superbike racing that is a country mile. Kyle needs a strong round at Snetterton or I fear he will find himself demoted from the showdown positions and that would be a great shame.
So there we have it. Not the most exiting of rounds in terms of the actual racing, but certainly an impressive venue on the calendar and one that has turned the championship on its head in terms of the results. Remember we hand out the points for the finishing positions, not the show or excitement created.
Snetterton in 2 weeks time. The final round before the Showdown positions are locked in. Who will step up to the claim those final positions in the race for 2022’s crown?
Set in the picturesque countryside of Louth in Lincolnshire, Cadwell Park has been a venue for engine powered motor racing for nearly 100 years. Mansfield Wilkinson purchased the land for the purpose of hosting ‘rough shooting’ events back in 1934. Rough shooting being use of dogs to hunt game from within the fields and hedgerows, flushing them out to be shot but Wilkinson was convinced by son Charles to allow the use of the grounds for Motorcycle Racing instead.
Starting off as non-tarmac, gravel roads winding around the grounds of the old park house, the track was extended over the years and eventually tarmacked. Four wheeled racing was introduced in the late 1950’s and it never looked back. 1996 saw the inaugural British Superbikes race at the venue and it has hosted every year since except for 2020, the shortened “Covid” season. In 2004 Cadwell Park was purchased by current owners Motorsport Vision who, to this day, are still looking at ways the thin, twisty, compact circuit can be improved for the fans and made safe for riders alike with the purchasing of surrounding plots of lands to extend run-off areas and adding in footbridges over the circuit to improve foot traffic around the circuit.
When you read about the circuit’s history, some of the corner names make sense. Mansfield corner. Charlie’s Corner and Chris’ Curve are all named after family members from the Wilkinsons. Barn corner was literally that, where the old Barn once stood. To some, it’s very interesting. To others, Cadwell Park means only one thing. The famous Mountain section. The current 2.175m layout of the circuit has remained there or thereabouts the same since the early 1960’s after modifications to the run in to the mountain were made to slow down the approach for safety reasons. The circuit winds its way through the hillside with sharp climbs, steep descents and works its way through the sections of trees and it can be a very tricky track to ride, especially in damp or wet conditions.
Cadwell Park doesn’t lend itself to a particular bike or rider. No one has enjoyed regular success at the circuit. In the last decade, race wins have gone to Josh Brookes, Peter Hickman, Jason O’Halloran, Danny Buchan, Tommy Hill, Alex Lowes, Tommy Bridewell, Shane Byrne, Leon Haslam, James Ellison and from those riders only Brookes, Haslam and Hickman have won races in multiple years.
A very technical race circuit where riders look for flow. BSB riders say when you try and ride Cadwell ‘Hard’ the lap-time goes further away from you. This is a track where you need the motorcycle flowing with you, from corner to corner as when the bike is fighting against you or the rider doesn’t feel the bike is working for you, it can be a long weekend producing poor results and with Cadwell Park being the penultimate round before riders are inducted into the Showdown, it is a very important round for the top half of the standings. Not a race circuit where out and out speed is important, this is a place where the handling and stability of the bike will be the priority. Currently Jason O’Halloran and Bradley Ray are confirmed in the showdown and perhaps Cadwell will settle the remaining places before moving on to the next round at Snetterton in a few weeks.
The podium results of the weekend last year (2021) were: –
Race 1 – Hickman, O’Halloran, Bridewell.
Race 2 – Hickman, O’Halloran, Bridewell.
Race 3 – O’Halloran, Hickman, Bridewell.
This year adding a re-guvinated Tarran Mackenzie on his McAMS Yamaha R1, Bradley Ray on the Rich Energy OMG Racing Yamaga, Lee Jackson Cheshire Moulding FS3 Kawasaki, Rory Skinner FS3 Kawasaki into the mix could more than spice things up for the coming bank holiday weekend. Could we see a resurgence of the “King of the Mountain” and jump fan favourite Josh Brookes, who loves to put on a show for the crowds at the famous mountain section, or will we see form in the hands of 2022 Silverstone winner Glenn Irwin?
Returning to the venue for his first race in over a decade, MCE Ducati’s Tom Sykes will hopefully continue his forward progress seen from Thruxton and join the fight for results. Cadwell can throw some serious curve balls into the mix so I wouldn’t rule Leon Haslam out either as a quick look leads me to think he has the most race wins at the circuit in the last 10 years. With the weather forecast showing a more moderate 17-20° than recent rounds, grip and conditions should be perfect for some exciting racing this weekend. While some riders have their eye on Showdown positions, other riders will be starting to turn their attention 2023 and looking at who is going where and what bikes will be available. With only 5 rounds to go until we crown the 2022 British Superbike championship, things are hotting up and battle lines are being drawn.
Good luck to all the riders and teams attending this year.
Round 6 of the British Superbike Championship was teed up to be an absolute belter and it did not disappoint!
Viewers at the circuit and TV audiences were treated to a stunning show from Yamaha riders Jason O’Halloran, Tarran Mackenzie and Bradley Ray with the podium positions in races 1, 2 and 3 shared between them. The Yamaha R1 has proven to be the bike in the best riding window throughout 2021 and 2022. Tarran Mackenzie took championship glory in 2021 on the YZF-R1 and this year it is looking dead set to be another Yamaha victory (though which rider is yet to be seen). You must go back to 2015 previously and 2011 before that, to see Yamaha’s last British Superbike titles in the hands of Josh Brookes and Tommy Hill respectively. 2022 more so than ever, the Yamahas seem to be able to handle what the tracks throw at them and have a handle on the remainder of the field using the bikes strengths. It gets off the corner well, although it doesn’t have the legs on say the Ducati Panigale or the BMW M1000R but in true BSB style, most tracks don’t have long straights where the other manufacturers can overtake, as we see in the likes of World Superbikes and MotoGP. The Yamaha (according to its riders) has very good edge grip on the tyres and gives a good feeling in the turns. To the layman, it corners well and doesn’t destroy its tyres. All a combination of engine characteristics and chassis/swingarm combination which is the bike to beat again in 2022.
Race 1 on Saturday morning started off as a bit of an unknown with riders such as FHO BMW’s Peter Hickman, Honda Racing’s Glenn Irwin, Cheshire Mouldings FS3 Kawasaki riders Lee Jackson and Rory Skinner being in the mix on lap 1. McAMS Yamaha’s Taz Mackenzie and Rich Energy OMG Racing’s Bradley Ray were running 4th and 5th followed by Buildbase Suzuki rider Danny Kent, Rich Energy OMG Racing’s Kyle Ryde, MCE Ducati’s Tom Sykes, Oxford Products Ducati Tommy Bridewell and Christian Iddon bringing up the rear of the front running pack.
The field had been split by a first lap crash involving Luke Mossey and Chrissy Rouse which looked to have been a collision caused by contact from Josh Brookes Ducati but was put down to a racing incident as no further action was taken by race control. The gap continued to grow as the field spread out. Things settled down by the midway point as Brad Ray and Taz Mackenzie made their way to the front of the group and sat in behind Jason O’Halloran, followed closely by Peter Hickman on the BMW but it seemed Hicky was doing everything he could to stay within a second or 2 of the front three Yamahas, Unfortunately Peter Hickman couldn’t keep the pace for the full race distance and was eventually overtaken by Glenn Irwin on the Honda Fireblade.
Interestingly Kyle Ryde had a problem, later alluded to as a setting issue which was out of their hands with his Rich Energy OMG Racing Yamaha and soon found himself slipping backwards out of the top 10. As the laps counted down, the field had settled into their rhythm and Jason O’Halloran maintained a few bike lengths of a lead going into the final lap.
Tarran and Ray overtook each other, back and forth in the battle for 2nd place which gave Jason the space he needed to take the victory for Saturday’s Race 1. Brad Ray thought he had seen off Mackenzie in the final chicane, but Taz was able to turn a tighter racing line and cut back toward the chequered flag and pip Brad to 2nd by 0.003th of a second. On the photo finish picture released by the event organiser, 0.003 is about the profile depth of Tarran’s front tyre. Approx 2 inches was the difference between 2nd and 3rd place on the day.
Of the riders finishing out of the points, the two riders of interest were Tito Rabat, who had been drafted in to ride the TAG Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade this weekend. The Spaniard is currently leading the Spanish Superbike Championship on board a Honda.
I got some grief on social media last week for stating that I didn’t see Rabat anywhere but at the back of the field. In my eyes, if the best riders in this championship struggle with Thruxton, a circuit where no testing or track days take place due to local planning rules, I didn’t see how someone can come to the championship and kick off there, on a bike with no electronic intervention, different tyres, a bike he hasn’t ridden, a team he’s never met etc etc etc (insert multiple other reasons here).
There is no doubting the skill of the 2014 Moto2 World Champion and EX-MotoGP rider, but Thruxton was only going to be a very rude awakening for the popular Spaniard. Tito has also ridden in the World Superbike series and failed to make an impression on their production based motorcycles. Perhaps I feel a little like James Toseland on commentary for the Donington Park round of the World Superbikes, where he spoke out against being unprepared for what you are letting yourself in for with reference to the McAMS Yamaha wild card, but for me it seemed an ill prepared choice and one that has proven to be the wrong one for Tito with 2 last place finishes and a DNF in race 3.
Tito will run out for the team again in 2 weeks at Cadwell Park and he is very excited to ride the Lincolnshire course after watching the races on the TV. Fingers crossed with more time on the bike and a better understanding of the team, his results will be more positive but again, one round after the next, Cadwell is another of Britain’s quirky tracks that leaves people wide-eyed. Imagine telling any of the current MotoGP riders (barring Jack Miller) there is a jump in the middle of the track. I can’t see Cadwell being much different for Tito but welcome the exposure his presence brings to the series.
The second rider shockingly outside the points on Saturday was two time British Champion Josh Brookes, who finished down in 20th place. Josh Brookes had grip issues at the circuit back in 2021 and it was clear by the end of Qualifying for this weekend’s Thruxton race, his problems were there and still the same. After a qualifying position of 26th for Race 1, Josh couldn’t make the progress through the field he needed to give his showdown chances a much-needed lifeline. I fear at this point the 2022 season has been written off for Josh Brookes.
Race 2 panned out in much the same way with O’Halloran, Ray, Mackenzie and Hickman getting into their rhythm and pulling a gap. O’Halloran setting a pace with Mackenzie and Ray putting overtakes on each other and Hickman watching on. Mackenzie made the first move sliding up the inside of O’Halloran at the end of lap 14 and this was the point the pin was pulled. Ray outbroke O’Halloran in the chicane on lap 15, rubbing himself up the inside of the McAMS rider but O’Halloran retaliated straightaway barging back through to 2nd place.
Ray and O’Halloran started to repeat the Ray/Mackenzie show from Saturday, allowing Taz to pull a small gap while Brad and Jason squabbled. Once Brad got his head down, he was able to catch and overtake Mackenzie and put himself in 1st position, battling for the win, but his tyres were about to show him why Thruxton is a very hard track to judge. Upon exiting Church corner and at approximately 170mph, Ray had a huge slide forcing him to close the throttle, bringing Mackenzie and O’Halloran back into contention.
Battle ensued and the race boiled down to the last lap. Ray led O’Halloran, who led Mackenzie and after a huge slide at Church corner this time for O’Halloran, they entered the final chicane three abreast for the race victory. Tarran drifting wide allowing Jason to square off to the line and sneak the victory in the same way Mackenzie pipped Ray, in Saturday’s sprint race.
The surprise non-points finish for Race 2 was Danny Kent. After a podium in Race 3 last year, and a DNF Crash in Race 1 on Saturday, Danny would have been fired up for a good crack at Race 2, but it wasn’t to be for the local rider on the Buildbase Suzuki.
As you would expect, Race 3 panned out much the same, but the adrenaline seemed to have been spent in Race 2 for the most part. The three Yamaha riders got settled into their rhythm and made their way off into the distance leaving the midfield to fight amongst themselves. A strong race start from Sykes saw him running in the top 6 with Haslam, Jackson, Glenn Irwin and co but later would see his tyres struggle to maintain the grip on the 40+° tarmac.
Andy Irwin battled his way into the top 10 after a disastrous round so far with a DNS in Race 1 and finishing in just 13th place for Race 2, as the action from the leaders waited until the final laps. It seemed Jason O’Halloran either had no tyre left or the energy to use them. A goliath of a battle between these three Yamaha riders had entertained the viewers all weekend but the last lap battle came down to Tarran Mackenzie and Bradley Ray. Tarran defeating Brad using one of Jason O’Halloran’s own moves with the 170mph “up the inside” at Church corner and maintaining the lead into the final chicane. If you watched the drag to the line on the TV you will have seen both Taz and Brad’s rear wheels sideway pouring blue smoke while both tried to get the power down early to win the race.
British Superbikes seems to have moved in a different direction with its podium rider interviews. Previously they waited until the riders were off the bike and calmer, but it seems good viewing to have the interview as soon as the helmet comes off in parc ferme, while the rider is still sat on the bike. The result of this? Just go and take a look at the emotion pouring off Tarran Mackenzie after Race 3. Ecstatic with another return to the top step after battling his way back from an ankle injury earlier in the year, Tarran looked like he could burst into tears and was visibly shaking with adrenaline. It was quite something to see.
Race 3 Points Finishers: – Mackenzie, Ray, O’Halloran, Glenn Irwin, Jackson, Haslam, Bridwell, Andy Irwin, Rory Skinner, Tom Sykes, Christian Iddon, Mizuno, Vickers, Takahashi and Danny Kent bringing up the last point.
What does this mean for the championship table and the showdown positions? It means Jason O’Halloran has extended his lead over Bradley Ray in second but more importantly, he has extended his podium credits lead.
1 Jason O’Halloran – 331 Points – 48 Podium Credits.
8 Tommy Bridewell – 158 Points – 5 Podium Credits.
Looking at the podium credits, this is where people can lose out. For example, Rory Skinner would move from 4th in the championship to 7th based on podium credits. Tarran from 7th to 3rd etc. If the showdown was now announced, it would be O’Halloran, Ray, Mackenzie, Irwin, Jackson, Ryde, Skinner, and Bridewell as the championship standings.
Thruxton was a fantastic spectacle this year. Certainly one that can be looked back on as one of the key races of 2022. I cannot wait for Cadwell Park in two weeks, I just hope for some of the other riders to come and mix it at the front, however if the show is another Yamaha dominated one, after the three races at Thruxton, it’s still going to be a belter!
Originally built and used as RAF Thruxton back in WW2, Thruxton Racing Circuit is a typical British “Airfield” circuit. Flat, fast and frightening. It has been a motor racing venue since the 1950’s in both 2 and 4 wheeled variants. Wide, sweeping corners create fast paced, high action races with plenty of battles up and down the grid. 2.35 miles of multiple racing lines, adrenaline fuelled, tyre smoking petrol headed madness. With fast bikes turning right at for what feels like an eternity, the circuit is as intimidating as short circuit’s come.
Based in Andover in the south of England, 30 or so miles from Southampton and the English Channel, Thruxton is known for extremes of high temperature sunny days or howling cross winds and hard rain due to the lack of undulation and level change. A “thinkers” circuit which requires an action plan that gets you to the chequered flag before your bike, tyres or even skill cry “enough”.
2021 was the year of O’Show. “Jason O’Halloran from Wollongong, New South Wales” (a little nod to dearly loved Jack Burnicle) dominated the 2021 visit to Thruxton with a hat-trick of 1st places with the remaining podium positions shared out between Christian Iddon, Tarran Mackenzie, Glenn Irwin, Peter Hickman, Danny Buchan and Danny Kent. 2021 is a perfect example of what can happen at Thurxton with Saturday’s Race 1 and Sunday morning’s Race 2 running in dry race conditions and slick tyres. Rain set in afterwards and ensured that Race 3 (Sunday’s second race) ran as a wet race after a downpour in the afternoon.
Both Christian Iddon and Chrissy Rouse have said recently the circuit is an unknown when riders turn up there. It can throw up crazy results out of nowhere and have a huge effect on you, both positively or negatively.
Notably, a lot of the riders look forward to the coming to Thruxton due to its fast nature. With the current crop of superbikes running in the region of 200BHP, it’s becoming a rare thing to see the riders opening the throttle and keeping the bike running up to full speed on our small, thin, undulating and twisty British circuits whereas Thruxton (like Silverstone and Snetterton) offers exactly that. With an average speed in the region of 120mph, only this low thanks to its chicanes, it is certainly a thrilling track to ride.
Due to planning restrictions, the circuit can only run a limited number of motorsport events per year, of which British Superbikes takes a front row position on the calendar. The weather this weekend is set to be a scorcher, forecasting Friday 33°, Saturday 33° and Sunday 31°c which means the Thruxton round of British Superbikes is on course for being a cracker.
Thruxton is set to be an important round as we start the run up to the showdown. Just 3 rounds remain until the final 8 finalists are declared and the showdown kicks on and we move our concentration to who will lift the 2022 championship trophy.
Will Tarran Mackenzie continue his run of form and climb higher into the showdown? Will Jason O’Halloran return to the circuit for a clean sweep of wins? Will we see a resurgence of the form Glenn Irwin showed at the opening round of the year at Silverstone? Could Rory Skinner, fresh from his Moto2 wildcard at Silverstone MotoGP, be fired up and have a point to prove to cement himself in the window for 2023? Or will we see results that would have you winning £1000 from a £5 bet? Who knows? All I do know is the race is going to be a belter and I for one cannot wait for those red lights to go out and see them round turn 1.
Good luck to all the teams and riders attending at the weekend.
Christian Iddon lined up on the grid at the start of the 2022 British Superbike season onboard the Buildbase Suzuki ran by Stuart Hicken’s Hawk Racing Team after landing a ride at the 11th hour. It was confirmed to Christian he wouldn’t be retained by the Paul Bird Motorsport team, and effectively being replaced by incoming rider to the championship Tom Sykes.
There were lots of rumours surrounding the team at the end of 2021 about 3 rider teams and Iddon wasn’t under the impression Sykes was brought in as a replacement, especially after Paul told trackside commentators he had retained both Christian and Josh for 2022, but Paul Bird himself says the team weren’t sure they would run by the end of the year after losing the title sponsorship of Vision Track after they moved over to Moto3 with Michael Laverty and also providing sponsorship to Lee Hardy Racing with Leon Haslam.
PBM’s decision to go with Brookes and Sykes left Iddon staring down the barrel of not having a deal in place for 2022 when the music stopped due to the late nature of the situation. All this after challenging for the British Superbike title throughout 2021 and finishing 4th overall in the standings.
Christian found himself signing with Hawk Racing as late as Feb 2022, a handful of months prior to the start of the season when it was announced the team needed a rider when Gino Rea decided to take up an option to race in the World Endurance championship. (At the time of writing this, Gino is injured after a crash at the Suzuki 8hr Endurance race and I stand with the racing community as a whole in praying for his recovery and hoping for some positive news as soon as it’s available).
Racing Armchair sat down with Christian Iddon to discuss our thoughts on the season so far and how it looks moving forward.
Racing Armchair – After a strong start on the GSXR1000, with regular points finishes, how did you feel when you first rode the Suzuki and how have you settled into the team?
Christian Iddon – Well I wouldn’t call it a strong start for sure. Regular points aren’t what I’m about when over the last 2 years I have gone into the last round with a chance to win the championship. My expectations have been far higher than what we have currently achieved. It’s been a weird season so far. In round 1 I didn’t feel fully prepared. I hadn’t quite gelled with the bike by the time we got to round 1 but we had made massive headway by the time we got to Oulton. With the double summer break, it has been a strange one. We planned to do quite a lot of riding but in the first part of the summer break the team went off to do the road races and so we planned to do our testing in the second part of the summer break but then I injured myself at Knockhill and after that I wasn’t able to do any riding, so I feel like the season has been really disjointed up to now. We are about to head into the crux of it and it’s all going to go very quickly from here. So yes, I’m less than impressed with my performance up to now.
Racing Armchair – I can understand why you say that Christian due to the two very strong years on the Ducati. I would imagine you’ve had to extend your trophy cabinet massively over the last couple of years?
Christian Iddon – Yes! Exactly! You sort of get to a point where you get fed up of getting them. Well not fed up of getting them but it becomes very hard to find somewhere to store them. I’d do anything for another one right now though. It’s just been one of them really. We have had a few technical issues and I made an error, a big error at Knockhill which has cost us. I’m pretty confident had we not had all the things we’ve had, we would be in the showdown positions. At the moment we aren’t out of contention, but we would have been within that fight had it not been for a few things. The Suzuki GSXR1000 is completely different to the Panigale V4, but that’s obvious as it’s a completely different concept of motorcycle. The Suzuki is a great “all-rounder” and I do believe it can win races. The championship at the moment is being dominated by one bike and those bikes are stretching the field quite a lot. I still think I’ve got more to extract from the Suzuki, and I think a lot of that will come from being more comfortable on it. The disjointed nature of the season and the lack of bike time is what has hindered that process, I feel.
Racing Armchair – And how have you settled into the team? The people, management and your teammate etc?
Christian Iddon – Yes, all good. At this point in my career, I have been in a lot of different teams and every single one does something better than the rest while every single one also does something worse than the rest. If you could pick and choose all the different points, you could put something incredible together, but it never really works like that. The Hawk Racing team has been around since the beginning of time in terms of BSB. It’s probably the longest standing team in the championship. [It was founded in 1996] They’re a no-frills set up which is fine by me coming from my own off-road background. That was the one thing I struggled to get used to when I first came to short circuits. All the bumpf and the bits that surround it. I’m a grassy field type of person so their setup suits me well and I’ve got confidence in my crew around me. As a racer that is the main thing really.
Racing Armchair – Suzuki have announced their withdrawal from MotoGP and World Endurance. Would this have any bearing on the Suzuki brand within the British Superbikes? Do you get factory support from Suzuki etc? Or is it a case of Hawk buy the bikes and that’s where Suzuki’s involvement stops?
Christian Iddon – I don’t actually know if it has bearing as I don’t know what deals the team has. I’m pretty sure the deal is with Suzuki GB so any worldwide withdrawal from motorsport shouldn’t affect us. If anything, it could free up some budget but that’s something else to be seen. I think it was more of a shock when Suzuki pulled out of World Endurance because that’s to do with the road bikes which are very different to the prototype bikes. The endurance project is based around something they sell, so them withdrawing from that is more of a concern in my eyes. Again, in terms of the support Hawk receive, I don’t know the full extent of it. The team work quite closely with Yoshimura, who are a big technical partner, not exactly interlinked with Suzuki but they’re pretty knowledgeable with the brand. They swap information quite a lot and work closely together. Suzuki withdrawing caught mine and the team’s attention quite strongly, but with BSB the products/info any team receives from a manufacturer, there’s nothing there that any team cannot obtain. There are no factory teams as such, that have access to something that is unobtainable from somewhere else apart from there might be some things that are obtainable earlier if you are the ‘official team’ but there’s nothing I am aware of that one team could purchase that another team cannot. If you’ve got the money and start a privateer team, you can buy the same bike that I’m riding. You could also go and buy the same bike that Paul Bird runs or FS3 for example. That’s pretty much the way BSB works and that’s also why all the teams can start at a good level because there’s nothing super special to one team.
Racing Armchair – You’ve touched on the broken arm at Knockhill. There was no footage on the TV of what happened. Can you walk us through it?
Christian Iddon – It was a real weird one. It was on the sighting lap, not even the warm up lap. As you go round from the pits to the grid I came towards the hairpin, not at race pace but not a million miles off it. I could see Josh Owens up ahead of me, which was no problem. As I came into the brake zone and started to brake, I thought he was going a bit slow but it was still no problem. I got nearer to him where he was occupying the racing line over to the left-hand side of the track and I started to think of get out clauses. First option for me was to do a ‘fly by’ down the outside as it’s always the safest option, but it wasn’t available because Josh was far over to the left-hand side. I didn’t want to go down his inside at that point because if he had tipped in, it would have been a big crash, which I definitely wouldn’t want to do. So I decided to stay on the same heading, behind him. I was pretty convinced he was going to tip into the corner before I got to him, but then I got really close to him and I realised now he was doing almost no speed whatsoever and he never tipped in. I tried to take avoiding action at the very last moment and didn’t quite manage it and took Josh down with me. It was a pretty big crash to be fair. It was just one of them moments where you just cannot believe what has gone on, in the gravel wondering if it’s just some kind of bad dream. It’s never happened to me before and I don’t want it to ever happen to me again. So I picked the bike up, which was in a bit of a state and managed to get it back to the pits for the team to fix it. I started the race from the back of the grid but there was no strength in my arm. Not that the pain was too much, I just had no strength. So I pulled in and retired from the race.
Racing Armchair – And so off to hospital for an X-Ray and that was that?
Christian Iddon – Yes. I had broken the top of my Humerus. Not across it but vertically up it as the ligament has pulled a section of bone off the main bone, basically like a chunk has come off at the top. That’s why I had no strength because the top of my arm wasn’t attached to my shoulder. Even now I still can’t lift my arm over shoulder height, and it’s taken a lot longer to heal up than I would have hoped. I’m still in a lot of discomfort from it and it’s still bothering me. It’s just a huge frustration. I have to hold my hands up to it as I rode into the back of Josh [Owens]. Josh did come over and apologise for riding so slowly, which he is well within his rights to do so as it’s only the sighting lap and it’s on me not to run into the back of someone. I don’t think I would ever be going that slow on the racing line because I would always be nervous of someone coming out of the previous corner, unsighted. He wasn’t unsighted to me, it just caught me absolutely unawares that he was going so slowly. It caught me completely off guard. I don’t think I have ever come across anyone going that slow on a track.
Racing Armchair – I’m getting an image in my head of travelling 70mph on the motorway and suddenly happening on someone doing 10mph?
Christian Iddon – Pretty much that. When I came across him, it felt like he was at walking pace. He obviously wasn’t but the speed differential made it feel like that. I was trying to scrub off a head of speed and there was just no way! You only have a split second to make your decision. If I had gone down the inside, then I’d have missed him completely and run wide and nothing would have happened. At the time though, my thought process was if he does tip in, then I’m going to collect him and hurt him, which I really didn’t want to do. I took the flyby option hoping he would tip in and I could go straight past but that didn’t happen either. Option three happened and it didn’t work out too well. A real frustration for me as I don’t mind having a crash when you’re pushing on. These things happen, crashing race bikes and injuring yourself, but to do both things and lose three races worth of points in a such a way, that was just a disaster. We lost all three races at Knockhill. We have had two mechanicals that, although haven’t pulled me out of the race, they did severely hinder my point scoring opportunities in those races, which makes five and a daft crash at Brands Hatch so that’s six races where I have had issues.
Racing Armchair – Speaking of Brands Hatch… I noticed the crash in free practice and DNF in Race 2. Were those crashes a result of the arm or not related?
Christian Iddon – Unrelated. Just one of them things. Although the crash I had in FP2 (turn 10 left hander at Stirlings) the lap earlier a thought had gone through my head along the lines of “My arm feels much better now, it’s loosened up”. FP1 had been difficult and then FP2 I was on a really good lap, my best of the whole weekend which looked good enough for top four and I lost the front on the exit of the corner. Stirlings isn’t a corner you would normally crash at, and I hit the barrier hard and really hurt my arm again. After that FP3 was just a case of getting through it. I think it finished something like 22nd. That FP3 crash meant going from feeling good, to not feeling good at all, but the funny thing is I didn’t have the feeling with the bike that I wanted in FP2. I trusted that it would stick [racing terminology that the bike wouldn’t slide out and crash] but after that I didn’t trust it. It’s amazing how one tip off can turn your weekend around. I only qualified 15th as a result which made Race 1 difficult and finished 7th which was pretty good. From there I started to rebuild the weekend and then Race 2 coming into the same corner I didn’t get my backshift. I knew it hadn’t backshifted! I had a quick look down at the dash and it said 3rd. I thought “don’t try and shift down at the wrong moment” as even going from 3rd to 2nd can unsettle the bike. So just roll round the corner in 3rd and then take the backshift to get back on the gas. As I took the backshift after the corner, the back end just rolled round on me. I had absolutely no idea what had gone on. When we checked the data, the bike had dropped into neutral, meaning when I took the backshift it dropped into first, not second gear. Due to only doing one flying lap, I started the next race in 24th on the grid with no hope of doing anything from there.
Racing Armchair – How did that affect the confidence going into Race 3?
Christian Iddon – Confidence wasn’t knocked at all really. That 2nd race crash was just ridiculous. It was caused by the bike saying it was in one gear when it wasn’t. It was my mistake but the information I had at the time was telling me different to the reality. If the bike had said neutral, I’d have done something different with it.
Racing Armchair – I think you’re being hard on yourself there. I’d say that’s a mechanical error rather than your mistake. You’ve just said, you only have a split second to make decisions. I wouldn’t think at those speeds you’re sat staring down at the dash mid-corner?
Christian Iddon – It’s just one of those things, but we need to not be having them things. It didn’t knock my confidence, but it was pure frustration which had already been building for a while because I am not where I expect to be in the season. The trouble being you don’t ride well when you’re frustrated anyway. Race 3 wasn’t too bad considering. Up to 9th but really dropped off towards the end with my arm and finished 11th from 24th. A good effort in such a field. I need to start shaping up though and scoring some better results.
Racing Armchair – How’s the fitness/recovery going now? Were you set back by Brands?
Christian Iddon – It definitely set me back. The longer this goes on, I might have to have some work done after the season is finished. We are absolutely in the thick of it now, so there’s no chance that’s going to be done before the end of the year. For now, I have just got to get on with it and worry about that at a later date. I can ride through pain more or less but it’s the weakness that could be a struggle at the moment. Just have to look forward now and make the most of it. I am not one for giving in. I have no plans to do that, so we will do the best we can.
Racing Armchair – Three rounds left before the showdown, and only 26 points from Taz in 8th covering you, Haslam, Brookes, Buchan and Hickman, to me that means you are in a good position with nothing to lose?
Christian Iddon – We definitely have nothing to lose now. Until one round ago Taz wasn’t even in the showdown. He wasn’t until Brands that he had and all of a sudden, he’s looking great. If there’s anyone I think might not make it in, it would be Tommy Bridewell based on the Ducati not being an out and out race winner at the moment. When I look at the points, I am not looking at Taz in 8th as its highly likely he will climb the standings. It’s Tommy I am looking at in 7th. At the moment, the thought process hasn’t changed from the last few years. Race as hard as you can and the points take care of themselves and what will be, will be. I try my best at every round. It’s only when you feel safe, you might have a few rounds where you take a safe finish. We aren’t in that scenario. For us it’s go and race as hard as you can and take as many points as you can.
Racing Armchair – In the hands of fate now. Hoping for some good luck and perhaps hoping to gain some advantage from someone else’s misfortune further up the grid?
Christian Iddon – Yes I suppose. Look, I’ve given you my story for the year but I’m sure every rider you interview up and down the grid will give you a tale of woe. We all have ‘ifs, buts and maybes’ but in motorsport, any of those riders can have a mechanical issue or a crash or something that could lose them quite a lot of points. The main thing for me is to be scoring top finishes, podiums and not be far off the podium.
Racing Armchair – Thruxton next. A good round for you? Last year a podium, DNF with Lee Jackson taking you out and a top 10 in the wet. Are you looking forward to it?
Christian Iddon – It’s the biggest unknown for everyone in the series. Anyone coming there aims to make the tyres last. For me it’s the least important track to go fast at so it’s definitely the most interesting one in terms of being an unknown. I think it will suit the Suzuki pretty well and Danny Kent had a podium there last year so I’m looking forward to it.
Racing Armchair – The run-up to the showdown also includes Snetterton and Cadwell Park. How do you feel about those circuits?
Christian Iddon – I was at Cadwell the other day on a track day but it was hard to get some free track time. That considered we still did a pretty good lap time. Snetterton has been good to me for the last couple of years. It’s more about trying to understand my bike around these circuits and maximise what we have. There isn’t really a track I look forward to more than any of the others. They all have their good points etc. Generally you’re a fan of any circuit when things go well and you hate them when things go bad. I hated Snetterton and then I got my first win there, so all of a sudden I was like “Oh, I quite like this place” so it can change pretty quick. Somewhere as technical as Cadwell Park can be like that. It’s horrendous there if you’re not flowing with your bike but if you are flowing, it’s probably the best place EVER. You don’t really know though until you turn up on the weekend which way it’s going to go or how it’s going to feel.
Racing Armchair – Can that differ from year to year on the same brand of motorcycle? For example two years on the Ducati.
Christian Iddon – Not really. If it does, then you know it’s down to you that’s for sure.
Racing Armchair – Is it too early to be looking at contracts for next year? I would imagine you don’t want a repeat of last year, waiting for the finalisation of the PBM Ducati team?
Christian Iddon – To be fair it’s impossible to have a repeat of last year because he didn’t keep me waiting. We were done. We had the same handshake that we’d had the year before. In my mind we were done. It’s not about having a repeat of that. The only way we can have a repeat of that is if someone does what he [Paul Bird] did to me. It’s a situation that I wish hadn’t happened. I get on with all them boys in the PBM team, it’s just the fact he dropped me so late on and the timing was a problem. Thankfully the Hawk team were on hand to take me on. I think it’s going to filter down once Rory Skinner and Tarran Mackenzie decide what they’re doing as it all goes from the top down and the house of cards comes into play.
Racing Armchair – I think with Tarran wanting to go to World Superbikes last year, he found out exactly how much it was going to cost and how much he needed to find from his sponsors, and he’s used this year to raise the funds. The rumours are Tarran is adamant he wants to go to World Superbikes next year, so that would leave a seat at McCAMS up for grabs and there are a lot of people saying Rory is nailed on for Moto2 next year, so there’s another bike in the mix to shake things up.
Christian Iddon – Exactly. Last year we all waited to see what Taz and Jason O’Halloran did and like I said, it usually goes from the top down.
Racing Armchair – Thanks Christian.
Christian Iddon currently sits 13th in the championship only 26 points off from the showdown positions with 3 rounds to go. 225 points are available between now and the chequered flag at Cadwell Park at the end of August after the three superbike races per weekend. Christian not only needs points to reach the showdown but will want podium credits too, so as not to start the showdown in 8th place. I wish Christian the best of luck to remain injury free for the year and hope to see his season turn around in the run up to the Showdown.