Bennetts British Superbikes 2022 Round 5 from Brands Hatch

Looking back at the weekends BSB action from Brands Hatch, the first thing coming to my mind is what a dominant performance from the McAMS Yamaha squad! Jason O’Halloran having taken one race victory and 2 x second places while Tarran Mackenzie opposed Jason with a second place and then 2 x victories. It was plain to see prior to the races the McAMS team had serious race pace after practice and qualifying but I for one hoped for a challenge from the other manufacturers would be forthcoming to mix things up. It wasn’t a disappointment to see Yamaha dominate proceedings, but it’s always fun when we have different bikes battling over wins.

BSB Brands Hatch 24.07.2022 Jason O’Halloran Picture courtesy of Brands Hatch Official

Mackenzie seemed relaxed and in really good spirits before the start of Race 1 on the Saturday. Even joking with Eurosport on the grid about how his lack of traction control on the BSB spec Yamaha had nearly high sided him to Kent! Happy to be further up and hoping to have taken another little step towards full fitness after his extra round run out at Donington Park. Tarran certainly had ambitions towards the front of the pack and climbing back towards the showdown positions.MCE PBM Ducati rider, Josh Brookes, was optimistic saying the team and himself were focused on making progress with the bike. Landing on the podium would be a big step for the team and the Panigale V4.Honda Racings’ Glenn Irwin was feeling good after a strong round at Knockhill and a good test at Donington Park, but noted that all four of the Honda riders were complaining of the same issues. Glenn had gone radical on some new settings on the CBR1000RR including reverting back to the standard Honda swinging arm. Acknowledging that Honda go well at the Brands round but not especially in the Superbike category, Glenn was hoping for a run of solid top 10 finishes. Unfortunately, not to be the case for Glenn in race 1 as he lost the front end into the Druids hairpin on lap 1, thus ending his Saturday much earlier than expected.Brad Ray was happy on the grid. Acknowledging it was his first front row start at his home circuit in the Superbike category, Brad was very much aware of the pace the McAMS Yamaha team had in their pockets. A lot was said in not so many words “I just hope we can stick it to the McAMS boys!”Jason O’Halloran’s plan was simple enough. Go and win!Race 1 was an expected battle between the Yamaha riders with O’Halloran, Ray and Mackenzie within a second of each other for most of the race but the surprise addition to the party was Tommy Bridewell on the Oxford Products Ducati Panigale. Ray and Mackenzie squabbled over second place, lap after lap which allowed O’Halloran to stretch his lead to a hand full of bike lengths. Bridewell made his way forward from his starting position of 4th, having frequented the podium at Brands in 2021, it was all looking goodfor Bridewell before finding himself held behind Kyle Ryde for a handful of laps.

BSB Brands Hatch 24.07.2022 Tommy Bridewell Picture courtesy of Oxford Products Ducati

A chasing pack of Haslam, Jackson, Iddon and Vickers sat in behind and held on to the pace as the laps counted down with Brookes further back in a lonely 7th place. Bridewell continued his charge eventually passing Ryde and bridging the gap to the front running Yamahas, joining in the fight for race victory and the podium positions. It would seem though Bridewell had used a lot of tyre passing Ryde and then racing to join front pack, eventually finding himself in second place in front of Mackenzie and Ray after a flurry of position exchangesand a bit of a moment from Mackenzie where he seemed to miss a gear coming out of Surtees. Mackenzie wasn’t to be beaten to second though and after some very exciting racing, we rounded the final curve with O’Halloran followed by Mackenzie, Bridewell and Ray.

BSB Brands Hatch 24.07.2022 Josh Brookes Picture courtesy of Brands Hatch Official

Race 1 Result :-1 – O’Halloran; 2 – Mackenzie; 3 – Bridewell; 4 – Ray; 5 – Ryde; 6 – Brookes;6 – Brookes; 7 – Skinner; 8 – Haslam; 9 – Jackson; 10 – Iddon; 11 – Hickman;            12 – Kent; 13 – Sykes; 14 – Andrew Irwin; 15 – OwensRace 2 lines up slightly different due to the race results of the previous day.Mackenzie on pole from Bridewell, Ray, O’Halloran, Haslam, Jackson, Ryde, Brookes, Skinner and Vickers. Vickers who managed a fastest lap inside the top 10 even with a race 1 crash, goes on to crash in race 2 which makes it his 7th crash in 9 races. Vickers was linked with the PBM Ducati team mid-season 2021 for a 2022 ride prior to the team deciding to go with Josh Brookes and Tom Sykes instead.

Glenn Irwin lines up in 17th after his first lap crash from Saturday’s race. Lap 1 incidents are again present for Glenn after having to take avoiding action when brother, Andy Irwin clips Peter Hickman causing a crash for the Synetiq BMW and running both Peter and Glenn off the track and leaving a mountain to climb for both the BMW and Honda riders.

Another strange incident involved Lee Jackson when he slipped off on lap 4 with Christian Iddon seeming to crash in sympathy directly behind him, with perhaps a momentary distraction upsetting the apple cart for the Buildbase Suzuki rider following the FS3 Kawasaki off the tarmac. Josh Brookes then went on to DNF in a very similar crash to that of Lee Jackson on lap 7.A mega fight back from Glenn Irwin put him in 10th for race 2. A strong performance from this year’s reigning champion, Tarran Mackenzie ended with himself back on to the podium, ultimately taking the win over his McAMS teammate, Jason O’Halloran followed by another solid podium from Tommy Bridewell.After this result, the championship lead swings in favour of Jason O’Halloran after a very strong couple of rounds from the Australian.Race 2 Result :-1 – Mackenzie; 2 – O’Halloran; 3 – Bridewell; 4 – Ray; 5 – Haslam; 6 – Skinner; 7 – Ryde; 8 – Sykes; 9 – Kent; 10 – Glenn Irwin; 11 – Neave; 12 – Hickman; 13 – Takahashi; 14 – Owens; 15 – BuchanRace 3 went on to start very positively for both Ray and Mackenzie. JoshBrookes cemented his weekend to forget for him and the MCE Ducati teamwith a lap one crash (interestingly Tom Sykes was also wheeled off the grid and subsequently couldn’t start the race); while Glenn Irwin clearly had a point to prove with his up the inside move at Paddock Hill Bend to take the lead of the race on lap 3.

BSB Brands Hatch 24.07.2022 Tom Sykes Picture courtesy of Paul Bird Motorsport MCE Ducati

The Yamaha’s spent a few laps squabbling over second place as Ray and O’Halloran exchanged overtakes but a move from Ray on Irwin ultimately handed O’Halloran the place back when Ray ran wide trying to complete the move. The interruption to Irwin’s rhythm led to a loss of 2 places in the spaceof a few corners which left him in third behind Mackenzie where he ultimately went on to finish. A very positive ending to a difficult weekend for Glenn but Brands has always been a bit of a bogey track for the Honda man.

Bridewell had another solid and very positive run overtaking Ray for 4th place (only to be pipped back by Ray before the finish line), while Mackenzie went on to overtake his teammate for the lead on lap 15. O’Halloran wasn’t up for settling, and lined up a run into the last corner to, and snatch the lead from, Mackenzie on the final lap but in true Hopper v Hill and very typical of Brands, O’Show got the move done, up the inside of Mackenzie under braking, but ran wide allowing Mackenzie to cut back and out drag Jason to the line to take the final race win of the weekend.This Racing Armchair predicted Tarran could easily be into the showdown positions after a good show at Brands, unfortunately this performance has come at the expense of Josh Brookes whom has slipped from the showdown spots to 11th after his double DNF.Race 3 Results :-1 – Mackenzie; 2 – O’Halloran; 3 – Glenn Irwin; 4 – Ray; 5 – Bridewell;6 – Haslam; 7 – Ryde; 8 – Hickman; 9 – Skinner; 10 – Jackson; 11 – Iddon; 12 – Andy Irwin; 13 – Buchan; 14 – Takahashi; 15 – Rouse

BSB Brands Hatch 24.07.2022 Tarran McKenzie & Jason O’Halloran Picture courtesy of McAMS Yamaha

My positive of the weekend has to be Tarran Mackenzie proving he can come off a round of World Superbikes, riding on different electronics and fall back into BSB winning races. That is a massive warning shot across the bow of the other riders in the series. They have had a little break from Tarran while he worked on recovering and coming back to being fully fit. I think like busses, we have waited for one and now twelve could come at once and I think Tarran will go on now to post a series of wins. No stranger to coming from behind to win in the showdown, as he did in 2021, Tarran has laid down a glove to his competition and especially his team mate. Watch this space.My negative is twofold. It was so nice to see Brookes smiling on the grid of race 1. The series needs people like Josh. Never afraid to speak his mind and not always playing the corporate man, Josh is still a breath of fresh air in the paddock so to see a double DNF was pretty soul destroying for me and will no doubt harm any confidence built up in the last few weeks. This links back to a story I wrote a few weeks ago about the position the Panigale finds itself in where every other manufacturer seems to have bridged the gap to the Ducati and ultimately has dismissed any obvious advantage the Panigale once had. So much so that when Tom Sykes didn’t start race 3, he didn’t seem particularly bothered. He seemed more relieved that he didn’t have to go and wrestle a result from the Panigale V4 but thatis  just my observation. Perhaps it’s just the usually level headed, pragmatic Yorkshireman not letting a dismal continuation of his first season back in BSB get under his skin. I’m sure Tom will click with the Duke soon enough.My second negative is one of disappointment for Danny Buchan. The Synetiq BMW rider has had strong finishes at Brands Hatch in the past but this weekend it wasn’t to be. DNF, 15th and a 13th certainly aren’t the results Danny, or the team would want. This weekend’s results at Brands have dropped Buchan (as in the case of Brookes) out of the showdown at the hands of Hickman and Mackenzie.A three week break to Thruxton should give some riders time to come down to earth again and also allows other riders to pick themselves up, dust themselves down and remember they’re all part of the best national championship on the planet!P.S Josh, if you fancy a pint send me a DM. No one gives better advice than The Racing Armchair!Take care everyone.@RacingArmchair

Donington Park World Superbikes Couldn’t Have Planned It Better!

This weekend we are lucky enough to host the British round of the World Superbike series at Donington Park in Derbyshire and as far as I am concerned, it couldn’t have worked out better for them and us. At the time of writing this, the old laptop is pointing towards a temperature on Saturday of 28°c, Sunday showing 31°c and it doesn’t look like the wind is going to climb over 6 mph all weekend. SAFE TO SAY YOU’RE GONNA’ NEED YOUR SUNCREAM AND A HAT!

WSBK Estoril Race 1 Picture courtesy of Kawasaki Racing Team

Long hailed one of the jewels in the crown of British Racing, the 2.5 mile circuit winds its way across the rolling British countryside. Anyone who has visited Donington and walked down the Craner Curves to the Old Hairpin for example, will know it’s quite the hike. You are however rewarded by the stunning views and the spectating really does take some beating. Donington does cater well for slips, trips and falls with its gravel traps however it retains that “close to the track” feel that most British circuits, barring Silverstone offer. Hence Donington being a true fan favourite in person and on the TV.

The start of the season in World SBK has been anything (and everything) but boring. Unfortunately “boring” has been a moniker that the series has struggled to shake off it’s back in previous years. However, with some tweeking of the technical regulation by the series owner, to ensure the various manufacturers perform as closely as possible, and the recruitment of some seriously talented riders over the last 2-3 seasons, we have been served up nothing short of bar to bar, wheel to wheel, fairing to fairing, nonstop racing action AND IT’S ABSOLUTEY BRILLIANT!

Alvaro Bautista at Aragon 2022 WSBK. Image courtesy of Ducati

Jonathan Rea having taken a step this year aboard his Kawasaki ZX10R to ultimately close the gap (and overtake) last year’s World Superbike Champion Toprak Razgatlioglu on his Yamaha R1, plus the resurgence of the Ducati Panigale in the hands of returning factory rider Alvaro Bautista. Bautista has replaced regular race winner Scott Redding after he stepped away from the Italian Factory to race on BMW machinery for the 2022/2023 season. Bautista has taken the fight to both Rea and Razgatlioglu and put the dampers on any of Kawasaki and Yamaha’s hard work in the off season. After a string of hard-fought victories, the Spaniard holds a steady 36 points in the lead going into Donington on Rea with Razgatlioglu following another 43 points further back. Based on this alone, we are in for one hell of a treat this weekend.

The sweetener this weekend being the wildcards. The reigning British Superbike Champion, Tarran Mackenzie will make his World Superbike debut aboard a SBK Spec version of his McAms Yamaha R1. Taz was scheduled to debut at the Assen round of the world championship, however a pre-season training accident ruled him out of both Assen and even the opening rounds of the British Superbikes.

Speaking recently to worldsbk.com Tarran said “I am very excited to finally make my debut in the Superbike World Championship at Donington. It feels like it’s been a long time coming and I was obviously disappointed when we couldn’t do Assen. Donington is a special track for me as it’s only 10 minutes down the road from home, I’ve had some great success there in BSB so I am looking forward to getting out on a World Superbike-spec R1 and seeing what both myself and the McAMS Yamaha team can achieve. Obviously, there is a lot to learn with the engine and electronics, but I know the chassis well as my BSB bike is very similar. The level in World Championship is really high and I’m looking forward to getting out on track and giving it our all. I have to say a huge thanks to Steve and the McAMS Yamaha team, as well as Andrea and everyone at Yamaha Racing for making this possible.”

Joining the McAms team at Donington is the FHO Racing team. Peter Hickman will make his 3rd Wildcard appearance in the World Superbike series riding his very own motorcycle from the British Superbike series. As with the McAms bike, it will be running an upgraded electronics package to match the other race entrants with the hope of being in for the win.

In a statement released by the FHO Racing team, Peter Hickman says “I’m mega excited to get a chance to have a go at the World superbikes. I’ve done it twice – once in 2012 with Worx Suzuki and again in 2019 with the BMW World Superbike team but both times were last minute arrangements, jumping on bikes I had never seen before. This time I’ll be riding my FHO Racing BMW which I race in the British Superbike Championship so that will be good. We are having to work on raising the electronics package to World Superbike spec which will change things quite a lot which could be interesting, but we’ll see. I think it’s fantastic that we’re getting the chance to do this as a team and it’s all down to Faye. She’s owned the team for a year and a half and we’ve already done BSB, North West 200, Isle of Man TT and now we’re getting to do a World Superbike wildcard which is pretty cool. It’ll be good for everyone in the team to get to do a World Superbike round together. We’ve all done bits here and there not as a team, so I think it’s going to be a really great thing for us all.”

Also returning to the series is previous Kawasaki KRT rider and current Vison Track Kawasaki rider Leon Haslam, returning again for Team Pedercini Racing on their Kawasaki ZX10R. Not a last-minute decision. This has been in the making since the start of the season when Pedercini scaled back their two-bike team to a single bike entry and agreeing with Leon to join forces for four races this year. So far Leon has rode for the team at the Assen round where he scored 13th, 17th and 16th place finishes. Let’s hope Donington Park offers some home round advantage for Leon and he can pick up some much needed racing confidence after a somewhat disappointing start to the 2022 BSB season. Leon is also scheduled to ride for the Pedercini team at the Most and Portimao rounds later in the season.

WSBK Assen 23.04.2022 Razgatlioglu and Locatelli Picture courtesy of Pata Yamaha

As for the other Brits, it goes without saying we hope that Scott Redding, Alex Lowes and Jonathan Rea have a great race. It’s been a while since we had a full compliment flying the flag for us on the world stage. It’s very nice to see some fresh faces being given a chance to shine. Well done to Yamaha, McAms, Kawasaki, Lucio Pedercini, BMW and Faye Ho for making the brave choices to invest further money into a sport famous for its expense. With the cost of living rising across the globe and the financial constraints placed on business in general, it’s a wonder we go racing at all.

Have a goodun’.

Racing Armchair

@racingarmchair

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