A Thriller at Thruxton – Round 6 British Superbike Championship

Round 6 of the British Superbike Championship was teed up to be an absolute belter and it did not disappoint!

BSB Round 6 Thruxton 14.08.2022 Picture courtesy of McAMS Yamaha

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.

Race 1 Points Finishers: – O’Halloran, Mackenzie, Ray, Irwin, Hickman, Jackson, Skinner, Haslam, Sykes, Bridewell, Vickers, Iddon, Ryde, Buchan and Mizuno in 15th.

BSB Round 6 Thruxton 14.08.2022 Josh Brookes Picture courtesy of PBMotorsport MCE Ducati

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.

Race 2 Points Finishers: – O’Halloran, Mackenzie, Ray, Hickman, Jackson, Irwin, Skinner, Buchan, Haslam, Bridewell, Iddon, Sykes, Irwin, Mizuno and Brookes in 15th place.

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.

BSB Round 6 Thruxton 14.08.2022 Peter Hickman Picture courtesy of FHO Racing

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.

2 Bradley Ray – 307 Points – 35 Podium Credits.

3 Lee Jackson – 219 Points – 14 Podium Credits.

4 Rory Skinner – 199 Points – 6 Podium Credits.

5 Glenn Irwin – 192 Points – 16 Podium Credits.

6 Kyle Ryde – 173 Points – 12 Podium Credits.

7 Tarran Mackenzie – 170 Points – 24 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!

See you all soon.

A look forward to Thruxton Racing Circuit – Round 6 of the Bennetts British Superbike Series

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.

BSB Jason O’Halloran Picture courtesy of McAMS Yamaha

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.

Chrissy Rouse Picture courtesy of Bonnie Lane

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.

A Chat with British Superbikes Christian Iddon of Buildbase Suzuki on his 2022 season and more…

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.

Christian Iddon Buildbase Suzuki, Hawk Racing Team Picture courtesy of Christian Iddon

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.

Christian Iddon Buildbase Suzuki, Hawk Racing Team Picture courtesy of Christian Iddon

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.

Thanks for reading. Hope you enjoyed it.

You can find me on twitter using @racingarmchair

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

British Superbikes Round 5, 2022 from Brands Hatch

We are back after the summer break in the British Superbike Series. Round 5 comes from the Brands Hatch circuit in Kent. For those like me who love the circuit, you’ll be pleased to know it’s the full GP circuit, not the shorter Indy version. Brands GP very much reminds me of the old Hockenheim F1 circuit in Germany. A decent percentage of the race ran out in the open in front of packed grandstands and fan lined fences, while the latter half of the circuit runs out into the wilderness, winding its way through the woods and stunning backdrop of the Kentish countryside.

BSB Josh Brookes Picture courtesy of PBMotorsport MCE Ducati

In a world full of ‘modern’ circuits consisting of long straights ending with heavy braking into 1st gear hairpins and chicanes, Brands is yet another example of a classis British ‘short circuit’ full of long, flowing corners and severe undulations. A circuit steeped in racing history having previously hosted the F1 British Grand Prix, World Superbikes, World Endurance Racing and World Touring Cars. The circuit currently plays host to British Superbikes, BTCC British Touring Cars and many more smaller racing series.

The 2.433m circuit has produced some great racing over the years. Hill v Hopper in 2011 is STILL the first thing I think of when I see the words Brands Hatch. The last few laps of that race will long live on in my memory as a handful of the best racing laps I have ever seen and yes, I did watch Rossi v Lorrenzo – Catalunya 2009! Brands Hatch has also seen the title battle go down to the wire many times since the introduction of the showdown platform. Later this year we return to Brands for the British Superbike finale (Oct 14th to 16th) and I have no doubt it will be more of the same, this year.

As results go, this time last year the spoils were spread evenly between three riders. Current British Champion, Tarran Mackenzie on the McAMS Yamaha R1 who took the Race 1 victory. Followed up by Race 2 going the way of his team-mate and title protagonist Jason O’Halloran. The then PBM Ducati rider, Christian Iddon (now riding for Buildbase Suzuki), followed up with a victory in the third and final race of the weekend in changeable conditions after gambling (and paying off) on a slick tyre on a drying track, only to have the playing field leveled after a red flag and restart procedure.

My observations for this weekend:

Bradley Ray – OMG Racing Yamaha

Current title leader Bradley Ray comes into the race weekend 16 points clear of his nearest rival in the standings, Jason O’Halloran. Ray is looking to continue his strong run of results this season which have seen him pick up 3 race wins, 3 second places and 3 third place finishes so far. The fighting spirit will no doubt be there in abundance for Bradley as Brands is his home circuit, making the desire to put on a show and stand on the box something extra to fight for in front of the local fans.

BSB Bradley Ray Picture courtesy of OMG Racing

For the 2022 season, OMG Racing switched from BMW M1000RR motorcycles to the Yamaha R1 and so far, the move seems to have paid off on a grand scale as the Yamaha has form at Brands with Mackenzie on the box in all 3 races in 2021 and O’Show making it up there twice. Hopefully the recent news that Rich Energy have parted ways with the OMG Racing outfit won’t have a detrimental effect on their 2022 title chances. It is unclear yet as to what has happened and why the parties have decided to part ways. We assume statements from the team will be made over the coming weekend.

Jason O’Halloran – McAMS Yamaha

As mentioned above, there are only 16 points in it now between O’Show and Ray. After a somewhat lackluster start to the 2022 campaign by O’Halloran, where he found himself regularly picking up the 6th place finishers spot, Jason has come on song this last couple of rounds. A 2nd, Win and Win in the 3 races at Donington and then on to repeat the same feat again at the most recent Knockhill round, has closed the gap to current series leader Ray, and has shown that perhaps McAMS have found a better setting with the R1 moving forward. This could aid them at Brands with its long flowing corners utilising the combination of corner speed and edge grip that the R1 offers. Jason is definitely the man in form at the moment and I see no reason why he couldn’t be the man on the top step over the coming weekend.

Tarran Mackenzie – McAMS Yamaha

Fresh off his wildcard debut at Donington Park World Superbikes this weekend. An impressive 14th place for his Race 1 debut, an unfortunate DNF in the Superpole race and scored 15th place in Race 2. Bike fitness returning ever more, session by session Taz told the SBK paddock and Eurosport TV that he’s now pain free and back to full training after his rehabilitation from a broken ankle earlier this year. This comes at a very good time for Taz as he looks to secure a place in the BSB Showdown. A very achievable feat when you consider he won 4 of the 6 races held at Brands Hatch in 2021. Taz finds himself 49 points behind 8th place in the championship, currently held by Synetiq BMW’s Danny Buchan. With 75 points up for grabs, if Taz can come into some previous form, then suddenly the gap doesn’t seem so big. Consistent, trouble free racing is what Taz needs as I am sure his Dad will be telling him. Keep your head down and stay out of trouble and the results will come.

BSB Jason O’Halloran Picture courtesy of McAMS Yamaha

Lee Jackson – Cheshire Mouldings FS3 Kawasaki

As with O’Halloran, Lee Jackson has stepped up the pace in the last few rounds scoring his first BSB race win, and being on the box, more than off it over the Oulton, Donington and Knockhill rounds. The firm outside chance, Lee feels like a racer who is coming into his own. His gentle riding style and super clean race craft have earned him the respect of his fellow pilots. Perhaps the belief in his own skill set is hatching from the racing egg. Has Lee realised that if he wants to win races, now is the best time to do it! There is no doubting the pedigree of the Kawasaki ZX10 and Lee always being there or thereabouts, we are yet to see if Jackson has the stones to go all out bar banging, fairing bashing and block passing his rivals for the win on a regular basis. However in a year where a lot of people would have put their money on his up-and-coming team-mate, Rory Skinner, Jackson has more than handed them their change from the ‘opinion box’ and firmly shut some mouths! And fair play to him for taking that step!

Rory Skinner – Cheshire Mouldings FS3 Kawasaki

A fairly consistent run so far for Skinner having taken a 2nd and a few 3rd places this year. Skinner is having a good season, putting aside any talk of his future in the MotoGP paddock. After dominating in the Supersport class and then stepping up to BSB last year with the FS3 team, it would be rational that Rory would take a step forward and he has certainly lived up to those expectations. I don’t see consistent, out and out race winning pace YET despite crashing out of the lead in the third race at the Scotsman’s local circuit, Knockhill recently. I have no doubt he’s capable of breaking his BSB duck before the end of the year and were he to be staying in BSB, I’ve no doubt he would win titles but with him being such a young talent, he is heavily rumored to be moving on to the Moto2 World Championship and I wish him the best of luck if that’s what he wants to do and has the opportunity.

BSB Rory Skinner Picture courtesy of Cheshire Mouldings FS-3 Racing

Glenn Irwin – Honda Racing UK

Off the back of a very successful Northwest 200 and Isle of Man TT campaign, I’d like to think Glenn is coming into the weekend with confidence and the desire to get going again. A decent time off the bike to rest up and a few weeks in the Tenerife sunshine should have him raring to go and ready to take the second half of the season by the scruff of the neck. After a dominant start to the 2022 season, winning all 3 races at Silverstone, the podium credits have proven hard to come by for the Northern Irishman. Hampered by a double DNF at Donington (Race 2 was a technical breakdown whereas during Race 3, avoiding a crashing Leon Haslam at Starkeys, resulting in his own crash). This has had a huge effect on his placement in the standings when you consider the consistency of Ray and O’Halloran. Currently sitting 82 points back from the championship lead, Glenn is in that beautiful position now of having so much to gain and very little to lose. I for one would love to see Glenn step up at Brands and smoke the lot of them!

The Outside Chances

Racing is never simple. Applying the logic “because the top 8 in the championship are the top 8, that means they’re the top 8 from now till the end of the season”. The beauty of racing is the fact no one can really predict what is going to happen. A feat proven by Jorge Lorenzo of MotoGP when he started his 99 Seconds podcast on Youtube. Lorenzo went on to predict every podium in MotoGP and without going back and checking for absolute certainty, I don’t think he got a single one correct. Weather can make a massive difference. First lap collisions and racing incidents. Qualifying positions. How the rider is feeling on the day. I wouldn’t be surprised here to see Josh Brookes come forward, having previously been known as the King of Brands. Tom Sykes has form at Brands, albeit a long time ago, after winning Race 2 and 3 as a wildcard back in 2010 during his tenure in World Superbikes.

Tommy Bridewell was on the podium in Race 1 of the July 2021 visit to Brands whereas in the October visit to the circuit, he had a hat trick of 2nd places to Yamaha’s Tarran Mackenzie. However with the current results, in spite of their upward trajectory, it seems quite the stretch for the Ducati riders. Danny Buchan is also one to watch for stringing a strong weekend together at Brands Hatch. Danny has previously finished in 4th place several times at the circuit as his lanky style, long legs and levers aid the rider muscling the bike around the high g-force circuit when tackling corners such as Paddock Hill Bend, Westfield, Dingle Dell and Sheene Curve.

BSB Tom Sykes Picture courtesy of PBM Motorsport MCE Ducati

Either way we are in for a thriller and I for one cannot wait to get going again!

Check back with me after the weekend for a write up on how things went and how badly my predictions/thoughts etc were!

Thanks racing fans. Hope everyone has a good weekend.


Round 5 WorldSBK Donington Park, Race 2

The weather was heating up, and so was the racing.

The Superpole race saw the reigning champion, Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha), claim his second win of the weekend, followed by Rea (Kawasaki KRT), and Redding (BMW Motorrad), in 2nd and 3rd respectively.

WorldSBK Round 5 Race 2 at Donington Iker Lecuona Picture courtesy of HRC WorldSBK

Lights out for race 2, and again it’s Toprak with the hole shot, followed by Rea, Bautista (Aruba.it Ducati), and Redding in 4th. Rea in particular, was looking more aggressive than he had yesterday, and was keen not to let the Turkish rider get away again.

Next lap and positions were as follows: 1. Toprak 2. Rea 3. Bautista 4. Redding 5. Rinaldi (Aruba.it Ducati) 6. Lowes (Kawasaki KRT) 7. Locatelli (Pata Yamaha) 8. Lecuona (Honda HRC) 9. Bassani (Motocorsa Ducati) 10. Baz (Bonovo Action BMW). Toprak put in the new fastest lap of 1:26.696, with Rea still trying to find a way through. The gap behind to Bautista was now 0.6s.

Lap 4 of 23, and it was the turn of Bautista to put in the new fastest lap of 1:26.644. This trio had already pulled out a significant gap to the rest of the field, with only Scott Redding keeping contact in 4th, 0.5s behind.

Lap 6 of 23, and Rea was desperate to find a way through on Toprak. The Turkish rider is an absolute demon on the brakes, and with so few places to pass, it was making life impossible for Rea. He tried a move in the Foggy Esses, briefly getting ahead, but Toprak was able to use the acceleration of the Yamaha R1 to retake the lead. As was the case yesterday, the constant battle between Rea, and Toprak was playing into the hands of Bautista, who had closed the gap to Rea. Meanwhile further back it was 7. Locatelli 8. Bassani 9. Lecuona 12. Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) 13. Vierge (Honda HRC).

On lap 9 of 23 Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Pedercini) retires from the race. Meanwhile at the front, Rea was still throwing everything he could at Toprak, although the reigning champion was showing his grit, and standing firm. Bautista was still making ground in 3rd, with Redding having a decent ride in 4th, Rinaldi 5th, and Lowes 6th. Further back Tarran Mackenzie (MacAMC Yamah), the reigning BSB champion, was in 15th, while Peter Hickman (FHO BMW) was in 19th.

WorldSBK Round 5 Race 2 at Donington Scott Redding Picture courtesy of BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team

With 11 laps remaining, Rinaldi finds a way through on Redding, who slips back to 5th, Lowes was in 6th. At the front Toprak was still holding off Rea, with a gap of 0.5s, while Bautista was in 3rd. Further back Nozane (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team), was having another poor race, and was in 18th.

With 8 laps to go, Toprak had pulled out the gap to 0.8s, Rea looked to be having a problem either mechanically, or with the tyres.

Next lap and the gap had been increased to 1.4 to Rea, who was still struggling with the bike. Meanwhile Toprak was looking cool, and calm as he had in race 1, and would surely take the win.

With 5 laps to go, Bautista had now closed right up to Rea, and cuts under him into Melbourne loop taking over 2nd. Further back Bassani gets through on Locatelli to take 7th.

With 3 laps remaining, Eugene Laverty (Bonovo Action BMW), retires from the race, possibly having a mechanical issue. Meanwhile Rea was holding a gap of 1.2s to Rinaldi behind in 4th.

WorldSBK Round 5 Race 2 at Donington Toprak Razgatlioglu Picture courtesy of Pata Yamaha BRIXX WorldSBK

Last lap, and Toprak crosses the line proving he’s the king of Donington, taking his first career triple win across the weekend, and massively reducing the gap to the championship leader, Bautista, who comes in 2nd. Rea 3rd, Rinaldi 4th, Redding 5th, Lowes 6th, Bassani 7th, Locatelli 8th, Baz 9th, Lecuona 10th. Tarran Mackenzie takes 15th, while Hickman takes 19th on their debuts.

Result top 5:

  1. Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha)
  2. Bautista (Aruba.it Ducati)
  3. Rea (Kawasaki KRT)
  4. Rinaldi (Aruba.it Ducati)
  5. Redding (BMW Motorrad)

Championship top 3:

  1. Bautista – 246
  2. Rea – 229
  3. Razgatlioglu – 203



TT 2022 – It begins!

After what feels like the longest 3 years, the 37.73 miles of the Isle of Man TT Course is once again alive with the sound of race bikes. Visitors are arriving in their thousands to see the spectacle, and many of the fan’s favourites are back on the course to pit their wits against the tarmac and trees.

IOM TT – Picture courtesy of Keith Quirk

Whilst many of the competitors arrived fresh from the North West 200, given the Dunlop tyre issues there it hasn’t been as clear an indicator of form on the Superbikes as we’ve seen in previous years.

Peter Hickman was showing great pace at the NW200 on the Gas Monkey/FHO BMW before the tyre problems and his closest challengers have to be Dean Harrison on the DAO Kawasaki; Davey Todd on the Padgett’s bike; and his teammate (Isle of Man born and bred) Conor Cummins.

Despite the late changes in machinery, and a lucky escape with the tyre issues, Michael Dunlop can never be discounted and with his knowledge and experience, John McGuinness will also be one to watch.

IOM TT – Picture courtesy of Keith Quirk

It’s hard to write an article that doesn’t just become a list of competitors – by it’s nature the Isle of Man Mountain Course is never easy to predict – the distance, the speed at which conditions change, the wide open Mountain Section contrasting with the lower tree lined sections make it a really fascinating prospect.

There are some talented new names to look out for too. As they make the step up from the Manx Grand Prix, James Hind and Nathan Harrison have already put in some solid laps during Practice Week. Glenn Irwin makes his debut on the Isle of Man, as does Milo Ward.

On the Superstocks, as the current lap record holder Hickman is an obvious one to watch, so too is Davey Todd. Dunlop on his Carl Cox support machine, and local lad N Harrison will also be pushing.

We’ve not yet mentioned Lee Johnston – he’s got to be worth a look on the Supersport and with 16 podiums, Dean Harrison will hoping for another trip up the famous steps. Once again Todd & Cummins will be competitive, and Michael Dunlop is showing his experience as the current lap record holder.

The Supertwins could be an interesting one to watch – again Dunlop is on the Paton, with the mightily experienced Rutter contrasting against the young man James Hind who is the current Manx Grand Prix Lap record holder – he has the capability to secure a top 8 finish. We also have the North West 200 success of Pierre Yves Bian who is obviously one to watch as he brings that to the Island.

The Sidecar entry is made up of a lot of well known and highly successful names. Dave Molyneux and Darryl Gibson will be debuting the KTM. Speaking of debut, Harry Payne and Mark Wilkes make their first attempts at conquering the course – somewhat different to the circuits they have enjoyed recent success on.

IOM TT – Picture courtesy of Keith Quirk

The locals are well represented this year with Callum and Ryan Crowe vying for a podium finish and of course the Mansfield brothers. Ben & Tom Birchall will be continuing their charge and hoping to add to their previous wins. The sidecars also sees Michael Russell making the crossover from solo in an attempt to contest all 8 races during race week…!

It would be wrong to write this without mentioning the sad loss of Mark Purslow following an incident at Ballagarey during the Wednesday evening practice session. Mark was a previous winner at the Manx Grand Prix, and this was to be his second TT. Our thoughts are with all those affected by his passing.

Round 3 WorldSBK Estoril, Portugal, Race 2

The earlier Superpole race saw Rea (KRT Kawasaki), claim his first win of the weekend, followed by Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha) and Bautista (Aruba.it Ducati).

WorldSBK Estoril 22.05.2022 Picture courtesy of Kawasaki Racing Team

Lights out for race 2, and it’s Toprak with the hole shot, followed by Rea 2nd, Locatelli (Pata Yamaha) 3rd, Bautista 4th, Leucona (Honda HRC) 5th and Rinaldi (Aruba.it Ducati) 6th. And then drama as light rain began to fall – would this have a bearing on the race?

Next lap, and Rea again showing good pace, takes over the lead from Toprak. His team mate, Lowes, was showing good early pace too and moved up into 5th, and then quickly into 4th moving through on Lecuona, setting a fastest lap of 1:37.222 in the process.

With 18 laps of 21 remaining, it was Lowes with another fastest lap this time 1:37.039, and moved past Bautista with a neat pass. Both the ZX10-RR machines were looking quick in the early stages of the race. Positions were as follows; 1. Rea 2. Razgatlioglu 3. Lowes 4. Bautista 5. Lecuona 6. Locatelli 7. Rinaldi 8. Vierge (Honda HRC) 9. Bassani (Motocorsa Ducati) 10. Redding (BMW Motorrad).

WorldSBK Estoril 22.05.2022 Lecuona Picture courtesy of Honda Racing Corporation

With 13 laps to go, a group of 4 riders had splintered away from the others, with Locatelli trailing by 2s back in 5th. Positions were as follows; 1. Rea 2. Toprak 3. Lowes 4. Bautista. The former then moves past Lowes to take 3rd. The good news was the earlier light rain had stopped, with the track remaining dry.

With 11 laps to go, as he had in race 1, Bautista was showing good late race pace, and used the top end grunt of the Ducati to overtake both Rea and Toprak down the straight and into turn 1, moving from 3rd into the lead. Meanwhile further back, Bassani was having a decent race and was now up to 7th.

Next lap, and Rea comes through on Bautista, after the Spaniard made a mistake running wide and missing the apex. Rea had gone with the softer tyre option, and it looked to be a valid choice, as the Irishman set a new fastest lap of 1:37.751.

WorldSBK Estoril 22.05.2022 Vierge Picture courtesy of Honda Racing Corporation

With 8 laps to go, Bautista again using the top end speed of the Ducati, powers past Rea to retake the lead into turn 1. Further back it was 10. Redding 12. Baz (Bonovo Action BMW) and 13. Nozane (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK).

With 6 laps to go, the leading group was now down to 3, as Lowes went off the track briefly, losing contact in the process. The win looked likely to be fought out amongst the leading group of Rea, Toprak and Bautista.

With 2 laps to go, it was the turn of Toprak to lose contact with Rea and Bautista, after the reigning champion made a mistake and ran wide, seemingly struggling with tyre grip again.

WorldSBK Estoril 22.05.2022 Picture courtesy of Kawasaki Racing Team

Last lap, and Rea was all over the back of Bautista, he made his move into the chicane, cutting under the Ducati to take the lead. He held the slim gap into the final sector, and crossed the line to take his 2nd win of the day, and his 117 career win to date. 2nd Bautista, 3rd Toprak, 4th Lowes, 5th Locatelli, 6th Lecuona, 7th Bassani, 8th, Rinaldi, 9th Vierge.

Result top 5:

  1. Rea (KRT Kawasaki)
  2. Bautista (Aruba.it Ducati)
  3. Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha)
  4. Lowes (KRT Kawasaki)
  5. Locatelli (Pata Yamaha)

Championship top 3:

  1. Bautista – 161 pts
  2. Rea – 144
  3. Razgatlioglu – 109

Round 3 WorldSBK Estoril, Portugal, Race 1

With the extended break, it was a welcome return to action back on track. The skies were grey and gloomy, but the racing was white hot. Rea (KRT Kawasaki) would claim the Superpole with a fastest lap of 1:35.346, followed by Razagatlioglu (Pata Yamaha) and Bautista (aruba.It Ducati) in 2nd and 3rd respectively.

WSBK Estoril Race 1 Picture courtesy of Kawasaki Racing Team

Lights out and it was Razgatlioglu with the hole shot into turn 1 followed by Rea, Locatelli (Pata Yamaha), Bautista and Lowes (KRT Kawasaki). Mercado (MIE Racing Honda) crashed out, and his race was over.

With 20 laps to go, it was Toprak and Rea setting a very quick pace, and they were already pulling out a gap to the group of Locatelli and Bautista behind. Rea had gone with the harder tyre option and was able to match the pace of Toprak on the softer tyre, Rea setting a fastest lap of 1:36.258. Then drama into turn 6, Rea ran into the back of Toprak making contact with his rear tyre, but both riders were able to stay upright. The gap to Locatelli in 3rd was now at 1.0s.

With 18 laps to go Redding was again showing an improvement on the BMW, and was in 5th. Bautista used the top end speed of his Ducati to blast past Locatelli down the straight and took over 3rd. Meanwhile at the front both Toprak and Rea were still very much locked in battle, with only a gap of 0.5s between them.

With 16 laps to go, Razgatlioglu who was giving everything, ran too hot into turn 3, allowing Rea to come through and take the lead. Positions were as follows: 1. Rea 2. Razgatlioglu 3. Bautista 4. Locatelli 5. Redding (BMW Motorrad) 6. Lecuona (Honda HRC) 7. Vierge (Honda HRC) 8. Lowes.

With 14 laps to go Toprak out brakes Rea into turn 1 to retake the lead. Bautista was struggling to match the pace of the two at the front.

With 12 laps out of 21 remaining, it was now Rea who out braked Toprak again into turn 1, and took over the lead. Neither rider was giving an inch, and you felt the race win would be fought out between the two of them. Bautista had distanced Locatelli, and was having a lonely ride in 3rd. Meanwhile further back it was Laverty (Bonovo action BMW) in 13th and Nozane (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) in 14th.

Next lap, and Toprak retakes the lead, again it’s into turn 1. Bautista was 1.7s behind in 3rd.

WSBK Estoril Race 1 Picture courtesy of Kawasaki Racing Team

Just over half race distance, and Rea responds yet again, retaking the lead again into turn 1. This was becoming one of the all time great battles between Rea and Toprak, with the lead changing virtually every lap. Meanwhile Bautista was finding good late race pace, and set a new fastest lap of 1:36.7. The Spaniard wasn’t out of contention for the race win yet.

Next lap and the battle between Toprak and Rea showed no sign of ending, and yes, you guessed it, Toprak retook the lead into turn 1, both riders leaving braking to the very latest possible into the corner.

With 8 laps of 21 remaining, Rea again stuffs his ZX10-RR under the Yamaha R1 of Toprak, again it’s turn 1, and he retakes the lead. This battle looked to be going down to the wire. Meanwhile further back there was a 3 way battle for 5th between Redding, and the Honda team mates of Lecuona and Vierge. Bautista however, had now closed the gap to Toprak to 1.0s.

Next lap and once again the lead changed hands, this time the reigning champion retakes the lead, again it’s turn 1. The constant battle between Rea and Toprak had allowed Bautista to catch them, and he was now 0.4s behind, and was looking to have managed his tyres well.

With 6 laps to go, Rea was pushing hard, and ran wide into turn 1, allowing Bautista to come past and into 2nd. The Spaniard now had Toprak in his sights, and was looking quick. Meanwhile further back, Lecuona had got past Redding, and was now in 5th.

With 4 laps to go, Toprak held a gap of 0.4s to Bautista. Rea looked to have completely lost tyre grip, and was losing contact with the two at the front. Meanwhile further back it was Lowes in 8th, Baz (Bonovo action BMW) 9th and Rinaldi (aruba.it Ducati) in 10th.

With 2 laps remaining, Bautista was all over the back of Toprak and looking for the pass. The hard battle between Rea and Razgatlioglu had taken a toll on the tyres, and both of them were now struggling with limited grip in the closing stages of the race.

WSBK Estoril Race 1 Picture courtesy of Kawasaki Racing Team

Last lap, and Toprak was desperately still trying to keep Bautista at bay. Into the final corner, and Bautista got the drive out of the corner to power past Toprak and pip him to the line. Toprak looked disgusted and shook his head, but Bautista had judged the race to perfection using all of his experience to claim the win. Top ten positions were as follows: 1. Bautista 2. Razgatlioglu 3. Rea 4. Locatelli 5. Vierge 6. Lecuona 7. Lowes 8. Redding 9. Rinaldi 10. Baz. If the Superpole race and race 2 are anything as exciting as this one, race fans are in for a treat.

Result Top 5:

  1. Bautista (aruba.it Ducati)
  2. Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha)
  3. Rea (KRT Kawasaki)
  4. Locatelli (Pata Yamaha)
  5. Vierge (Honda HRC)

Top 3 championship:

  1. Bautista 134
  2. Rea 107
  3. Razgatlioglu 84




Round 2 WorldSBK Assen, Netherlands, Race 2

The Superpole race saw Rea (Kawasaki KRT) claim his 2nd win of the weekend, followed by Bautista (aruba.it Ducati)* (who would go on to be penalised a position due to exceeding the track limits), and Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha) who crossed in 3rd. The final position saw Toprak moved up into 2nd, with Bautista in 3rd.

Race 2 saw conditions match those of yesterday. Would Rea be able to claim a clean sweep of wins this weekend?

WSBK Assen 23.04.2022 Razgatlioglu and Locatelli Picture courtesy of Pata Yamaha

Lights out and it was Razgatlioglu with the hole shot, followed closely by his team mate Locatelli, who in turn had Bautista, Lecuona (Honda HRC) and Rea in close pursuit. A bad day for GRT Yamaha who lose both of their riders. First Nozane continued his poor form by crashing into turn 1, and then Gerloff ran into the back of Rea. Rea managed to keep the bike upright, but Gerloff’s race was over.

Next lap and it was the turn of Loris Baz (Bonovo Action BMW) to go down, this time in turn 8. Meanwhile Rea not letting the earlier incident upset his rhythm, moved past Lecuona into 4th. It was Bassani (Motocorsa Ducati) in 8th who set the fastest lap of 1:34.093 however, and was looking quick.

With 18 laps to go, Rea continued to gain positions, this time moving past Locatelli (Pata Yamaha) into 3rd, and then past Bautista into 2nd. Toprak was still out in the lead, and it looked like it would be a repeat of race 1, with this trio clearing off into the distance.

WSBK Assen 23.04.2022 Lowes Picture courtesy of KRT Kawasaki

With 16 laps remaining huge drama unfolded, as Toprak and Rea collided into turn 2, with both of them hitting the deck, putting an end to their race. Bautista narrowly avoided getting caught up in the crash, and now found himself the new race leader. Positions were now as follows: 1. Bautista 2. Lecuona (Honda HRC) 3. Bassani 4. Locatelli 5. Rinaldi (aruba.it Ducati) 6. Lowes (Kawasaki KRT) 7. Redding (BMW Motorrad) and 8. Vierge (Honda HRC).

The two former MotoGP riders, Bautista and Lecuona, were now battling each other out for the race win. Could Lecuona claim his first WorldSBK podium?

With 13 laps to go, Bassani continued to show impressive pace, and had now moved up to 4th, with Lowes behind in 5th. Redding too was having a better race, and was now up to 6th. Rinaldi lost places, and was now in 7th.

With 11 laps remaining, Bautista had pulled the trigger, and had extended his gap over Lecuona to 2.8s. Meanwhile behind, Redding was looking to make a move on Lowes for 5th. Vd Mark, the local Dutch rider, was having a decent race moving up to 8th, whilst still recovering from an injury to his ankle.

With 9 laps to go, Bautista was showing no signs of weakness, and had increased the gap to 4.4s over Lecuona. The Honda rider himself held a gap of 0.4 to Locatelli behind in 3rd. Positions were as follows; 1. Bautista 2. Lecuona 3. Locatelli 4. Bassani 5. Lowes and 6. Redding.

WSBK Assen 23.04.2022 Podium Bautista, Lecuona and Locatelli Picture courtesy of Honda HRC

On lap 14 of 21, Redding made his move on both Bassani and Lowes, moving up into 4th. The BMW was certainly working much better for Redding this weekend, and he was showing his raw pace of last season. Meanwhile further back a 3 way battle had now developed between Vd Mark, Vierge (Honda HRC) and Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing).

With 5 laps to go, Lecuona was holding firm in 2nd, and still held a gap of 0.2s to Locatelli who looked like he had extra grip, and was lining up a pass on the Spaniard.

Next lap and Locatelli makes the move on Lecuona going into 2nd. Meanwhile, Bautista was away and no doubt had the win in the bag, with a gap of nearly 10s. Further back, both Lowes and Bassani had fought their way back to Redding, and there was now a 3 way fight for 4th.

WSBK Assen 23.04.2022 Locatelli Picture courtesy of Pata Yamaha

Last lap and Bautista crosses the line to claim the win, followed by Locatelli and Lecuona. Lowes and Bassani both got past Redding, followed by Rinaldi in 7th, Vd Mark in 8th, Vierge 9th and Mahias rounding out the top 10. *Bassani would go on to be penalised for exceeding track limits, and conceded his position to Redding who claims 5th.

Result top 5:

  1. Bautista (aruba.it Ducati)
  2. Locatelli (Pata Yamaha)
  3. Lecuona (Honda HRC)
  4. Lowes (Kawasaki KRT)
  5. Redding (BMW Motorrad)

Out: Rea (Kawasaki KRT), Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha), Nozane (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK), Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK), Baz (Bonovo Action BMW), Oetll (GoEleven Ducati).

Championship top 3:

  1. Bautista 109 pts
  2. Rea 91
  3. Razgatlioglu 64


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