McAMS Yamaha promote Tim Neave to British Superbikes for 2023

The latest news from the British Superbike paddock sees McAMS Yamaha announce the promotion of Tim Neave from National Superstock 1000 to British Superbikes for 2023.

After an injury riddled season aboard an R1 for the team in the National Superstock 1000 category which saw a broken pelvis ruin Neave’s season, McAMS have decided they had seen enough to warrant signing Neave into their superbike squad in the vacated seat of Tarran Mackenzie.

With Mackenzie, the former British Superbike Champion of 2021 having announced he is moving on to pastures new for 2023, this leaves the Fleetwood based squad in a position to take a chance on the young BSB rookie. Neave joins the team to learn and develop alongside current Yamaha Veteran rider, Jason O’Halloran.

Steve Rogers and Tim Neave – McAMS Yamaha

Neave said: “To get the call up to ride for McAMS Yamaha is a dream come true. When I signed to ride for the team last year, in the back of my mind I was thinking if I could do a really good job on the Superstock bike and a seat became available, it would be the dream but I didn’t think it would actually happen!

“Raceways are one of, if not the best teams in the paddock – they’ve certainly won more races than anyone else in recent years so I can’t think of a better team to step up into BSB with. I loved riding the R1 Superstock bike, it really suited me as a rider and from what Jason has told me, the Superbike has similar characteristics so I’m looking forward to getting out on it for the first time. BSB is one of the toughest classes in racing, but I’ll give it my everything to make sure this opportunity isn’t wasted on me.”

Team Owner Steve Rodgers commented: “When Tim joined the team to race the Superstock bike in 2022 we were all really impressed by him. Not only was he super quick straightaway, but his attitude and the way he went about things meant that he fit in to the team immediately. There’s no doubt had the Knockhill accident, which wasn’t his fault, not occurred, he’d have continued to fight for the Superstock title.

“When he was fit, he was super-fast on the R1 and the Superstock bike has a lot of similarities to the Superbike, including the fact that we couldn’t run any traction control on the stocker, so the jump isn’t as big as it is with some other manufacturers. There’s still a lot to learn, but we are confident he’ll pick it up and look forward to seeing what he can achieve.”

Tim Neave – McAMS Yamaha

Cheshire Mouldings FS-3 Racing Kawasaki confirm Max Cook to BSB for 2023

Darren Fry and Nigel Snook of FS-3 have doubled down on their commitment to bring on the youth of our sport with the announcement that Max Cook, the 2022 winning Junior Superstock Champion will ride for the team in British Superbikes in 2023.

Max Cook – Cheshire Mouldings FS-3 Kawasaki

The latest news from within the successful 2022 Motorcycle Live event saw the announcement of Max Cook and FS-3 Kawasaki.

The 2022 season was a dominant one for Cook. 9 wins saw him go on to wrap up the Superstock 600 title and as reward for that hard work and dedication, he will line up next to FS-3 Kawasaki stalwart, Lee Jackson on the grid next season in a move that echos the signing of Rory Skinner in 2020. A move which saw him learn, develop and ultimately move on to the Moto2 category from under the wings of FS-3 racing team.

Team owners and operators Darren Fry and Nigel Snook have made no secrets of their desire to run a team that prioritises winning the British Superbike Championship, but at the same time has an eye on bringing through the talent of tomorrow!

Max Cook said: “This is a dream come true for me. Firstly, I would like to thank Nigel and Darren for supporting me for six years and now, to finally be their rider is so surreal! Nigel has supported me throughout my years at Red Bull Rookies Cup, Moto3 Junior World Championship and most recently, winning the Junior Superstock 600 championship, so he knows what I can do on a bike.

“Of course, this is a big step for me, but I feel like I am totally ready for the challenge and looking forward to showing people what I can do. To have Lee Jackson as my teammate is amazing. We all know he is very fast, and he is someone that I have always looked up to, so I can’t wait to soak up his knowledge. I have already had a taste for the superbike in early October, and I’m very excited to give it the beans in a proper run out in winter testing!”

Darren Fry said: “We’ve been supporting Max for six years and have been really impressed with his progress. He’s served his apprenticeship winning the BSB Moto 3 championship in 2017, then progressing through the British Talent Cup, Red Bull Rookies and the Junior World Championship. His talent really shone through this year as he dominated the Junior Superstock Championship and made a very impressive Supersport debut at the final round at Brands Hatch.

“As a team, we pride ourselves on actively supporting young talented riders, so the decision to promote Max to ride alongside Lee Jackson fitted perfectly with our philosophy. As a front-running BSB team, it’s easy to overlook a long-term development plan in return for instant results.

“We believe every team in the paddock has the responsibility to nurture young talent to keep British riders at the forefront of world racing and show everyone that the British Superbike Championship is the strongest domestic championship in the world.

“Just coming up to his 20th birthday, Max will certainly have his work cut out getting used to the raw power of a superbike, but we’ve got a full testing plan in place for him over the winter, and he’s very excited to get going. Based on his previous experience, we don’t think it will be too long before he surprises a few people.’’

Round 12 WorldSBK, Phillip Island, Race 2

It’s the last dance. Who would snatch victory in the last race of the season?

The earlier superpole race saw the new world champion, Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Ducati), take a gamble with slick tyres on a wet track that was drying out, a gamble which paid off. Bautista clinched the win, followed by Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha), and Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki KRT).

WorldSBK Philip Island, Australia, Round 12 20.11.2022. Picture courtesy of WorldSBK

Conditions for race 2 were dry, if not cold, with air temperature only about 15 degrees Celsius.

Lights out then for race 2, and it was Bautista with the hole shot into turn 1, followed by Rea and Redding (BMW Motorrad) who got a great start from 6th on the grid. Massive drama then for Gerloff (GRT Yamaha) and Vierge (Honda HRC), the Texan clipped the rear end of the former Moto2 rider into turn2, sending both of them careering off track. Both their seasons were now over. Meanwhile Rea was looking to make an early impact, and took over the lead into turn 3, diving under Bautista, Redding sensed an opportunity, and so to also passed Bautista.

Next lap and positions were: 1. Rea 2. Redding 3. Bautista 4. Toprak 5. Lowes (Kawasaki KRT) 6. Locatelli (Pata Yamaha) 7. Rinaldi (Aruba.it Ducati) 10. Laverty (Bonovo Action BMW) 11. Baz (Bonovo Action BMW). As he had been all weekend, Lowes was looking quick, and set the new fastest lap with a 1:30.991, going around the outside of Bautista in the process, and into 3rd.

With 18 laps remaining Bautista blasted past both Lowes and Redding down the straight and into turn 1 to take over 2nd. Toprak moved up to 3rd, with Lowes in 4th, and Redding bumped down to 5th.

Next lap, and Rea was riding defensively, as Bautista was looking to retake the lead, and was applying pressure. Locatelli was next to get through on Redding, and he moved into 5th, with Scott now in 6th. Meanwhile in the lead Rea held a gap of 0.2s.

Next lap and Bautista made his move on Rea, powering past the ZX-10RR down the straight and into the lead. Toprak was 3rd, Lowes 4th, Locatelli 5th, Redding 6th, and Rinaldi 7th. As was the story in race 1, the leading 4 were pulling away from the rest, and there was a sizeable gap now.

With 15 laps left to go, Bautista was looking to make it two wins out of three, and posted the new fastest lap with a 1:30.2. Lowes held a gap of 2.1s to Locatelli behind in 5th.

With 12 laps remaining, Rea wasn’t giving up and was pressing Bautista, and looking for the pass. Toprak in 3rd, was starting to lose contact with the two ahead of him, as the pace was ramped up. Lowes was still in 4th, and looked to be managing his tyres better than Toprak.

Just over half race distance, and Bautista looked to be suffering from rear tyre grip issues, with the back of his Panagale sliding out into most corners. By contrast Rea looked to be managing his tyres perfectly, and the Kawasaki looked to have the better drive out of corners. The gap between them was 0.4s.

Meanwhile further back, it was Redding 6th, Rinaldi 7th, Bassani (Motocorsa Ducati) 9th, Vd Mark (BMW Motorrad) 12th, and Laverty 13th.

With 8 laps left, Lowes got the better drive out of turn 12 and down the straight to come through on Toprak, and take over 3rd. The gap to his team mate in 2nd was 1.7s. Meanwhile Rea had cut the gap to Bautista to 0.2s and was looking to make the pass.

With 6 laps to go, Lowes had lost time and the gap to Rea was now 2.7s. Toprak was in 4th, Locatelli 5th, and Redding 6th.

Then with 5 laps remaining, huge drama as the race is red flagged due to a crash between Laverty and Xavi Fores into turn 1. Both riders were conscious, but it was a high speed crash, and precautions were rightly taken. As 2/3 of the race distance had been covered, the positions at the end of the previous lap were taken as final. That meant Bautista won the final race of the season, to cap off an already impressive season.

WorldSBK Philip Island, Australia, Round 12 20.11.2022. Picture courtesy of WorldSBK

Results top 5:

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

Final championship top 3:

  1. Bautista – 601 pts
  2. Razgatlioglu – 529
  3. Rea – 502

 

See you next season race fans!!!

 

Glenn Irwin joins PBM Ducati for the 2023 British Superbike Campaign: Rules out Isle of Man TT.

Paul Bird’s British Superbike Ducati team have announced the signing of Glenn Irwin for the 2023 British Superbike season.

Glenn Irwin PBM Ducati – Image Courtesy Double Red Photography

The Northern Irishman retuning back to a team he has previously ridden for between 2016 and 2018, alongside series legend Shane Byrne before a short stint with FS-3 Kawasaki Racing, and then settling in the Honda camp for 3 seasons.

Glenn has been very vocal about his desires to continue racing with the Honda brand but after being approached by Paul Bird recently, Irwin has decided a move over to Ducati machinery aboard the updated for 2023 Ducati Panigale V4R is the move that he believes will take him to British Championship success.

In an interview given to the BBC Sport website, Glenn confirms he will not attend the Isle of Man TT in 2023 as a competitor, with PBM Ducati. “I love doing the event but I don’t love it as much as my kids”.  It would seem for now after a desperately sad year, where 6 people lost their lives at the TT and with the recent tragic passings of Chrissy Rouse and Victor Steeman that perhaps Glenn has decided to stick with the safer of the 2 events, BSB over the Isle of Man TT.

Irwin believes he has a better chance of winning the BSB title in 2023 with PBM, even if it means he has to sacrifice entering the Isle of Man race where PBM won’t make an appearance. With this in mind it seems to have aided Glenn in choosing the best option for him for the season, after all his earnings and security come from the British Superbikes and I say fair play to someone thinking of their family first.

On the move, Glenn says “Re-joining PBM after four years apart is something I’m relishing as I feel I’ve improved as a rider and as a person during that time. The experience away has taught me a lot and to be coming back to the most successful team in the paddock is a fantastic opportunity. I’m in a stronger position now and we both know how each other works so the timing is perfect. I want to win, and Birdy wants to win and with Tommy as a very strong teammate, it will drive us all on. I’ve proved I can challenge for the title this year, so the plan is to go one better next season.”

Team Owner Paul Bird “With Glenn joining Tommy, I think we have an unbelievable line up for 2023 with the riders that finished second and third in this year’s championship. It’s great to have Glenn back as we have had a lot of success together in the past and he’s probably left what I would regard as one of the best, if not the best, team in the paddock to come to us. After a disappointing season for PBM, it will be good to be back at the sharp end.”

Tommy Bridewell joins Paul Bird Ducati for 2023 British Superbike title attack

Seemingly the worst kept secret in silly season is finally announced. Tommy Bridewell will race with the Paul Bird Motorsport squad for 2023 in the British Superbikes.

Tommy Bridewell PBM Ducati – Picture courtesy PBM Ducati / Double Red Photography

Bridewell had been rumoured to be joining the PBM Ducati lineup for a few weeks now and the rumours gained traction when Steve Moore, Team Principal of the Oxford Products Ducati team, which Bridewell has ridden with for the last 4 years, took to Twitter to sayThank you Tommy Bridewell, Stacey Jo and the Bridewell family for a mega 4.5 years. They said we’d never get along, but the results made our team! I’m so proud that he was in demand from several big factory teams. He has earned his place. Now we’ve got to try to beat him.”

On the same day Bridewell was quoted by Ducati on social media “It was nice to end the @OfficialBSB season on some strong results. It was my last race with @MotoRapidoBSB, I’d like to wish them every success in their future and a huge thank you for everything they have done for me.”

On signing with PBM Ducati, Bridewell said “This is my best shot at winning the title with a team that knows all about winning British Championships. I’ve known the team for a long time and this represents a fantastic opportunity as I’ve strived for years to beat them. There was a consensus that we should work together and PBM can guide me towards our goal. I’m confident in my riding and the team can give me the technical support I need. The job comes with added pressure but it’s one I’m relishing.”  

Team owner Paul Bird said “I’m delighted to have Tommy joining the team for 2023. He came up to me in the paddock as a 15-year-old when he was just starting out and told me he would ride for me one day and now it’s going to happen. He’s done a great job on a Ducati over these past couple of years and has been one of our toughest rivals so to have him on board with us is fantastic and we can’t wait to get started.”

We are still awaiting confirmation of who will fill the second seat alongside Tommy Bridewell. Lots of rumours are floating around at the moment but until it is confirmed, we have to keep biting our nails and waiting for news.

Follow me on Twitter @RacingArmchair for daily racing chat and updates.

Round 9 WorldSBK Portimao, Portugal, Race 2

Victory in the earlier Superpole race, meant the reigning champion, Toprak Razgatlioglu, was on a charge, and looking for a complete set of wins across the weekend.

Lights out for race 2 and it was Toprak (Pata Yamaha) with the hole shot into turn 1, followed by Rea (Kawasaki KRT) 2nd, Bautista (Aruba.it Ducati) 3rd, Lowes (Kawasaki KRT) 4th, and Rinaldi (Aruba.it Ducati) 5th.

WorldSBK 09.10.2022 Portimao Picture courtesy of KRT Kawasaki Racing Alex Lowes

Next lap and Rea barged through on Toprak to take over the lead, and was looking aggressive early on. Further back it was 6th Bassani (Motocorsa Duacti), 7th Locatelli (Pata Yamaha), 8th Redding (BMW Mottorad). Then drama for Mahias (Puccetti Kawasaki) who went down, and his race was over.

On lap 18 of 20, it was Rinaldi in 4th who set the new fastest lap of the race with a 1:40.098, and was having a much better race. Meanwhile further back it was the Honda HRC team mates of Lecuona, and Vierge in 10th, and 11th respectively, 12th Vd Mark (BMW Motorrad), 15th Gerloff (GRT Yamaha).

With 16 laps to go, drama for Bassani who went down into turn 12, losing the front end of the Ducati, and his race was over. Meanwhile at the front, the leading group of 5 riders had pulled away from the rest of the field.

With 15 laps to go, it was Rea who set the new fastest lap with a 1:40.673, and the pace was gradually getting ramped up, to be more in line with the quicker pace in race 1. Bautista held a gap of 0.5s to his team mate behind in 4th. Meanwhile Lowes was struggling with the faster pace, and was beginning to lose contact in 5th.

Next lap and, as in race 1, Toprak out brakes Rea into turn 1 with a nice looking move, cutting up the inside of the 6x champion. All three of the title contenders were swapping fastest laps, and it was the turn of Alvaro to put in the new fastest lap of a 1:40.647.

With 12 laps to go, Rea repays Toprak by making the same pass on him, as he had to Rea into turn 1, to retake the lead. Meanwhile Bautista sensed an opportunity, and came through on Toprak to move into 2nd. The Turk going from 1st to 3rd in one corner.

Next lap and Bautista was gathering momentum and passed Rea down the straight, and into turn 1 to take over the lead. Again the ZX10-RR had no response to the shear speed of the Panigale V4.

Half race distance, and Toprak again passed Rea into turn 1 to take over 2nd. Bautista meanwhile, held a gap of 0.3 out in front. Further back it was 6th Locatelli, 7th Redding, 8th Lecuona.

Next lap and keen to not allow Bautista to clear away, Toprak continued to push the pace on, setting a new fastest lap of 1:40.4.

With 7 laps to go, drama for Lecuona who went down into turn 14 losing the front end on the downhill cambered corner. He was having a decent race until then, and his race was over. Meanwhile at the front, Toprak was still shadowing Bautista, and then made a surprising move into turn 13, looking to have caught Bautista out, and cut under him to take the lead. The Spaniard did not expect that move, and Toprak was looking keen for a scrap.

Next lap and Bautista would make a reply, blasting past the R1 down the straight and into turn 1, to take over the lead. Meanwhile behind in 3rd, Rea had cooked his tyres, and was losing contact with the two riders ahead of him. It would surely come down to either the Spaniard or the Turk to claim to the win.

With 4 laps to go, Bautista had extended his lead to 0.8s, and Toprak was clearly suffering from tyre wear issues as was Rea. Meanwhile further back it was 8th Vierge, 9th Baz (Bonovo Action BMW), 10th Gerloff.

With the final 2 laps to go, Bautista had broke the advances of Toprak, and had extended the gap to 1.7s. Barring an incident, he would have the win in the bag.

WorldSBK 09.10.2022 Portimao, Picture courtesy of Aruba.it Racing, Alvaro Bautista

Last lap and Bautista crossed the line to deny Toprak a hat trick of wins across the weekend. It was Toprak 2nd, Rea 3rd, Rinaldi 4th, Lowes 5th, Locatelli 6th, Redding 7th, Vierge 8th, Gerloff 9th, Baz 10th.

With the final 3 rounds to come, it was looking as though Bautista firmly held the advantage over his rivals.

Result top 5:

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

Championship top 3:

  1. Bautista – 448 pts
  2. Razgatlioglu – 392
  3. Rea – 366

 

Verstappen seals championship amid confusion after Japanese GP win

Max Verstappen cruised to victory at Suzuka to take his twelfth victory of the season and his second world championship, in bizarre circumstances after a late-race penalty for Charles Leclerc.

A mistake from Leclerc at the final chicane led to a five-second penalty for the Ferrari driver, dropping him behind Sergio Perez, which when combined with a confusing quirk in the regulations, secured Verstappen his second successive title. For the second week in a row, the race was time-limited, finishing after 28 of the scheduled 53 laps due to an extended red flag period early on due to torrential rain. The way the championship was decided, plus other incidents throughout the race will once again raise questions about the FIA’s running of the championship.

SUZUKA, JAPAN – OCTOBER 09: Race winner and 2022 F1 World Drivers Champion Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing celebrates on the podium during the F1 Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka International Racing Course on October 09, 2022 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202210090387 // Usage for editorial use only //

All the drivers started on intermediate tyres, in conditions which were arguably more suited to the full wet tyres. Leclerc was initially able to challenge Verstappen into turn one, but the Red Bull swept around the outside to retain the lead. Further back, Sebastian Vettel collided with Fernando Alonso, sending the Aston Martin driver plummeting down the field.

Conditions were extremely treacherous at this point, and Carlos Sainz was caught out in dramatic fashion, crashing heavily at the entry to turn twelve. He was lucky not to be collected by the field, with Lewis Hamilton coming inches away from striking the stricken Ferrari. Further back, Zhou Guanyu had a spin and was able to continue, with Alex Albon retiring with a power unit problem.

The Safety Car was deployed, and unsurprisingly the race was red flagged on lap two as conditions worsened. Pierre Gasly had to make a pitstop after collecting an advertising hoarding on his car, and was catching the pack when he came frighteningly close to hitting a tractor, which had been released onto the circuit to collect Sainz’s car. Questions will surely be asked about how this was allowed to happen, with Gasly still travelling around at speed to catch the end of the train.

This led to a two-hour stoppage with the race resuming at 16:15 local time, although the FIA originally planned to restart at 14:50 local time, before calling this off less than 2 minutes before the cars were meant to head out on circuit. Once they did finally resume, it was clear that the full wet tyres wouldn’t be needed for much longer, and as the safety car came in after three laps, Vettel and Nicholas Latifi followed it down the pitlane to change to intermediate tyres, and were instantly the fastest cars in the field, with 40 minutes of racing action left.

All the field eventually changed to the intermediate tyres, with Mick Schumacher being the last to change, as his Haas team gambled on a safety car or on the rain returning – a move which could have potentially put them on the podium if successful – but led to the young German cast adrift of the field in last place. Verstappen and Leclerc were comfortably ahead of the field at this point, and initially continued to pull away.

In the difficult conditions, overtaking opportunities were always going to be hard to come by. Lewis Hamilton spent the entire race stuck behind Esteban Ocon, with his Mercedes not having enough straight-line speed to be able to comfortably make the move. His teammate was finding things easier however, pulling off some sublime moves around the outside at the Esses to work his way up to eighth place, after dropping places in the pit stop period.

At the front, Verstappen was pulling away from Leclerc at a rate of one second per lap, with the Ferrari struggling badly for understeer as the intermediates wore out, which allowed Perez to close onto the rear of Leclerc. This was a problem for many across the field, and became acutely clear when Zhou pitted for fresh tyres and immediately set the fastest lap. Others reacted to this and came in for fresh tyres, most notably Fernando Alonso, who dropped from seventh to tenth with eight minutes remaining.

Alonso was soon ahead of Lando Norris and Latifi, and dispatched Russell with one lap to go. Soon he was on the back of Vettel, with the two drag racing across the line as Vettel came out on top by 0.011s.

Out in front, Verstappen cruised across the line, over 25 seconds clear of the pack after 28 laps. It looked as though Leclerc had held on for second, before a costly mistake at the final chicane forced him to cut the corner, as he barely held on across the line from Perez. However, he was adjudged to have gained an advantage from this, dropping him behind Perez and into third, and giving Red Bull their fifth 1-2 of the season. The rest of the points finishers were Ocon, Hamilton, Vettel, Alonso, Russell, Latifi and Norris.

This is where the confusion began. After the Spa debacle of 2021, the rules regarding points in suspended races were changed. Under the previous rules, any race where between 2 laps and 75% of laps are completed, half points would be awarded. Many people interpreted the new rules as giving Verstappen 19 points for the win (having completed between 50-75% of the full race distance), with Perez getting 14 and Leclerc getting 12. However, these rules now only apply to races which are suspended and not resumed, meaning full points were awarded at Suzuka, putting Verstappen 113 points clear with 112 remaining, and securing the championship for the Dutchman. Given that this rule therefore means it is possible to have a three-lap race and give full points, it would only be sensible for this to be looked at.

SUZUKA, JAPAN – OCTOBER 09: Race winner and 2022 F1 World Drivers Champion Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing celebrates with his team after the F1 Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka International Racing Course on October 09, 2022 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images ) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202210090615 // Usage for editorial use only //

It had looked for a while as though it was always going to be when Max secured the title, not if, given his dominance of the season so far. With four races to go, he is just one behind Vettel and Michael Schumacher’s record of 13 wins in a season, with the RB18’s fourteenth win making it Adrian Newey’s most successful car yet. Once again though, it is under controversial circumstances for Max, given the points confusion and the looming cost-cap report. With regulations remaining largely stable however until 2026, there is a huge possibility that Verstappen will claim a straightforward championship sooner rather than later.

Round 9 WorldSBK Portimao, Portugal, Race 1

The earlier Superpole saw Rea (Kawasaki KRT) claim top spot with an unbeaten lap time of 1:39.610, followed by Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha), and Lowes (Kawasaki KRT) in 2nd, and 3rd respectively.

An earlier red flagged incident in the SSP300 race, forced race direction to delay the start of race 1, and subsequently cut the laps down to 14. This was going to be a short and sharp shootout, reminiscent of a Superpole race.

WSBK 08.10.2022 Portimao, Alex Lowes picture courtesy of KRT Kawasaki

Lights out then for the delayed start to Race 1, and it was Rea with the hole shot into turn 1, followed by Lowes, Toprak, and Bassani (Motocorsa Ducati).

Next lap and positions were as follows: 1. Rea 2. Toprak 3. Lowes 4. Bassani 5. Bautista (Aruba.it Ducati) 6. Redding (BMW Motorrad) 7. Locatelli (Pata Yamaha). Further back it was Lecuona (Honda HRC) 11th, Gerloff (GRT Yamaha) 12th, and Laverty (Bonovo Action BMW) in 15th.

With 12 laps to go Rea was making the most of his good start, and was extending his lead over the reigning champion in 2nd, putting in the fastest lap of the race with a 1:40.604, and held a gap of 0.6s. After initially making a good start, Lowes now found himself down in 4th, after first Toprak, then Bassani and Bautista overtook him.

Next lap and Toprak had cut the gap to Rea down to 0.4s, and set the new fastest lap of the race in the process with a 1:40.328. Bautista was now in 4th, after coming through on Lowes, but he would have work to do if he intended on catching his title rivals out in the lead.

With 10 laps to go Rea only held a gap of 0.1s to Toprak, who in turn held a gap of 0.5s to Bassani behind in 3rd.

Next lap and Toprak makes an aggressive move on Rea into turn 1, the R1 getting out of shape and Toprak slammed under Rea, while the rear of the R1 was sideways. No love lost between the pair!

With 7 laps to go, Bautista, as was a familiar scenario this season, was finding good late race pace and passed Bassani to take over 3rd. This group of 5 riders had pulled out a significant gap to the rest of the field. Further back it was Locatelli in 6th, and Redding in 7th. Rea held a gap of 0.7s to Bautista behind.

With 5 laps to go Bautista had cut the gap to Rea down to 0.2s, and was soon going to be all over the back of the ZX10-RR.

Next lap and Bautista, after getting good traction out of turn 15, blasted past Rea down the straight and briefly into 2nd, although he over cooked it into the corner, and subsequently ran out wide, allowing Rea to retake the position. The intention from the Spaniard was clear however. Meanwhile further back it was Rinaldi (Aruba.it Ducati) in 8th, Vierge (Honda HRC) 9th, and Loris Baz (Bonovo Action BMW) 10th.

With 3 laps to go Bautista lined up Rea, and this time made the pass stick, moving into 2nd. Toprak was clear out in the lead, and held a gap of 1.5s, which you felt was enough to see him take the win. Meanwhile Lowes had found a bit extra, and was all over the back of Bassani looking for a pass.

Next lap and Lowes lined up Bassani, and made a pass, but the Italian snapped straight back into turn 5 to retake the lead.

WSBK 08.10.2022 Portimao – Podium: Razgatlioglu, Bautista, Rea, picture courtesy of WorldSBK

Last lap and Toprak crossed the line to claim the win, followed by Bautista in 2nd, and Rea in 3rd. Bassani 4th, Lowes 5th, Locatelli 6th, Rinaldi 7th, Vierge 8th, Baz 9th, Gerloff 10th. Drama for Scott Redding, who went down into turn 5, was able to pick up the bike and eventually crossed the line down in 18th.

Result top 5:

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

Championship top 3:

  1. Bautista – 414 pts
  2. Razgatlioglu – 360
  3. Rea – 343

The Oulton Park Showdown Shocker!

I’ve written this intro something like 10 times. Deleted it and started again! Deleted it and started again! Deleted it and started again! Deleted it and started again! I’m struggling to find the words to describe what happened this weekend that you can follow in a logical pattern and order which will make sense by the end of this article. A roller coaster of action, emotion, shock, confusion, anger, deflation and a whole other host of feelings towards situations beyond our control. Huge amounts of disappointment for some, while others breath a huge sigh of relief, albeit with a concerned eye on the health of their racing colleagues but appreciating that one third of the Showdown battle is behind them.

Oulton Park in the Autumn of 2021 changed the season for two McAMS Yamaha riders. One rider’s fortunes were changed for the better, where the other lost a season’s worth of hard work in 2 days. Of course, I am referring to Tarran Mackenzie’s success and Jason O’Halloran’s disastrous ‘two crash weekend’ 1 year ago. Well it seems ‘The Curse of Oulton Park’ his struck again in 2022 for the same team, though it seems it has swept through the McAMS team like a case of the common cold! Take this in for a second… The McAMS Yamaha pairing of reigning champion, Tarran Mackenzie and [the man who up until Saturday inhabited second place in the championship standings] Jason O’Halloran have failed to finish a single race this weekend. 6 FULL RACES. GONE! The British Superbike Championship has been turned on its head.

Jason O’Halloran – Image courtessy of McAMS Yamaha

Race 1

A typical Oulton Park race, of which we have seen many over the years, where riders try to pass on the tight, twisty, undulating circuit but ultimately the attempts are short in supply and the laps tick off one by one in the countdown to the checkered flag. The first shock of Race 1 came when a charging Tarran Mackenzie crashed his Yamaha R1 on the entry to Shell Oil’s hairpin, trying to bridge the gap to the front group after his poor start from his qualifying position of 5th on the grid. Oulton Park, 1 – Tarran Mackenzie, 0. The first mistake of the Showdown coming from the reigning champion. Before you know it, fans and teams alike looking at Bradley Ray entering the final lap with a 3.1 second lead over the following group of Tommy Bridewell in second place, followed by Jason O’Halloran, Peter Hickman and Leon Haslam. A group of three riders chasing Ray, but who will round out the podium on the final lap?

Now here’s the rub! After cresting Clay Hill and entering the Druid’s right-hand turn for the final time, there was contact between the motorcycles of Peter Hickman [FHO Racing BMW] and Jason O’Halloran [McAMS Yamaha] resulting in a crash for The O’Show. Hickman letting the brake off and moving for an inside line overtake, O’Halloran turns in and the end result is a trip to the gravel trap ending O’Halloran’s first race in the Showdown. A potential podium chance gone. Oulton Park, 1 – Jason O’Halloran, 0. Being it was the final lap, the incident was investigated after the race and resulted in Bennetts British Superbike Race Direction disqualifying Peter Hickman from the race, handing him 2 points on his racing license and a 3-place grid penalty for Race 2. Official BSB later released the onboard footage from Hickman’s BMW and Leon Haslam’s Kawasaki following behind.

Hickman was quick to defend his position, taking to Twitter to issue a statement. “Of course, I’m absolutely gutted that JO and McAMS Yamaha didn’t finish that race, that was never my intention and never would be. I’m just glad he’s ok. I am however shocked at Race Directions decision, don’t get me wrong they have a tough job to do but disqualification… 2 points on my race license and a 3 place grid penalty is absolutely way over the top. We are racing, not playing today [Hicky meant tiddly] winks! I stand by what I said on Eurosport after the race, there was a gap, he was weak in that area and I was strong, and I had a chance of a podium so… of course I had a go. It’s a huge shame that he tagged the back of my bike and went down, but we are racing on very small margins and sometimes it happens. As for comments about not having a go at passing someone because they’re in the showdown and lack of respect etc I… completely disagree, but each to their own eh! Thanks for the support from everyone as always, I’ll be on the grid again tomorrow and trying just as hard. Hicky.”

Jason O’Halloran took to his own social media outlets to post a picture of his accident damaged Yamaha in the McAMS garage and wrote “All my guys and I have worked so hard this year to put ourselves in a position to win this championship. A little bit of respect would go a long way.”

 Race 1 Results – Ray, Bridewell, Haslam, Glenn Irwin, Buchan, Jackson, Iddon, Skinner, Ryde, Brookes, Sykes, Kent, Neave, Harrison, Rouse, Takahashi, Owens, Mizuno, Delves. 

DNF – Mackenzie, O’Halloran, Andy Irwin, Jeacock, Vickers, Stacey.

Race 2 – Start 1

Unlike last year (which was shorts and a t-shirt) it was freezing cold on Sunday. Raining on and off and blowing a gale. Not the best weather for a British Superbike race. Declared a wet race, then after a slight delay and the rain abating, it was declared a dry race meaning any sudden rain would cause a red flag.

Dry Race – Image courtessy of Official BSB

LAP 1 Away from the lights it’s Brad Ray who gets the holeshot, followed closely by Jason O’Halloran and Tommy Bridewell. As we return to the scene of Saturday’s Race 1 incident at Druid’s corner, racing fans and teams look on in shock as Tommy Bridewell puts a move on Jason O’Halloran, that sends the McAMS Yamaha rider barreling through the same gravel trap as the previous day. Oulton Park, 2 – Jason O’Halloran, 0. Race direction investigates the incident as the race continues to circulate.

Oulton Park, Race 2 – Image Courtesy of Official BSB

Tommy Bridewell was ordered to perform a Long Lap Penalty (which is down at Hissy’s chicane while you perform the slalom between the barriers) but a lap later, while entering the Hislop Chicane Tarran Mackenzie slipped off his Yamaha R1 and slid into the path of Peter Hickman. In a split second, contact was made between Hicky’s BMW and Mackenzie’s lower body and legs. Oulton Park, 2 – Tarran Mackenie, 0. The race was then red flagged. The Mackenzie family and McAMS Yamaha later released a statement officially ending Tarran’s season due to a fractured femur, which after surgery leaves the Scottish / Derbyshire-man unfit for the remaining rounds in the 2022 season. While the medical team were dealing with Mackenzie on circuit, Bridewell gave an interview to Eurosport insinuating that he also thought O’Halloran was going too slow in the Clay Hill / Druid section and he thought the move was on.

Statement from McAMS Yamaha with reference to the Oulton Park Round.

Race 2 – Start 2

Shortened to a 14-lap race and Bridewell’s unserved long lap loop penalty was changed into a time equivalent, which effectively put him to the rear of the grid. Race 2 kicks off again for the second time, only for the race to be stopped again due to rider contact at Britten’s Chicane a few laps later. This time it was contact between Rory Skinner, Christian Iddon and a luckless Kyle Ryde. Iddon and Ryde both a victim of ‘wrong place, wrong time’. Entering the Britten Chicane, Iddon and Skinner had the same idea at the same time. Iddon lined up Ryde on the brakes into the left / right chicane and as he moved left to pull off the maneuver Skinner behind had lined Iddon up for the same move. All happening in a split second, with only a heartbeat to react Iddon realised the move wasn’t on and lined up to slide in behind Ryde but Skinner had already put his own move into action. The result was Skinners FS-3 Kawasaki crashing into the rear of Iddon’s Buildbase Suzuki, sending Skinners bike careering across the track to collect Ryde’s Rich Energy OMG Racing Yamaha from behind, bringing down the Yamaha rider.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t the end of the crash for Skinner himself. He was scooped up between the rear wheel and subframe on the Suzuki GSXR of Iddon and dragged into the back wheel. This caused Iddon’s rear wheel to lock and dropped them both to the ground. Red Flag x 2. Iddon later confirmed he has a broken bone in his hand and has also been ruled out of the Donington Park round this weekend due to the sports concussion protocol. Skinner has also suffered multiple fractures in his hand and requires surgery. It is yet to be confirmed if Skinner will attend the Donington Park round or not.

Lee Jackson. Winner of Race 2 – Image Courtesy of FS-3 Racing

Race 2 – Start 3

A relatively tame version of events, barring poor Kyle Ryde’s Turn 1 slip off which can only be put down to cold tyres. In comparison to the first two attempts, the restart running to the finish was a welcome relief to everyone but the delay had affected the schedule for the remaining races of the day. After the two earlier versions, the surprise of the restart was Rich Energy OMG Racing Yamaha’s Bradley Ray seemingly not having an answer for the FS-3 Kawasaki of Lee Jackson or the Oxford Products Ducati of Tommy Bridewell who took the win and second place respectively after Bridewell had made up half the grid at the restart, before the red flag, to then make up the rest of the grid on the 3rd restart. Lee Jackson returning to the winning step of the podium for the first time since his earlier win at Oulton Park back in the summer.

Race 2 Results – Jackson, Bridewell, Ray, Glenn Irwin, Buchan, Haslam, Sykes, Brookes, Andrew Irwin, Hickman, Stacey, Kent, Vickers, Takahashi, Mizuno, Jeacock, Delves. 

DNF – O’Halloran, Mackenzie, Harrison, Rouse, Ryde, Neave, Owens, Iddon, Skinner. 

Race 3

It was announced by McAMS Yamaha that a battered and bruised Jason O’Halloran would not take part in the remaining race of the day. Oulton Park, 3- Jason O’Halloran, 0. Race 3 turned out to be a very tame affair and the surprise came in the form of a battle for the win between Honda Racing UK’s Glenn Irwin and Oxford Products Tommy Bridewell, with Bridewell claiming the victory. Another great result for Race 3 was the addition of Tom Sykes and his MCE Ducati making it into the top 6, not more than a handful of seconds from the winners. In race three the temperature had dropped significantly and with the news that his closest rivals weren’t taking part in the remaining race, it seemed Brad Ray could also ensure he had a solid finish to a chaotic race meeting.

Race 3 Results – Bridewell, Glenn Irwin, Jackson, Buchan, Ray, Sykes, Hickman, Brookes, Ryde, Kent, Stacey, Andrew Irwin, Vickers, Haslam, Harrison, Takahashi, Rouse, Owens, Jeacock, Mizuno. 

DNF – O’Halloran (Did not Start) Mackenzie (Did not start) Delves, Neave, Iddon (Did not start) Skinner (Did not start).

The overall championship has been turned on its head. McAMS Yamaha have dropped down the order to be replaced by Tommy Bridewell, Lee Jackson and Glenn Irwin, however Bradley Ray has extended his championship lead from the 13 points he had on O’Halloran coming into Oulton Park, to 40 points over Tommy Bridewell in 2nd place overall.

Tommy Bridewell, Oxford Products Ducati – Image courtesy of Official BSB

Donington Park this weekend. Who will take the second round of the Showdown in their stride and come out on the other side leading the championship?

Round 8 WorldSBK, Catalunya, Spain, Race 1

Superpole saw the rookie, Iker Lecuona (Honda HRC), claim his maiden WorldSBK pole with an unbeaten lap of 1:40.766. The Kawasaki team mates of Lowes, and Rea, were in 2nd, and 3rd respectively.

Lights out for race 1, and it was Bautista (Aruba.it Ducati), with an amazing start to get the hole shot, after only qualifying in 5th. The same couldn’t be said for Rea who got nudged out wide by Rinaldi (Aruba.it Ducati), and then almost got taken out by Locatelli (Pata Yamaha), the Italian himself also going wide. The Northern Irishman found himself down in 9th after that dust up. It was Toprak (Pata Yamaha) in 2nd, with Lowes trailing behind in 3rd. Drama also for Oettl (GoEleven Ducati) who went down, his race was over.

Next lap and positions were as follows; 1. Bautista 2. Toprak 3. Lowes 4. Rinaldi 5. Lecuona 6. Bassani (Motocorsa Ducati) 7. Rea 8. Gerloff (GRT Yamaha) 9. Locatelli 10. Redding (BMW Motorrad). Lecuona then got dropped a further place, after Bassani came through to take 5th, the pole man finding himself in 6th. Drama then for Bernardi (Barni Racing Team), who got taken out by Vd Mark (BMW Motorrad), and his race was over, Vd Mark stayed on track.

With 18 laps to go, Redding, who was not having a good start to his weekend crashed out, the BMW ploughed into the gravel, and his race was over. Bautista was already applying the pressure out in front, and was putting down some quick lap times. Lecuona had regained some composure after his bad start, and was now up to 4th, Bassani, and Rea were behind in 5th, and 6th respectively.

Next lap and Bautista was continuing his relentless pace, he set a new fastest lap of 1:41.926. Toprak was trying to stay in contact, with the gap now 0.4s to the Spaniard ahead. These leading two were already pulling away from Lowes behind in 3rd. Rea was still in 6th, and was desperate to make up positions, as he could see his title rivals disappearing down the track.

With 15 laps remaining, Lecuona moved through on Lowes to take 3rd. Bautista increased his gap over Toprak to 0.7s. Meanwhile further back, Rea who had been lining up Bassani, made his move into turn 10, trying to cut up the inside, however Bassani snapped straight back immediately and shut the door. Rea was growing increasingly frustrated to be so far back.

With 13 laps to go, Bautista now had a gap of just over 1s to Toprak, and showed no signs of letting up the ferocious pace. Meanwhile there was now a 4 way battle for 5th, between Bassani, Rea 6th, Locatelli 7th, and Gerloff 8th.

Next lap and Rea once again lined up Bassani, this time down the long straight, and into turn 1, the move stuck this time, and Bassani had no answer as Rea dived up the inside to take 5th. Rea was now behind his team mate, and had massive work to do in order to limit the points deficit to his title rivals.

With 11 laps remaining, Vd Mark, who had had an earlier altercation with Bernardi, was forced to retire due to a mechanical issue, and that was both factory BMW riders out now, a bad start to the weekend for them. Toprak was struggling to keep contact with Bautista, and the gap was out to 1.6s. Meanwhile further back Locatelli made a pass on Bassani into turn 6, cutting up the inside of his Italian compatriot. Bassani responded a few corners on into turn 9, and retook the position. Locatelli who was having an eventful race, then ran out wide for the second time, and managed to rejoin in 9th. It was; 6. Bassani 7. Gerloff 8. Rinaldi 9. Locatelli.

Next lap and Lowes had a gap of 0.5s to his team mate behind in 5th. Would we see team orders come into play? Meanwhile out in the lead Bautista now had a commanding 2.5s lead over Toprak, who seemed to be struggling with tyre grip. The Turk was 3.5s ahead of Lecuona in 3rd. Further back it was; 12. Laverty (Bonovo Action BMW), 13. Mahias (Puccetti Racing Kawasaki), and 15. Nozane (GRT Yamaha).

With 8 laps remaining, Rea was still trailing his team mate by 0.5s. Toprak continued to lose his advantage, and was now only 2.3s ahead of Lecuona in 3rd. Meanwhile further back, Gerloff pulled off an audacious move into turn 1, taking both Bassani, and Rinaldi, and cut through into 6th. Locatelli was still in 9th.

Michael Rinaldi – Barcellona WSBk 2022. Image courtesy of Ducati

With 7 laps to go, Rinaldi was finding extra pace on the Ducati, and barged through on Bassani into the last corner to take 7th. Meanwhile Lecuona continued to reel in Toprak, the gap closing all the time, the harder tyres were paying off for Lecuona. It didn’t appear to be team orders, but Rea did come through on Lowes to take 4th.

Next lap and Rea continued his late race charge to the front, out braking Lecuona into turn 1 to take over 3rd. Rea was now only 1.6s behind Toprak, and you wonder what could have been, had he not had the bad start. Meanwhile out in the lead, and with the hammer firmly down, Bautista was now leading by 5.9s, and that you felt would be enough to claim the win.

With 5 laps to go, Toprak continued to drop back like a stone, and was now only 1.1s ahead of Rea. The R1 had grip issues, and the rear was spinning up out of every corner now. There was now a 3 way battle for 4th between Lecuona, Lowes, and Gerloff. Meanwhile at the front Bautista increased his lead to 7.5s.

Next lap and again Gerloff pulled off another audacious move into turn 1, again taking two riders to move into 4th, this time its Lecuona, and Lowes. The Texan was having one of his best races of the season so far. Rea made an easy pass under Toprak into the long turn 4, to move into 2nd, with his lack of grip Toprak couldn’t respond.

With 3 laps to go Gerloff dived under Toprak, again into turn 1 to take 3rd. Meanwhile further back, Rinaldi continued to make up positions late in the race, this time moving up to 6th after getting through on Lecuona.

Next lap and Toprak continued to drop back, and Rinaldi was able to move through on him into turn 10. Positions were as follows; 4. Rinaldi 5. Toprak 6. Lecuona 7. Lowes 8. Bassani 9. Locatelli.

Alvaro Bautista winner of race one at Barcellona wsbk 2022. Image Courtesy of Ducati

Last lap and Bautista had extended his lead to an unassailable 10.5s. Gerloff had caught Rea, and was looking for a way past. Bautista crossed the line to take the win, Rea managed to hold off Gerloff to take 2nd, while Gerloff gets 3rd. Rinaldi 4th, Toprak 5th, Lecuona 6th, Lowes 7th, Bassani 8th, Locatelli 9th, and a respectable top 10 for Laverty.

A dominant victory for Bautista, who maybe had a point to make, after the spat between himself and Rea.

Result top 5:

  1. Bautista (Aruba.it Ducati)
  2. Rea (Kawasaki KRT)
  3. Gerloff (GRT Yamaha)
  4. Rinaldi (Aruba.it Ducati)
  5. Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha)

 

Championship top 3:

  1. Bautista – 357 pts
  2. Razgatlioglu – 313
  3. Rea – 305

Featured Image courtesy of Ducati

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