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

Racing Armchair sits down with Chrissy Rouse of Crowe Performance BMW

Racing Armchair sits down with Chrissy Rouse of Crowe Performance BMW in an exclusive interview to discuss his route to Superbikes, and the game plan for the upcoming weekend at Thruxton and beyond.

Chrissy Rouse has made his full-time debut in the British Superbike Category in 2022 in partnership with Crowe Performance BMW. Having previously dipped his toe into Superbikes back in 2018 with the Halsall Racing team, riding a Suzuki at the time, Chrissy has this year made a full time move into the series to compete and complete the 2022 season.

Chrissy Rouse Picture courtesy of Bonnie Lane

Chrissy has previously ridden under the Crowe Performance banner when he took the 2020 Superstock 1000 Championship and hopes a return to the familiar infrastructure Phil Crowe provides will be a successful combination and one that ultimately pays off for both rider and team.

Racing Armchair spoke with Chrissy in an exclusive interview recently to discuss how the season came to be, how it’s going and what his aspirations are.

Racing Armchair – First and foremost Chrissy, you’ve made some career changes over the last few months. We all know you as the Motorcycle Racing math teacher. Why the career direction change?

Chrissy Rouse – So I decided to make some changes back in April. With entering the British Superbikes this year as a fully fledged privateer team, I’ve had a lot to organize. All the things in between rounds, getting to the races, setting up in the paddock etc. All these things wouldn’t have been possible had I remained in the teaching role. I needed something more flexible. In fairness I wasn’t “Just a teacher” working Monday to Friday. I was teaching 3 days a week, but I was also doing the Podcast, some commentary work for Eurosport and some other things but I found the teaching role really restrictive. I had to be in the classroom Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. As it stands, that isn’t going to work for me, so I had to make a choice and leave that behind for now. As a replacement for that role, I now work for the BSA brand of Motorcycles as a Franchise Manager in Coventry.

Chrissy Rouse Picture courtesy of Bonnie Lane

Racing Armchair – Is that in the line of a Sales Representative / Business Development Manager type of role? Approaching distributors and forging relationships and finding motorcycle outlets willing to stock and sell the motorcycles?

Chrissy Rouse – Absolutely. We have announced 7 dealerships and are currently in the process of building the dealer network. Once the dealership network is up and running, then the role is more of a “go-between” for the dealerships and the main brand.

Racing Armchair – Ok cool. Thanks for that. I’m sure all your fans wish you all the best in the role. Now touching on the Crowe deal, you obviously won the National Superstock 1000 Championship with Crowe Performance back in 2020, but for 2021 you signed with GR Motorsport on the ZX-10? Why was that?

Chrissy Rouse – In 2020, I was self-financing the running costs of going racing and as part of that, I had to take financial responsibility for the bike. So I was always riding knowing that if I crashed the bike, it was going to cost me a lot of money. Now obviously as a part time schoolteacher, I didn’t have that kind of money. It was a lot of money to be playing with. I was offered the GR Motorsport ride [for 2021] and it was financially a much better position and therefore a much better decision for me. There was also a route to Superbikes as well. I had won the championship with Crowe Performance [in 2020] and there were no offers from teams and no available rides in the Superbike Championship but I thought if I rode for a Superstock team and defended the championship, that would maybe open the door for a Superbike ride. In hindsight it was a bad move on my behalf. In 2020 I was averaging 18 points a race and in 2021 I averaged 9 points a race.

Racing Armchair – Do you have any specific reasoning behind why that was?

Chrissy Rouse – In 2020 I felt like I was getting the best out of the BMW S1000 but the following season, on the ZX10, I was pushing just as hard but for some reason I just wasn’t as competitive. The year that I won the championship, Tom Neave was 2nd on the Honda and Billy McConnel finished 4th in the standings on the BMW. The following season, Tom and Billy were 1st and 2nd in the championship and I was 7th. It’s not like there were riders that just came in and beat us. So looking back, it was a bad move for me with GR Motorsport.

Chrissy Rouse Picture courtesy of Bonnie Lane

Racing Armchair – Well looking forward to 2022, you again have teamed up with Crowe Performance BMW. Can you tell me how that came about?

Chrissy Rouse – At the end of 2021, I didn’t have any solid offers for a Superbike ride, and I really wanted to step up to the class. I won the championship with Crowe Performance and I feel very at home with the team as it’s like a proper family team unit. The first thing was to try and finance it. We had a few meetings towards the end of the year, and I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to raise the required funds to cover it but I worked for months and months with my current sponsors. I picked up new sponsors. I worked as hard as I could to secure the finances and we decided to go for it.

Racing Armchair – Is there a magic number for the finances you had to find? Are you allowed to talk about the pound note value?

Chrissy Rouse – Yes absolutely but it isn’t a set cost. Things change and move around. You have to account for things like crash damage and there are lots of things that need taking into consideration. I’ve budgeted myself for something like £10,000 a weekend. Well, £110,000 is what I have had to raise.

Racing Armchair – JESUS! So without £100,000 as a privateer, you are wasting your time trying to put a full season together?

Chrissy Rouse – No. That doesn’t account for buying the bike, the truck and loads of other things. So if you were literally starting from scratch, you’d need way more than that. I’d say at least £200,000 to just get on the grid for every race. Just to clarify though, the team own the bike in my case. Crowe Performance own the BMW but I pay for and towards the running costs.

Racing Armchair – Now that you’re a full-time rider, on the grid, is it harder than you thought it was going to be? I heard on your podcast that you mentioned you’d even surprised yourself with some of the people you’ve been lapping and racing with.

Chrissy Rouse – No I wouldn’t say I am surprised. I would say, at times I am not doing as well as I could be and I don’t feel like I have exceeded any of my own expectations yet.

Racing Armchair – Is that down to good old human nature though and being a driven person? Piling the pressure on yourself?

Chrissy Rouse – For me it’s a very careful balance because I am wanting to learn and progress on the superbike but I have to be careful in my performance. I cannot be throwing the bike at the scenery every week. I would say I am riding within my limits all the time but for me the most important thing is steady progression and learning as much as I can.

Racing Armchair – I think you are progressing massively. After a somewhat difficult start to the year with a few DNF’s here and there, it seems you are finding your feet and your points finishes are coming.

Chrissy Rouse – Well the first race of the year, my engine blew up. The second race, Tom Sykes fell off right in front of me and left me nowhere to go but to crash and I fully knocked myself out in that one, which really blew my chances early doors. So that was Race 1, 2 and 3 done. Then I missed the test at Oulton Park, so that ruined Oulton for me, including a DNF in race 3 where my clutch went. Donington Park was the first full and proper round I got. I feel my season started at Donington if I am honest. Brands weekend I also had a clutch go in race 1, so another mechanical DNF there too. That also meant I had to start at the back of the grid for race 2. We have had a few little gremlins and it hasn’t been all plain sailing but the main thing is I have been staying on the bike and progressing.

Chrissy Rouse Picture courtesy of Bonnie Lane

Racing Armchair – Again, I can see that. At Knockhill you were racing around with Sykes and Taz. At Brands you finished race 2 not far back from Danny Buchan and in race 3, I think you had something like 4/6 seconds between you and Andy Irwin / Danny Buchan.

Chrissy Rouse – If you compare against the other BMW’s then look at Donington. I was very close to the Factory BMW’s and managed to finish in front of them in one race. If you are looking at what was my best round, Donington were my best races. Another thing to mention though is at Brands Hatch, I didn’t have my crew chief with me. I had my mechanics etc but I didn’t have my crew chief.

Racing Armchair – So when you come back into the garage thinking the bike needs a click here or a turn there, how did you manage that situation?

Chrissy Rouse – I’m good mates with Steve Brogan. He helped out. He wasn’t working for us over the weekend but he was at Brands, so Steve was coming into the garage during the sessions to help me with bike setup. Now he doesn’t know anything about the way we had the bike set up, he has no experience with our bike on those tyres etc, but it was more for moral support. In fairness though, between sessions I do pester other teams now and then to get some help or a little guidance. FHO are really helpful. They help us out all the time. For example, before the next round I will speak to them and get some advice on what to do with the bike. I’m not just wheeling the bike out and riding it.

Racing Armchair – Is this like paddock lifestyle where other teams don’t like to see people struggling when they can help?

Chrissy Rouse – Exactly, yes!

Racing Armchair – Is there a plan moving forward? I work on the assumption that any rider would have aspirations to move up the pecking order with more established teams, when perhaps their riders aren’t performing as well as you?

Chrissy Rouse – I see what you’re saying but I don’t have a particular plan as such. Obviously a good option moving forward would be mainly to attract a bigger sponsor. I have everything I need to run a team. I have a truck, I have the garage equipment, I have some GREAT people and I really love my team. If I could get the financial backing to run my own team, I would absolutely love that. Failing that if there was an interest from a more established team, then that’s something I would have to look at. I haven’t got anything firmly fixed for next year just yet but I am open to suggestions.

Chrissy Rouse Picture courtesy of Bonnie Lane

Racing Armchair – I guess if any established team rang any rider to have a chat, put the feelers out for next year, would I be right in assuming that every single rider on the grid would at least entertain having a conversation about it?

Chrissy Rouse – 100%. Yes!

Racing Armchair – OK, thoughts moving forward to Thruxton? You’ve had podium finishes there last year, although we didn’t attend the circuit in 2020, in your championship winning year, how do you feel about the circuit?

Chrissy Rouse – To be honest, before ANY round I am always really excited. The whole weekend is what I live for, so I am never ‘not’ excited for a race weekend. Thruxton is a track that often throws up some anomalous results. It can work in your favor, or it can go the opposite way as well. I’m an optimist! I’m going to optimistically hopeful that there will be an anomalous result and I’ll maybe get a bit higher up than usual, but obviously we will just go and try to do our best and I’m looking forward to the challenge. Trying to get the best out of the bike,  and the tyres and hopefully be there at the end of the race to pick up some more points. That’s the aim!

Racing Armchair – There isn’t much in it now between you and the riders above you. It’s a handful of points in between yourself and established names in the series.

Chrissy Rouse – If you look at the championship, the 3 riders above me are Ryan Vickers, Storm Stacey and Tom Neave. Now Storm and Tom are only 1 point ahead of us. Now considering what a s**t run I have had, mechanical DNF’s and missing races, I think to be 1 point behind them when they’re in proper established Superbike teams, with proper support, and for both riders it’s their actual job/career, for me to be anywhere near them is a massive win in my eyes. If I can beat them on track, that is also a massive win for me.

Chrissy Rouse Picture courtesy of Bonnie Lane

Racing Armchair – Chrissy, thanks for your time and good luck at the next round and moving forward in the championship this year.

To keep up with the latest information from Chrissy, you can visit www.chrissyrouse.com or follow him on his social media pages. Chrissy also hosts the Chasin’ the Racing podcast with road racer Dominic Herbertson, which can be found on YouTube and all other podcasting platforms.


Round 6 WorldSBK Most, Czech Rep, Race 2

The earlier Superpole race, saw the reigning champion, Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha) claim the win, followed by Rea (Kawasaki KRT), and Bautista (Aruba.it Ducati), in 2nd and 3rd respectively.

WorldSBK 31.07.2022 Czech Rep Picture courtesy of Pata Yamaha Brixx

Before the start of the race both Lowes (Kawasaki KRT), and Laverty (Bonovo Action BMW), were declared unfit to start.

Lights out for race 2, and it was Toprak with the hole shot into turn 1, followed by Bautista, Bassani (Motocorsa Ducati), and Rea in 4th. Bassani in particular, was looking really aggressive, and had barged through on Rinaldi (Aruba.it Ducati).

Next lap and positions were as follows: 1. Toprak 2. Bautista 3. Rinaldi 4. Rea 5. Bassani 6. Redding (BMW Motorrad). Toprak had already pulled out a gap of 0.6s, and was looking keen to get away.

Next lap and Rea out brakes Rinaldi into turn 1, to move up to 3rd. The leading group of 6 riders had already started to pull away from the rest.

On lap 4 of 22, drama for Rinaldi who over shoots into turn 1, losing the front end, and going down into the gravel. He was having a decent race up until that point.

Next lap and Bautista had now closed right up to Toprak, and was looking for a pass. It was Rea behind in 3rd who was setting the fastest lap time of the leading three, 1:32.206, and he was keen to not let either title rival get away. As he had in race 1, Redding was showing good pace, and managed to make a pass on Bassani, moving up to 4th.

With 17 laps remaining, drama for both Bautista and Redding, who both run hot into turn 1, running off the track. Both were able to rejoin, but lost positions in the process. Toprak, and Rea had both pulled away, and Bautista was able to rejoin in 3rd.

Next lap and Rea lined up Toprak into turn 1, and made the pass up the inside of the Turkish rider. Positions were as follows: 1. Rea 2. Toprak 3. Bautista 4. Bassani 5. Redding 6. Locatelli (Pata Yamaha).

With 15 laps to go, Toprak repays the favour, and out brakes Rea into turn 1 to retake the lead. Meanwhile, Bautista had closed the gap down to 0.5s in 3rd. Further back it was 7th Gerloff (GRT Yamaha), 8th Lecuona (Honda HRC), and 9th Vierge (Honda HRC).

With 13 laps of 22 remaining, Redding had closed back up to Bassani, and made the pass up the inside of the Italian into turn 1. Rea was again the quickest of the leading 3, and posted a new fastest lap of 1:32.202. Bautista had clawed his way back, and as in race 1, the Ducati was looking much quicker in the second half of the race.

Next lap, and positions continued to be exchanged almost every lap, this time it was Rea to make another move on Toprak into turn 1, and again he retakes the lead. The gap from Bautista in 3rd to Redding in 4th, had been increased to 1.5s, and it was now a straight battle between the top 3 title contenders for the win.

With just over half race distance gone now, the Ducati was looking increasingly quick, and Bautista powered past Rea down the straight to take over the lead. The Kawasaki ZX10-RR didn’t have an answer to the Ducati’s sheer top end speed. Redding had now lost contact with the group ahead, and was adrift 2.0s behind in 4th, with Bassani behind in 5th.

With 8 laps remaining Toprak again burst under Rea into turn 1 to take 2nd. Bautista however, wasn’t getting away as he had in race 1, with both Toprak, and Rea still right on him. Meanwhile further back, both Nozane (GRT Yamaha), and Hickman (FHO BMW Motorrad) were having a better race in 15th, and 16th respectively.

WorldSBK 31.07.2022 Czech Rep Picture courtesy of Kawasaki Racing Team

Next lap, and a demon on the brakes, Toprak was able to cut under Bautista into turn 20 to retake the lead. Bautista was struggling to match the speed he had in race 1, possibly suffering from tyre grip issues, and Rea was keen to find a way past. Meanwhile further back it was 4th Redding, 5th Bassani, 6th Gerloff, 7th Locatelli, 8th Lecuona.

With 4 laps to go, Toprak looked to have managed his tyres to perfection, and set the new fastest lap a 1:31.713, increasing the gap to 0.9s to Bautista in the process.

Penultimate lap and Toprak Razgatlioglu had increased his lead to 1.2s, setting a new fastest lap of 1:31.705. Late drama for both Lecuona, and Gerloff who both suffer mechanical issues. The Texan is able to rejoin, but only at the back of the field. They were both having a decent race until then, notably Gerloff who was running in 6th.

Last lap and Toprak Razgatlioglu crosses the line to take the win, followed by 2nd Bautista, 3rd Rea, 4th Redding, 5th Bassani, 6th Locatelli, 7th Vierge, 8th Oetll (GoEleven Ducati), 9th Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti), 10th Bernardi (Barni Racing Ducati), 14th Hickman (FHO BMW Motorrad), 18th Gerloff.

Result top 5:

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

Championship top 3:

  1. Bautista – 298
  2. Rea – 267
  3. Razgatlioglu – 260


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



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

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

WSBK Estoril Race 1 Picture courtesy of Kawasaki Racing Team

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

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

Alvaro Bautista at Aragon 2022 WSBK. Image courtesy of Ducati

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

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

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

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

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

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

WSBK Assen 23.04.2022 Razgatlioglu and Locatelli Picture courtesy of Pata Yamaha

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

Have a goodun’.

Racing Armchair


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
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