2019 British Superbike Championship
Round 9 – Oulton Park
Crunch time: Who will remain in the Showdown six at crucial Oulton Park decider
After eight rounds and 17 races, it’s crunch time in the Bennetts British Superbike Championship this weekend (6/7/8 September) as the final three places in the crucial title-fighting Showdown six are decided over three races at Oulton Park circuit in Cheshire.
Josh Brookes, the double winner from Oulton Park earlier in the season, is already confirmed in the Showdown, making him the rider in the series with the most Showdown appearances. The Australian heads the pack into the three races this weekend and has a narrow two-point advantage in the podium points standings over his Be Wiser Ducati teammate Scott Redding.
The 2015 champion will be doing all he can to extend his advantage this weekend before the final Showdown fight for the 2019 crown gets underway at Assen later in the month.
“I’m looking forward to the weekend, Oulton Park isn’t particularly one of my favourite circuits but after my double win earlier in the year I’m more excited about the place. It’s an important round as it’s a triple header, that’s a good opportunity to get the edge over the competition being it’s the last round before the showdown starts. It was at the Oulton Park test early in the season that we first found a base set-up I was happy with, and I’m looking forward to see how recent changes to the bike feel going back to that circuit again.”
Redding however is fired up to battle for a return to the podium following a tough outing last time out at Cadwell Park, where he finished fourth in the opening race before crashing out when he was collected by Andrew Irwin in race two. The former MotoGP rider missed out on a podium finish at Oulton Park earlier in the season on his first visit to the challenging Cheshire circuit, but will want to put that right this weekend and regain the standings lead.
The final rider whose place is already confirmed in the top six for the Showdown is Tommy Bridewell; the Devizies rider claiming the Oxford Racing Ducati team its first appearance in the Showdown after securing his spot at Cadwell Park. Bridewell and the team have achieved 10 podium finishes so far this season, but the first win has eluded the Winchester team so far – something they are focused on putting right this weekend in Cheshire.
Leading the chase for the remaining Showdown places is Danny Buchan and FS3-Racing Kawasaki, currently in fourth place. The former Superstock 1000 champion and the team have yet to feature in a Showdown and, with a 40-point advantage over Tarran Mackenzie in fifth, it could be another first for them this weekend after their debut win at Knockhill earlier in the season.
Danny Buchan – FS-3 Racing Kawasaki
“I did not think I would be 40 points clear of the next rider coming away from Cadwell Park. To have that is huge. Last year I was scraping around for points and I promised myself this year I wouldn’t be doing that again in the last race before the Showdown – I was quite adamant I didn’t want that to be me this year! I am going to treat Oulton Park like I have every race this season; I want to be on the podium again. It would be massive for myself and the team to make the Showdown for the first time.”
Tumbling down the standings following his crash at Thruxton that left him sidelined with a wrist injury, Tarran Mackenzie left Cadwell Park last time out still clinging on to fifth place in the standings, with a slender six-point lead over Peter Hickman, who currently lies seventh and the first rider ready to try and overhaul the opposition ahead of him.
McAMS Yamaha’s Mackenzie is hoping the break since the last round will have aided his recovery after salvaging points at the previous round, as he also bids for a Showdown spot for the first time in his career.
Tarran Mackenzie – McAMS Yamaha
“I am hoping that the wrist feels much better at Oulton Park than it did at the last round. I think that if my wrist is ok and I feel good there is no reason why I can’t fight for podiums or at least the top five so fingers crossed that would be good enough to get me in the Showdown. Anything can still happen and I just need to arrive as fit as possible and ready to roll. This year the goal was always to be in the Showdown and fight for the championship. I know I am quite a few points off from the lead in the standings with the Podium Points, but that is the beauty of the Showdown really because once you are in it you still have a good chance of being in the battle.”
Holding the final place in the top six ahead of the three races this weekend is Honda Racing’s Andrew Irwin, but only by a single point from Hickman. The Thruxton race winner is another contender aiming for his first Showdown appearance, but he will be starting from the back row of the grid in the opening race following a penalty received at Cadwell Park for the incident with Redding.
Andrew Irwin – Honda Racing
“In my head, and I have always said that I have wanted to be in the Showdown this year. I wanted to be in a position to fight for a place in the top six, that is what we are doing, and now we have one round to go. At the minute we go to the next round in a better place than the riders in seventh and eighth if you look at it that way, looking at the points. I don’t feel like there is any pressure because I feel that people don’t expect us to get through because the last time at Oulton Park are rivals were much stronger than what we were. I don’t give up I never do. OK, I have to start at the back of the grid for the first race of the weekend, but you never know what is possible and anything can happen in the races.”
Smiths Racing BMW’s Hickman has featured in two Showdowns previously and has also been in the position before of fighting to secure a place in the top six at the final hurdle. He’s the only rider to have scored points in every race so far this season and knows he needs to be ahead of Mackenzie and Irwin in the three races this weekend.
The second Honda Racing rider, Xavi Forés, is also heading to Oulton Park in contention for a place in the Showdown in his debut season. The Spaniard has only just dropped out of the top six, trailing teammate Irwin by just five points, and could still snatch his place in the closing stages.
Christian Iddon is 21 points adrift of Irwin ahead of the three races at his home circuit this weekend, but with a maximum 75 points available, the Tyco BMW rider has yet to give up on his hopes of sealing a place in the Showdown for the first time, after coming so close in recent seasons.
Jason O’Halloran is hoping for a return to full fitness and the chance to pick up three strong results on the McAMS Yamaha to boost his points tally.
The Australian rider who is based at Market Rasen has not had the best of luck this season and has struggled with his left shoulder since he crashed at Snetterton. He visited a shoulder specialist after the Cadwell races where detailed scans revealed he had a dislocated AC joint and fractured greater tuberosity (top of humerus bone). Fortunately these are injuries that will heal naturally and no surgery is required.
Currently O’Halloran is 10th in the rider standings, some 45-points away from a place in the end of season showdown where the top six riders go head to head in the race for the title of British Superbike championship 2019. Although unlikely it is not impossible for O’Halloran to make it up into the top six as there are three races at Oulton Park with 75 points on offer for the winner of the three races and you can guarantee the Australian rider will be not be giving up easily.
2019 British Superbike Championship Points Standings
|1||Josh BROOKES (Ducati)||271|
|2||Scott REDDING (Ducati)||259|
|3||Tommy BRIDEWELL (Ducati)||243|
|4||Danny BUCHAN (Kawasaki)||191|
|5||Tarran MACKENZIE (Yamaha)||151|
|6||Andrew IRWIN (Honda)||146|
|7||Peter HICKMAN (BMW)||145|
|8||Xavi FORÉS (Honda)||141|
|9||Christian IDDON (BMW)||125|
|10||Jason O’HALLORAN (Yamaha)||101|
|11||Luke MOSSEY (Suzuki)||86|
|12||Dan LINFOOT (Yamaha)||74|
|13||Glenn IRWIN (BMW)||62|
|14||Luke STAPLEFORD (Suzuki)||61|
|15||Josh ELLIOTT (Suzuki)||58|
|16||Keith FARMER (BMW)||54|
|17||Bradley RAY (Suzuki)||45|
|18||Ryan VICKERS (Kawasaki)||43|
|19||Héctor BARBERÁ (Kawasaki)||36|
|20||Claudio CORTI (Kawasaki)||25|
|21||James ELLISON (BMW)||23|
|22||Michael LAVERTY (BMW)||12|
|23||Dean HARRISON (Kawasaki)||8|
|24||Billy McCONNELL (Suzuki)||6|
|25||David ALLINGHAM (Yamaha)||6|
|26||Gino REA (MV Agusta)||4|
|27||Ben CURRIE (Kawasaki)||3|
|28||Sam COVENTRY (Kawasaki)||1|