Haslam back on top as Cooper claims first MCE BSB race win
Leon Haslam returned to the top step of the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship podium in the opening race of the day at Oulton Park, holding off a last lap attack from Christian Iddon by just 0.103s to score his first victory in the series since 2008.
At the start of the race his team-mate James Ellison had launched off the line to lead the pack from Honda Racing’s Jason O’Halloran and Dan Linfoot plus Jack Kennedy on the Team WD-40 Kawasaki with Haslam holding fifth from his pole start.
Haslam was instantly ready to fight and he made a decisive move on Kennedy into Lodge on the third lap to move closer to his first podium finish of the season after a tough opening weekend at Silverstone. A few laps later and the JG Speedfit Kawasaki rider made a repeat move on Linfoot with the pair incredibly close as they crossed the line.
At the front Ellison had been pushing to build an advantage but by mid-distance the chasing pack had closed in with Haslam now at the front of the second group with Linfoot and O’Halloran in close contention. Iddon had also found more pace and tagged onto the group as the battle for the podium intensified.
By lap 13 Linfoot was ready to make his attack and moved ahead with a pass on Haslam on the run through Island, as Ellison dropped to third behind his team-mate. The Honda Racing rider had begun his final charge, but a mistake at Hizzys cost him dearly as he crashed out of the lead just two laps later.
That left Haslam to lead the pack from Iddon and Ellison who had O’Halloran for company in the fight for the top three. The race winner would come down to the last lap and Haslam held the initial advantage, but Iddon was pressing hard and the pair almost collided at Island as they pushed to stay ahead.
Iddon tried everything possible but it was Haslam who held the slight advantage out of Lodge for the final time to score his first victory of the season.
“It feels great to have won that race. When I was behind, I felt comfortable with where I could push and where I could gain, but as soon as I got to the front I felt like I was being way too cautious. When Dan was in front, I knew I needed to find a way past, to have a little push.
“Then he crashed and I thought ‘I’m ok now, I’m in the lead again’ then suddenly Christian was pressuring me all the way to the line. I did keep running wide in a few places like Island, and I just missed that dry line into the last bend on the last lap too. I really expected him to beat me to the line, but I was able to make it stick.
“As I braked into Shell, I just saw the front of his fairing, and it shocked me – I expected him to come up the left side and not there! I need to give a big credit to my team though. They’ve worked their arses off all winter, and to start to win now is good. We can start to push on from now.”
MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship, Oulton Park, race one result
Leon Haslam (JG Speedfit Kawasaki)
Christian Iddon (Tyco BMW) +0.103s
James Ellison (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) +2.644s
Jason O’Halloran (Honda Racing) +7.750s
Alastair Seeley (Royal Air Force BMW) +14.162s
Michael Laverty (Tyco BMW) +14.682s
Jack Kennedy (Team WD-40 Kawasaki) +19.710s
Shane Byrne (Be Wiser Ducati) +24.796s
Richard Cooper (Buildbase BMW) +26.506s
Billy McConnell (FS-3 Racing Kawasaki) +34.773s
A rain shower before the start of the race two left the teams and riders gambling on tyre choice and that would prove to be crucial with the track drying throughout the race. At the start Dan Linfoot had hit the front of the field, eager to make amends for crashing out of the lead in race one, with Jack Kennedy.
Cooper was then holding his position in the lead but Iddon was closing him down at a rapid rate with Kennedy holding third place until the JG Speedfit Kawasaki pairing hunted him after Haslam and Ellison had moved up the order when their choice of slick tyres paid off mid distance. Linfoot though had a double disappointment when he crashed out on the eighth lap.
Michael Laverty had thrown himself into contention; moving up to third place, behind the leading pair of Cooper and Iddon, but ahead of the quarrelling JG Speedfit Kawasakis of Ellison and Haslam who were embroiled in their own battle of supremacy and by lap 13 the pair were almost swapping paint in their quest to head the team charge.
At the front Iddon had hunted down Cooper and waited until the last lap to make his move; the Tyco BMW rider had taken the lead at Cascades and was desperately trying to defend as the pair both aimed for their first race victory in MCE BSB. A moment on the exit of Hizzys chicane didn’t stop Iddon from holding the lead, but he drifted marginally wide on the exit of Lodge and it was enough for Cooper to win the drag to the line.
The battle for third was equally intense with the JG Speedfit Kawasakis taking the fight all the way to the finish with Haslam emerging ahead as they crossed the line for the final time to return to the podium after securing his first race win of the season earlier in the day.
Iddon now leads the championship charge to Brands Hatch for the next round of the Championship on May 20/21/22.
“After the difficulties of Silverstone, to walk away this weekend having taken my first British Superbike win since 2008 and another podium is fantastic and I’d have taken it all day long! They were two tough races with the changing conditions – race one stayed wetter for longer which helped, whilst the second outing we opted for slicks on the grid. It was definitely the right choice of tyre to be on at the end, but we just ran out of time a little on the grid to get a full dry set up together. Oulton Park is a challenging circuit, but leaving here with the results we had is awesome.”
Richard Cooper (Buildbase BMW)
“This is something that I have strived for since starting racing, especially now I have had some podium finishes and it feels amazing. I knew I would have a day when I could win with Buildbase BMW and we seized that opportunity today. I knew I was strong on the brakes and I knew Christian would go hard on the brakes into Lodge on the last lap, and I thought if he makes that then he can have it! He didn’t and I took the opportunity and the drag to the line felt pretty good! We are against some big teams and today has shown that we can compete for the win.”
“Race 1 – 4th.. It was a solid race, I struggled with steering the bike and once I lost grip this was an issue so I just bought it home. RACE 2 -8th. It was a tyre gamble for this race, we went with intermediate tyres and wet settings, I’ve had worse days so roll on Brands.”
MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship, Oulton Park, race two result
Richard Cooper (Buildbase BMW)
Christian Iddon (Tyco BMW) +0.135s
Leon Haslam (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) +7.639s
James Ellison (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) +8.062s
Michael Laverty (Tyco BMW) +8.183s
Shane Byrne (Be Wiser Ducati) +17.447s
Glenn Irwin (Be Wiser Ducati) +17.836s
Jason O’Halloran (Honda Racing) +25.634s
Jack Kennedy (Team WD-40 Kawasaki) +26.039s
Stuart Easton (ePayMe Yamaha) +34.027s
MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship standings after Oulton Park
Christian Iddon (Tyco BMW) 72
Shane Byrne (Be Wiser Ducati) 58
Michael Laverty (Tyco BMW) 56
Leon Haslam (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) 52
Jason O’Halloran (Honda Racing) 44
Richard Cooper (Buildbase BMW) 41
Supersport Race Two
Quattro Plant Cool Kawasaki rider Andy Reid took the victory in a dramatic second Dickies British Supersport race at Oulton Park.
With the safety car being deployed on the opening lap after a crash from race one winner Benjamin Currie, Reid crossed the line in top position and was not challenged again for the remainder of the race.
It was a dramatic race behind him however, as Tarran Mackenzie sliced his way up to second, bringing the gap to Reid down to just 1.4s.
However with rain arriving again, Mackenzie crashed out of contention just before the red flag was deployed, meaning it was Luke Hedger and James Westmoreland who took the final podium positions.
Tim Reeves and Gregory Cluze got their challenge for the 2016 British Sidecar Championship underway in fine style on Bank Holiday Monday with the duo taking a dominant win at Oulton Park. The Team E-Aide Motorsport pairing took an early lead and went on take a near seven second win to ensure they currently lead both the World and British Championships.
Conditions at the Cheshire venue were mixed throughout but Tim and Gregory signalled their intentions from the outset, topping the timesheets in Saturday’s free practice session. The solitary qualifying session was held in damp, but drying, conditions and a time of 1m45.155s looked like it would give them pole position. However, in the closing stages, Andy Peach/Charlie Richardson pipped them and they duly lined up for Monday’s race in second spot.
The 12-lap race saw the best conditions of the day with a dry track and the sun breaking through and having missed out on pole, Tim and Gregory were keen to make amends. Sure enough, a good start saw them grab the lead on the opening lap and they extended their lead throughout. In the closing stages, they were able to ease their pace and they brought the LCR Yamaha home 6.7s clear of defending champions Ricky Stevens/Ryan Charlwood. The race also saw former World and British Superbike Championship star Chris Walker make his sidecar debut, the Nottingham man finishing in an excellent sixth place.
Speaking afterwards, a delighted Tim said: “Enjoy that! Oulton Park’s one of my favourite circuits as it’s such a thrill to drive on and the whole team have done a great job this weekend. The weather conditions were never ideal but we seemed to get a better rub of the green compared to the solo boys and Monday’s race was the best it had been all weekend. I got my head down from the start and made a conscious effort to put in some quick laps straightaway and the plan worked.”
“It was great to see such a big crowd stay until the end of the day to watch us whilst it’s also great to have Chris Walker in the Championship – full credit to Roger Body, MSV and the whole series organisers. It’s great to get the win so a big thanks as always to my sponsors especially E-Aide Motorsport, Remse Racing, H&S Contractors, Metrail, LA Marketing and DFDS Seaways.”
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