BSB heads to Oulton Park
The thrilling MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship storms into Cheshire for the north west’s biggest motorsport event at Oulton Park this May Bank Holiday weekend (5/6/7) as some of the world’s leading riders prepare to tackle one of the country’s most challenging circuits.
New technical regulations removing electronic aids have levelled the competition and emphasis is now back on the riders. The opening three races of the season have produced three different race winners and four different manufactures have already featured on the podium (Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha and Kawasaki). Ulsterman Ian Lowry leads the standings for Padgetts Honda by just two points from Australia’s Josh Brookes, but their rivals are lining up to take the victories in the three races this Bank Holiday weekend including double champion Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne.
The grid positions for the first race on Sunday (postponed from Brands Hatch) are already determined and reigning champion Tommy Hill faces a tough start from the fifth row; he is going to need to carve his way up the order. His Swan Yamaha team-mate Noriyuki Haga faces the same challenge as he returns to the Cheshire circuit that he last raced at in 2004.
Hill said: “We had a race win at Oulton Park last season so we want the same again. In the first race I will have a lot of work to do from row five but we will push as hard as we can and there are plenty of places to pass; that is why it is one of my favourite circuits. We missed out twice on the win at Thruxton so we need to change that this weekend.”
In addition to three MCE BSB races (first on Sunday, two on Bank Holiday Monday) there will also be racing from the Motorpoint British Supersport Championship, the Metzeler National Superstock 1000 and 600 Championships, the Monster Energy Motostar Championship and the one make Triumph Triple Challenge. Fans can meet the riders during a free of charge pit walk on Bank Holiday Monday.
1: Ian Lowry (Padgetts Honda) 49
2: Josh Brookes (Tyco Suzuki) 47
3: Jon Kirkham (Samsung Honda) 43
4: Tommy Hill (Swan Yamaha) 40
5: Shane Byrne (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki) 38
6: Stuart Easton (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki) 24
– Kennedy leads Supersport
The Motorpoint British Supersport Championship protected by Datatag heads to Oulton Park this May Bank Holiday weekend (5/6/7) and with four different winners in as many races the Cheshire circuit is expected to challenge the title contenders.
Mar-Train Yamaha’s Jack Kennedy currently heads the title standings by just half a point from Yamaha rival Sam Warren on the Seton-Tuning machine after his second place finish at Thruxton gave him a narrow advantage ahead of Oulton Park.
Kennedy said: “It feels good to be up there for Mar-Train Yamaha, but it is important to have a good weekend at Oulton Park. There are five or six of us, if not more, that have already shown we can be up there fighting for the wins and I think that will continue throughout the season. Oulton Park is one of my favourite circuits and you never get a minute and I am looking forward to it. Half a point really is nothing, so we need to build on that although it could make the difference at the end of the season.”
Gearlink Kawasaki’s Ben Wilson was a double winner at Oulton Park last season and having missed out on the win in the opening two rounds is expected to challenge this weekend, whilst the Triumph contingent will be fighting back after their double win at Thruxton.
Smiths (Gloucester) Racing Triumph’s Glen Richards and Billy McConnell celebrated wins at Thruxton and have secured the opening two pole positions of the season so will be determined to maintain their impressive form. Their rivals, Oxford TAG Triumph just missed out on the podium in the opening two rounds so Christian Iddon and Metzeler National Superstock 1000 champion Richard Cooper will both be vying for the top three.
Motorpoint British Supersport Championship protected by Datatag standings ahead of Oulton Park:
1. Jack Kennedy (Mar-Train Yamaha) 55.5
2. Sam Warren (Seton Tuning Yamaha) 55
3. Ben Wilson (Gearlink Kawasaki) 47
4. Glen Richards (Smiths (Gloucester) Racing Triumph) 45
5. Billy McConnell (Smiths (Gloucester) Racing Triumph) 40
– Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki
Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki pairing Shane Byrne and Stuart Easton arrive at Oulton Park this bank holiday weekend handily placed in the top six of the 2012 MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship and with three races around the undulating Cheshire venue, they are hoping to continue where they left off at the previous round.
Whereas Brands Hatch didn’t reap the rewards they were hoping for in the opening race, double BSB champion Byrne, from Sittingbourne, and Hawick’s former British Supersport champion Easton bounced back with a superb performance at Thruxton which saw Shakey climb the podium as Easton followed him home in fourth place.
The weather forced the second Brands Hatch race to be postponed so in addition to the regular two BSB races on bank holiday Monday, there will be an additional one at Oulton Park on the Sunday and with the three races held so far producing three different winners, both Byrne and Easton will be looking to add their names to the list.
Both riders have good form at Oulton Park with Easton taking victories in 2009 and 2010, as well as being on the podium twice at this meeting last year prior to his season-ending crash at the North West 200. Byrne, meanwhile, took double wins in his championship winning years and along with Easton, rates it as one of his favourite tracks.
Also arriving at Oulton Park in magnificent form is the team’s Metzeler National Superstock 1000 Championship star, Keith Farmer, whereby the Clogher, Northern Ireland rider is looking to build on his two victories in the opening two rounds. The Superstock 600 champion from last season won the only race to be held at Oulton Park last year so will be hoping to maintain his 100% record on the Kawasaki ZX-10R.
In addition to the team’s BSB activities the PBM UK MotoGP team will be in action at Estoril where Cumbrian James Ellison contests round three of the MotoGP World Championship aboard a CRT-specification Aprilia ART. Ellison was unfortunate to retire when in the points last weekend in Jerez so will be hoping to make amends at the Portuguese track.
Shane Byrne: “I’m looking forward to going racing again as these past two weeks have driven me mad and I can’t find any more DIY to do! I like Oulton Park and it’s important this weekend as we have three races and it’s also the team’s home race so we need a good set of results. I’d say the podium has my name all over it so hopefully it will be the top step a couple of times at least.”
Stuart Easton: “I like all the tracks in the series but Oulton Park is one of my favourites as it is proper old school and has a bit of everything. I’ve had some reasonable success in recent times so I need to continue those sorts of results and get as many points as we can. There are three races this weekend and I want to be spraying some champagne for sure!”
Keith Farmer: “This will be only the second time I’ll have raced at Oulton Park but I don’t see that being a problem. The two races so far have gone to plan but by winning them both and leading the championship, I’m now the target so I have to deal with that pressure and stay consistent.”
Paul Bird: “Oulton Park arrives at a good time for us and I think we can make a big impression this weekend. It’s traditionally been a big meeting for the team in the past and this weekend will be no different with lots of friends, family and sponsors there. Shakey and Stuart always go well at Oulton and Keith is just on fire this season so we are feeling very confident.”