Tensions rising as two points separate the top ahead of MCE British Superbike Showdown opener at Assen
The MCE British Superbike Championship heads to the legendary Assen circuit this weekend (18/19/20 September) for the crucial opening round of the Showdown and just two points separate arch rivals Josh Brookes and Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne at the top.
Brookes arrives at the hallowed Dutch circuit leading the standings having won seven of the last nine races for the Milwaukee Yamaha team, but defending champion Byrne fought back hard last time out at Oulton Park, claiming a pair of race wins to close back in.
The leading pair have been locked in an intense battle for supremacy all season long, but with the standings closed up ahead of the final three round Showdown, the pair have the remaining four Title Fighters now within striking distance.
James Ellison defied the pain as he continues to recover from a broken wrist to claim a podium finish at Oulton Park. The JG Speedfit Kawasaki rider was boosted by his performance and knows that he needs to take the fight to Brookes and Byrne to close the 31 points deficit to the Australian leader.
Tommy Bridewell and Dan Linfoot are inseparable in fourth place in the standings on 507 points for the Tyco BMW and Honda Racing teams respectively. The pair trail Ellison by just 15 points and are both psyched up to start the Showdown with a decisive blow to their rivals ahead of them. Whilst Michael Laverty has nothing to lose in sixth place as he starts the Showdown on 500 points.
The six Title Fighters though face growing opposition from riders wanting to prove a point as the season reaches the closing stages. Richard Cooper (Buildbase BMW), Luke Mossey (Quattro Plant Kawasaki), Peter Hickman (RAF Reserves BMW), Billy McConnell (Smiths Racing BMW) and Danny Buchan (Be Wiser Kawasaki) have all celebrated podium finishes this season.
Plus former MotoGP contender John Hopkins and the Lloyds British Moto Rapido Ducati team have vowed to strike back after their Oulton Park disappointment and Milwaukee Yamaha have signed Jakub Smrz to line up alongside Brookes this weekend.
Championship standings ahead of the Showdown
- Josh Brookes (Milwaukee Yamaha) 553
- Shane Byrne (PBM Kawasaki) 551
- James Ellison (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) 522
- Tommy Bridewell (Tyco BMW) 507
- Dan Linfoot (Honda Racing) 507
- Michael Laverty (Tyco BMW) 500
Josh Brookes (Milwaukee Yamaha) – Championship leader: 553 points “I don’t feel any more pressure because it is the Showdown; I want to win races no matter what point it is in the season and I have put Oulton Park behind me now. At the last round I didn’t get the results I wanted for various reasons and it was a bit of a mess up compared to where we had been before that weekend.
“I try to apply a method to my racing and I want to be logical and calculated so I am thinking positively for Assen. I did the recent round of IDM there and it might be a different bike and different technical rules, but there must be some knowledge that I can take from there too. This should be a strong circuit for the Yamaha and if everything comes together then we have high expectations for this weekend.”
Shane Byrne (PBM Kawasaki) – Second in the standings: 551 – “We had a difficult few rounds but whenever things go bad I work even harder to turn it around and make it better. Before Oulton Park I worked so hard and so did the team and then we reaped the rewards with two wins. The last round was just what I needed on a personal level and showed that despite people questioning me and wondering if we had lost the plot, we were there and had never actually been away.
“Looking at Assen I am just treating it as the next two races that we need to try and win. I know that at every event I am riding the best I can and that is the only way to be if you want to win a title. I know how hard both myself and the team have been working and to be honest I am feeling really relaxed and in the best possible place to start the Showdown. We go to every race wanting to win and this weekend is no different.”
James Ellison (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) – Third in the standings: 522 – “It has been flat out since Oulton Park as I have been trying to do everything to help with the wrist injury as it still isn’t back to normal yet, but that is unfortunately something I have to live with for now. It was hard at Oulton Park but we took the positives from that and we know what we can do and what we are capable of, so our goal is simple – we need to win as many races as possible. That will be the only way we can try and claw back the points on Josh and Shakey.
“We need to beat them every weekend, which is not easy, but I feel we will be in a stronger position with the bike than we were last year in terms of set-up so I am feeling confident. It is probably going to take a mistake from them, but in racing anything can happen.”
Tommy Bridewell (Tyco BMW) – Joint fourth in the standings: 507 – “Once I had the position in the Showdown confirmed it felt really nice to finally get that off my shoulders, but now comes the second weight of trying to close the gap to Josh and Shakey over these last three rounds.
“I feel like I need a typical Assen misfortune from Josh or Shakey because at this stage one difficult weekend can close it all up. We have been working hard on developing the BMW all season long and we are now 90 percent there, which means we are going to be stronger in these final three rounds. It is never too late to still fight for the title; yes I could do with some luck but if you look at the past, anything can happen.
“Goal one was to get into the top six and now goal two is to put every ounce of me into fighting for podiums at least. Anything less than the top three is not enough now.”
Dan Linfoot (Honda Racing) – Joint fourth in the standings: 507 – “The first goal was to make the Showdown and get to the point where we are consistently fighting for the podium. We hit the big reset button after my injury and now the Showdown rules have worked fantastically for us. I want to be back fighting for the podium again but I desperately want to make that next step up and win a race.
“Myself and Tommy (Bridewell) are currently equal so my first aim is to beat him but I am feeling confident and I want to aim as high as possible. It could get to the stage where there is an opportunity to gain points and we have seen before that there is something that can shake it up. I have to be giving the maximum and that is obviously my aim. It is time to refocus and concentrate on the final three rounds.”
Michael Laverty (Tyco BMW) – Sixth in the standings: 500 – “It was a huge relief to qualify for the Showdown. I think we have been building all season and the next circuits should really suit the BMW. It has been tough but we have some upgrades that should help us and I am looking forward to that as it should be a significant improvement, which I hope is the missing link.
“We are all really motivated for the Showdown and hopefully the upgrades will take us to the next level. The way the championship is works well for us this season as the Showdown gives us a second opportunity now. We are looking ahead to the next three rounds with a fresh mentality.
“If you look at Josh and Shakey they go into the Showdown with a deserved advantage but that at the same time gives them the added pressure to not make a mistake. We can take a slightly carefree attitude as we can move up, but in the worst case scenario we will be where we are now. We have seen before it could all change and I am sure there will be some added dimensions to the final rounds. There won’t be any holding back from anyone.”