Just days after the six Title Fighters were dramatically confirmed for the 2018 Bennetts British Superbike Championship Showdown, the final battle to become British champion kicks off this weekend at Oulton Park (September 14/15/16).
With five different race winners and a total of 13 different podium finishers so far this season, the fight for a position in the Showdown went down to the wire last weekend at Silverstone, and this weekend in Cheshire riders representing six different teams and five different manufactures begin their final quest for title glory.
Leading the standings by a country mile before the showdown was JG Speedfit Kawasaki’s Leon Haslam and after missing out last season in crushing circumstances, he will be looking to build his advantage after he was pushed all the way last time out by his rivals.
Haslam’s massive lead shrunk by showdown rules
Haslam was more than 100-points clear of his rivals prior to the Showdown rules kicking in which largely wipes that advantage and puts his competitors back in the game.
After the previous round at Silverstone, the top six riders in the championship standings became the ‘Title Fighters’ for the final three events. Each Title Fighter begins The Showdown with 500 points, plus additional points for each podium position they obtained in the Main Season: 5 for a win, 3 for a second, and 1 for a third.
These rules have shrunked Haslam’s advantage to 45-points over Jake Dixon, and 49-points over Josh Brookes and Bradley Ray while also brining Glenn Irwin and Peter Hickman back into title contention.
The standard points scoring format from the Main Season then continues for The Showdown, with all points scores from the final seven races counting, thus there are now 175-points up for grabs to decide who will be champion.
BSB standings ahead of the Showdown
Leon Haslam (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) 568
Jake Dixon (RAF Regular & Reserves Kawasaki) 523
Josh Brookes (McAMS Yamaha) 519
Bradley Ray (Buildbase Suzuki) 519
Glenn Irwin (Be Wiser Ducati) 516
Peter Hickman (Smiths Racing BMW) 504
Leon Haslam (JG Speedfit Kawasaki)
“Last year we had eight DNFs but still went into the final round with a 30-point lead so I know anything can happen! This year has gone really well; no DNFs and the most wins I’ve ever had in a season even before the last few rounds. I’ve just got to concentrate on myself. The team is working really well, the Kawasaki is working really well, so I have just got to take it race by race and see what we can do.”
Jake Dixon (RAF Regular & Reserves Kawasaki)
Jake Dixon has had an impressive podium record this season, but the RAF Regular & Reserves Kawasaki rider knows that he needs victories to close the deficit this weekend after missing out in the triple-header last weekend.
“It’s been a good season so far and I’ve been very consistent. We are just missing out in a few areas, but I know what we need to do and I know that we’ve got to keep working in the Showdown as anything can happen. Last year going into the last round I think it was 30 points between Leon and Shakey and you know what the outcome was there. Anything can happen and we’ve just got to keep improving the bike and I need to keep improving too. We’ve got to start winning to bridge the gap to Leon and that’s what we’ll be working towards and obviously I want to go out and win like I do every weekend. I feel really good and I go to Oulton knowing the Kawasaki works really well there and I can’t wait to get there.”
Josh Brookes (McAMS Yamaha)
2015 champion Josh Brookes holds third in the standings and with the most Showdown appearances, the McAMS Yamaha rider is determined to use every ounce of his experience to repeat his Brands Hatch winning double as he bids to get his title attack firmly on track.
“I’m learning, we have to, and that’s my job. I’ve got to go into these next few rounds and as a team we need to make no mistakes, have no DNFs, and of course the most obvious one is to win some races. Absolutely this season has been one of my most challenging, it’s probably due to all of the other challenging seasons that I’m able to deal with the challenges that come to me the way that I do. Every position whether it’s been a podium or fifth place I’ve fought hard for and it certainly hasn’t been easy, but I know what it takes; I’ve been there before many times, I’ve won a Championship before so I know what’s involved. We’ve just got to put that knowledge into practice.”
Bradley Ray (Buildbase Suzuki)
21-year-old Bradley Ray makes his first appearance in the Showdown after making the cut at Silverstone and the Buildbase Suzuki team have pushed the title fight all the way to the finish in the past, something they will be keen to repeat. The Kent contender scored his first ever Superbike podium finish at the Cheshire circuit and will be hunting more in Sunday’s two races as he arrives on equal points with Brookes.
“I’m confident going into the Showdown and honestly, I am really pleased to be in there; it’s only my second year in BSB, its only the team’s second year with the new bike, so we’ve got to be happy. It’s going to be interesting going into the last three rounds and we’ve just got to try and be consistent and not have any DNFs and grab as many points as we can and just enjoy riding.”
Glenn Irwin (Be Wiser Ducati)
Another rider to make a first Showdown appearance is Glenn Irwin and the Be Wiser Ducati rider is still hunting an elusive first win of the season this weekend as he aims to overhaul the opposition and take the fight to the finish for the reigning title-winning team.
“One thing last weekend bought back in me is a lot of fight. It was the first time in a long time I’ve been dicing and lunging at the guys. Sometimes you can look at timesheets and think your pace is your pace and you have to conserve the tyre, but the approach at Silverstone was more gun-ho and it bought a little bit more success so I think we are in a good position ahead of this weekend. Anything can happen. We won’t panic no matter what happens.”
Peter Hickman (Smiths Racing BMW)
Peter Hickman fought to the end to secure the final Title Fighter position by just four points and the Smiths Racing BMW rider arrives at Oulton Park with nothing to lose as he holds six place in the standings.
“After last weekend I am more than happy to get the BMW into the Showdown for the second year running, it’s great to be the only BMW in the top six as it’s a big thing for us being a private team. To be able to reward them with a second year in the showdown is absolutely fantastic. I think I’ll be relying more than Glenn on Leon making a good few mistakes but Oulton Park is a track where the BMW works really well. I think we found something last weekend that’s going to help us so if we can get ourselves a lot further to the front in qualifying then obviously it makes the racing much easier. If I’m in that mix in the top 5 or top 6 early on then towards the end of the race I’m always really strong – I am ready for this weekend.”
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