Closest ever MCE BSB Showdown set to kick off at Oulton Park this weekend
The MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship Showdown kicks off this weekend at Oulton Park as the closest ever top six title fight gets underway in Cheshire.
The 2017 season has already seen an incredible nine different winners and a further five podium finishers, but the final Title Fighter line up was only decided at Silverstone just days ago.
Six points separate defending champion Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne from arch rival Leon Haslam and the pair shared the victories at Oulton Park back in May. The leading duo had a disastrous weekend at Silverstone by their usual standards and need to get their campaigns back on track in Cheshire at the crucial part of the season.
“It has been a difficult year for everybody, you only have to look at how long it took for all six of us to get confirmed. I have had a round off and everyone has missed races and that hurts in the points. I have been into the Showdown both ways; up and down on points before, and one year in particular we had the biggest advantage and I crashed and then it had gone. I am conscious of that fact. There were 15 Podium Points up for grabs at Silverstone and I had gone there fighting for all 15 but ended up with just one which wasn’t ideal, but I had to take that one. It was a difficult weekend as I had been upside down twice which also wasn’t ideal. I’m looking forward to Oulton Park as we had a good round there earlier in the season and far better than we did last year with the Ducati, so hopefully if we can get a first and a second like we did in May or try for another double, then we can keep pushing on.”
Leon Haslam – JG Speedfit Kawasaki – Championship position: 2nd
“We went to Silverstone with the objective of scoring as many podium points as possible and we came away with three DNFs and three crashes, but in the scheme of things it was the first time we had ridden the bike in the wet and on a positive we felt competitive. Our dry pace was as quick as I had been around Silverstone so if we had been able to stop on the bike we probably could have had a good weekend, so it wasn’t a disaster. You know to have seven DNFs and still make the Showdown; we have to be happy with that. We have to reset now because Oulton Park, Assen and Brands Hatch will decide the title. When it is working we can win and that is what we have to concentrate on now. Last year I crashed twice in the Showdown and they were the only crashes I had all year so hopefully I have done all my crashing at Silverstone! The rounds to come; Oulton Park I have a good record around, Assen I did the double last year and it will always come down to Brands Hatch. I expect a good battle between us all the way to the finish.”
Byrne and Haslam also have to contend with the threat of third placed Josh Brookes who is finely poised just four points adrift of the JG Speedfit Kawasaki rider ahead of him. The 2015 champion scored a Showdown place for the Anvil Hire TAG Yamaha team for the first time and he won’t be giving up without a fight!
Josh Brookes – Anvil Hire TAG Yamaha – Championship position: 3rd
“Without sounding cocky I did expect to be in the Showdown but of course you can never guarantee it. Silverstone was challenging but after the second race, being confirmed in the Showdown made it less stressful in the third race but Oulton Park this weekend is where the real fight starts. You have to look at the facts and so far when I am riding well and the bike is doing what we need it to do then we can be in a position to win, so hopefully we can manage the situation so we can stay in that range. The tracks coming up are good circuits for me so there is no reason for us to not be confident but just look at what happened last weekend, there were so many different circumstances that can happen. I am looking forward now to Oulton Park.”
21-year-old Jake Dixon became the youngest ever rider to secure a Showdown position last Sunday at Silverstone. The RAF Regular & Reserves Kawasaki team is making its debut in the final title fight for the first time, having finishing on the podium again last weekend.
“I have had many years watching Shakey in the Showdown when he used to help me and now I am here. My plan is to give everything as I do at every round and I definitely won’t be holding anything back that’s for sure. At Silverstone the nerves were on as I wanted to make it in and in race one I was tense. We were fast there all weekend so I feel the bike is good and it has all clicked. If I can keep moving forward it should be good and I am ready to take the fight to all of them starting this weekend at Oulton Park.”
Just six points adrift of Dixon is Thruxton race winner Peter Hickman who fired the Smiths Racing BMW team into the Showdown for the first time and finally previous champions Honda Racing lines up for battle with Jason O’Halloran.
Peter Hickman – Smiths Racing BMW – Championship position: 5th
“Silverstone was my first crash of the year but it is what it is. I am so happy to be in the Showdown as I have missed out a couple of times, so to finally make it has been a big relief as well as knowing how much of a good job we have done as a team. I was excited before Silverstone and I feel even more excited for Oulton Park this weekend. We are a privately run team and our first Showdown so we are coming to do the best job we possibly can.”
Jason O’Halloran – Honda Racing – Championship position: 6th
“I knew going into the final race at Silverstone that Christian [Iddon] has to win and Jake [Dixon] had to finish second for me to be knocked out of the top six so my plan was just to finish and pick up points in the best way we could. I didn’t even make it to turn two though so the plan went out of the window! I got back to the garage and watched the race and I was starting to panic but then I knew I had made it. It has been a tough season but we have picked up points and got here in the end. We start off this weekend ready to try and close the gap and do the best job we possibly can as the two Oulton Park races are so important and we need to be back on the podium.”
However the top six still have a fight on their hands to bag the largest points haul this weekend with some Showdown spoilers ready to be in the mix. Debut race winners from Silverstone; Glenn Irwin and Dan Linfoot are ready to put a spanner in the works to help their respective team-mates, plus race winners Mossey and James Ellison will also want to make amends for missing the top six cut.
Adding to the spoiler list include podium finishers Christian Iddon, Michael Laverty, Lee Jackson and John Hopkins all have a point to prove ahead of the final three rounds of the season.
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