The ninth round of the 2017 MCE British Superbike Championship proved to be bittersweet for JG Speedfit Kawasaki with Leon Haslam securing his Showdown position but Luke Mossey agonisingly missing out.
With three races over the course of the meeting at Silverstone, qualifying for Saturday’s race saw Haslam qualify in a solid fifth place with Mossey, making his comeback from injury, in 13th. However, the dry weather had been replaced by mixed conditions by the time the first race got underway at 4pm with half of the circuit wet and half dry. That made tyre choice difficult and whilst Mossey went with full wets, Haslam opted for intermediates.
From the start, it was clear the riders on full wets had made the right choice and Mossey ran in the top five throughout, eventually crossing the line in fifth to take eleven valuable points and consolidate his Showdown position. Unfortunately, Haslam had slipped back to ninth when he crashed out at Club on just the fifth of 14 laps, fortunately without injury and with his second place intact.
The damp conditions in the race made for an unusual grid for Sunday’s opening 14-lap encounter and whilst Mossey started from tenth, Haslam’s early crash meant he was way back in 20th place with plenty of work to do. And it went from bad to worse for the team as the Derbyshire rider crashed heavily on lap two while his team mate could only manage 12th place.
While the race results meant Haslam’s Showdown position was confirmed, they meant Luke would have to secure his spot in the third and final race of the weekend as just four points covered him, Jake Dixon and Christian Iddon. He was also back in 16th on the grid compared to Dixon’s seventh and Iddon’s 13th while Haslam’s crash put him on the back row of the grid.
The race was held in wet conditions to make it even trickier for the riders but a technical problem on the warm-up lap brought Haslam’s disastrous weekend to an end. That left Mossey to fly the flag but there was to be no fairy-tale ending as he crashed out in the treacherous conditions on lap six and, with Dixon taking third, he agonisingly missed out on the Showdown as he slipped back to seventh overall.
Haslam said: “We came here with the objective of getting as many podium points as possible but we’ve come away with a DNF and three crashes. In the grand scheme of things, however, it’s the first time I’ve ridden the bike in the wet and it felt competitive. Similarly, in the dry this morning we were as quick as anyone else in race one so if I could have stopped on and not started from the eighth or ninth row, we probably could have had a good weekend.
“It’s not been a disaster – to have seven DNFs before round nine and still make the Showdown is pretty impressive. We’ve now got to reset and focus on getting on the podium at Oulton, Assen and Brands – that’s what’s going to win the championship.
“Last year I crashed twice in the Showdown and they were the only two crashes I had all year so fingers crossed I’ve put all of the bad luck behind me this weekend and I can stay on for the next three rounds.
“We’ve got a really good record at Oulton Park and last year I got the double at Assen. It was always going to come down to Brands so hopefully we can get back to winning ways and look forward to a good final battle in round 12.”
Mossey said: “What can I say? I tried! I knew all along this weekend would be tough after breaking four vertebrae at Thruxton. It’s been hard as I’ve not been able to train much so it was a big ask but I was always going to give it everything.
“I’m exhausted now and sorry for the team as we were so close but it wasn’t meant to be this year. I am going to concentrate hard now on getting fully fit and going back out there to finish the season on a high note.
“I can’t thank the JG Speedfit Kawasaki team enough for their help and support and I promise that I’ll be pushing hard at the final rounds for some podiums.”
Team Manager Jack Valentine added: “It’s been a crazy weekend here at Silverstone and pretty disappointing. We had made a lot of progress with Leon and the bike and everything was looking good but the races just didn’t go to plan.
“The conditions on the track on Saturday were tough and it was a real tyre gamble, Leon went on inters and it wasn’t the right decision so he sadly crashed out. We were looking forward to a dry race but Leon had to start from the back of the grid so it was always going to be hard.
“He was making progress but crashed out on lap two. The team worked hard to get the bike fixed but we had a battery issue which I think was a blessing in disguise as Leon had hurt his elbow.
“Luke is a real credit to the team; he really did give everything he had this weekend to try and secure his showdown position. He really rode so well in race one on Saturday, they chose the right tyres and he rode a very mature and sensible race.
“We knew this weekend would be hard for him and with race one today being dry it made riding much more physical for him. He tried so hard and wanted it so much for the team. He has been so strong all year and it’s important now he gets himself back fit and back on the podium.
“We have a better set up now than we did at the start of the year and it’s crucial that we put it all together at the final three rounds and get the results we believe we deserve.”
Championship positions after nine rounds:
- Shane Byrne (Ducati) 235 pts
- Josh Brookes (Yamaha) 212 pts
- Leon Haslam (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) 209 pts
- Peter Hickman (BMW) 208 pts
- Jason O’Halloran (Honda) 194 pts
- Jake Dixon (Kawasaki) 192 pts
- Luke Mossey (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) 176 pts