Leon Haslam heads the pack as Oulton Park beckons this Bank Holiday weekend
Leon Haslam will have a target on his back this weekend (29 April – 1 May) as the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship hits Oulton Park in Cheshire, but the JG Speedfit Kawasaki rider is determined to maintain the upper hand over his opposition.
Haslam celebrated victories in the opening two races of the season at Donington Park, but last time out at Brands Hatch it was his team-mate Luke Mossey who emerged as MCE BSB’s latest race winner. The young gun celebrated his first victory in the Superbike class, then went on to make it a double and the JG Speedfit Kawasaki team now lock out the top two positions in the standings.
Tyco BMW are battling back and Christian Iddon is next up in the overall standings and ready to come out fighting at his home round as he bids for an elusive first victory. The Stockport contender has scored one second and two third places so far and is determined to push for BMW’s first 2017 victory. Iddon came tantalisingly close to a debut win last year at the Cheshire circuit, missing out by just 0.135s at the line to Richard Cooper, and he desperately wants to go one better on Bank Holiday Monday.
2015 champion Josh Brookes has proven his podium potential and the Australian will be eager to mark his return to Oulton Park with a top three finish as he bids to add to his Podium Point tally. The Anvil Hire TAG Yamaha rider is just ahead of Smiths Racing BMW’s Peter Hickman in the standings and he is fired up to build on his best result of a fourth place at the opening round.
Glenn Irwin crashed out of the second race at Brands Hatch but the Be Wiser Ducati rider still currently holds the final place in the top six ahead of the team’s home round this weekend and will be doing his utmost to make amends.
Champion Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne has endured a disastrous start to his title defence by his standards. The Kent ace was sidelined from the opening two races of the season after a crash in the warm-up session at Donington Park, but recorded a fourth place finish at Brands Hatch before crashing out of race two. The five-time champion knows that he needs a podium return at Oulton Park to get his season back on track.
Honda Racing has made strides forward with the new Fireblade and both Jason O’Halloran and Dan Linfoot are pushing to return to the front this weekend as are the McAMS Yamaha pairing of Michael Laverty and James Ellison, whose weekend at Brands Hatch began with a record-breaking pole lap but ended in disaster when he crashed out of the lead in the opening race.
Rookie Bradley Ray had his best performance of the season so far at Brands Hatch and the Buildbase Suzuki rider will be aiming for the top ten again after finishing ahead of team-mates Sylvain Guintoli and Taylor Mackenzie on the Bennetts Suzukis.
MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship standings:
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JG Speedfit Kawasaki
“Brands Hatch was a bit of a tough weekend, even though we had a couple of podiums but the test at Oulton Park last week went really well.
“We worked with our base setting and we made steps forward so I am confident ahead of the next round.
“I am feeling positive going into the weekend so fingers crossed that we can come out and get back to winning on Bank Holiday Monday!”
“I am excited for this weekend; we have had a good start to the season and we need to keep that momentum going now. We tried some things at the test last week that didn’t really work out, but we have a direction for the weekend and sometimes you have to go back to move forward.
“We want to come out this weekend and take it to them; the JG Speedfit Kawasaki boys have been the ones to beat so far this year, but as always in this championship you never know who is going to be in the mix on raceday.
“I expect Shakey to come back stronger too this weekend, but it will be anybody’s race and I am bored of the monkey being on my back now!”