Author: Bike Social Sports Reporter Posted: 02 May 2014
The British Superbike paddock heads to Cheshire this Bank Holiday weekend for the second round of the championship at Oulton Park. After taking the double win last time out, Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne leads the championship but the Kent man could face a tough ask in repeating his Brands performance with a number of his international rivals looking for glory.
Last year at the series’ first visit to Cheshire circuit, Byrne slipped up crashing out of a considerable lead in the first race. He returned to take victory in the second but the uncharacteristic mistake lost him valuable points. Had Byrne not fallen, he would have won every race but one at the start of last season. When BSB returned to the circuit in the summer, Byrne was beaten outright on track for the first time that season. He did win one race out of the three, but that would be the last time he took victory until the second round of the showdown at Silverstone in October. He missed out on his fourth title last year with Lincolnshire’s Alex Lowes taking the crown so Byrne will be extra keen to avoid slip ups this time round.
It had looked as though Josh Brookes could take the challenge to Shane Byrne at Brands Hatch two weeks back but when the Aussie fell on the eighth lap of the first race it put an end to his challenge. The crash left him tenth on the grid for race two and despite fighting his way to second, Brookes couldn’t pass Byrne in the closing laps. Oulton is a circuit the Aussie has gone well at in the past and he’s hoping to emulate some of Tommy Hill’s Yamaha success at the circuit this weekend.
“I remember racing Tommy Hill on the Yamaha at Oulton Park a few years ago and he looked phenomenal on the bike” Brookes told Bike Social. “I’m hoping that it’s a character of the Yamaha and not just Tommy, so I can repeat it myself!”
Another foreigner looking to fight towards the front will be John Hopkins, who took his first ever British Superbike victory at Oulton in 2011. Hopkins had a strong start at Brands Hatch taking fifth in the first race but struggled come race two, finishing outside the top ten. He’ll need to ensure he’s on top of his game if he’s to challenge for the win.
Ryuichi Kiyonari will also be looking for success this weekend at Oulton Park, another rider who has traditionally ridden well at the Cheshire track. Kiyonari struggled to even finish in the top ten at this point last year so a fourth place finish at Brands Hatch would have been welcomed news for the Japanese rider on his BMW debut.
After a stunning start to their third year in British Superbikes, the GBmoto team will no doubt be at the sharp end once again. Chris Walker took his last victory at Oulton Park in 2011 and James Ellison has had much success at the circuit in the past. However, Ellison is riding injured following his crash in qualifying at Oulton Park. The Kendal rider sat out the second test session last week as the hip injury sustained in the crash became gradually more painful after the Bank Holiday Monday races.
Milwaukee Yamaha’s Tommy Bridewell will be looking to kick-start his season in the Cheshire countryside after a tough weekend at Brands Hatch which saw him take seventh and ninth in the races.
Stuart Easton went quietly about his business at Brands to take two sixth places to leave the Kent circuit fifth in the championship. The Scotsman will be looking to continue the consistency at Oulton Park if he’s keen to get in the showdown come the two-thirds mark this season.