RD3 - Snetterton - MCE Insurance British Superbikes
It was off to sunny Norfolk for round 3 of the MCE Insurance British Superbike championship last weekend. In the 6 week break since Oulton Park a number of riders had been off to the Northwest 200 and Isle of Man TT for the roadracing whilst others settled for more testing and training.
Three times champion Shane 'Shakey' Byrne has been the dominant force so far this year winning every race apart from one at Oulton where he lost out to Josh Brookes. He continued his winning ways at Snetterton securing another double win in 2 thrilling races. He qualified on pole for race 1 with some sensational lap times with only Brookes coming close. After an excellent start Shakey was in front from the off and no one really got close to challenge. Passing at Snetterton can be difficult because of the nature of the circuit, if you go late on the brakes to make a pass it's very difficult to get the bike stopped and turned without running wide and letting the rider you just passed back through. Brookes made many lunges at Shakey but couldn't make one stick. He then got tangled in a battle with Ellison for second which in turn let Shakey create a gap and comfortably win the race. Race 2 was a similar story with Brookes the only rider attempting to challenge Shakey, he led at times but in the end he pushed it too far and lost front end grip sending him and his Milwaukee Yamaha down the track. This gifted Ellison his first 2nd place of the year and Shakey his 5th win.
Tommy Bridewell had his best weekend of the championship so far securing a 4th and 3rd place respectively. The Milwaukee rider aims to keep mixing it at the front with the likes of Brookes and Shakey and hopes to challenge for a win next time out.
American John Hopkins has been training hard during the break and hoped to turn his fortunes around after a poor performance at Oulton. But it was more woe for him and his Tyco Suzuki team as he only managed to score a 9th and a 7th place. Big things were expected from the 2011 runner up when he returned this year but if he keeps having problems Tyco may start to look elsewhere for more competitive riders.
Dan Linfoot on the Quattro Plant Kawasaki has been quietly going about his business this year and managed his best finishes at the Snetterton circuit with a 7th and 6th. He's been a very consistent point scorer so far and this has earned him 5th place in the championship.
Chris Walker on the GBmoto Kawasaki, who holds 6th in the championship, had a mixed weekend with a disastrous qualifying session where he suffered a cylinder failure leaving him on the seventh row of the grid. But a brilliant start in race 1 let him climb back up the positions to eventually finish 6th. Race 2 it was more trouble when he suffered a technical problem that meant he had to retire. The lower showdown positions are all up for grabs and if Chris wants to hold his spot he will have to hope for better luck. Team principal Mark Smith-Halvorsen took full responsibly for the failures and has vowed to get behind the Stalker and return him to his early form.
Shakey's teammate Stuart Easton is not a fan of the Norfolk circuit and this showed in his results only managing to take away 3 points from the round. This dropped him out of the top six and leaves him with Paul Bird on his back. He'll have to be better at Knockhill to keep in contention or he may start to slip down the standings.
Ryuichi Kiyonari had his best weekend so far taking a 5th in race 1 and a 4th in race 2. He's looked good on the BMW all year but just needs to push that little bit more to get onto the podium and closer to the top 6.
It was the return of Honda Racing at Snetterton. Last years championship winning team opted out of the series before it began because they were unable to secure a top rider and sponsorship deal. This was the first of their wildcard rounds and Frenchman Julien Da Costa suffered a DNF in race 1 when he crashed out on the beautifully liveried 'urban tiger' Fireblade. In race 2 he managed to keep it upright and finished 5th.
Mitchell Carr and Howie Mainwaring both returned from injury at Snetterton. Howie retired in race 1 but managed to secure a 16th in race 2 as he eases himself back into racing. It was not such a good story for Mitch though crashing out in qualifying leaving himself with yet another injury; he sat out the rest of the weekend.
Legendary team manager Jack Valentine now steers the ship for Halsall racing with youngster Harry Hartley in the chair. Sadly for the team Harry had a big crash in qualifying which totalled the bike ending their weekend.
In amongst all the racing Club MCE members took part in fantastic VIP experiences including pillion laps with the TT's fastest newcomer Peter Hickman and Superstocker Davo Johnson, safety car laps in the Nissan GTR, an On Track Ride behind myself, hang out with Tommy Bridewell, Official Pit Crew with Bathams BMW, Grid walks and more! To be part of Club MCE all you need is an MCE policy and to sign up here on the Club MCE app.
With only two weeks until round 4 at Knockhill we haven't got long to wait to see if anyone can stop Shakey's charge. Keep up to date with Big Ed's Facebook for all the live updates, news and gossip around the paddock.
For more information on the series visit MCE Insurance British superbikes.
17.06.2014 - Big Ed