2017 BSB Rd 1 Donington
Deprived of ‘on track’ action for the past 5 months, the fans flocked to Donington Park for the opening salvo’s of the 2017 BSB season – and unlike the freezing, wet & thoroughly unpleasant pre-season official test a week or so earlier, the sun actually came out for race day.
I think that we are probably all agreed that BSB this season has attracted one of the strongest entry lists for many a year, including a number of ex WSB riders.
Not least of which, 2014 World Superbike Champion & Honorary Brit., Sylvain Guintoli riding for Bennetts Suzuki.
Also, there’s podium finisher at last years WSB round at Donington, and 7th in the World standings, former factory Ducati rider, Davide Giugliano. And of course we have returning 2015 BSB Champion, and ever popular with the fans, Josh Brookes.
In a nutshell, ‘Brooksey’ proved that despite a forgettable season in World Supers, & contrary to popular opinion, he has not forgotten how to ride a motorbike….and ride it fast. Without doubt he will certainly be back in the Title hunt this year.
7th in the opening race, the Aussie, much to the undisguised delight of his many fans, was bang on form in the second race & led the pack until the ¾ stage before having to give best to the undoubted ‘Rider of the Day’…Leon Haslam.
Whilst mentioning JB, we should also give credit here to the Anvil Hire TAG Team owned by Rob Winfield. Having taken a big step up to sign the former champion they have undoubtedly provided Josh with a Yamaha that is fast, well sorted, and also very pretty to look at as well!
For Frenchman, Guintoli, a crash in race 1, and 7th in race 2 were not exactly what he, nor the team, had planned. Obviously there is still more work to do before we see his World Class credentials. Hopefully he will be more toward the business end of the action when we get to Brands Hatch for round 2.
Equally, Giugliano’s placings of 13th & 9th would indicate there is still much more to come from both the Tyco BMW as well as the likeable Italian. Always exciting for the fans to watch it will be interesting to see what he makes of tracks he doesn’t know ……..like Knockhill & Cadwell Park later in the year!
Must say, Giugliano’s team mate Christian Iddon looked solid & fast with a 3rd & 4th,. Further fine tuning, will surely ensure he’s a regular front runner this year – and a good bet for wins as & when the track’s wet or damp!
Incidentally, Brad Ray impressed me for his application throughout the weekend. Riding the Buildbase Suzuki he was singularly outstanding during the wet free practice session on Saturday morning – that is, before he slid off at Melbourne Hairpin without injury. Just keep your eyes on the Buildbase Suzuki rider with the ‘Donald Trump’ hair style when the tracks damp or wet – he could well cause a major surprise to the established stars.
Overall I think, the mass of opinion coming into the opening weekend was that it would be a continuation of last years battles. Principally involving five time BSB Champ., Shane Byrne, & last years Runner Up…Leon Haslam.
Unfortunately we didn’t get to see that. ‘The Shakester’ knocked that one on the head, as well as on his own head too, after he crashed out on the Craner Curves during race day morning Warm Up, resulting in mild concussion. Thus he was sidelined from the days races, and was left to watch enviously as the Pocket Rocket gunned his JG Speedfit Kawasaki to dominant double victories, to open his account with maximum points & Podium Credits.
Thankfully nothing was broken & Shane should be fit & ready to attempt to regain lost ground with a ‘Double’ at the second round, raced at his patch..Brands Hatch.
In all honesty I am still of the opinion that for any rider to win this years Title, they will have to go one place better than both Haslam & Byrne…….and that is something easier said than done.
With Shakey sitting it out, at least the Boss, Paul Bird had something to smile about over the Donington weekend. No 2 Glen Irwin looked hot & determined in the second race. Coming from 8th place to get onto the podium behind Haslam & Brookes. If the East Antrim man can build on that performance then potentially we should see him with a few more podiums this year.
That will also undoubtedly be the case with Haslam’s team mate, Luke Mossey. His second spot in the opener was a very encouraging. Lukes never lacked pace, just the staying power to carry the result to the flag. Looks stronger this year and is a good bet to make the Showdown again this year.
Not surprisingly McAms Yamaha rider James Ellison was fast & polished, and was definitely two times on for a podium before technical issues slowed his progress ,to finish 5th & 6th. Again, the Cumbrian Express should be a certainty for a Showdown placing. Hopefully he’s learnt the lesson that Podium Credits are imperative – a lack of these put him on the back foot in the Final Showdown phase.
McAms second rider Michael Laverty also looked to be in more determined mood than he was last term. OK so the results weren’t there (8th & a retirement in second race), but the early signs are very encouraging.
Quick word re John Hopkins who landed on his ear no less than three times over the weekend. Expensive for his Moto Rapido Ducati team, and painful for John – he broke three toes in the warm up tumble!
Talking of injury, the commentary box was getting a bit like Emergency Ward 10 at times. Visitors included Aussie Davo Johnson, now all but recovered from his many injuries collected in his Ulster Grand Prix crash last August.
Supersport star Luke Jones, still nursing amputated toe & with his arm in a sling nursing a skin graft to hand, sustained pre season in Cartagana, and also Gearlink’s Ben Wilson, complete with crutches to help support the broken thigh sustained at Ireland’s NW 200 event last May.
We also had BSB rider Lee Jackson join us, complete with bruised ribs. He was sitting the races out having crashed a couple of times. The second time bending the Smiths BMW into a state of ‘non operandi’.
So we are up & running. It’s obvious many teams were not running at peak efficiency at Donington, and will be hoping for an improvement as we head toward Brands Hatch in Kent over the Easter weekend for round 2.
Make sure you visit the Clintion Enterprises Site Sales Units for all the OFFICIAL 2017 BSB merchandise, plus Team merchandise as well.
In closing I would like to pass on sincere condolences from myself & all at Clinton Enterprises to the family and friends of Mick Whalley, who sadly succumbed to injuries sustained following a crash in the opening Ducati TriOptions Cup race.