If you are a regular track-side race fan, or indeed prefer to follow the racing from home via BSB Radio, then you will have heard myself & Larry Carter previously use the adage during commentary…….’Expect the unexpected, predict the unpredictable’.
Well it again proved to be the case during the opening Free Practice session for the Superbikes at Donington Park on Friday morning.
The track was wet, but with the forecasters predicting improving dry weather by lunchtime, and also for the rest of the weekend. Accordingly I therefore must confess I expected but only a handful of competitors on track during the opening 45 minute session, and certainly non of the 6 ‘Title Fighters’.
How wrong I was. Five of the six ventured out to splash around at some time during the session (only Quattro Plant Tec-care Kawasaki rider Luke Mossey, stayed in the garage, thinking the obvious, and that was that this could well be a case of ‘everything to lose & nothing to gain’)….Indeed Luke’s thinking was almost proven to be correct.
We were only a handful of laps into the session, when on the timing screens up pops the news that No 22 Jason O’Halloran has crashed, shortly followed by the notification that No 67 Shane Byrne has now done the same, and just as we are going into the final minute of the session…..we are informed that No 91 Leon Haslam has now legged himself off!!!!!!
Thankfully we were also given the news at the same time that ‘Rider OK’. Indeed the only reported injury was a ‘tweeked’ thumb to the Pocket Rocket……..which at least allayed my fears of having to announce over the speakers that…..err…’The two opening races of the ‘Showdown Phase’ would be minus three of the big guns’………but it could have so easily have been the case!!!!!!
You will by now be familiar with the Superbike race results I’m sure, with Shane Byrne having a cracking day on the Paul Bird Be Wiser Ducati, winning both 20 lappers.
Interestingly whilst ‘Shakey’ had chosen the softer rear boot (as had the bulk of the riders), Haslam had gone for the harder…..and that effectively blew if for Leon racing over his home track. A track where he would have been quietly confident of grabbing the double himself.
It didn’t work for him in the first race & strangely the JG Speedfit Kawasaki jockey opted for the same hard rear for race two, whilst Byrne stuck with what had won him race 1.
We’ll never know if Haslam had made the correct call for the latter laps as he crashed out of second place approaching the three quarter stage.
Thus ‘Shakey’, who was at his imperious best, left Donington to head to the Netherlands and The Cathedral of Speed for the second round of The Showdown holding a valuable 27 point advantage over his nearest rival.
However, history has shown that it’s far from over as yet. With 5 remaining races and a further maximum 125 points up for grabs all 6 Title Fighters will reflect upon their Donington performances & will be fully aware that the Assen results could now well prove pivotal………..but, and I remind you of what I said in my opening paragraph, take heed as this is British Superbikes, so be ready………. to expect the unexpected, predict the unpredictable!!
Congratulations to Taylor MacKenzie who wrapped up the Pirelli National Superdstock 1000 Championship on his Buildbase BMW at Donington, beating off nearest rival Ian Hutchinson ( Tyco BMW) to the Crown.
The pairing had had a coming together at the previous round at Oulton Park, with both ending in the gravel at the final corner whilst disputing the lead. As they picked themselves up it was pretty obvious from their facial expressions that neither was particularly inclined to put the others name on their Christmas card list.
Subsequent judicial findings apportioned the blame for the incident on Taylor, so it was immensely satisfying & a mark of a great sportsman to witness on the TV screens ‘Hutchy’ being the first to stop alongside ‘Mac Junior’ to congratulate him on winning the Title.
Just staying with the Oulton Park round, erstwhile title contender within the British Supersport Series, Andy Reid managed to crash his Kawasaki during the Friday free practice, resulting in a broken scaphoid bone and a pair of deeply grazed knees.
Now I get on well with Andy, and he said as he’s not riding he would come and join me for commentary on the Supersport race the next day. Well he did. Only problem was, he was dripping in blood….literally.
He’d only crashed again, this time in the Paddock. Not looking where he was going, he had tripped over one of the many garage power supply cables whilst running to join me in the commentary box…resulting in heavily gashed elbow, severely grazed shoulder & opening up his knee wounds to boot.
Forever the iron man that he is, he stayed for commentary, whilst trying to stem the bleeding with copious tissues before going off to seek professional medical intervention!!!!!!! Top man Andy.
Finally, ‘Kiyo’ didn’t get to race at Donington. This time he crashed the Smiths BMW during the second Free Practice & had damaged his knee.
Such a shame for the Team & Kiyo himself particularly after a couple of encouraging rides at Oulton Park the week previous. Hopefully the former three time BSB Champion will be back in the points at Assen.
So Assen it is next.
See you there folks, and remember to visit the Clinton Site Sales Units, situated behind the main start/finish line grandstand. As ever the full range of OFFICIAL Team & Rider merchandise will be available as well as the exclusive & OFFICIAL MCE Insurance BSB Assen round event tee shirt.
Have a safe journey.