BSB Rd 6 – Thruxton
British Superbikes have never been anything other than spectacular, but what we witnessed at Thruxton was straight out of the top drawer.
Where else do you witness a pack of 220+ horse power Superbikes spinning sideways at speeds in excess of 150mph, imprinting the track behind with tell tale black lines and mini clouds of blue smoke spiralling from the spinning rear boot? Fantastic entertainment for both the massed galleries track side and TV viewers at home.
Indeed you could have been excused for thinking that this was the two wheel version of the Japanese sport of car drifting.
Unfortunately the down side of this motorised ‘Torvill & Dean Show,’ was that tyre selection, and conserving those tyres during the races became the overriding key to success at Thruxton. It was amazing how quickly lap times could tail off in the closing laps, thus producing many a sting in the tail as some riders moved up the running order, and others went the other way as their tyres cried ‘enough’.
One notable being Ryuichi Kiyonari, who in the 12 lap part 2 of the opening Superbike race, at last came in with a result that proved the ‘Orient Express’ has not totally run out of steam.
Running the harder compound rear boot on the Bennetts Suzuki, Kiyo stormed through the pack from 26th on lap 1 to finish a fighting 7th. In fact a couple of more laps could well have seen him take 4th away from his own team mate, Tommy Bridewell.
The Boss, Martin Halsall, who at Snetterton had put the Japanese star on yellow card for lack of performances, was heard to say……..”That’s more like it Kiyo!!!!!”
Whilst Dan Linfoot truly showed how the Thruxton circuit chews up tyres. In Race 2 the likeable Honda rider went from 18th on lap 1, to 4th on lap eleven in the most spectacular of sideways rides, before succumbing to the lack of grip, dropping back to finish in 9th position.
The only rider who seemed as if had got the job of tyre conservation weighed up to perfection was Tyco BMW’s Michael Laverty. 2nd throughout Race 1, he then inherited the lead in the second outing from lap 2 onwards.
Regular race fans are by now familiar with the BSB mantra
…….‘Expect the unexpected, predict the unpredictable’,
…………….and boy, did that ring true at Thruxton!
It was always felt that the Paul Bird ‘Be Wiser’ Ducati’s would be the tool to have for the high speed Hampshire circuit, and indeed right from first turning a wheel early on Friday morning Shane Byrne showed that he was to be the rider to beat.
Totally in a class of his own, Shakey went on to top Free Practice 1, 2 & 3. He was then fastest in Q1, Q2 (which just for good measure, also included a Fastest Ever motorcycle lap for the circuit), before claiming the one flying lap Superpole. Oh, & he was also quickest in race day warm up!
So not surprisingly he stood on the top step of the podium after dominating the two part Race 1, complete with new lap record set in Part 1 (race being Red Flagged following Stuart Easton’s high speed crash, caused by a broken pipe clip).
The certainty for the watching fans, plus all of his fellow competitors was that Race 2 was already a forgone conclusion. Might as well give Shakey the Trophy now.
How wrong could we be!!!!!!!!as on lap 2 he was to retire from the lead with the gear linkage mechanism broke. A 50pence bolt had sheared & the 4 time British Champion was parked up in Pit Lane.
There was many a dropped jaw over that, but the sight of Team Owner Paul Bird, caught perfectly on TV with an expression that said…… he’d lost a fiver & found ten pence, was later to take on a vastly different expression come the race finish – due to the brilliant, brilliant performance of his No2 rider and Superbike Rookie, Glenn Irwin.
The Carrickfergus Flyer rode out of his skin over the final 7 laps, elevating the remaining ‘Be Wiser’ Ducati from 9th on lap 12, to a brilliant 3rd place at the flag. Such was his pace in the closing laps, seemingly having conserved his tyre better than those ahead, that had the race have gone just one more corner, Irwin would have claimed 2nd on the Podium from Honda’s Jason ‘sideways’ O’Halloran.
The Boss’ expression was again caught on TV, this time sporting a smile befitting a man…… who this time had lost ten pence & found a fiver!!!!!
Two fantastic big bike races that sent the fans home still talking about the amazing, unbelievable, ‘sideways riding’ displays they had witnessed.
On a different tack, a quick word from the behind the scenes for those of you who think that as the circuit commentators, all we do is turn up & talk. That everything we need is all set up & ready to go. Well yes, that’s true at the majority of circuits we visit. But not all.
In the Commentary box on Friday, the temperature hit in excess of 35deg.C. (95deg.F) due to there being no air conditioning. Also the timing screens and live TV feed were totally out of commission. Unfortunately we’d been there before. Last year to be precise & nothing had improved in the interim.
Well for me at Thruxton, it had gotten to the stage that enough was enough. After 48 years service I really was prepared to simply walk away.
No other officials would put up with some of the conditions we have had to contend with over the years.
So having been working in conjunction with the official time keepers for a couple of hours, attempting to get the screens working, with but zero response, I managed to stop the Race Director, Stuart Higgs as he was leaving the circuit at around about 7pm Friday evening to tell him the score.
At first he thought I was joking when I said that I wasn’t prepared work under those conditions and that unless we got it sorted , there would be no circuit commentary this weekend…….. well at least not from myself.
Credit to Mr Higgs, he said he would sort it in the morning, and that’s what he did.
Thankfully a mobile air conditioning unit arrived early Saturday morning (which kept the temperature down to around 25-25deg. C), as did the appropriate feed to give me live TV pictures, being temporarily rigged up direct from one of the TV cameras located just outside the commentary box.
Unfortunately there was nothing that could be done about the timing screens, and thus had to make do with some very dodgy & almost unreadable timing pages which due to the state of the circuit wiring was a fait accompli.
So, next up and BSB heads towards the Grand Prix circuit at Brands, one of the best tracks in the world that produces amazing races and an atmosphere not to be missed.
As ever Clinton Enterprises site sales units will be in attendance stocked to the gunnels with the full range of OFFICIAL MCE BSB merchandise, including the EXCLUSIVE Round 7 BRANDS GP BSB event tee shirt, together with the full range of OFFICIAL Team merchandise as well.
See ya there folks, and don’t forget to bring your radio as we will be broadcasting BSB Radio on 87.7FM throughout the weekend.