THREE RACES, THREE INCREDIBLE ADVERTS FOR THE BENNETTS BRITISH SUPERBIKE CHAMPIONSHIP IN NORFOLK LAST WEEKEND AND THE SHOWDOWN BATTLE CONTINUES TOWARDS BOILING POINT
What. A. Weekend! Three breathless Bennetts British Superbike races blew the Showdown race wide open this weekend at Snetterton as the sub-plots as well as the racing itself took centre stage! All the predictions we made prior to the weekend were exactly that, predictions, and as we’ve come to love about BSB, you should never make predictions! (to be honest that would make this column redundant so predictions WILL continue to be present and potentially wholly inaccurate!)
Race one on Saturday afternoon was an absolute spectacle and one of the greatest adverts for the Bennetts British Superbike championship in a while. There’s always the wonder that the racing in the initial stages of the season is quite gentlemanly and polite, the riders want to win but not quite at all costs as the points tend to look after themselves and there’s plenty to go round and any injury from a lunge-gone-wrong or exuberant use of the right wrist (for acceleration, obvs) can lead to missed opportunities but then it all turns on its head, like this weekend, and battle becomes fierce as the Showdown looms ever closer and that’s exactly the feeling the racing at Snetterton gave us.
The circuit at Snetterton lends itself to close, hard racing due to the wide, flowing nature of the majority of the track but three hard braking points mean that passing is always on the agenda and manners are a thing of the past. The gloves were certainly off as the McAMS pair fought tooth and nail for the victory all weekend, putting hard (but fair and relatively respectful) passes on one another at any given opportunity with Oxford Products Moto Rapido permanent podium man, Tommy Bridewell holding the best view in the house and close enough to steal second from O’Halloran in the drag to the line in race one, one of the closest finishes in BSB history saw Mackenzie win by 0.069s from Bridewell, just 0.095s further ‘back’, incredible action from all three riders. (Go watch it again, it's just wonderful racing)
Honda’s Glenn Irwin may still be rueing what might have been as the Pole man slipped out of the lead of the race in the early stages and aggravating his still-healing shoulder injury. Brother Andrew was central to a fast crash for Gino Rea as Irwin’s BMW lost power causing Jackson to take avoiding action and Gino with nowhere to go other than face down in the grass, thankfully without injury. Jackson and Brookes continued their points battle from Cadwell Park, Brookes outpointing the FS-3 man in the opening salvo of the weekend while Brooksey’s teammate, Christian Iddon once again registered a DNF as the difficult time continues for the Derbyshire Geordie.
Sunday’s two races brought more drama and yet another epic tussle between the McAMS title fighters. Gino Rea clearly had pace at Snetterton and finally lead a British Superbike race before being overhauled by the Yamahas and the ever-present Bridewell. Behind them, Brookes was continuing to battle back from a few mistakes that saw him lose places, but he’s clearly got pace after a nightmare first half of the season. Glenn Irwin struggled to make an impression on the top ten after Saturday’s spill, managing just two points for 14th as O’Halloran took the win from Mackenzie and Bridewell. Brookes creeps ever closer to the podium in fourth ahead of rea and, crucially for any showdown designs, Lee Jackson in sixth.
The initial Race three was red flagged eight laps in after Danny Buchan was ejected from his SYNETIQ BMW at the end of the Bentley straight in spectacular fashion as his machine suffer a terminal mechanical issue leaving the Essex man as a passenger before being high sided on to the grass and lucky to escape injury. The aftermath of the incident saw a number of riders crash on the fluid left by Buchan’s stricken machine including Showdown contender, Jackson.
The restart was held over five laps for an epic finish to the weekend. Rea, Mackenzie and Bridewell all had a shot at leading before Mackenzie reasserted himself at the front ahead of Bridewell, O’Halloran and Rea, who was enjoying his best superbike outing in a long time - conveniently just in time for Silverstone, a circuit the Suzuki adores. Key to the final race of the weekend was the absence of Jackson as the FS-3 team were left with too much work to do to get Lincolnshire man’s Kawasaki fit for the race, a bitter pill for the team after a strong weekend. Mackenzie took the win by 0.048s from Bridewell ahead of O’Halloran by the relatively yawning chasm of 0.9s.
What an advert for the series; drama abound and more sub-stories than you can shake a fork leg at! We’ll look at the permutations of the weekend in the Silverstone preview that will be out, well, soon because we’re back-to-back with Silverstone and Round 8 of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship, and if Snetterton was exciting, Silverstone will undoubtedly be next level!
Bring it on!