CADWELL PARK RETURNS WITH A CIRCUIT FULL OF FANS AND SOME EPIC RACING
Cor, what a weekend! It was so good to see Cadwell Park back where it belongs on the Bennetts British Superbike calendar. Two long years since the fastest domestic riders in the world graced the jewel in Lincolnshire's crown with their presence and how they made up for lost time! Not only did the Superbike class entertain royally, but the support classes provided fantastic entertainment for the watching masses trackside and on their sofas.
Before we get on to the main three races let’s just give a nod to the young guns making their mark over the weekend at arguably the most difficult tracks of the year along with Oulton Park. Joe Talbot took full advantage of Jack Nixon’s misfortune in the Junior Superstock race, giving the fans a reminder of what he is capable of. In the same race, reigning Junior Supersport Champion, Owen Jenner took his first National Junior Superstock podium with a fine ride to third place, and with Asher Durham a career-best fifth, it was a good day for Affinity Kawasaki.
In the Superbike class, Tim Neave was given the news on Thursday afternoon of the official test that he would be riding Danny Kent’s superbike in front of his home fans for the weekend (no pressure, then!) as the former Moto3 World Champion recovers from injuries sustained at Donington Park. Three points-scoring finishes were an outstanding return for the young Lincolnshire twin, whose brother Tom took full honours in the National Superstock race. Storm Stacey seems to have been around for years and in most respects, he has. As the one-time youngest winner of a British Championship race, Stacey is starting to find his feet in the Superbike class with his Sheffield-based GR Motosport team. A career-best finish at Donington where tyre choice was crucial, his maiden top-ten in ideal conditions was a real step forward for the popular Staffordshire rider.
And speaking of Sheffield, the city’s Joe Sheldon-Shaw continued with CDH Racing for the second weekend as he deputises for the injured Josh Owens. The former Aprilia Superteen made a solid debut at Donington Park but Cadwell Park was where he came of age on the BSB machine. Scoring his maiden championship point was a huge milestone for the likeable South Yorkshireman, whose only previous big bike experience is National Superstock in his family-run team which is an exceptional transition. Expect Sheldon-Shaw to be on more than a few teams' radars as the season continues.
Now to the action! Nobody was surprised (other than maybe Jason O’Halloran and Glenn Irwin) to see Peter Hickman take a double win at his home circuit last weekend. At the scene of his first-ever BSB win, Hickman rode as well as he’s ever done to take the first BSB victory for the new FHO Racing team and propel himself further into showdown contention. Backing the win with another and also a lap record in there was a phenomenal return for the TT specialist and one that will fill him with confidence at Snetterton for round seven of the championship.
Jason O’Halloran played the long game at Cadwell Park. The Lincolnshire-based Aussie is putting together an exceptional season and with just one blot to his copybook, the Championship favourite is doing all the right things in terms of safely banking as many points and podium credits as he can when a win isn’t possible. Taking the win in race three was an exercise in pure racecraft; pressure the leader into a mistake and then, with little time for a response, take full advantage. Team-mate Tarran Mackenzie made headlines for all the wrong reasons at Cadwell Park as the Scottish Englishman exited race one spectacularly after drifting onto the grass between the Hairpin and Barn before being ejected over the high side as the bike then cartwheeled over the barriers and eventually stopped halfway to Skegness. A hand injury sustained in the crash meant Taz took no further part in the weekend.
Honda Racing’s Glenn Irwin was on the pace all weekend at Honda’s home circuit. Having tested there some weeks earlier, Irwin was already dialled into the circuit before the official Thursday night test, topping the three-hour session from a resurgent Josh Brookes and then sticking his Honda CBR 1000 RR-R on Pole Position, it seemed Irwin was the man to beat. Fourth, sixth and sixth weren’t the results Irwin or Honda expected but once the Northern Irishman recovers from the shoulder injury sustained at Donington Park, he'll be back in podium contention once again.
Despite losing his lap record to Hickman, Lee Jackson and fellow FS-3 Kawasaki man, Rory Skinner, took positives from the weekend as the Lincoln man returned his best weekend of the season. Jacko battled hard in across all three races and returns to the showdown eight for his efforts. For Skinner, it was the best weekend points haul since Brands Hatch some four rounds ago despite a race two DNF. As far as good weekends go, Josh Brookes seems to have made a step forward with the PBM Ducati as he too returned his best weekend of the season with a tenth and two fifth-place finishes. Christian Iddon’s mid-season dip shows no sign of letting up with five finishes in nine races and no podium fizz for the last eight races. Podium fizz was everywhere for Oxford Products MotoRapido Ducati as Tommy Bridewell continued his love affair with Lincolnshire with three podium finishes and three helpings of podium pudding into the bargain.
It’s a weekend off as the Orange Army move to Silverstone for MotoGP and the Valentino Rossi farewell gig. BSB returns the following weekend in Norfolk at the fabulous Snetterton 300 circuit. We’re all hoping for better weather than the wet, windy and cold test back in May!
And finally, it's been announced by BSB that Brad Jones is now awake after his accident at Brands Hatch back in July and is communicating with his family. Some great news for everyone concerned and we wish Brad a continued recovery and our very best wishes to his family and friends #keeepfightingBrad