We’re only two rounds into the 2017 British Superbike Championship but there’s been plenty of action and plenty of intrigue. Here are five talking points after the second BSB round of 2017…
JG Speedfit dominate:
Before the season started, the JG Speedfit Kawasaki team of Leon Haslam and Luke Mossey looked a formidable combination. And with the riders winning all four races held so far, that thought has certainly been confirmed. Of course, it’s not the first time, in any championship, one, or two, riders have surged clear in a title race, but all the signs are there at present that they’re going to take some stopping.
Bringing in Jack Valentine as team manager, to ease the burden on the hard-working team-owner Pete Extance, was a shrewd move and they’re making hay whilst the sun shines. The opposition is sure to close up but, until they do, both Haslam and Mossey will keep racking up the podium credits and edging ahead.
Yamaha fast – but yet to reap rewards:
When James Ellison set the fastest ever lap around the Brands Hatch Indy circuit during qualifying, he must have seriously fancied his chances of coming away from the Kent venue with 50 points and two winner’s trophies. But one mistake cost him the chance of both and instead of spraying the champagne his weekend ended in despair as machine damage prevented him from even starting the second race.
The Cumbrian’s pace is clear to see but his performance at Donington was affected too, on that occasion due to tyre wear, and the McAMS Yamaha rider certainly deserves more than the 21 points he’s scored so far. The season’s long though so as both he, and the team, continue to get to grips with the R1, they should start to reap the rewards.
Honda make good progress:
The Honda Racing team were a shadow of their 2016 selves at the opening round at Donington Park but testing at Cadwell Park and Mallory Park, in particular, had clearly paid dividends. The new Fireblade was always expected to get better as the year wore on with the riders expressing how their early season aims were to keep themselves in the hunt for a Showdown spot.
The Brands Indy circuit is quirky in that it doesn’t always throw up the results you were expecting – nor results you get at other circuits – but both riders ran consistently inside the top six, just as they had done everywhere last year. Development is clearly moving on at a pace so it will be interesting to see how they perform at the next round at Oulton Park, a real rider’s circuit and one likely to create more hurdles for the team to get over.
Guintoli and Suzuki continue to struggle:
For the second meeting in a row, former World Superbike Champion Sylvain Guintoli failed to make any kind of impression and, if anything, found himself struggling more than what he had done at the opening round. For much of free practice, he was outside of the top 15, not where a rider of his calibre should be, so there are clearly issues that need resolving – and fast.
The Frenchman has also been dealing with personal issues that may be affecting his performances and it will be great for all concerned if the whole team’s fortunes can be turned around at the next round.
Ray’s a shining light:
Guintoli and the official Suzuki team may be struggling but there was a shining light for the manufacturer in the shape of 19-year old Bradley Ray.
Riding for the satellite Buildbase team, and having only his second BSB outing, Ray ran inside the top ten for the majority of free practice session only for a heavy crash late on preventing him from making an impression in qualifying. It meant he had to start the first race from a lowly, but undeserved, 19th on the grid but, after taking 12th in the first race, he ended the day with an excellent eighth to firmly show his potential.
Once a hope to make it into the Moto3 World Championship, Ray dominated the second half of the 2016 British Supersport Championship season and, arguably, only a crash at Assen prevented him from winning the title. He clearly has the pace to make further strides forward and if he can kerb his youthful exuberance and stay on the tarmac, he could well be one of the stars of BSB2017.
What was your highlight from round 2? Why not share your thoughts below!
Having started watching motorcycle races all over the world form childhood, Phil Wain has been a freelance motorcycle journalist for 15 years and is features writer for a number of publications including BikeSport News and Classic Racer, having also been a regular contributor to MCN and MCN Sport. He is PR officer for a number of teams and riders at both the British Superbike Championship and International road races, including Smiths Triumph, Quattro Plant Kawasaki, John McGuinness, Ryan Farquhar and Keith Amor. He is also heavily involved with the Isle of Man TT Races, writing official press releases and race reports as well as providing ITV4 with statistical information.