British Superbikes are finally back in action for 2019, and what an opening weekend it was. Read our full report now!
JG Speedfit Kawasaki on course for BSB Showdown
We’ve reached the halfway point now in the 2017 British Superbike Championship season and despite the stiff competition, JG Speedfit Kawasaki are the only team to have two riders currently in the top six ‘Showdown’ positions. It hasn’t all been plain sailing for Leon Haslam and Luke Mossey though so we spoke to team owner Pete Extance to get his take on the opening six rounds.
“There were some big changes to the team over the winter months as we took over the responsibility of being the official Kawasaki BSB team with the added responsibility of signing Leon, one of the favourites for the title in 2017. We also retained Luke and it was great to keep the ‘young gun’ after he qualified for the Showdown in 2016.”
“The team set about a rigorous testing schedule visiting three Spanish circuits in February and March and it went well for both riders with the form carrying through to the opening round at Donington Park. It’s Leon’s home circuit and he scored a fantastic double victory, the first for the team and with Luke taking second and fifth, we were first and second in the Championship so the season got off to a great start.”
“We carried the momentum into the next round on the Brands Hatch Indy circuit and this time it was Luke who shone the most as he scored not only his first ever BSB win but also the double. Leon backed his opening round up with two podiums to maintain our 1-2 positions in the table.”
“Going into the third round at Oulton Park, we were full of confidence and Leon took another win in race one with Luke in third to consolidate our championship standings. However, the second race was a bit of a turning point with Leon running into the back of James Ellison at high speed completely writing off the Kawasaki ZX-10R. Luke was relegated to fifth in the aftermath of the accident but left the Cheshire circuit leading the championship for the first time.”
“The team then headed north to Knockhill and things went from bad to worse for Leon as he suffered a huge highside on just the fourth lap of the opening free practice session which resulted in broken vertebrae, concussion and other injuries. It ruled him out completely for the rest of the weekend with the team unfortunately having another bike to rebuild.”
“For Luke, the weekend was full of promise after a superb performance in qualifying but although he didn’t manage to win either race, second and fourth meant he held onto the title lead.”
“The team then returned south for round five at Snetterton with Leon only being passed fit to ride on the Thursday evening but clearly still suffering the after effects of his huge Knockhill crash. He put in a sterling job in qualifying and salvaged fourth and eighth respectively in the two races as he battled through the pain barrier.”
“Luke, meanwhile, had an unfortunate crash in morning warm-up which snapped the frame clean in two and put extra pressure on the technicians to have the bike ready for the first race. The bike was completely rebuilt but Luke suffered brake issues and had to pull in for his first DNF of the season. The second race was also difficult with further brake problems but he battled hard for tenth place.”
It’s been an up and down first few rounds but we’re in a strong championship position although we’re now seeing how strong Shane Byrne and the Ducati are. They had a slow start to the season but we knew they’d come back strongly which is exactly what’s happened. He’s taken full advantage of other riders’ misfortune but both the JG Speedfit riders are battling hard and with both of them in the top three at present, we’re right in the mix.”
“We brought in Jack Valentine as team manager over the winter which has taken pressure off me in the garage and he’s more involved in the technical aspects of the team and working with the logistics of a race weekend. It’s allowed me to concentrate on looking after the hospitality and guests which is what I’m probably more suited to and something I enjoy.”
“Whilst the team has gone through big changes, including a new title sponsor, new team manager and more staff, we’ve retained the key aspects of the team and we’re still very much a family-run team, something which can be seen in the hospitality and social side of things.”
“We’re at the half way point now and have got some strong circuits coming up that suit us, the bike and the riders with Thruxton especially a big meeting as it’s our home round. Our intention is to keep ticking over as we are with both riders picking up podium credits and staying safely in the top six Showdown positions.”
“The way the series works, with the rules that are in place, it can sometimes benefit you and sometimes work against you and ultimately it won’t be until round 10 onwards that the Championship is fought out.”