26 August 2014

Showdown spot confirmed for Kiyonari despite double DNF at Cadwell

Buildbase BMW's Ryuichi Kiyonari cemented his place in the 2014 MCE BSB Showdown yesterday at Cadwell Park despite failing to finish either race with a mechanical issue and crash a piece putting the Japanese rider out of race winning contention.
A certain championship contender for 2014
Photo: Buildbase BMW

Kiyonari's recent return to form aboard Stuart Hicken's Buildbase BMW S1000RR showed more promise over the practice and qualifying campaign of the 'Party in the Park' weekend, as the former triple BSB champion swapped top spot on the time sheets regularly with fellow triple champion Shane Byrne.

The BMW man grabbed a front row start for race one as he finished the Datatag Extreme Qualifying with a lap of the Lincolnshire circuit just over half a second off Byrne's record shattering time.

Monday's first race was delayed briefly due to the ever threatening dark clouds sprinkling a greasy layer on the lincolnshire circuit's asphalt. With the track mostly dry, along with the clouds ever looming, race one got underway with Kiyonari bursting his way through to the front of the pack early on, maintaining his lead for several laps before unexpectedly raising his arm and pulling to the side of the circuit along the Park 'Straight'. The championship contender pulled into the pits where it emerged that a 'faulty ignition unit and spark plug' ended his winning aspirations.

Kiyonari lined up in pole position on the sopping wet grid for race two after setting the fastest lap in race one but failed to capitalise on the advantage and dropped back behind the leaders Byrne and Hickman, battling with race one victor Bridewell for the final podium spot. Looking to stay in touch with the leading duo, Kiyonari highsided coming out of the Hairpin at the end of lap five, putting an end to his promising weekend.

The Japanese rider sits 3rd in the championship standings with his Showdown spot confirmed as the BSB series heads to Donington Park in two weeks time. “It was so wet and slippery out on track, I hit a puddle at the hairpin and next thing I am flying over the front of the bike, and I catch my foot which hurt – thankfully I was okay and walked away. I was frustrated to have to stop in the first race too. But I am in the Showdown for sure and I will be fine to ride at Donington Park.”

Hickman storms to debut BSB victory: "this win is certainly for Simon"

RAF Reserves Honda rider Peter Hickman took his and the team's debut victory in the second race of yesterday's 8th round of the 2014 MCE British Superbike Championship at a well and truly drenched Cadwell Park. 
Fastest TT/Ulster GP newcomer and first time BSB winner
Photo: MCE BSB

Hickman found himself without a ride at the beginning of the season but was brought into the Lee Hardy Racing squad after Simon Andrews tragically passed away following a crash at the NW200 in May. 

Riding on a wave of confidence following his outstanding debut at the Isle of Man TT this year, Hickman progressed on the Honda CBR1000RR since his first appearance with the team at Knockhill in June, breaking into the top 10 finishers for the first time at Thruxton before claiming a solid 7th place at Oulton Park the next time out. The Lincolnshire rider was set to put in another stellar performance this weekend at his home track.

In the mildly tricky conditions of Sunday's Datatag Extreme Qualifying, the fastest ever TT newcomer slammed his Honda into 5th place on the grid for Monday's first race, to which he claimed a very respectable 6th place finish at the time the race was red flagged due to the weather conditions with 4 laps still left on the board.

After the weather conditions failed to make a firm decision on what they were doing during the first outing, the heavens opened significantly in time for race two to get underway. Hickman swiftly splashed his way to the front of the pack battling for top spot with triple champion Shakey Byrne for the opening few laps, before breaking free of the tow rope on Byrne's ZX10R Kawasaki and sustaining a near 1.5 second gap for the remaining laps, pulling a very respectable wheelie across the finish line. 

Visibly ecstatic with his first win (and second time on a BSB podium after a third place finish at Thruxton in 2010) in Cadwell's make-shift Parc Fermé, Hickman dedicated his win to the late Simon Andrews. “It feels unbelievable to win and what a place to do it than at home! We are only a small team so to think of a podium finish is great, but to actually do it is unreal. I had nothing at the start of the season and it was such an unfortunate way to come into the races, so this win is certainly for Simon.”

Relief for Bridewell as first win guarantees ‘Showdown’ spot

Tommy Bridewell finally broke his winning duck in the British Superbike Championship with a finely judged ride in race one.

The 26-year old snatched his maiden victory from Shane Byrne by just five thousandths of a second after the first race at Cadwell Park was stopped five laps early due to worsening weather conditions.

Bridewell in action in tricky Cadwell conditions
In what would be only his second podium of 2014, his seventh year competing in the class, Bridewell went on to dedicate the win to brother Ollie, who lost his life at Mallory Park in 2007.

“It is fantastic for me to get this first win,” he said. “I have been trying so hard to push throughout my career with so much effort going into it and you have good and bad days and this is one of the good ones. I am feeling emotional about this victory and I want to dedicate it to my brother Ollie,” said a visibly emotional Bridewell.

The second race was a treacherous affair and with heavy rain falling, Bridewell stayed upright while others fell around him to bring it home for third place, confirming his place in the ‘Showdown’ in the process.

25 August 2014

A day of firsts at Cadwell as Bridewell and Hickman take debut BSB wins

In spite of the treacherous conditions it was a day to remember for Tommy Bridewell and Peter Hickman as they both scored debut wins in the British Superbike class at a sodden Cadwell Park.

Bridewell dedicated his win to brother Ollie
Photo: MCE BSB.com
Bridewell timed his move to the front to perfection in a damp race one as he led Shane Byrne across the line by 0.005secs on the tenth lap, only for the red flags to come out moments later as the rain started worsening.

Meanwhile Hickman showed a consummate level of cool to ease home ahead of a steady Byrne by 3.3 seconds in the second affair, which saw just 15 riders finish in awful conditions.

A poignant note was struck in the aftermath of each race as firstly a tearful Bridewell dedicated his maiden win to brother Ollie before the podium ceremony. Just hours later Hickman said, “This one’s for Simon,” referring to Simon Andrews, who started 2014 with the RAF Reserves Honda squad before his untimely death at the North West 200.

24 August 2014

Byrne breaks seven year old circuit record for Cadwell pole

Shane Byrne smashed Leon Haslam’s seven-year old circuit record to comfortably take pole position for the British Superbike double header at Cadwell Park.

Byrne qualified 0.9s ahead of his nearest rival
Picture: MCE BSB.com
Byrne set a staggering time of 1min 26.017s to lead Ryuichi Kiyonari by a full nine tenths of a second, with Tommy Bridewell a further 0.7s back in third, after a late lap gave him his first front row start of the season.

Milwuakee Yamaha team-mate Josh Brookes was not so lucky. The Australian will start from a hugely disappointing tenth place after machine troubles prevented him from setting a time in the final dash in Q3. Brookes’ team frantically worked on the bike and he exited pit lane with insufficient time to set a flying lap.

The writing was on the wall for Byrne's rivals as early as Q2, when he laid an early marker with an impressive 1 min 26.5secs effort - putting half a second between himself and the rest of the field.

21 August 2014

Mid-Season Review: Ben Luxton

JDF Racing's Ben Luxton has had a strong start to his 2014 campaign in the Thundersport Aprilia RRV 450 Series, as he leads the championship ahead of the second half of the season. The Stockport rider struggled in
Luxton in action at Rockingham
Photo: Image C/O Racing Lines Photography
2012 after he was plagued by mechanical issues, but after he joined JDF in 2013 he continued to improve his pace and put in a solid performance finishing the year with 13 podium finishes. He has now gone a step further and regularly finishes inside the top two, dominating the championship standings. In the next installment of our mid-season reviews, we take a look back over Luxton's season so far:

Luxton had a successful opening weekend of the season at Brands Hatch, as the Stockport rider finished every race in the top four on his JDF machine. Sunday races saw him finish in third and fourth position, starting his season off strongly. After sorting out the gear change issue the bike gave no problems in warm up with Ben posting second fastest time.

Twenty four RRV’s lined up on the grid for race one and it was going to be a tough race, however Luxton managed another podium in third place and posting what was to become the fasted time of the weekend by a 450 at 50.0925 secs. The final race of the day saw Luxton clinically move past a rider on each lap: "On the basis of the Mega laps system I moved from second place on the grid to fifth on the second row, so I knew I had to have a good start as the boys were really on it. By the last lap I'd got behind race leader Will Hodgson and I passed him at Graham Hill, but Will immediately passed me back going in to Clearways, it was a drag to the line with Will just keeping his nose in front, a great race!".

Luxton now sits in third position in the championship standings with 65 points, 30 points off championship leader Willl Hodgson.

Following his impressive weekend at the second round of the series at Donington Park, Ben left the third round venue at the fast Snetterton circuit with a 29 point lead in the championship.

Jeremy McWilliams to wildcard at British Grand Prix!

Who says age counts for everything in racing? At 50 years of age Jeremy McWilliams is set to make a sensational return to grand prix racing by wildcarding at the British Grand Prix.

McWilliams in his last grand prix appearance in 2007
Photo: MotoGP.com
McWilliams will make his 177th grand prix appearance - his first in seven and a half years -with the Brough Superior, making its debut in the Moto2 class.

The Bennetts-backed Brough effort will use an experimental carbon chassis in the intermediate category, and although Luke Mossey was initially penned in to ride the event, the team have changed riders at the eleventh hour.

McWilliams last competed in Grand Prix racing at the opening round of 2007 aboard the ill-fated Ilmor GP project but has continued to race at selected events in the years since.

MotoGP regulations stipulate that no rider over 50 years old can compete in the Moto2 class. McWilliams reached his half century four months ago and recently took to Twitter to joke, “That means I could probably ride the first couple of Moto2 races in 2015.”

19 August 2014

A Lap To Remember

By Terry Hibberd 

"If I didn't take the chance I would regret it for the rest of my life."

A quote from one of my heroes, Carl Fogarty.. And when I got a call from MCE Insurance last week it immediately sprung to mind. The Lancashire rider is known around the world when it comes to motorcycle racing, and I never will be but for two minutes at Oulton Park I lived my dream.
Getting on the pillion 

A couple of months ago I entered my details onto the insurance company’s website, putting myself into a draw to be within a chance of winning a lap in a safety car, a grid walk or even a pillion lap round the Cheshire circuit. In all honesty I’d forgot all about it; I was just looking forward to three days watching some top class racers blasting round the track and spending some quality time with my son and a friend.
There I was sat with the laptop out browsing Paddock Chatter and looking at the interviews leading up to the seventh round in the British Superbike Championship when the phone rang….

“Hello, you’ve been selected for a pillion lap around Oulton Park…. Is that something you’d still be interested in?” Said the voice down the phone.

Now for a split second I thought it was a joke, but then I recalled entering the draw for the ride….
“Yes, of course…”
After being instructed to bring my leathers, helmet, gloves and boots and being told I need to be under 15stone which I just managed and shorter than 6ft 7 and turn up to register for the lap at the MCE stand at 1pm on Saturday.. My mind went into overdrive. Now, I have done one track day in the past at Mallory Park, but as I had to ride my bike there and back in the same day AND I do like the skin in the state it’s in (after all I have grown into it considerably over the years) lets just say the laps were conservative in comparison to some.

I rode my trusty SV650S to Oulton on Friday, with my son on the back.. (He’d now racked up more pillion experience than me) And once there we watched Josh Brookes et al braking and accelerating harder than my mind would comprehend, backing it in and popping wheelies all over the place. The sun beamed down on us all day after a cracking day out and we went home around 4…

17 August 2014

Moto3 & Moto2 Brno round-up: Masbou takes electrifying career first win as Rabat dominates

Masbou takes Moto3 victory as Rins stopped racing a lap too soon, while Rabat dominated to win by a huge margin as showers arrived for Moto2

The Moto3 class had a thrilling Czech Republic Grand Prix around the Brno circuit with much of the field in contention for the entire race distance.
Rabat celebrates win number five                Photo:Marc VDS

The 25 strong pack eventually lessened to 17, with the top ten all in contention for the win when it came to the final lap.

Ongetta-Rivacold's Alexis Masbou made his final move at the right moment to power away on the straight after the final corner for his first win, also the first victory for a Frenchman since Zarco in 2011.

Enea Bastainini, racing with a cracked heel, was pushed into second for Junior Team Go&Fun, equalling the Italians best ever race finish in his rookie year.

British rider Danny Kent gave Husqvarna their first podium finish in Moto3 in third, his best finish of the season, illustrating perfectly the closeness of the race as he started the final lap from ninth after a wobble saw him lose pace.

Alex Marquez took fourth and moves into second in the championship standings, still led by Jack Miller who crossed the line next for fifth for Red Bull KTM Ajo.

Brad Binder had also led briefly in the rush for first but lost out after a hard move by Bastainini to finish top Mahindra rider in sixth for Ambrogio Racing. Miguel Oilvera was just behind, again for Mahindra in seventh.

SaxoPrint-RTG's Indy winner Efern Vazquez crossed the finish line eighth one place ahead of Alex Rins, who appeared to think the race had finished one lap earlier, punching the air as he crossed the line at the end of the penultimate lap to have to catch up and recover ninth.

Leader at the very first corner Isaac Vinales was tenth for Team Calvo, Romano Fenati eleventh for Sky Racing Team VR46 and Niklas Ajo 12th on the second of the Husqvarna entries.

Nico Antonelli failed to capitalise on his excellent qualifying in 13th for Junior Go & Fun. The final points went to the home riders – Calvo's Jakub Kornfeil in 14th and Karel Hanika 15th.

Moto2 was the opposite of the opening races frantic action with Tito Rabat easing away to dominate and win by an impressive margin of 3.274 seconds.

Pedrosa halts Marquez charge with brilliant Brno victory

It may have taken 276 laps over eleven races but Marc Marquez’s record equalling run finally came to an end as Dani Pedrosa powered to his first win of the 2014, edging out Jorge Lorenzo in an absorbing Moto Grand Prix encounter at Brno.

Pedrosa leads Lorenzo and the fading Marquez through the stadium
Picture: Honda Racing Corporation
In a surprising race that saw Marquez finish a premier class race off the podium for the first time, Valentino Rossi completed the podium, a comfortable five seconds clear of the reigning world champion.

Marquez stated Pedrosa would be his strongest challenger after taking his ninth pole position of the season on Saturday and he was eventually proved right. But with Lorenzo, fastest in the cooler morning warm up by 0.47 seconds, looking much like his old self the Honda man would have two riders to contend with as they broke clear of the 21-year old in the early stages.

Pedrosa got off the line well, passing Marquez on the exit of the first corner to sit fourth before making his way past the Ducatis of Andrea Iannone and Dovizioso, who led the first lap, with a minimum amount of fuss. Lorenzo’s strategy was to do the same. After starting well he ended lap one third and proceeded to pick the Ducatis off on lap two with a two-in-one move at turn three. By the time Pedrosa followed him through to second Lorenzo had established a 0.8 second lead.

For chunks of the race it seemed as though we were going to witness a repeat of Pedrosa and Lorenzo’s epic 2012 battle as the former reeled the latter in. But the number 26 was in no mood to scrap when he took the lead on lap six, and with Marquez rising to third after some early aggressive exchanges with Rossi and Iannone, he chose to build a gap up at the front.

Marquez was set to become the first rider in history to win the opening eleven races of the season, but this was one too far for the 21-year old whose challenge never materialised from third. By the tenth lap he was losing time on Lorenzo and Rossi was closing from fourth. Three laps later Rossi slashed Marquez’s advantage by a second and took the final podium spot at the downhill turn five, as Marquez out-braked himself, allowing the Italian through.

Lorenzo, emboldened by his warm-up pace, chose the softer option front tyre in a bid to tame the M1 over Brno’s bumps and it initially seemed grip was going away from him mid race, as Pedrosa held a commanding 1.7 second lead on lap 14.

But the Majorcan rallied. Five laps later it was down to 1.3 and with Pedrosa slowing the in the closing stages Lorenzo got the gap under one second with a lap to go. Had there been another circulation of the 3.3 mile circuit, the final result could have been different.

Marquez came home a full ten seconds behind his team-mate in fourth. Once Rossi came by he could be seen pushing to respond only for his front tyre to repeatedly skate across the surface. Andrea Iannone won out a tense battle with future team-mate Dovizioso to claim fifth, having re-taken the position on the last lap after the factory rider got by at turn three.

Stefan Bradl looked to have the pace to catch and pass the Ducati pair early on but he faded to a lonely seventh, ahead of Aleix Espargaro and Bradley Smith. The Englishman started brightly but was shuffled down the order on the first lap and was never able to gain on the Forward Yamaha ahead.

Team-mate Pol Espargaro crashed out of ninth position on lap seven, as did Michael Laverty. Cal Crutchlow’s wretched season continued when he came a cropper on the second lap, falling off his machine after running into the gravel trap.

There was positive news for Scott Redding, who emerged ahead of Ducati test rider Michele Pirro to finish eleventh and Leon Camier scored his first world championship point in the class with a fine 15th place finish.

But the race will be remembered for Pedrosa, who showed plenty of that old aggression that had been somewhat lacking from his riding this year. Just a week ago he finished a distant fourth at Indianapolis, unable to understand the lack of feeling he had with the RC213V. Here he scored his 26th MotoGP victory, taking him above Kevin Schwantz in the all-time premier class wins ranking.

"Overall I had a good experience at this track," he said. "When you are having fun you get more motivation. Today I was very focussed, it didn't work out as I thought. I took my plan and I'm very happy. It's a little difficult when Marc is winning all the time so I'm very happy."

Lorenzo was content with second, notching up his third consecutive podium. "Normally we don't have problems with the front,” he said in parc fermé. “Here was bumpy, we didn't have the perfect set up to absorb them. We chose the soft one [tyre] and it was ok. We finished the race good. No excuses though, I wasn't able to stay with Dani but that was a mistake as I just needed one more lap to catch him."

Rossi showed plenty of grit to take his seventh podium of the year, just a day after mangling his little finger in a practice fall. "I have the injury and I start from the 3rd row, which was my fault. But I'm very happy because this morning was very bad. I tried to ride but I had too much pain. The Clinica Mobile made a good setting with the finger! I'm happy, I finally get to beat Marquez for the first time and I want to be fast in Silverstone."

 Full results can be seen here.

16 August 2014

Dovizioso happy with front row start: "I did the lap time on my own"

Ducati Team rider Andrea Dovizioso will start from the first row for the second race in row, qualifying in second position just 0.129s behind Marquez on pole position.
Dovizioso knows he didn't use a tow this time
Photo: Ducati Team

Putting in consistent times across the weekend, the Italian found himself comfortably in Q2 at the Automotodrom Brno this afternoon. Working on his pace with the GP14, Dovizioso was able to build up a more comfortable feeling on the bike.

He waited until the end of the qualifying session to put in his best lap time, pushing fellow Ducati rider Andrea Iannone down a position on the grid, taking second position at the flag. However, this second position meant more to the Italian as he didn't use any other riders help to get to the line.

Setting a lap time of 1.55.714, Dovizoso was understandably satisfied with his pace.“I am very happy with this weekend because we got off to a good start right from the first Friday session. We have worked a lot with the medium tyre, which I think almost everyone will use tomorrow in the race, and we are competitive and much closer to the front guys. This second place is much better than the one at Indianapolis, because I did the lap time on my own. We have worked really well, I’ve got a good feeling with my GP14, and above all it was important to reduce the gap to the front. My qualifying was perfect and the lap time I did was really over the top! Tomorrow for sure it’ll be important to start up front, but I’m confident I can do a good race.”

Iannone aiming for top six from front row spot

Andrea Iannone rode to his second MotoGP front row start of 2014 with the third fastest time at Brno thanks to a tow from pole-sitter Marc Marquez.

The Italian was fifth fastest after the first set of laps in the 15-minute Q2 session but he cleverly tagged onto the back of Marquez’s RC213V when the pair exited the pits.

Iannone celebrates with the Pramac Ducati squad
Photo: Pramac Ducati
While Marquez improved on his best time, Iannone went even faster, posting a 1min 55.72secs time lap with two minutes remaining. The Pramac Ducati man was then determined to go even faster but ultimately ran wide on his final run and could only watch on as Marquez went faster.

Third place still represents his best qualifying performance since Mugello and Iannone goes into tomorrow’s race aiming for a top six result. Such was the competitiveness at the top, just 0.185 seconds separated Andrea Dovizioso’s second fastest time and Pol Espargaro in ninth.

Smith starts from “perfect platform” after fourth fastest time

Tech 3 Yamaha’s Bradley Smith built on his fine form this weekend by qualifying fourth for the Czech Republic MotoGP at Brno, his best qualifying performance since the season opener at Qatar.

Having signed a year extension during the week to stay with the French outfit for 2015, Smith posted a time of 1min 55.73secs – just four thousandths of a second from Andrea Iannone and a front row spot.

Smith left it late to post the fourth fastest time
Photo: Monster Tech 3 Yamaha
Speaking after qualifying Smith said, “I am very pleased with the qualifying result as it gives me the perfect platform for a strong result tomorrow. It’s the first time since the start of the season that we have been back to the level of performance that we had at Qatar and today I was able to score a positive grid position. The team did an excellent job and I must thank my technicians and Guy Coulon for their brilliant technical knowledge plus guidance.”

Smith left his best for last, posting his fastest time with a matter of seconds remaining in the 15-minute Q2 shoot-out. The 23-year old had impressed with his times on Saturday morning by finishing third in FP3.

Moto3 & Moto2 Brno Qualifying round-up : Marquez sneaks in late, Rabat wins battle for pole

The weather was a mixed bag of clear skies and showers at the windy Brno circuit for qualifying for Round eleven of the championship as the paddock arrived in the Czech Republic.

Moto3 got the worst of the weather as the showers affected the progress of the session repeatedly, though a crash for Philipp Oettl leaving the safety barrier in need of repair gave everyone a chance to regroup for a final assault on pole.

Alex Marquez took advantage and pole for the second time this season, but only after the weather had seen him seem momentarily lose concentration, leaving John McPhee in his path leading to a trip into the gravel for the Estrella Galicia rider.
        Rabat in Action                                    Photo:Marc VDS

Joining him on the front row are Isaac Vinales; a best for the Calvo rider; and unusually given his crash record this season Niccolo Antonelli, who's solid lapping was helped by being in the same group as Vinales and Marquez who timed their laps perfectly dragging each other around.

A solo run moved Alex Rins' Estrella Galicia bike into fourth. He is joined on row two by the Mahindra of Miguel Oliveira and a frustrated Jack Miller in sixth, who at one point lashed out hitting Francesco Bagnaia as he struggled with slow bikes sitting on the track.

Row three is filled by early qualifying leader Alexis Masbou for Ongetta-Rivacold, who looked set for pole when the rain was in control, and Efren Vazquez, winner last weekend in Indianapolis,who held eighth despite a late spill.

Enea Bastianini took ninth for Junior Team Go&Fun while Romano Fenati, who worked hard to improve position in the wet completes the grid top ten for Sky Racing Team VR46.

British riders John McPhee and Danny Kent both just missed out on the top ten in eleventh and twelfth respectively.

Jakub Kornfeil was the best of the home riders 13th, Karel Hanika starts 17th.

Moto2 was a hotly contested affair in the dry with Marc VDS rider Tito Rabat out at the close despite leading to maintain a lead as he pushed home for pole in Moto2.

Rossi: "It's very important for tomorrow that there is no fracture."

Movistar Yamaha's Valentino Rossi was able to bounce back from a terrifyingly quick FP4 crash to secure a third row start at the Autodromo Brno.
Rossi will start from the third row at Brno
Photo: Yamaha MotoGP

After getting off to a slow start this weekend, the Italian set the fastest lap of the weekend in the fourth practise session of the day in the Czech Republic and was sitting comfortably at the top of the timing screens.

However during the session, Rossi lost the front end of his YZR-M1 at turn 11. Carrying what looked like could have been a serious injury to his left hand, he went straight to the Clinica Mobile and was declared fit to ride with no fractures sustained, ending the session on top.

Heading out in Q2, Rossi sat down in 12th for the majority of the session before shooting up into fifth position. However he was soon to be pushed down by riders on flying laps behind the 35 year old, meaning he eventually ended in seventh position on the grid, 0.236s behind Marquez on pole.

Rossi explains his crash: “I was pushing a lot and my pace was fast but unfortunately when entering turn eleven I was a little bit too wide. I was braking hard, trying to enter the corner anyway but I lost the front and damaged my little finger. It’s very important for tomorrow that there is no fracture. It seems like there won’t be any problem. My finger is not broken; it’s just a little bit damaged. I think and hope that it won’t give me problems during the race. Using the soft front tyre for tomorrow is not an option for me. I think using the hard tyre on the front is better.”