2019 British Superbike Championship
Round Seven – Thruxton
Images by Dave Yeomans
Thruxton saw an exciting weekend of racing conclude on Sunday, with Andrew Irwin claiming the opening Bennetts British Superbike race win of the weekend – his first win in the series – ahead of Scott Redding and Josh Brookes.
In Race 2 however, it was Josh Brookes who maintained his momentum at the high-speed Hampshire circuit to claim the victory for Be Wiser Ducati, regulating Irwin to second-place, while Peter Hickman completed the podium, with Aussie Jason O’Halloran just tenths of a second behind in fourth.
This marked O’Halloran’s second fourth place of the weekend in a solid result. Fellow Aussie Ben Currie was a DNF in Race 1, and came home in 20th in Race 2.
Taylor Mackenzie claimed the Superstock 1000 race win from Lee Jackson and Billy McConnell, with Richard Cooper launching into the lead from the start but finishing in fourth.
The Supersport class meanwhile saw Kyle Ryde take a narrow win in the second race of the weekend from Jack Kennedy with a tenth of a second between them, with Mason Law a distant third.
Bennetts British Superbike Race 1
At the start of Race 1 Peter Hickman launched off the front row to hit the front of the pack ahead of Andrew Irwin and Jason O’Halloran, but the Honda Racing rider hit the front of the field at the end of the opening lap.
His rival instantly hit back to retake the position on the next lap, but Andrew Irwin was back on the attack and he was back in the lead as the pack streamed across the line to start the third lap. O’Halloran though was in fourth place, but he put a move on Christian Iddon and then as the freight train of riders headed into Club on lap four, the Australian had been able to claim the lead for McAMS Yamaha.
As O’Halloran led, the pack had shuffled again and Iddon was then into second place ahead of Andrew Irwin, Hickman, Tommy Bridewell, Scott Redding, Danny Buchan and Josh Brookes on lap six.
A lap later and Andrew Irwin and Hickman were inseparable, but Redding was also on the move and he was into fifth on the leading Be Wiser Ducati. Meanwhile O’Halloran was holding off the chasing pack, but the lead group of nine riders were all in contention.
On lap ten Hickman moved back into the lead with Iddon then following him through on the brakes as the BMWs held first and second ahead of O’Halloran and Andrew Irwin. O’Halloran was ready to fight back, he made a move at Club a lap later and was back into second place.
The Smiths Racing BMW rider was trying to make a break from the pack, but his rivals could match his pace, while Iddon was dropping back and the Be Wiser Ducati pairing of Redding and Brookes were into fourth and fifth respectively with six laps remaining.
On lap 14 Andrew Irwin then went for a move to take the lead, pushing Hickman pack into second and into the clutches of Redding, O’Halloran and Brookes. Championship leader Redding made his move, lunging ahead of Hickman to move second with O’Halloran still pushing for his first podium of the season.
O’Halloran was back into second a lap later before hitting the front of the field on lap 16 as the final strategies were coming into play over the final five laps of the race. The McAMS Yamaha rider was then holding off the pack that had again changed with Andrew Irwin back in second ahead of Brookes and Redding.
With two laps remaining Andrew Irwin had scythed his way back to the front of the pack with O’Halloran then back in second with Brookes and Redding fighting for third, however the 2015 champion was hungry for a top three finish and he was up to second, but on the final lap Redding was ahead of his teammate again.
On the final run into Club Redding looked to try and make a move on Andrew Irwin for the lead as equally Brookes was looking to move ahead of his teammate, however the Honda rider had the edge to cross the line ahead of the Be Wiser Ducati pairing.
O’Halloran just missed out on his first podium finish of the season ahead of Hickman and Buchan, who had worked his way through the pack into sixth. Xavi Forés had another strong performance to hold on to sixth place in the standings ahead of Tommy Bridewell and Luke Mossey. Ryan Vickers was back inside the top ten in his rookie season for the RAF Regular & Reserve Kawasaki team.
Bennetts British Superbike Race 2
The second race had started with a battle for the lead between O’Halloran and Brookes with Hickman and race one winner Andrew Irwin in the mix, but on lap nine the race was red flagged as light rain began to fall.
When the race restarted, Hickman had the jump off the line to lead on the opening lap from Brookes, Andrew Irwin and Bridewell. On the second lap Brookes was coming under fire from a determined Honda Racing rider, but Dan Linfoot was also on the move and he was up into third ahead of Hickman.
However a crash for Glenn Irwin at the Club chicane caused another red flag when the stricken Tyco BMW was in the middle of the track and leaking fluid. The Racesafe marshals worked to clear the scene before the race was restarted again with an eight-lap sprint to the chequered flag.
On the final restart Brookes wasn’t taking any prisoners and he fired himself into the lead and then went to make a break, eventually crossing the line 4.276s ahead of the chasing pack to claim his fifth victory of the season for Be Wiser Ducati.
The battle for second ensued behind with Andrew Irwin and Hickman banging fairings in their quest to break into the top six in the standings. The pair were trading blows with Bridewell, Hickman, Iddon, O’Halloran and Redding also all in the mix.
However, a mistake on lap three saw Redding run on at Club and having not completed the re-join into the race correctly, he was issued a long lap penalty. The Be Wiser Ducati rider had three laps to complete the long lap as the race laps counted down, however he failed to do so, and despite crossing the line in a podium position, he was given the ride through equivalent penalty of 15 seconds. That dropped him down to 22nd and outside of the points.
Andrew Irwin meanwhile had his strongest weekend of his career claiming a second place in race two, ahead of Hickman who was third to take the first podium finish for the new BMW S1000 RR.
O’Halloran had completed his best performance of the season to finish in fourth place for McAMS Yamaha, holding off Bridewell in the closing stages.
Iddon equalled his best race result of the season in sixth place ahead of Xavi Forés, who just dropped outside of the top six in the points ahead of Cadwell Park. Buchan maintained his position inside the top six with an eighth place ahead of Luke Mossey and Linfoot who completed the top ten.
Andrew Irwin – 1-2
“Thruxton has probably been the best weekend of my life, it’s one that you never think will happen! I’ve had so much fun riding this weekend. We did loads of homework on Friday and Saturday and the Fireblade has been so good in all sessions, the boys did an awesome job! It is such an amazing feeling to win! I think I passed Jason going into the last lap or something like that and I felt like I had some tyre left. The pace was funny it went up and down a lot with whoever went to the lead. I just wanted to put a strong lap together on the last lap. It is a dream come true, it’s been a tough road to get here, the best road and I’ve learnt a lot along the way. Whenever I won a Supersport race, I only won one but my team-mate helped me along the way so this feels like my first proper win that I’ve ever got so I’m delighted and I can’t thank Honda enough for all their hard work.”
Josh Brookes – 3-1
“Tyre conservation is on your mind all weekend here at Thruxton so with the second race going from 20 laps to 13 laps and then down to eight laps, I could ride exactly how I wanted to and just went full speed as the tyre was always going to last eight laps.I just got my head down and went for it and whilst it may not have been as close as the first race, I enjoyed it a lot more. The field is so level now, every race is tough but Pirelli have done a great job with the tyres and they’re a little bit easier to manage around here now and although I still wanted more from myself, I was happy with the first race podium.I got pushed around a bit too much on track and needed to find a little bit more confidence, so the second race win has given me exactly what I needed and it’s great to be back on the top step.”
Jason O’Halloran – 4-4
“It was good to get some solid finishes. I am a little bit disappointed not to be on the podium as I felt we had really good pace in both races. We’ll take fourth today, the boys have done a good job. I’ve said it the last couple of rounds, if we get a full weekend without any issues in practice and qualifying and we’ll be back up the sharp end and that’s what we’ve done this weekend. Everybody has done a great job and it feels nice to have some momentum and build through the first two days of the weekend. I had a crash at Snetterton and to be honest I’ve had a bit of an issue with my left shoulder, so I have to thank my physio and the physio team at the track. We’ve got a couple of weeks off before Cadwell, so I’ll try and get a bit fitter and see if we can carry this momentum to Cadwell.”
Xavi Forés – 7-7
“To be honest I feel frustrated this weekend, I had good pace to be on the podium, but starting towards the back of the grid was hard to manage. The first few laps here are crazy and I had to adapt quite a bit to be strong in the first part of the race. The second race I did the third fastest lap, which means I am always improving lap-by-lap. Coming home with two seventh place finishes is good for me, especially at this kind of track where I have not ridden before and it’s not easy for me to defend my position. I feel if we can improve our qualification for the next races we will be so much more competitive. Good job from all the team, we had a great weekend and especially with Andrew’s win and podium, I feel we now have a really good package with the Fireblade.”