Despite a bleak forecast, Knockhill British Superbikes served up fine weather and some great racing as Shane Byrne and Michael Laverty took a battling win apiece. Pole man Tommy Hill has now regained the series lead with a second and third after taking pole position at this unique Scottish hillside track.
The entire field opted for the softer (SC1) rear tyre and lap times remained consistent including a race one fastest lap from Tommy Hill; being logged on the 25th of 30 laps.
Practice on Saturday was the only Superbike session of the three day meeting necessitating the use of Pirelli Diablo ‘Rain’ tyres whilst light rain during Qualifying caused the organisers to pause before resuming on a dry track. Hill took his third pole of the year from Laverty and Josh Brookes on the narrow three man front row.
Both races started with menacing clouds overhead yet remained dry throughout and went to full distance, shocking many seasoned Knockhill racegoers!
The first race saw a holeshot from Laverty before being overhauled first by Byrne and then Hill in the early laps. A five machine freight-train then developed as the trio were joined by Brookes and Ian Lowry, before the latter crashed out on lap 14.
Byrne eventually eked out a lead to win by just over a second from Hill and they were joined on the podium by Laverty. Tommy Bridewell continued to impress on the Supersonic BMW as he took on and beat Noriyuki Haga to finish the day in sixth, within the prized ‘Showdown’ qualifying cut-off positions. (The series takes the top six riders at round nine, gives them all an equal 500 points tally and then adds podium credits as they enter the final three round ‘Showdown’.)
The second outing had Hill positioned in pole after taking the fastest lap in race one and he duly obtained the holeshot and there he stayed until he was demoted to third, by Laverty and Byrne. Laverty then took the fastest lap of the day which awarded him the Steve Hislop Memorial Trophy ; in honour of the ex-British Superbike Champion and local racing legend.
Laverty put himself right back into the title hunt at this event as he accrued more podium credits to sit in third in this tally; Hill -15, Byrne -13, Laverty -9, Brookes- 8. The Northern Ireland rider said; “This has been a great weekend for me and the team as I think we’ve shown we are title contenders. We made a small change after race one to the front end to take a bit of weight off and I think that worked well. I pushed hard at the beginning and then backed off a bit, watched my pitboards and tried to control it form the front. The tyres worked well and there was not too much wear from either end.”
Pirelli Racing Manager Jason Griffiths said, “We really expected the weather to play a major part this weekend. The majority of tracktime saw slick tyres used extensively. Knockhill is ‘easy’ on tyres with durability not being an issue. Tommy Hill setting the fastest lap of race one on lap 25 illustrated the consistent performance of the SC1 rear. Michael Laverty replicated his strong Snetterton performance and looks to have found his true form.”
British Superbike competitors have a choice of Pirelli Diablo Superbike ‘slicks’ – SC1 (softer) and SC2 (harder) tyres, fully treaded ‘Rain’ tyres plus intermediate variations.
MCE British Superbike Championship, Knockhill
Race one result:
1. Shane Byrne (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki)
2. Tommy Hill (Swan Yamaha) +1.199s
3. Michael Laverty (Samsung Honda) +1.551s
4. Josh Brookes (Tyco Suzuki) +8.494
5. Tommy Bridewell (Supersonic BMW) +10.160s
6. Noriyuki Haga (Swan Yamaha) +10.211s
7. Alastair Seeley (Tyco Suzuki) +11.085s
8. Graeme Gowland (WFR Honda) +12.835s
9. Alex Lowes (WFR Honda) +13.924s
10. Michael Rutter (MSS Bathams Kawasaki) +20.835s
Race two result:
1. Michael Laverty (Samsung Honda)
2. Shane Byrne (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki) +0.765s
3. Tommy Hill (Swan Yamaha) +3.091s
4. Josh Brookes (Tyco Suzuki) +4.119s
5. James Westmoreland (WFR Honda) +11.068s
6. Tommy Bridewell (Supersonic BMW) +11.227s
7. Alastair Seeley (Tyco Suzuki) +13.074s
8. Alex Lowes (WFR Honda) +15.389s
9. Graeme Gowland (WFR Honda) +16.658s
10. Ian Lowry (Padgetts Honda) +21.224s
MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship standings after Knockhill:
1. Tommy Hill (Swan Yamaha) 159
2. Shane Byrne (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki) 153
3. Josh Brookes (Tyco Suzuki) 150
4. Michael Laverty (Samsung Honda) 122
5. Ian Lowry (Padgetts Honda) 79
6. Tommy Bridewell (Supersonic BMW) 77
2012 MCE British Superbike Championship calendar:
188.8.131.52 April – Brands Hatch ‘Indy’
13.14.15 April – Thruxton
5.6.7 May – Oulton Park International
25.26.27 May – Snetterton 300
22.23.24 June – Knockhill
6.7.8 July – Oulton Park International
20.21.22 July – Brands Hatch GP
25.26.27 August – Cadwell Park
7.8.9 September – Donington Park GP
21.22.23 September – TT Circuit Assen (NL)
28.29.30 September – Silverstone GP
12.13.14 October – Brands Hatch GP
More information regarding Pirelli’s entire range of racing and road tyres can be found at www.pirelli.co.uk/moto