Following a three week break, the MCE British Superbike Championship returns to action this weekend for the second visit of the year to the picturesque Oulton Park circuit, where weather could play a part in proceedings

The MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship is set for the first ‘triple-header’ of the season as the paddock returns to Oulton Park in Cheshire for the second time this season. The battle for the all-important top six will be heating up with just seven races left until the ‘Showdown’.

Pirelli Overview

Warm and sunny weather greeted the paddock for both races on the Championship’s first visit to Oulton Park back in May, however the current forecast shows both Saturday and Sunday experiencing rain showers, meaning the Pirelli Diablo Rain tyre may get its first racing outing of the season.

This weekend also sees races from the both the Pirelli National Superstock 1000 and 600 Championships and the Ducati TriOptions 848 Challenge. Every competitor will use the Diablo Supercorsa SC V2 control tyre.

Pirelli will again be hosting motorcycle clubs at Oulton Park giving a unique insight into the BSB paddock, tyre technology and supplying full hospitality, with members attending from the Riders Association of Triumph (RAT), Kawasaki Riders Club and the Suzuki Owners Club.

Race Preview

The battle for the all-important top six Showdown positions is heating up as the main season begins to draw to a close. The top three remain clear as reigning Champion Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne continues to lead the way ahead of young Alex Lowes and 2013 Isle of Man TT star Josh Brookes, who enjoyed his first win of the year at the previous round at Brands Hatch and heads to Oulton Park having recently secured a podium at the prestigious Suzuka 8-hour race.

Back in May, Alex Lowes secured victory in the opening race in dominating fashion while it was Shakey who took the second race, bouncing back from an uncharacteristic crash in the opening race.

The Milwaukee Yamaha of James Ellison sits in fourth, just ten points ahead of Ryuichi Kiyonari who in turn is ten points ahead of the BMW’s of Kirkham and Westmoreland, both level pegging on 100 points. Chris Walker, PJ Jacobson and Keith Farmer all remain in striking distance and with Kiyo having sustained a broken rib at the Suzuka 8-hour and wet weather looking likely, the top six remains an open battle.

Two fairing-bashing races from the Supersport Championship enthralled fans at Brands Hatch as the two title protagonists Stuart Easton and Alastair Seeley traded wins, the latter securing victory by just 0.004s. Both riders took a win and a second place back here in May.

Mirroring the world of football there has been several rider moves during the past few weeks as Tommy Bridewell signed for Halsall Racing, Danny Buchan shifted gear to Supersport with the Seton Tuning equipe in turn giving Barry Burrell a chance to rejoin BSB in the Quattro Kawasaki garage.

Joining the regular competitors in the Superbike class will be the QBSD Motorsport team, who are stepping up to the premier class for the rest of the season, having been competing in the Pirelli National Superstock 1000 Championship.

Pirelli View

Pirelli Racing Manager Jason Griffiths commented, “Oulton Park is always one of the most popular rounds for riders and fans with many corners needing ‘full commitment’. The Championship is really beginning to heat up, and with three races this weekend, anything can happen.

Back in May, both Lowes and Byrne used the softer SC1 option rear tyre to take a victory apiece and we expect that all the riders will once again choose this tyre if conditions remain dry. The weather forecast looks unsettled. Oulton Park is renowned for localised showers of rain. The track tends to dry quickly and we’ve experienced these difficult conditions at Oulton before which test the durability of the Diablo Rain.”

View from behind the screen

Alex Lowes goes into Oulton Park sitting second in the overall standings and with the knowledge that he took the fastest laps and a victory at the circuit back in May.

Lowes commented, “Oulton is definitely a track I enjoy, although I’ve not gone particularly well there in terms of results until this year.

My Honda worked really well and I felt confident all weekend. I think we can challenge for wins and I’d be disappointed if I didn’t get at least one with three races to aim for!

Oulton is pretty good on tyres to be honest especially at the rear, the place is quite smooth. There is the potential to use the harder front so we’ll experiment in practice especially as it will probably be hotter than when we there in May. Mind you it could rain and even though Oulton is tricky with the changes of camber, I actually don’t mind racing there when it’s wet.

For me the key to a good lap is the middle sector; from the Shell Oils hairpin to Clay Hill. There are some good passing places and its quite technical, so you can lose and gain a lot of time, you have to try and remain smooth throughout.

There’s a lot of talk about the Showdown at this point in the year but to be honest I attack each race the same and I want to beat the other guys, we’re racers and that’s what it’s all about!”

2013 Oulton Park Round 3 Flashback:

Race one result:
1.     Alex Lowes (Samsung Honda)
2.     James Ellison (Milwaukee Yamaha) +3.348s
3.     Josh Brookes (Tyco Suzuki) +5.460s
4.     Jon Kirkham (Buildbase BMW) +6.655s
5.     Tommy Bridewell (Bathams Honda) +6.808s
6.     Peter Hickman (Lloyds British GBmoto Honda) +20.568s
7.     James Westmoreland (Buildbase BMW) +25.551s
8.     PJ Jacobsen (Tyco Suzuki) +28.302s
9.     Chris Walker (Quattro Plant Bournemouth Kawasaki) +28.862s
10.   Tristan Palmer (Lloyds British GBmoto Honda) +30.306s

Race two result:
1.    Shane Byrne (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki)
2.    Josh Brookes (Tyco Suzuki) +0.788s
3.    Alex Lowes (Samsung Honda) +0.956s
4.    Jon Kirkham (Buildbase BMW) +11.927s
5.    Tommy Bridewell (Bathams Honda) +12.066s
6.    Chris Walker (Quattro Plant Bournemouth Kawasaki) +28.214s
7.    Howie Mainwaring (MH Kawasaki) +37.373s
8.    Keith Farmer (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki) +37.443s
9.    Tristan Palmer (Lloyds British GBmoto Honda) +37.688s
10.  Josh Waters (Milwaukee Yamaha) +37.937s

Championship standings after Brands Hatch:

1.    Shane Byrne (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki) 232 (26 podium credits)
2.    Alex Lowes (Samsung Honda) 211 (19)
3.    Josh Brookes (Tyco Suzuki) 210 (16)
4.    James Ellison (Milwaukee Yamaha) 120 (8)
5.    Ryuichi Kiyonari (Samsung Honda) 110 (3)
6.    Jon Kirkham (Buildbase BMW) 100 (0)