BSB Round 1 - Donington Park
Freezing temperatures and constant rain saw the first race of the year brought forward a day and presented riders across all classes with incredibly challenging conditions at Donington Park.
The opening two races of the year had originally been scheduled to both take place on Monday, but the ever-worsening forecast brought Race 1 forward to Sunday and in turn meant Qualifying was held ahead of schedule. Many riders fell afoul of the conditions with track temperatures below 10°C, including Christian Iddon (Tyco BMW) who crashed at Craner Curves. Working non-stop, the Tyco BMW team were able to repair Iddon’s stricken S 1000 RR in time for Race 1.
Peter Hickman (Smiths Racing BMW) started from eighth on the grid, leading the BMW charge. Tyco BMW returnee Michael Laverty (Tyco BMW) started well from 12th on the grid as a number of tight battles began to emerge up and down the field. Both Hickman and Laverty showed their experience as they carefully picked their way through the pack and up into the top ten, avoiding any of the mistakes which are so easily made in treacherous conditions. Hickman finished as he qualified in eighth place, while Laverty chased Leon Haslam as the race drew to a close, the Tyco rider crossing the line in tenth after a spirited final few laps.
Iddon managed to secure 14th place after his bike was rebuilt in a matter of hours. Sylvain Barrier (Smiths Racing BMW) scored a 19th place finish on his British Superbike debut, continuing to adapt to the BSB specification electronics. Despite constant overnight and morning rain, a dry line emerged in time for Race 2 of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship at Donington Park on Easter Monday. It was a thin line, but even so much of the field opted for slick tyres; bravery was the order of the day.
Living up to his ‘Lightning’ nickname, Christian Iddon’s S 1000 RR shot forward off the line as he made a lightning start and he soon found himself embedded inside the top ten. Steady progress resulted in sixth place, salvaging a decent haul of points from what had been a difficult weekend at times. His Tyco teammate Michael Laverty was once again inch-perfect in the strange conditions to score another tenth-place finish.
Hickman’s Smiths Racing BMW had been in the same group as Laverty until a last lap mistake saw the road-racing star slide off, unable to remount under British Superbike rules. His teammate Sylvain Barrier showed progress aboard the S 1000 RR, crossing the line in 17th place and just ahead of David Johnson (Gulf BMW) – wildcarding in preparation for the Isle of Man TT.
PIRELLI NATIONAL SUPERSTOCK 1000 RACE
PIRELLI NATIONAL SUPERSTOCK 1000 RACE
The opening weekend’s action brought with it two Pirelli National Superstock 1000 races, an endurance style 100-mile race and a second, more conventional, 13 lap race. Tyco BMW’s full-time Superstock 1000 rider Keith Farmer (Tyco BMW) was joined by Tyco BMW road racer Dan Kneen (Tyco BMW) for the weekend, Kneen running at Donington Park to increase his time on the bike before the road racing season begins.
Both featured heavily in the first race, Farmer taking second at the end with Kneen missing out on third by under a third of a second. As always, the S 1000 RR proved to be a dominant package in Superstock 1000 as the BMW Motorrad machine filled six of the top ten spots.
On Monday, running earlier in the day meant the Superstock class was not afforded the luxury of running dry tyres, the grid instead all opting for wets. It was a race of two halves, the first saw Michael Rutter (Bathams Racing) and Fraser Rogers (Mission Racing) pushing the leading duo of Andy Reid and Joe Collier hard as the circuit continued to dry. Their lead was slowly eaten away and the second half of the race saw Farmer charge, sliding up the inside of Rutter towards the end of the race to take third place. Farmer’s efforts have him sitting second in the championship.
Round 2 of the 2018 Bennetts British Superbike Championship is scheduled to take place on the 13 – 15 April at the Brands Hatch Indy circuit.