BSB - Round 12 Brands Hatch
The final round of the 2017 MCE British Superbike Championship was host to two dramatic battles for the two major prizes on offer, a season best weekend allowing Tyco BMW’s Christian Iddon to cement himself as the 2017 Riders Cup Champion.
Since the British Superbike Championship adopted the Showdown system, riders outside the Showdown compete for seventh place overall and the Riders Cup. This year Iddon was joined by multiple race-winner James Ellison in battling it out for this prestigious award. Both needed a good weekend at Brands Hatch to clinch the crown with only a few points in it.
And a good weekend is exactly what Iddon had, a pre-round setup breakthrough meant the S 1000 RR was stronger than ever. Qualifying saw the Tyco BMW rider grab third on the grid, just behind title contenders Shane Byrne and Josh Brookes in what was one of the fastest Qualifying sessions of the season. Behind him Peter Hickman (Smiths Racing BMW) secured tenth place, his focus for the weekend was fixed firmly on confirming fourth in the championship.
With three races in a weekend, BSB Race One was held on Saturday and Iddon carried all his speed from Qualifying straight into the race. A characteristically strong start had the S 1000 RR rider immediately up and in contention for victory and he moved up into the lead on the second lap. His control of the race would be short lived as the red flag came out due to a multiple-rider crash at Clark Curve. Iddon was able to get the holeshot but was soon passed by local hero Byrne, the championship contender eventually escaping out the front and leaving Iddon to fend off Brookes.
Second place proved the setup changes were a success for Iddon and the Tyco team and added further momentum to Iddon’s push for the Riders Cup. Progress was also made for the Smiths Racing BMW pairing of Hickman and Lee Jackson who finished in seventh and eighth respectively. A 13th place for Jakub Smrz (Lloyd & Jones PR Racing BMW) meant all the S 1000 RR riders who made the restart were able to pick up points.
Iddon was even stronger on his Tyco BMW for the second race of the weekend on Sunday. It was again the Tyco rider and Byrne who charged ahead, Iddon staying in Byrne’s wake until the final lap as he waited for his chance to attack. A small mistake forced Iddon to ease off, but the Riders Cup was now within reach as Ellison took third. Consistency continued for Hickman as he took sixth place, another top-ten result in the final race of the year guaranteeing him fourth overall in the Championship. Smiths Racing BMW teammate Lee Jackson continued to collect points in the final round.
The pressure was then on for the entire BSB grid as they prepared for the final race of the day, and the year. Titles, reputations and jobs were on the line and the race didn’t disappoint as the overall title was decided in dramatic fashion as a brutal crash for Leon Haslam brought out the safety car and ended his challenge. As in the first race of the weekend, the brief break allowed the others to pounce on Iddon.
Despite a podium finish from Ellison, fifth place was enough for Iddon to lift the Riders Cup, dedicating it to the Tyco team for all their hard work throughout 2017. His strength in the final round of 2017 proves that 2018 will be a good year for Tyco, Iddon and the BMW S 1000 RR.
Hickman’s consistency throughout the season was rewarded with fourth overall in the championship, collecting a total of 578 points over an incredible season spanning both road and short circuit racing.
With Michael Rutter having already secured third in the Pirelli National Superstock 1000 Championship and spending the final weekend of the year on the BMW Superbike, the last stock race was all about what Josh Elliott (Tyco BMW) and Chrissy Rouse (Mission Racing BMW) could do.
A ninth-place grid position meant that Elliott was up against it for the 14-lap race, but his Tyco BMW machine was absolutely flying when the flag dropped. Cooper and Buchan resumed their season-long duel out the front as Elliott charged from behinds. Rouse had been sat comfortably in third for much of the race but Elliott could not be stopped and grabbed third right at the close of the race.