BSB Round 9 Silverstone
Wicked weather turned the British Superbike championship on its head at Silverstone. With nine riders in mathematical contention for the top-six spots and a place in the Showdown, round nine of the 2017 MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship was even more tense than usual.
The variety was more than apparent in Race 1, the Silverstone circuit almost bone-dry in some sections and soaking wet in others. Riders and teams worked frantically to decide what tyres to use for the race, some opting for wets while others, like Christian Iddon (Tyco BMW), opted for an intermediate and slick combination. Peter Hickman (Smiths Racing BMW) had a last-minute change of heart, wheeling his bike off the grid to swap for wets, resulting in a pit lane start.
A wall of spray accompanied the lights going out as the race got underway. It was a cautious start for Iddon, but his teammate, Andy Reid (Tyco BMW), was less cautious and set about trying to chase down the leaders. With conditions changing between wet and dry, riders’ times were hugely mixed with the likes of Iddon able to gain massive amounts of time in the dryer parts, but losing out significantly in the wet.
Both Iddon and Reid were up and fighting inside the top ten for most of the race, rookie Reid up as high as seventh before crashing at Club.
Iddon’s effort earned him sixth place and top S 1000 RR honours, Jakub Smrz (Lloyd & Jones PR Racing) was some 30 seconds back in eighth place. Despite the pit lane start, a determined Hickman wrestled his way up into ninth and virtually guaranteed himself a Showdown spot. There were also more points for Lee Jackson (Smiths Racing BMW) after his debut podium in the previous round.
Saturday’s excitement paled in comparison to Sunday’s pair of nail-biter races. Race two was again a difficult one for many of the riders - Lee Jackson going down early in the race in a multi-rider accident. He was unfortunately followed down by Andy Reid several laps later, the Tyco rider suffering a broken femur. Reid is now in hospital awaiting surgery to mend the injury, the young bike-racing tattoo artist having impressed the Tyco team immensely during his time with them.
This prompted a safety car and a red flag not long after due to a blown Yamaha engine. A seventh-place finish kept Iddon’s chance of a Showdown spot mathematically alive as he just managed to edge ahead of Hickman. Smrz could pick up yet more points in 13th place.
Rain returned once more for the final race of the day, a torrential downpour soaking the Silverstone circuit. Unlike the first race of the weekend, there was no doubt about tyre choice: wets all around. In perhaps the most attritional race in BSB history, just seven riders finished before the red flag was brought out to end the race five laps early. With riders unable to remount after a fall, it soon became apparent that staying upright would result in a very substantial haul of points.
Christian Iddon pushed his BMW S 1000 RR around Silverstone, rain beating down on him. It was tense to say the least, a number of falls putting him in a position to enter the Showdown. Then, with just seven laps to go, heartbreak for the Tyco squad as Iddon slipped off at Club – unable to remount to try to salvage some points.
The atrocious conditions did bring some delight for BMW Motorrad, Jakub Smrz securing his best result of the year with fifth place. Lee Jackson was again able to collect valuable points on the Smiths machine with seventh.
Hickman joined Iddon, and the majority of the field, in failing to finish. Both Iddon and Hickman were fortunately unharmed in their falls and now head directly to Oulton Park with winning on their minds.
Smiths Racing BMW
For Hickman, the goal is clear: take the 2017 MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship and upset the established order. 2017 has been Hickman’s most successful year to date with a plethora of podiums and several wins in both short circuit and road racing. His BMW S 1000 RR has proven to be the most versatile superbike on the grid, but anything can happen in the Showdown, which Hickman enters in fifth overall. His 509 points put him just 21 points shy of Shane Byrne with seven races to go.
While Iddon did not make the Showdown, he enters the last three rounds as a firm favourite for the Riders’ Cup. This prize is awarded to the highest placed non-Showdown rider each season. Of course, both Iddon and Hickman will be contesting race victories and podiums at all remaining races.
Silverstone was treated to an epic Pirelli National Superstock 1000 race, many calling it the best Stock 1000 race of the year! Chrissy Rouse seized the early lead on his BMW S 1000 RR and tried to escape, but a mistake at Vale ended his plan and dropped him down to third. A four-way brawl soon broke out as Michael Rutter and Josh Elliott, who had started down in 11th place on his Tyco BMW, joined Cooper and Rouse.
It all came down to the last lap, the BMW S 1000 RRs of Rouse and Elliott constantly changing places with Cooper as the trio put it all on the line for victory. Rouse pushed as hard as he could, folding the front as he attempted to clinch the lead. The incident also sent Elliott wide, who launched one last attack at the final corner on Cooper.
Elliott’s recovery was enough for second place, impressive given his 11th place grid spot. With Rouse failing to finish, Michael Rutter made it two BMWs on the podium with third place.
There’s not long left to wait as the BSB paddock heads directly for Oulton Park on the 15th to 17th of September.