Jones on fire in Eire
Craig Jones confirmed his reputation as one of the UK’s most exciting young motorcycle racing talents with yet another stunning ride aboard the Triumph ValMoto Daytona 600. The 18-year-old rider of the number 18 machine took no prisoners as he charged to a sensational fourth place finish at Mondello Park. This translated to sixth place on adjusted times when he was handed a ten-second penalty for a jump start, but did nothing to tarnish the brilliance of his performance.
Determination to succeed is not something that Jones could ever be accused of lacking. Indeed, his eagerness to mix it up with Britain’s best Supersport riders was plain to see on the start line when he dropped the clutch a fraction of a second before the lights went green. Well aware that he had jumped the gun, Jones immediately slammed on the brakes and was just able to get back on the gas in time for the off. This minor infraction effectively killed his momentum and added ten seconds to his race time by the end of the first lap, relegating him to 23rd on the timing screens. It also triggered a remarkable comeback that that saw him rocket back up to sixth place during the course of the race.
Jones remained utterly focussed and responded in the only way he knows how – by riding the Triumph ValMoto Daytona 600 at 100%. And once he had muscled his bike into fourth place on the road as the pack hustled around the first corner, he never looked back.
Tom Sykes stole fifth place on lap three and went on to finish the race second to Stuart Easton, after championship leader Karl Harris crashed out of contention. Local rider Michael Laverty claimed the final podium position with John Crockford taking fourth on adjusted times. However, after maintaining a lightening quick pace throughout the race, Jones signed off with a spectacular flourish when he emphatically dispatched the Honda rider by getting a phenomenal drive out of the final corner allowed him to make an exquisite pass right before the finish line.
“I knew that I’d been a bit quick off the mark,” said Jones. “There was no way I was going to get away with that one and I probably would have been better off just going. In the end I got a terrible start and was just wondering whether they were going to tell me about the penalty on my pit board because it said P4, P5 and then P0. They did, but I just decided to forget about where I might be on adjusted times and get on with the race on the road – I made a mistake but there’s no point crying over what could have been. Sixth is still a great result in this company and fourth on the road is incredible. The Triumph ValMoto Daytona 600 is really starting to show its potential now and I can’t wait for the next round.”
Unfortunately, Jim Moodie was unable to muster the same sort of form. The hugely talented Hamilton rider struggled to overcome the combination of a 12th-placed start and a suspect tyre, completing the 16-lap race in 15th place.
“It’s really unlucky and very frustrating because everything was going so well here,” said Moodie. “I’m feeling much more comfortable on the Triumph ValMoto Daytona now and Craig is giving it everything to show what the bikes are capable of. I was pretty sure that I was going to be able to do the same thing today, but I found it really hard to get past people and find the space to put in the sort of lap times that I needed to get up there with him.”
Triumph ValMoto is next in action at round ten of the British Supersport Championship at Oulton Park on 8-10 August
Last lap error leaves Harris 11th
Karl Harris could only finish 11th in the eighth round of the British Supersport Championship after a last lap error saw him run off the track while running in second place. Stuart Easton won comfortably from Tom Sykes and Michael Laverty, but Harris had played his part in one of the closest and most entertaining races of the season.
After getting a good start off the front row of the grid, Harris took the lead on his CBR600RR into the appropriately named Honda Corner, but lost out to Laverty a couple of turns later. The Irishman pulled out a small advantage from Harris and Easton before they narrowed the gap by mid-race distance.
Harris eased into the lead at Holiday in Ireland Corner on lap ten, but was overtaken by Easton on the next lap of the 2.27-mile Kildare circuit. Easton then put in the fastest lap of the race to pull out a winning advantage and leave Harris disputing the final two podium positions with Laverty and Sykes.
Then disaster struck for the championship leader on the last lap. Sykes attempted to pass the Honda Racing star and they touched on the approach to the next corner. It came too quickly for Harris – he ran off the track and slid off into the gravel trap. Fortunately, he was able to rejoin the race and brought the CBR600RR home in 11th position. It was the first time this year that Harris had finished outside the top two.
Karl Harris: “I had a few problems during the race but was happy with my position going on to the last lap. Sykes was putting me under a lot of pressure and I made a mistake after misjudging my braking point for the next corner.
“We didn’t have as much time as we would have liked in practice to select a race tyre due to the mixed weather conditions. I think that I selected the wrong rear and that left me with a lot of hard work to do in the closing stages and in a vulnerable position on the last lap in particular.”
British Supersport Championship
Race result (16 laps):
- S. Easton (Ducati) 28:01.740;
- T. Sykes (Yamaha) +5.134;
- M. Laverty (Honda) +5.979;
- J. Crockford (Honda) +17.409;
- S. Andrews (Yamaha) +18.353;
- C. Jones (Triumph) +27.309;
- K. Murphy (Kawasaki) +30.868;
- R. Frost (Kawasaki) +33.569;
- A. Coates (Honda) +33.754;
- J. Robinson (Yamaha) +34.394;
- K. Harris (Honda Racing) +38.585
Fastest lap: Easton 1:44.304 (lap 12) – new lap record
Points (after round eight):
- Harris 165;
- Easton 125;
- Andrews 83;
- Laverty 73;
- D. Thomas (Honda) 71;
- Crockford 71;
- Coates 69;
- L. Haslam (Ducati) 60;
- Sykes 59;
- Jones 57
Plater sixth in Mondello debut
Steve Plater and Mark Heckles finished sixth and 11th respectively in the inaugural British Superbike event at Mondello Park. The Honda Racing team-mates made good starts to the 17-lap race around the 2.27-mile Kildare circuit and scored some invaluable points towards their overall championship standings.
Eighth at the end of the first lap, Plater was unable to hold on to the leading pack of six riders in the early stages. However, he was able to hold his position behind eventual race winner John Reynolds by consistently recording the same times as the riders in front of him. He overcame Scott Smart to take seventh and then was elevated up to the top six when Gary Mason ran off the track in the closing stages of an exciting race.
By his own admission, Heckles is still not fully fit following his heavy crash at Brands Hatch last month and so he won his own personal battle to complete the race in his Mondello Park debut.
Steve Plater: “I was happy with my start and my overall performance in the race. It’s the same old story, I can run at the same pace as the leaders but need to qualify better so that I can get away with them in the opening laps. The VTR1000 SP-2 was superb throughout the whole race and I’m confident that I can maintain a similar pace in the next leg.”
Mark Heckles: “I’m really sore after that race and I must admit that I struggled with my physical fitness over full race distance. It’s a tight and twisty track, so you’ve got to change direction quite a lot and that hurts my back muscles. It was hard work to hang on to the bike for 17 laps.”
British Superbike Championship
Race one result (17 laps):
- J. Reynolds (Suzuki) 29:04.650;
- S. Emmett (Ducati) +1.059;
- Y. Kagayama (Suzuki) +2.084;
- G. Richards (Kawasaki) +4.336;
- M. Rutter (Ducati) +5.786;
- S. Plater (Honda Racing) +6.083;
- G. Mason (Yamaha) +11.266;
- S. Smart (Kawasaki) +14.481;
- S. Byrne (Ducati) +19.716;
- L. Haslam (Ducati) +23.567;
- M. Heckles (Honda Racing) +29.615
Fastest lap: Emmett 1:41.783 (lap 4)
REYNOLDS BSB DOUBLE
Team Suzuki Press Office – July 20th.Team Rizla Suzuki’s John Reynolds took his GSX
R1000 to two outstanding wins in today’s British Superbike round at Mondello Park In Ireland.
Rizla Suzuki team mate Yukio Kagayama took third place in the first race and lead the second right up until the penultimate lap, when Reynolds squeezed by. Yukio looked certain to make it a repeat double Suzuki rostrum, but high-sided on the last lap without injury.
Plater sixth again at Mondello
Honda Racing’s Steve Plater finished the second leg in sixth position at Mondello Park in one of the most closely fought races of the 2003 British Superbike Championship. There was a freight train of ten riders battling for the top positions in the early stages of the 18-lap race, with Mark Heckles leading the chasing group on the second Honda Racing VTR1000 SP-2 – he eventually finished ninth.
A mistake by Sean Emmett enabled John Reynolds and Yukio Kagayama to make a break from their pursuers, so that left Plater in the shake-up for the final podium positions in the latter half of the race. With Scott Smart and Kagayama crashing out in the closing stages, Plater was able to repeat his first race performance of a top six finish.
Although the 30-year-old Lincolnshire rider has slipped to sixth in the championship points table overall, he is only four points behind fourth-placed Glen Richards with four rounds (eight races) still to run in the series.
Steve Plater: “My lap times were excellent throughout the race and I’m really pleased with my performance. It’s just a shame that I didn’t get as good a start as I did in the first race. It’s really difficult to overtake other riders around this circuit and my set-up just didn’t allow me to make as much progress as I would have liked. The title race has closed right up now and I’m already looking forward to the next round at Oulton Park.”
Mark Heckles: “I had the same problems with my fitness that I had in race one. I’ve just had to grit my teeth and ride to the best of my ability under the most challenging of circumstances. I’d like to thank the Honda Racing team for all their patience and hard work this weekend. I hope to get some rest before the next round at my home circuit, which I’m looking forward to immensely.”
Race two result (18 laps):
- J. Reynolds (Suzuki) 30:43.350;
- S. Byrne (Ducati) +7.300;
- G. Richards (Kawasaki) +7.877;
- G. Mason (Yamaha) +8.041;
- M. Rutter (Ducati) +8.888;
- S. Plater (Honda Racing) +8.894;
- L. Haslam (Ducati) +15.495;
- S. Emmett (Ducati) +31.519;
- M. Heckles (Honda Racing) +35.494;
- P. Young (Yamaha) +41.584
Fastest lap: Reynolds 1:41.234 (lap 9) – new lap record
Points (after round 16):
- Byrne 352;
- Reynolds 217;
- Rutter 203;
- Richards 170;
- Kagayama 169;
- Plater 166;
- Mason 148;
- S. Hislop (Yamaha) 122;
- Emmett 116;
- Smart 100;
- Heckles 59
MONSTERMOB DUCATI BRITISH SUPERBIKE TEAM
Round 8 – 2003 British Superbike Championship powered by HALLS, Mondello Park, Ireland
Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th July 2003
HEART-BRAKE FOR SHAKEY
MonsterMob Ducati rider Shane Byrne relinquished his near perfect record in the British Superbike Championship with a ninth place finish in race one before getting back to business with another rostrum finish in race two in front of a record crowd at Mondello Park, Co Kildare today.
A first corner collision bent the 26 year old Kent rider’s brake lever and ended the challenge to maintain his 100% rostrum record in the opening leg, meaning he had to settle for 9th at the flag. However, ‘Shakey’ bounced back to take 2ndplace in an incident packed race two to keep his Championship challenge back on course.
“I couldn’t believe it when I clipped the back of Scott Smart and bent the brake lever. I thought I’d be lucky to finish and I ended up cooking the rear tyre as I tried to make up time. However, I’m more than happy with second in race two and hope to get winning again at Oulton.” said Byrne who still leads the Championship by 135 points after double winner John Reynolds closed the gap.
But the team did taste the victor’s champagne in the form of defending Supersport Champion Stuart Easton who put in a late charge to seal his second win of the season.
The 19 year old from Hawick made his move with five laps to go to clinch victory and with main rival Karl Harris scoring lowly, he reduced the gap to 40 points.
“It’s the little bit of luck I needed and hopefully I can capitalise from here. The bike and tyres worked well and I’m very happy with the result.” said the Scot.
Team owner Paul Bird remained optimistic despite losing a few points in the Superbike Championship chase but was delighted with Easton’s win.
“We were due some bad luck and if that’s it then I’ll settle for it. It’s been a tough weekend but I’m happy with the outcome and look forward to the next round.”
BYRNE TIMES IT TO PERFECTION
Championship leader Shane Byrne left it until the dying seconds of qualifying to post his fourth pole position of the series at Mondello Park, Co Kildare today.
The MonsterMob Ducati ace was languishing down the order but with just three seconds of Dunlop Super 12 to go, Byrne shot to the top with a scintilating lap and in doing so gave himself best chance of increasing his series lead in tomorrow’s two races. “I don’t know where I got that from but I’m happy. I went mental on the out lap and just managed to start my fast lap as the flag came out. Fantastic. I’m really up for tomorrow.” said Byrne.
Also setting pole position was MonsterMob Supersport rider Stuart Easton who claimed his third pole aboard the 748 Ducati. The 19 year old headed Karl Harris (Honda), Tom Sykes (Yamaha) and Michael Laverty (Honda) to start Sunday’s race as race favourite. “That’s the first part accomplished. Now I need to convert that into a win” said Easton.
- Shane Byrne (MonsterMob Ducati) 1m41.135s 77.47mph
- Scott Smart (Kawasaki) 1m41.191s 77.43mph
- Glen Richards (Kawasaki) 1m41.294s 77.35mph
- Gary Mason (Yamaha) 1m41.386s 77.28mph
- John Reynolds (Suzuki) 1m41.392s 77.28mph
- Sean Emmett (Ducati) 1m41.587s 77.13mph
- Michael Rutter (Ducati) 1m41.759s 77.00mph
- Yukio Kagayama (Suzuki) 1m42.242s 76.63mph
- Leon Haslam (Ducati) 1m42.351s 76.55mph
- Mark Heckles (Honda) 1m43.077s 76.01mph
- Steve Plater (Honda) 1m43.608s 75.62mph
- Dennis Hobbs (Suzuki) 1m45.558s 74.23mph
- Stuart Easton (MonsterMob Ducati) 1m43.828s
- Karl Harris (Honda) 1m44.417s
- Tom Sykes (Yamaha) 1m44.733s
- Michael Laverty (Honda) 1m44.878s
- Craig Jones (Triumph) 1m45.263s
- John Crockford (Honda) 1m45.287s
- Simon Andrews (Yamaha) 1m45.428s
- Ryan Rainey (Honda) 1m45.495s
- Kieran Murphy (Kawasaki) 1m45.720s
- Jamie Robinson (Yamaha) 1m45.843s
Jones heads up the second row
Craig Jones’ point blank refusal to allow development teething troubles to spoil a good ride has placed him at the head of the second row for Sunday’s British Supersport Championship race at Mondello Park. His team-mate Jim Moodie, on the other hand, opted to spend the majority of the two sessions searching for better settings, and this was reflected in his subsequent starting position of 12th. He had been on target to follow Jones into the upper reaches of the grid, but was unable to make the most of his stickiest Pirelli rubber due to a combination of unfortunate events.
Jones wasted no time in getting down to business. By the time rain fell on the third lap of the first session, the 18-year-old from Northwich had already recorded a time that was good for third place on the provisional grid. The weather cleared for afternoon qualifying and Jones responded by knocking over two seconds off his previous best, making him the second fastest rider on track. The final few laps had the majority of riders pitting for a switch to softer tyres and the pace picked up substantially. Just before the heavens opened Stuart Easton snatched pole with an outrageously quick lap time of 1:43.828.
“I reckon that was my best qualifying performance so far,” said Jones. “Obviously, it was amazing to get pole at Knockhill, but today I was running with the championship leaders in the dry. I was a little bit unlucky at the end of the session because I was on a real fast lap until another rider who’d gone across the grass popped back onto the track right in front of me and messed it up. I would’ve had enough time to get another couple of laps in but then it started to rain. The front row would have been nice, but I think I can definitely do something with a fifth place start.”
Jim Moodie’s final grid position definitely went against the run of play. After very quickly getting to grips with the Mondello Park circuit, he had been steadily improving his lap times only to have his hard work scuppered in the dying moments of qualifying.
“I don’t like being on the third row,” said Moodie. “It’s not the end of the world, but it is a little annoying because things were coming together pretty well until I came in for a softer rear tyre. I went back out and was on a flier, but a couple of crashes kicked off around me and the tyre got wasted. I came back in for another, but just as I headed off down pit lane, it started to spot with rain and that was that. Hopefully I’ll get a little bit of luck tomorrow and make up a few of those places.”
Harris qualifies second at Mondello
Championship leader Karl Harris finished second behind Stuart Easton in the final qualifying session for the eighth round of the British Supersport Championship at Mondello Park. The leading four riders were unusually covered by more than a second with Tom Sykes and Michael Laverty completing the front row of the grid.
However, all the attention will be on Karl Harris and Stuart Easton who will undoubtedly start as favourites for the 20-lap race around the 2.27-mile Kildare circuit. Honda Racing’s Harris has a 60-point advantage over Easton, but he is unlikely to start the race with his tactical head to the fore.
“I’ll be trying hard for another win – that’s the only way to approach any race,” said the 23-year-old Yorkshireman, with four wins to his name already this season. “There’s no point in worrying about the championship at this stage. I’ve got to focus on winning as many races as I can and the points will take care of themselves.
“I’m fairly happy with second place on the grid, but it’s a bit of a shame that I didn’t get another crack at pole. I’m getting a good feel for the circuit and have had no problems whatsoever with the Honda Racing CBR600RR. We got caught out when it started to rain at the end of the session which prevented me from having a go at Stuart’s time. Mind you, second on the grid is fair enough and I’m looking forward to my first race at Mondello.”
British Supersport Championship
1. S. Easton (Ducati) 1:43.828;
2. K. Harris (Honda Racing) +0.589;
3. T. Sykes (Yamaha) +0.905;
4. M. Laverty (Honda) +1.050;
5. C. Jones (Triumph) +1.435;
6. J. Crockford (Honda) +1.459;
7. S. Andrews (Yamaha) +1.600;
8. R. Rainey (Honda) +1.667;
9. K. Murphy (Kawasaki) +1.892;
10. J. Robinson (Yamaha) +2.015;
11. D. Thomas (Honda) +2.148;
12. J. Moodie (Triumph) +2.446;
13. M. Burr (Yamaha) +2.467;
14. A. Coates (Honda) +2.721;
15. K. Ashkenazi (Yamaha) +2.787;
16. C. McLelland (Suzuki) +2.869
Honda Racing duo on third row
Honda Racing’s Mark Heckles proved that he is on his way back to full fitness by qualifying ahead of his team-mate Steve Plater at Mondello Park. With championship leader Shane Byrne snatching pole position from surprise package Scott Smart in the dying seconds of the Dunlop Super 12 qualifying session, the Honda Racing duo will line up on the third row of the grid in tomorrow’s two British Superbike Championship races.
Heckles recorded the tenth fastest time in the final session – over 0.5 seconds ahead of Plater. However, the 27-year-old Liverpool rider was disappointed not to be higher up the grid: “It’s frustrating because I really don’t think that my qualifying position is representative of just how strong the Honda Racing VTR1000 SP-2 is and how positive I feel at the moment.
“I can’t believe how quickly I’ve recovered from my crash at Brands Hatch last month. It’s a good job because I’ve got a lot of work left to do in the race. I need a good start and then we’ll see what happens when I settle down into the races. I’m looking forward to the challenge, but have to admit that I’d prefer it to be wet.”
Plater is currently fifth in the series after a string of mid-season podium results. The 30-year-old Lincolnshire rider is still in with a realistic chance of finishing in the top three in the championship, but he had hoped for a higher qualifying position at Mondello Park: “I can honestly say that I have never worked so hard to be so far down the grid. In fact, I think I was probably trying just a little bit too hard.
“The entire Honda Racing team has been flat-out over the last two days helping me adapt the VTR1000 SP-2 to the circuit. However, it seems that my reputation for qualifying badly has followed me to Ireland. The only thing I can do now is to concentrate on both races, but I’m scratching my head as to how I’m going to make up enough ground to get back on the podium.”
British Superbike Championship
Dunlop Super 12 times: 1. S. Byrne (Ducati) 1:41.135;
- S. Smart (Kawasaki) +0.056;
- G. Richards (Kawasaki) +0.159;
- G. Mason (Yamaha) +0.251;
- J. Reynolds (Suzuki) +0.257;
- S. Emmett (Ducati) +0.452;
- M. Rutter (Ducati) +0.624;
- Y. Kagayama (Suzuki) +1.107;
- L. Haslam (Ducati) +1.216;
- M. Heckles (Honda Racing) +1.924;
- S. Plater (Honda Racing) +2.473;
- D. Hobbs (Suzuki) +4.423
Onwards to Ireland
Mondello Park is Ireland’s premier motorsport venue and the newest addition to the British Supersport Championship calendar. Few of the riders competing in any of the classes will have previously visited the tight, twisty and technical track. This universal handicap should serve to level the playing field a little and could well be responsible for creating a few surprises. Should this be the case, the Triumph ValMoto Daytona 600s of Jim Moodie and Craig Jones will be waiting to pounce.
Several rounds of trial and error have enabled Triumph ValMoto Team Manager Jack Valentine and Chief Engineer Steve Mellor to isolate the precise areas in which to concentrate their development efforts. And while significant gains have certainly been made, there is still much catching up to do at Mondello Park.
Very little is known about how the Triumph ValMoto Daytona 600s will behave around the tight, twisting and technical track, but similarities to Rockingham and Knockhill could well work in favour of the Union flag emblazoned bikes. Whatever surprises may lie in store for the team, it goes without saying that the rider of the #18 machine Craig Jones is looking forward to the challenge.
“It’s certainly going to be an interesting round,” said Jones. “We don’t know the track at all, so it’s going to be a pretty steep learning curve but at least it’ll be the same for everyone. From looking at the circuit map I think that it could suit the Triumph ValMoto Daytona 600s now that we have ironed out a few teething troubles. The team has been working really hard on sorting the fuelling and the bikes just keep getting better and better, but my job is simply to get out there and ride hard – which is exactly what I’m going to do at Mondello.”
Jim Moodie had a tough time at Rockingham and is hoping that the team’s recent test session at Bruntingthorpe will pay dividends in Ireland.
“We’ve been concentrating really hard on solving the problem we had with the bikes backing in on a closed throttle,” said Moodie. “This was really apparent at Rockingham and I struggled to come to terms with what was a new circuit for me, but I think that we’ve made some headway now. Some of the other teams may have had a little sneak preview of the circuit on track days and the like but we’ve never raced there before, so I’m looking forward to getting stuck in. The Irish crowds are always on top form and I’d like to put on a good show for them.”
Superbike debut at Mondello Park
The British Superbike Championship circus rolls into Mondello Park this weekend for a long-awaited debut in the Republic of Ireland. The huge following of motorcycle racing fans – on both sides of the Emerald Isle’s border – will guarantee a large and enthusiastic crowd for what should be one of the highlights of the 2003 racing calendar.
The intriguing fact that none of the British Superbike teams have ever competed at Mondello Park could mean slightly unpredictable but fast and furious action around the 2.27 mile Kildare circuit. This should also be advantageous to Honda Racing’s Steve Plater and Mark Heckles who are campaigning the world title-winning VTR1000 SP-2 for the first time in 2003.
Plater in particular has been doing his homework for the eighth round of the British Superbike Championship. “I had a sneak preview of the circuit about three weeks ago,” revealed the 30-year-old Lincolnshire rider. “I had the opportunity to ride the Honda SP-2 and CBR600RR road bikes during a track day and took full advantage of the track time. Both machines performed and handled superbly, which enabled me to get a full understanding of what lies ahead on our first visit to the Irish circuit.
“I’m confident that I can continue the excellent progress that we’ve been making over the past couple of months and I’m sure that the bike will be on the pace. My recent results have helped to elevate me to fifth in the championship, but I know that there’s more to come before the end of the season.”
Team-mate Mark Heckles is still recovering from the injuries he sustained as the result of a crash at Brands Hatch four weeks ago. The courageous Honda Racing star rode through the pain barrier to make the grid at Rockingham and finished tenth on his first appearance at the Northamptonshire circuit.
“I’ve been going to the physio on a regular basis since my crash at Brands Hatch in an effort to get back to full fitness,” explained the 27-year-old Liverpudlian. “I’m feeling much better now and am probably about 95 per cent fit.
“I think that Mondello Park will be a level playing field because most of us haven’t raced there before. I haven’t even seen the track yet, but my Irish friends have told me that it’s really good and I’m looking forward to racing there. I just want to get out there and give it my best, so that I can hopefully score some points for Honda Racing.”
Sixty points and counting
Karl Harris takes a huge 60-point advantage into round eight of the British Supersport Championship at Mondello Park. The Irish circuit near Dublin is renowned for close racing because of its tight and twisty bends. Harris though, may have something to say about its past reputation.
The 23-year-old Yorkshireman and the Honda Racing CBR600RR have been a dominant force in what has traditionally been a highly competitive series. However, with four wins and a trio of second places to date, Harris is within reach of his second Supersport title in three years.
“I’ve been delighted with the way 2003 has gone, so far,” said Harris. “It really has been the perfect season to date but as I’ve said all year, I won’t be relaxing until the championship has been won.”
Harris led the sixth round at Brands Hatch until the final metre when Dean Thomas – who slipstreamed him to the chequered flag – just inched him out. However, the Honda Racing star gained his revenge by dominating the last round at Rockingham.
“Brands Hatch really upset me because I felt that I should have won, so, I was really fired up for Rockingham and was determined not to be beaten. That’s the way I’m approaching this weekend’s racing at Mondello Park too. I think that the bike is going to suit the circuit and I’m confident that I can add to my 2003 tally of victories.”
British Superbike Championship
Points (after round 14):
- S. Byrne – 325;
- M. Rutter – 181;
- J. Reynolds – 167;
- Y. Kagayama – 153;
- Steve Plater (Honda Racing) – 146;
- G. Richards – 141;
- G. Mason – 126;
- S. Hislop – 122;
- S. Smart – 89;
- S. Emmett – 88;
- Mark Heckles (Honda Racing) – 47
British Supersport Championship
Points (after seven rounds):
- Karl Harris (Honda Racing) – 160;
- S. Easton – 100;
- S. Andrews – 72;
- D. Thomas – 68;
- A. Coates – 62;
- L. Haslam – 60;
- J. Crockford – 58;
- M. Laverty – 57;
- R. Frost – 48;
- C. Jones – 47
Mondello Park – vital statistics
Circuit length: 2.268 miles
Profile: A new circuit for the championship but visiting riders have already given Mondello the “thumbs-up”. Used for several years in the British Touring Car Championship.
BYRNE AIMING TO CLOSE IN ON TITLE
After dominating the first half of the season, MonsterMob Ducati’s Shane Byrne is eager to get back to winning ways when round eight of the British Superbike Championship travels across the Irish Sea to Mondello Park this weekend.
‘Shakey’ won nine of the opening eleven races but has managed a just a trio of second places since although his title challenge remains well on course having increased his lead further in the last round at Rockingham to a massive 144 points.
The Minster, Isle of Sheppey rider only needs to finish fifth in all remaining ten races to clinch his first major title and considering his worst result to date is second, it shouldn’t be too hard a task but the 26 year old has his sights set on wrapping things up as soon as possible.
“I hate finishing second so it’s a case of getting back to winning again this weekend. I know that safe points are all I need in every race but it would be good to beat the record of 13 wins in a season. If I could do that I’d be champion but I’m not silly enough to throw things away. But there is no doubt, I want to win again this weekend and increase the advantage past the magical 150 points bracket. Mondello is a new track for us all so it should be interesting” said Byrne.
If Byrne does his fourth double of the season as he is hoping, it means he would need just two more wins to be sure of the title and those could come at the following round at the team’s local track, Oulton Park.
Team mate Stuart Easton is also hoping for success at the Co. Kildare circuit where he arrives 60 points adrift of British Supersport Championship leader Karl Harris (Honda). The Hawick teenager celebrates his birthday this weekend and is hoping for the best present of the lot in the form of 25 points.
“I’ve said it for a few races now but I really do need to win this weekend and hope that Karl drops some points so I can close the gap on him. I’ve had a look at the track and I think it will suit the Ducati so there should be no excuses” said the defending champion.
Team owner Paul Bird makes a welcome return to Ireland, having won the Irish Supermoto Championship three times in the late nineties and the superstitious Cumbrian is hoping that his team will have the luck of the Irish this weekend.
“I’ll not be doing anything different with regards to how I used to prepare when I raced over there, that’s for sure! If Shakey can do the business, then I’ll quite happily absorb the pressure that will be on us at the following round but there are a lot of laps to be done before then. Stuart needs to get his finger out and put the Ducati on top of the box as the Supersport trophy cabinet is looking a bit depleted but if we can have a successful weekend, we may just sample some of the black stuff afterwards” he continued.