JG Speedfit Kawasaki headed into the sixth round of the British Superbike Championship at Brands Hatch with confidence. After mixed results at the last round at Snetterton, Team Green looked set to fight for the win and for one of their riders to be crowned the ‘King of Brands’.
In race one, Leon Haslam scored a welcome podium after a wet qualifying session saw him qualify in eighth place. Luke Mossey scored a front row start and both riders looked competitive. Mossey led the the early stages of the race and started to create a gap, however once the safety car came out on lap five due to a crash from Anvil Hire Tag Yamaha’s Shaun Winfield, the field closed up and Mossey had to work hard to bridge a gap once more when the safety car went in.
Unfortunately for Mossey it wasn’t meant to be. Spots of rain were falling around the track which seemingly hampered him, and he fell backwards through the pack ending the first race in twelfth place after a red flag brought the race to an abrupt end on the eighteenth lap. Haslam on the other hand bagged himself a third place finish in race one. Starting from the third row didn’t seem to phase him as he climbed his way up through the pack up into podium contention before the race was red flagged.
A frantic start to race two saw Mossey and Haslam get pushed back to tenth and sixth respectively after starting from fourth and sixth. After six laps, Haslam was battling with Christian Iddon and James Ellison for the final podium spot, with Mossey trailing behind in seventh. Haslam finished race two in a respectable fifth, while Mossey finished just behind him in sixth.
Shane Byrne’s double win at Brands took him to the top of the championship standings, shunting Mossey back to second and trailing behind by seven points, with Haslam in third.
In the Hyundai Heavy Industries British Sidecar Championship, reigning champions Ricky Stevens and Ryan Charlwood bagged themselves a second place finish in Sunday’s race, and fifth place in Saturday’s.
Saturday saw difficult conditions for the pair, but managed to keep fifth place in the competitive class. On Sunday, the Kawasaki duo led the race, but were unable to keep Tim and Tristan Reeves at bay. The brought it home in second, and maintained their second place in the championship standings. The all-female pairing of Maria Costello and Kirsty Hauxwell unfortunately failed to qualify for the event.
“It’s been a tough round as it’s the first weekend back really from Oulton Park in May” said Haslam.
“We made some good progress but always felt on the back foot. The podium in race one was better than expected considering the issues I had, but I felt the changes in race two weren’t the right way to go and I had to settle for fifth.
“The positives are: we finally got to test some different chassis set-ups, tyre life in the SC0 was better and we were the top Kawasakis in both races.
I’m racing at the Suzuka 8hours this weekend which is important but I’m also looking forward to going testing when I return to get everything ready ahead of the next BSB round.
“Big thanks to everyone at JG Speedfit Kawasaki; I’m confident we will get back to winning ways soon.”
Mossey added, “I seemed to be having issues all weekend but my team worked really hard for qualifying and despite the torrential downpour, I was looking forward to it. I dug deep to qualify in second place and I got a good start in race one.
“I had a little rain on my visor but I wasn’t fazed by it – I felt really comfortable at the front and was eager for a strong result. From the half-way point, I started to suffer with brake fade like I did at Snetterton. It is too fast at Brands to risk anything so I backed off and dropped down the field, I had to finish in 12th which I was so disappointed about.
“We made a few changes for race two with the brakes and thanks to my team, who kept persevering trying to find the problem, I felt like I was back on ‘my bike’ again. This gave me the confidence to push hard again but I got boxed in the opening turns and left myself a lot of work to do. Despite finishing in sixth, which is not where I wanted to be, I’m happy we’ve found the problem and can hopefully do better at Thruxton.”
Stevens talked of his struggles over the weekend but was quick to make it clear he wasn’t blaming anyone specific. “It’s been a difficult weekend and we’ve struggled to get our form back up until today. We’ve suffered with a mechanical issue all year which we haven’t been able to find. Every round I’ve been saying that we think we’ve found it but this time, we really have found it!
“It was no one’s fault – it was just something we missed because it was a new engine but we’re really happy now it’s fixed. We were disappointed with Saturday’s result, but to finish second today has given us a confidence boost going into the next round.”