The British Superbike Championship descends on Oulton Park this Bank Holiday weekend as the series hits Cheshire for the third round of the season.
Record-breaking four-time champion Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne leads the overall standings by a slender six points for the PBM Kawasaki team after scoring a pair of second places at his home round of Brands Hatch last time out. The Kent ace has battled to be fully fit for the opening events after a pre-season testing crash, but will be pushing for a return to the top at Oulton Park.
Kendal’s James Ellison arrives in Cheshire as the rider on form after celebrating his first double win in the championship at Brands Hatch, but both the JG Speedfit Kawasaki rider and Byrne were edged out in last week’s official test by Milwaukee Yamaha’s Josh Brookes.
Brookes set an incredible pace under his own existing lap record at the Cheshire track during the official test last Friday to head off Byrne by 0.041s, and now the Australian is aiming for the team’s first win of the season.
Brookes said: “This weekend at Oulton Park is going to be really close. The test last week was really positive for us and I feel that we have a good starting point for this weekend. I expect there is going to be the usual suspects going for the wins on Monday; Ellison has a good history of being fast at Oulton Park and so does Stuart Easton. Then you look at Kiyo who has had good results here in the past, then I hold the lap record, so that puts me into the mix and then obviously there is Shakey, so you have to expect him to be difficult to beat.
“It’s going to be a good four or five way battle at the front for the wins, but we are confident we can make some more improvements and then it is down to me, so there is a bit in myself too.”
Stuart Easton on the second PBM Kawasaki will also be targeting a return to the podium after a strong performance saw him finish fourth in the official test ahead of Tyco BMW’s Tommy Bridewell, who equally is seeking a surge forward in Cheshire.
Triple MCE BSB champion Ryuichi Kiyonari was twice denied his first podium finish of the season at Brands Hatch and the Japanese contender is now hunting for further improvements to return to winning ways at the circuit where he has had the most success.
Kiyonari said: “I was happy to go back to Oulton Park last week and do lots of laps because we worked on some of the areas we needed to after Brands Hatch and we have improved. Missing the podium at Brands Hatch has made me more determined to have better results this weekend -I need to make no mistakes and improve again. We were so close at the last round and I was disappointed with a double fourth because in every race I want to win.”