Thruxton fails to meet expectations for the two Ducati BSB teams
Shakey maintains his championship lead Hopper celebrates his 100th British Superbike start Tyre woes cause Shakey and Hopper to retire from Race 2
Thruxton failed to live up to the high expectations of the Be Wiser Ducati and Moto Rapido Ducati teams, with race win and podium targets missed as both teams suffered from tyre wear problems.
The opening race at Thruxton was initially delayed after an incident in the preceding Superstock 1000 race and was subsequently reduced from 20 to 18 laps.
A great start from 5th on the grid saw Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne (Be Wiser Ducati) immediately pass Christian Iddon (Tyco BMW Motorrad) and move up to 4th as the riders entered Campbell for the first time. He went on to make a move on Josh Brookes (Anvil Hire TAG Racing) for 3rd on the opening lap but ran wide at Club and had to miss the chicane before re-joining the action back in 5th after avoiding a penalty.
The shortened race was then on hold after Billy McConnell (Quattro Plant FS-3 Kawasaki) crashed out on Lap 2 bringing out the safety car. The safety car eventually came back in on Lap 7 with Shakey once again passing Iddon once to retake 4th place.
Ultimately the shortened race denied Shakey the chance to exploit his Panigale’s good tyre wear. Although the Be Wiser Ducati rider was able to run with the top 3 riders of Brookes, Hickman (Smiths Racing BMW) and Jake Dixon), he was unable to make a move on the trio and had to settle for a 4th place finish, crossing the line just 2.3s seconds behind winner Brookes.
John ‘Hopper’ Hopkins (Moto Rapido Ducati) and Glenn Irwin (Be Wiser Ducati) both finished in their respective grid positions of 8th and 20th.
Shakey’s fastest lap saw him line up for Race 2 in on the front row of the grid in 2nd. Hopper lined up in 8th again, while Irwin has a much-improved start position of 14th.
Shakey had lined up on front row of the grid in 2nd and on his 2nd lap posted the fastest lap of the race with a time of 1:14.845 seconds, going on to take the lead of the race from Jake Dixon (RAF Regular and Reserves Kawasaki). But on the following lap Shakey was passed by Dixon, going on to drop down the field as the race progressed. It was soon clear that Shakey was suffering serious problems with his rear tyre, eventually retiring from the race on Lap 15 and rounding out a difficult weekend. Despite not finishing the race, Shakey leaves Thruxton still leading both the championship and podium points tables.
Hopper was celebrating his 100th British Superbike race start at Thruxton. But it turned out to be one to forget for the Moto Rapido Ducati rider after he pitted out of the Race on Lap 13 after running as high as 7th. Like Shakey, Hopper also suffered iissues with his rear tyre, making it unsafe to continue the race. Hopper has been running well recently so this retirement is extremely frustrating as he aims to make the end of season Showdown.
Despite still recovering from an accident at Knockhill that continues to hamper his riding Irwin dug in throughout the race, with race retirements and a crash from race leader Josh Brookes assisting him as raced towards the chequered flag. Irwin crossed the line in 9th ahead of James Ellison (McAMS Yamaha) and Jakub Smrz (Lloyd & Jones PR Racing Team) but was handed a half-second penalty after exceeding the track limits at the final chicane. This promoted both Ellison and Smrz, dropping Irwin down to 11th.
Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne (Be Wiser Ducati #67) – Race 1 4th, Race 2 DNF
“I have said since Knockhill that I had a run of fantasttic tracks coming up for me and the Ducati. I really like Snetterton, I really like Brands GP and I absolutely love Thruxton. We were robbed of a double here last year, we were so dominant we could do low 14;s for fun. So I came here this weekend feeling super, super confident, I had put in a lot of training in between each of the three races we had had and I was feeling probably, fitter, stronger, lighter and better in myself that I have felt for a long, long time. It’s a really important time of the year and I wanted to maximise the tracks you are strong.
From the go this weekend it has been really, really hard and there has been no stone left unturned. I did a 13.8 last year and I was convinced I could do a mid-13’s here. Everything we could have done hasn’t really made a difference. We made a big change for race 2 and for the first half I thought we had cracked it. I felt really confident and I thought we could do this and went for it and then all of a sudden the pace started to drop off and then I had a lot vibration and the bike was floating around at the rear. I slowed down at turn one to look around at my tyre and it looked ok so I tried to keep going but then I thought I don’t need a 180mph blow out when showdown is two rounds away. It’s been a very, very difficult weekend for myself and the team. Three weeks ago we were under the lap record for fun, the bike felt really good and we need to get the bike back to those settings, I will do some training down in Spain and return even more determined.”
Glenn Irwin (Be Wiser Ducati#2) – Race 1 20th, Race 2 11th
“There’s not much to say about the first race but we turned the bike upside down for race two and went back to last year’s settings which certainly helped and at least I could get stuck in. I was still having problems with grip as a lot of riders were because it’s so fast and abrasive around here but at least it’s a step forward and closer to where we need to be. I’m getting stronger and fitter all the time so I’m confident we’ll be able to give an even better account of ourselves next time out.”
John Hopkins (Moto Rapido Ducati #21) - Race 1 8th, Race 2 DNF
“We went into this weekend with really great hopes and we made it to the Superpole which I have never done in my career. We got a decent start in race 1 but after a couple of laps in I was pushing the front everywhere and it felt really strange and really loose. It started to get worse after the safety car went in and it was just a matter of nursing the bike home. It turned out we had a slow puncture in the front. The tyre was nearly down to the rim by the time we got it back to the garage so it was good to get it home and get some points.
Going into Race 2 everything felt really good, again I got a good start and we were right there in the hunt and in a battle with O’Halloran and Brookes and at that point I felt quite comfortable and I slipped into tyre conservation mode. I felt like I was getting into a good rhythm and then from half race distance, I instantly felt like I had no rear tyre whatsoever. Every time I tried to turn it into a corner, the bike went full lock sideways. I tried to nurse it around and I was five or six seconds off the pace and nearly crashing in every right-hand corner so I had to pull in. So we had an issue with the front tyre in race 1 and the rear tyre in race 2. It’s frustrating because we know we had the pace and the capabilities to be in the top 5 consistently. To have niggling little issues in every race is frustrating we know we can do it and we know we can get there.”
Be Wiser Ducati and Moto Rapido Ducati return for round 8 of the MCE British Superbike Championship at Cadwell Park in two weeks’ time.