The Nissan round of the MCE British Superbike Championship, in association with Pirelli, (BSB) heads to Silverstone this weekend (23 – 25 September) for the penultimate round of a captivating season. Crucial points will be up for grabs in the two races on Sunday and will go some way to deciding which of the six ‘Title Fighters’ will be crowned 2011 champion.
Samsung Crescent Racing Suzuki rider John Hopkins currently leads the championship by three points after winning both races at the first Showdown round. Despite having further surgery this week on the hand injuries he sustained at the MotoGP round in the Czech Republic, Hopkins is confident he will perform well at Silverstone.
He commented: "There was a lot of pain in my fingers at Donington Park and I knew it wasn't right. In fact I was very worried I'd aggravated the injury. So I rushed back to see my surgeon on the Monday. The x-rays showed that my middle finger wasn't locating properly in the second knuckle. Fortunately the bone area that had previously been crushed was now nicely healed and so my surgeon was able to put in screws and plates to stabilize the finger. I could feel straight away that the finger was much stronger and it's improved every day since. I'm now very confident that I'll be able to ride at near-enough one hundred percent at Silverstone next weekend."
After finishing second and third in the last two races, and losing his lead in the championship, Swan Yamaha rider Tommy Hill will be pushing even harder for two wins at Silverstone this weekend. “I am ready for Silverstone and the next two races; coming from a consistent last round at Donington Park I want to go better again this weekend. The points and two podiums were important there for the championship, but at this point of the season we need to be winning and staying ahead of the other Title Fighters.
“We need to find a little bit extra for Silverstone, but we know from the World Superbike round that the Yamahas had a good pace there. Hopefully we can replicate that when we kick things off with free practice on Friday. Again, it doesn’t worry me that other teams have been to Silverstone already, as we know we have a good starting point and we will only improve before the races. It is important now that we step up our game again and move forward to try and take those two wins. If anything, finishing second at the last round has made me even hungrier for wins at Silverstone.”
After finishing 4th and 2nd respectively in the first race of the last round, HM Plant Honda rider Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne and Swan Yamaha rider Michael Laverty then collided in the second race, causing both riders to miss out on points vital to their title bids. Byrne and Laverty are both looking to make up lost ground this weekend at the penultimate round at Silverstone. Byrne said, “I am looking forward to Silverstone and getting back out on the HM Plant Honda. Basically, this weekend we are taking everything we have learnt so far this season and condensing it so that we can start in a stronger position. The team have been working hard since Donington Park to see what else we can try, but we have a few changes to refine in practice and then we will be focused on the races and doing everything we can to put the HM Plant Honda back on the podium again.”
“I am looking forward to Silverstone,” commented Laverty. “Obviously what happened at Donington Park wasn’t what we needed, but we know that the Swan Yamaha has potential for strong results at Silverstone. Hopkins has a bit of a head start after competing there earlier in the season at the World Superbike event, but I am sure it won’t take us long to get up-to-speed, I am approaching Silverstone the same way I did for Donington Park. If anything I need to be less cautious. I just need to go for it, as I don’t have an advantage to defend. I have to win every race and the pressure is on the leading three as they now have more to lose. I feel relaxed going to Silverstone; we have proved we have the pace and the potential, so I will be fighting all the way for the Swan Yamaha team.”
Relentless Suzuki rider Josh Brookes, despite being 5th in the standings and finishing 6th and 5th in the last two races, is looking for wins at Silverstone. Looking ahead to this weekend he said, “I am feeling pretty good about Silverstone. Whilst everyone else seems to be pretty stressed by the whole Showdown scenario and the final races, that’s not really an issue for me. I ride at my best every time I am out on track, so I might be down at the moment on points but I don’t go into races thinking like that. Basically, this weekend will be the same as any other; I won’t be thinking about the other five riders in the Showdown – I just need to go out and win races.”
Reigning BSB champion HM Plant Honda rider Ryuichi Kiyonari, hasn’t given up on this year’s title and is still hopeful ahead of the Silverstone round, despite being 50 points behind championship leader John Hopkins. He said, “The first Showdown round at Donington Park was disappointing as we didn’t score points in Race One, so at Silverstone we have to try and catch up in the points and get ourselves in a better position for the final round at Brands Hatch. The problems we have been having are not easy to solve, but I still think it is possible to fight with the other Title Fighters. The title won’t be easy to win now but I haven’t given up because anything can still happen; we saw that at Donington with Shakey and Michael. I will be trying hard to be back on the podium because I still want to win for the HM Plant Honda team.”
Tickets for the penultimate round of the MCE British Superbike Championship, taking place at Silverstone this weekend (23-25 September), are available from £17 in advance. Children aged 15 and under go free*.
* Child tickets are for children aged 15 years and under at the time of the Event. Children using a child ticket must be accompanied by a full paying adult. Each full paying adult may bring up to a maximum of four children.