The JG Speedfit Kawasaki team experienced both ups and downs at Cadwell Park – the venue for round eight of the 2017 MCE British Superbike Championship – with Leon Haslam winning the first race but crashing out of the second.
Team-mate Luke Mossey was forced to miss the meeting owing to the injuries he sustained at the previous round at Thruxton so it was left to Derbyshire’s Haslam to fly the flag. He duly secured a front-row position for the first 18-lap race when he qualified in a strong third on Saturday afternoon only a tenth of a second behind pole setter Shane Byrne.
A brilliant start to race one saw Leon lead the field after the first lap and, although he still wasn’t 100% happy with the feeling of the bike, he never slipped below second. Fellow Kawasaki rider Jake Dixon led from laps four to nine, but on lap ten a good overtaking manoeuvre at Park Corner saw Leon move back into the lead.
Despite coming under extreme pressure for the remaining eight laps, Leon resisted all overtaking attempts, securing his fourth win of the season and also maintaining his record of winning at least one BSB race at Cadwell each year he’s competed there since 2005.
However, with only the eighth fastest lap of the race, he had to start the second 18-lap encounter from the third row which was obviously going to make things a lot harder. Despite this he immediately moved up to sixth and, although the first half of the race saw him unable to climb any higher, he was still well in touch with the leading pack.
Unfortunately, he out-braked himself going into Park Corner on unlucky lap 13 and crashed out. However, the day’s results mean he still occupies second place overall with Mossey also remaining in a top six Showdown position.
Leon said: “The weekend started off well with a win in race one which closed the gap in the championship. It was a good race and everything went well although it wasn’t easy as I knew there were plenty of us going for the win. It’s been a long time since I was on the top step so it was great to be back there.
“Race two was a little different as I was eighth on the grid so we had to work our way through the pack. It was tough going as I was having problems with back shifting on the gearbox which, in the end, caused the crash. The positives are that we’ve still gained points in the championship and some vital podium credits.”
Sadly, the three-wheeled team of Ricky Stevens and Ryan Charlwood had a weekend to forget in the Hyundai Heavy Industries British Sidecar Championship. It started well with a fine second place in qualifying behind Championship leaders Tim and Tristan Reeves, but they were out of luck in Saturday’s 10-lap race, failing to complete a single lap after the bike cut out on the sighting lap. And in race two, they only managed three laps after getting caught up in a crash between two other outfits.
The Reeves brothers won both races and the results mean they have been crowned 2017 British Champions with an unassailable lead. Ricky and Ryan remain in second place overall and with two rounds left they will be looking to secure this position at the earliest opportunity.
Ricky said: “A difficult weekend for us again. On Saturday, heavy showers just before qualifying meant it was a wet race and, although we were hovering between P8 and P5 for most of it, we managed to sneak into second on the last lap which was amazing.
“After such a positive start, we were looking forward to getting out from the front in race one but broke down owing to a mechanical fault on the outlap so didn’t make it to the grid to start.
“This meant we had to start from the back in race two and we were picking our way through the traffic, getting up to P8 on lap three, but our progress was cut short following a big crash on the back straight involving two other outfits which unfortunately we got caught up in.”
Team Manager Jack Valentine added: “It was great for Leon to take the win in the opening race; it’s good to be back up on the top step for all the team and it gave Leon some important podium credits for the showdown.
“We missed Luke this weekend but because other riders had a bit of bad luck, he is still in a Showdown position. We are determined to be going into the final three races of the season with two JG Speedfit Kawasaki riders in with a shout of winning the championship.”