The annual weekend migration of the British Superbike Championship to Holland and its TT Circuit Assen is extremely popular with teams (even though it is a major upheaval transporting a workshops worth of everything) and UK race fans alike. Not only is it a change in scenery but it also happens to be a fast technical circuit, with great viewing areas.
Race one got off to a cracking start with Leon Haslam (JG Speedfit Kawsaki), Tarran Mackenzie (McAMS Yamaha), Jake Dixon (RAF Regular & Reserves Kawasaki) and Peter Hickman (Smiths Racing BMW) making a break from the remainder of the chasing pack. The closeness of the racing was breath taking. BSB rookie Mackenzie wasn’t prepared to give up ground against his season hardened elders; Dixon was on a mission, too. For a while, Haslam played a watching and waiting game, occasionally putting his nose into the game to show he was up for a fight.
As the laps were ticked off, it was obvious the last three laps around “The Cathedral” – the nickname for TT Circuit Assen – would deliver even closer formation racing. Haslam did hit the front but got pushed back just as quick by Mackenzie. These swapping manoeuvres occurred again and looked likely to continue until Dixon split the pair and remained stuck in the middle, right behind Haslam.
Despite wringing the neck of his Kawasaki, Dixon couldn’t get the better of Haslam, who eventually crossed the line first but by only 0.086s. This meant three riders of EP supported teams finished in the top five: Tarran Mackenzie, (McAMS Yamaha) 3rd, Peter Hickman (Smiths Racing BMW) 4th, Glenn Irwin (Be Wiser Ducati) 5th.
During the time between race one and race two, teams fine-tune their racing weapons (bikes and riders) to suit racing conditions – practice can give so much feedback in the allotted time. It might be subtle suspensions tweaks or a rapid realignment of the fuelling and ignition maps. You’d think this would mean even more riders getting into the thick of the action and attacking the race one frontrunners. Well, it was fact the race was even more action packed!
Michael Laverty (Tyco BMW) crashed out on lap one. And before lap one was marked off Dan Linfoot (Honda Racing) nudged Haslam’s rear to put Linfoot on the deck and taking out, Tommy Bridewell (Moto Rapido Ducati) with him. Not long after, Tarran Makenzie also fell out of contention. Blimey!
Things started to settle down to leave a four-way dice up front with Haslam, Josh Brookes (McAMS Yamaha), Hickman and Dixon all teeing up for a proper scrap. But then Dixon had to pull in with a very sick Kawasaki.
Needless to say, Haslam played out the waiting game the best and saw an opportunity to take the lead with just three laps remaining. You could see the same thought on every spectator’s face: could Haslam once again make it a two-race win? The answer came a few minutes later – Haslam took the win. Brookes was second and Hickman third.
Going into the final Showdown race – and last BSB round of the season – at Brands Hatch, the top six players are all lined up to deliver a mighty spectacle. If we here at Evotech Performance were betting men, we’d go 50-50 on the final outcome. Exciting? Well yes. Even we might don thermals and take a ride down south to watch it all unfold…
Bennetts British Superbike Championship – as it stands for the Triple Header Showdown finale at Brands hatch 12-14 October 2018.
- Leon Haslam (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) 654points
- Jake Dixon (RAF Regular & Reserves Kawasaki) 593
- Josh Brookes (McAMS Yamaha) 557
- Glenn Irwin (Be Wiser Ducati) 554
- Peter Hickman (Smiths Racing BMW) 549
- Bradley Ray (Buildbase Suzuki) 533