MCN BSB Blog: Cartagena times

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Times were the talking point in the Cartagena pit lane today so I’ve compiled this list of top runners.

Bearing in mind the BS and the banter, I’d hope that these times are pretty much spot-on since I’ve either seen the timesheets (Swan Yamaha) or been with people timing other riders (Tommy Hill had the watch on Shakey when he did a 1:33.69, Tristan Palmer clocked Hopper at 1:34.0). And I tried to get Rutter’s time corroborated from other sources, as he was trying to downplay things by claiming to have done a 1:37.0.

But that was about two minutes after he had binned the Ducati for the second time in three days!

So what does it all mean? BSB is set for one hell of a season? Too right.

But there’s some serious sub-plots beneath the gloss of a lap time: Yamaha still won’t know until Brands if they can turn a bike that works so well on a flowing race track into a point and squirt race winner in the heat of a BSB scrap.

Or whether Honda can find a fix for a mid-corner glitch that was afflicting Shane Byrne.  You might have noticed British champion Ryuichi Kiyonari languishing at the bottom of our timesheet.

Don’t read too much into that either. We all know what Kiyo is capable of but it’s just frustrating for his crew he hasn’t brought his race face to Spain thus far.

The test however has shown the class of John Hopkins. The way he has gone about learning the track, learning the bike and gelling with the team has been exemplary and he’s only going to get better.

Stuart Easton’s been impressive on a Kawasaki that has a superstock motor and while you might think that Gary Mason is struggling a second back, just remember that the Scot has already clocked mileage on a 2011 ZX-10R (albeit the PBM factory WSB bike) while Mason was coming at it cold – and with little knowledge of the circuit.

It’s been a messy day with several crashes and red flags though. The weather’s not been great either, with early sunshine giving way to overcast skies and cold winds.

But the overall, the buzz is still there. Roll on tomorrow.

As a side note, there were two major highlights off track for me today. The first was spending time chatting with Ian Hutchinson in the back of the Swan Yamaha garage. He’s here just to hang our with the team. He’s still got the cage on his leg but says that he’s got to have one more check-over to make sure everything is healed up.

If everything is hunky-dory the cage could be off before April and Hutchy could conceivably race a supersport bike at Brands!

Even if that doesn’t happen, everything is looking good for him to make the Nw200 and TT.

Bloody marvellous, I say after all the trauma he’s been through. I know he’ll want to win races out of the box but just to be back out there, on a bike, will be testament not just to his guts and determination but to all the medical staff who have worked so hard for him.

The other pleasure was sitting in the Rapid Solicitors Ducati truck with Rutter and the rest of the team, watching a film of the 1975 Ulster Grand Prix with Michael’s dad Tony playing a starring role.

This was in the days when two-strokes and skinny-tyres ruled, some of the top riders still wore open face lids with wrap-around faceshields and 76-strong grids were set off together! Scary.

Lap times:

Tommy Hill Swan Yamaha 1:33.4*
Shane Byrne HM Plant Honda 1:33.95*
John Hopkins Samsung Suzuki 1:34.0*
Michael Laverty Swan Yamaha 1:34.1*
Stuart Easton MSS Kawasaki 1:34.5*
Michael Rutter Rapid Solicitors Ducati 1:34.9
Dan Linfoot Honda 1:34.96
Josh Brookes Relentless Suzuki 1:35.0*
Gary Mason MSS Kawasaki 1:35.5*
Jon Kirkham Samsung Suzuki 1:35.8
Ryuichi Kiyonari HM Plant Honda 1:35.9*
* confirmed times (the rest are heresay)

Read the latest stories causing a buzz this week in Sport…

Gary Pinchin

By Gary Pinchin