The Bennetts British Superbike Championship visits one of the most unique venues on the calendar this weekend as Thruxton plays host to the seventh round of the 2018 season.
The fast, bumpy and notoriously abrasive Hampshire circuit will see the second half of the year get underway as Leon Haslam’s rivals look to chase down the runaway title leader.
Haslam may boast an 80-point advantage in the main series standings as well as a 22-point lead in podium points, but Thruxton has never been too kind to the JG Speedfit Kawasaki star.
Never in his entire BSB career has pocket rocket Haslam taken victory at the Hampshire track providing his rivals a key opportunity to make up some ground.
Haslam has shown this year he can win at circuits at which he’s not stood on the top step before, before his double victory at Snetterton in June he hadn’t won at the Norfolk venue.
The Kawasaki was competitive at Thruxton last year with both Jake Dixon and Haslam enjoying podium success, but historically the circuit has been better for the Ducati and Yamaha machinery which are often kinder on tyres.
It’s been a strong hunting ground for Josh Brookes in the past. A previous lap record holder from his double win in 2015, the Aussie took his first win with the Anvil Hire Yamaha squad at Thruxton last year and it would have been a double had he not fallen from the lead.
After a double victory at Brands Hatch, Brookes is looking to kick-start his title charge and another couple of wins this weekend would do just that… We keep saying it but in 2015 Brookes’ Brands double was the catalyst for a flurry of wins from the Aussie on his way to the title, including a double at Thruxton.
After two podiums at Thruxton last year, Jake Dixon will be keen to return to the rostrum this weekend after having to settle for two fourths last time out at Brands. Dixon, as well as other Kawasaki riders, could benefit from using the new, stronger tyre, provided by Pirelli for the weekend ahead.
Given Ducati’s strong history at Thruxton, Glenn Irwin will be looking to continue his strong run ahead of the weekend, but with former team-mate Shane Byrne having been a regular winner at the Hampshire circuit nothing less than a win will do for the Ulsterman.
Peter Hickman took victory in last year’s second race after Josh Brookes crashed out, but the Isle of Man TT winner has been struggling in BSB this year. However, Thruxton is a circuit where he’s always gone well so if he’s to turn his year around anywhere, it’ll be here and Cadwell Park.
Young gun Bradley Ray will be hoping to bounce back from a disastrous non-scoring finish at Brands Hatch after a strong showing in Suzuka, but it’ll be tough for the Buildbase Suzuki star as he faces the tough ask of re-familiarising himself with the Pirelli rubber after running on super-grippy Bridgestones in Japan.
Honda Racing will give 23-year-old Tom Neave his BSB debut this weekend, but don’t expect too much from the youngster after just a couple of trackdays on the CBR1000RR SP2. His new team-mate, Jason O’Halloran, is hoping for a stronger showing as he continues to recover from injury.
One thing is for certain, with just two rounds remaining after Thruxton before the ‘Showdown’ cut off, riders hoping to secure a spot in the all-important top six have to be up there this weekend.