Crunch time is approaching for the Bennetts British Superbike hopefuls looking to secure a place in the 2018 Title Fighters’ Showdown as the penultimate round of the ‘main season’ kicks off at Cadwell Park this weekend.
Just five races (two at Cadwell, three at Silverstone) remain before the top six are elevated to 500 points, plus any accrued podium credits, to fight it out for the 2018 title.
While series leader Leon Haslam has already secured his spot, mathematically the remaining five positions are all up for grabs. Josh Brookes (168 points) and Glenn Irwin (163 points) look pretty secure, but the final two spots are well and truly open with just 33 points splitting Bradley Ray in fifth and Jason O’Halloran in tenth with 125 still on the table.
Having failed to score in five out of the last eight races, young gun Bradley Ray will need a strong performance at Cadwell Park this weekend if he’s to remain hopeful of a Showdown spot. While he and the Buildbase Suzuki team found speed at Thruxton, a crash in the early stages of race one and a technical issue in race two put pay to any potential of a strong points haul.
Ray, who enjoyed a strong test at Cadwell Park earlier this month, told MCN at Thruxton that his priority now is scoring decent points to secure a Showdown spot rather than focusing on race wins at this stage of the season.
FS3 Kawasaki’s Danny Buchan currently sits sixth in the title standings after a remarkably consistent season. Until Thruxton, Buchan had been the only riden to finish every race in the points other than series leader Haslam and that run was only broken at the Hampshire circuit after he became involved in other riders’ incidents.
Cadwell has always been a strong circuit for Buchan, despite his mixed BSB past. The notoriously technical Lincolnshire venue was the scene of a then-career-best fourth place as Buchan made his BSB debut with Kawasaki back in 2012.
Leading the chase to steal a spot in the Showdown is local ace Peter Hickman, who kick-started his season with a shock double podium at Thruxton just hours after being admitted to hospital with a severe kidney infection.
Hickman took his first career win at Cadwell back in 2014 and has often been competitive at his home track, something that will bode well as he looks to gain the seven points he’s short of moving into a top six spot.
Tyco BMW’s Christian Iddon is another in Showdown contention. The Derbyshire rider is currently 20 points off a top six spot after a disappointing season so far has seen him finish no higher than fifth.
A strong round last time out at Thruxton thrust Honda’s injured Jason O’Halloran back into the Showdown mix, the Aussie is now 25 points off a top six position and while it’s a long shot as he continues to recover from the ankle he broke while filling in for Leon Camier at Imola, he’s been strong at both Cadwell Park and Silverstone before.
Back at the front, Josh Brookes will be looking to further close down Leon Haslam’s title lead. The McAMS Yamaha rider has won three out of the last four races and has a strong record at Cadwell Park despite struggling there with Anvil Hire Yamaha last year.
Riding the crest of a wave, the Aussie will be hoping to haul more podium credits back on rivals Haslam and Dixon after a more challenging start to the year.
RAF Regular and Reserves Kawasaki rider Jake Dixon led both races at Cadwell last year. He dropped back to second in the opening encounter before crashing out of the lead of the second. Currently second in the title chase in both overall points and podium credits, Dixon will be determined to claw back more points on Haslam this weekend.
However, beating Haslam at Cadwell Park is not an easy task. Haslam has won more races at the Lincolnshire track than any other rider, held the race lap record between 2007 and 2017 and his 2016 pole lap made him the quickest rider to lap the 2.1-mile course. He’s also won at least one race at Cadwell Park every year he’s raced in BSB since 2005…
The Showdown as it stands...
||Points off Showdown
Lap record: 1’26.478 – Lee Jackson, BMW (2016)
Quickest ever lap: 1’25.923 – Leon Haslam, Kawasaki (2016)
2017 Race 1:
1) Leon Haslam – Kawasaki
2) Jake Dixon – Kawasaki
3) Shane Byrne – Ducati
2017 Race 2:
1) James Ellison – Yamaha
2) Lee Jackson – BMW
3) Peter Hickman – BMW