BRITISH SUPERBIKE CHAMPIONSHIP SET TO BE DECIDED AT CROFT Round ten of the popular 2008 Bennetts British Superbike Championship arrives in the race-starved North East where the championship could be decided at Croft Circuit near Darlington this...
BRITISH SUPERBIKE CHAMPIONSHIP SET TO BE DECIDED AT CROFT
Round ten of the popular 2008 Bennetts British Superbike Championship arrives in the race-starved North East where the championship could be decided at Croft Circuit near Darlington this weekend (12/14 September).
Following the last round at Cadwell Park over the August bank holiday weekend, Shane 'Shakey' Byrne continued his dominance in this year's title chase aboard his Airwaves Ducati and as a result, the Zurich-based Londoner enjoys a healthy 110 point lead over his nearest rival Tom Sykes (Rizla Suzuki).
Yorkshireman Sykes, who gained his first ever BSB podium at Croft last year, is on a hot run of form after a triple victory in recent races and also gaining a World Superbike Championship podium placing at Donington yesterday. He knows nothing less than a double victory around the 2.125 mile North Yorkshire circuit will maintain his slim hopes of reeling Byrne in and is confident, especially as Shakey hasn't won a race in the past seven outings.
For Byrne, the mathematics are simple and a double victory at Croft would seal him his second British Superbike Championship title to add to the one he won in 2003. But the former MotoGP rider knows that anything can, and possibly will, play a part in the destiny of the title in a season which has been badly affected by the weather so will be taking nothing for granted.
Chasing them down will be Airwaves Ducati's Leon Camier as well as the two factory-supported HM Plant Honda riders in the shape of Donington WSB podium finisher Cal Crutchlow and Cadwell Park double winner Leon Haslam whereas Michael Rutter (NW200 Ducati), Japanese champion Atsushi Watanabe (Rizla Suzuki), Scott Smart (Hawk Kawasaki) and Karl Harris (RM Yamaha) will all have aspirations of victory, as will former Croft winner Stuart Easton (MSS Discovery Kawasaki).
A team with local connections is the Teesside-based Hydrex Bike Animal Honda team run by Guisborough's Shaun Muir and with riders James Ellison and Guy Martin on board the Fireblades; they will be looking to add more silverware to what has been a reasonably successful season to date. Ellison, from Kendal in the nearby Lake District was a revelation at Donington Park for the World Superbike meeting, coming home in fourth place.
As well as the BSB crown, it is also possible that another couple of titles could be decided with Ulsterman John Laverty (Buildbase Ducati) on the brink of claiming the BSB Daily Star Cup for privateers and Scouser Steve Brogan could land the Metzeler National Superstock 1000 Championship aboard his Honda UK-supported Fireblade.
In addition to the two, twenty lap feature races, a full support race programme is included during the weekend. Bradford rider Matthew Hoyle leads the Relentless 125cc class but will be absent from Croft as he is racing at the US Grand Prix at Indianapolis which will allow the chasing pack to close up. Australian Glen Richards comfortably leads the Fuchs Silkolene British Supersport Championship aboard his MAP Embassy Triumph with Ulsterman Lee Johnston doing likewise in the Metzeler National Superstock 600 series, whereas Derbyshire rider Jon Kirkham is in charge in the Henderson Yamaha R1 Cup.
Local interest in the support classes will centre on Hartburn's Jamie Ferguson in the 125cc class and Middlesbrough rider Paul Veazey in the Supersport class whereas Newcastle brothers Chris and Joe Burns will be in action in the British Superbike and National 600 classes respectively.
Saturday's action commences at 09.30 and sees the all-important qualifying sessions, including the new and exciting F1-style Swan Combi 50 qualifying session to set the grid for Sunday's two superbike races at 14.25, with the first of the weekend's seven races takes place with the Metzeler National Superstock 600 Championship race over 15 laps at 15.40.
Due to stringent noise restrictions and to comply with local authority regulations, the action cannot commence until after 12.00 noon on Sunday whereby the action kicks off with the warm up sessions before the first race is scheduled to start at 13.15. However, during the morning, as well as there being an open paddock, there will be an hour-long 'Pit Walk' for fans to meet the riders and that is scheduled for between 10.30 and 11.30.
Adult admission costs 12.00 GBP per adult on Saturday and 25.00 GBP per adult on Sunday, with a weekend ticket for both days being discounted to just 30.00 GBP. Tickets are still available in advance up until Wednesday 10th September with all remaining tickets on sale at the gate. Children aged 15 and under are admitted FREE and for further information call Croft Circuit on 01325 721815.