BSB: Croft preview

SUPERBIKES ROAR INTO CROFT FOR THE BIG ONE! Britain's premier motorsport series makes a welcome return to the race-starved North East when round six of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship rolls into Croft Circuit near Darlington this...


Britain's premier motorsport series makes a welcome return to the race-starved North East when round six of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship rolls into Croft Circuit near Darlington this weekend (3/4/5 June).

Last year, Croft was the best attended out of all thirteen rounds of the series with just short of 30,000 fans turning up to witness works HM Plant Honda rider Michael Rutter claim a pair of victories aboard his 1000cc Honda and the Birmingham rider will be looking forward to returning north, this time as series leader by 46 points.

But with the most competitive field ever assembled in the history of the series, Rutter can expect stiff opposition from any amount of rivals as 2005 continues to provide some superb racing at lap record pace in most cases with plenty of twists and turns that so epitomises this thrilling spectacle.

HM Plant Honda Racing team mate Ryuichi Kiyonari from Japan won the opening four races before being injured and missing four races which allowed Rutter to capitalise by winning three of them but with the Airwaves Ducati pairing of Derbyshire rider Leon Haslam and Spaniard Gregorio Lavilla straddling Kiyonari's fifth win of the season two weeks ago at Mondello Park, then there is still all to play for.

Reigning British Champion John Reynolds makes his comeback at Croft after a broken leg sustained in pre-season testing effectively ruled out a concerted title defence and the 39 year old Nottingham rider is full of confidence following the official test day last week. His York based team mate Scott Smart, however, has struggled to come to terms with the Rizla Suzuki but will be hoping for a repeat of last season's podium at Croft.

The Cumbrian based Stobart Honda team will be looking to continue their recent run of form with young Ulsterman Michael Laverty and Lichfield's Gary Mason hoping to climb the podium for the first time this season whilst their team mate Jeremy McWilliams looks set to miss the Croft race due to a recurrence of a shoulder injury.

Virgin Mobile Samsung Yamaha field a replacement for the injured Sean Emmett in the shape of 'rent-a-racer' James Haydon who has already ridden for both the Airwaves Ducati team as well as Rizla Suzuki this season and he will join team mates Tommy Hill and Richard Wren, both from London.

Throw in the two Australian Hawk Kawasaki riders Glen Richards and Dean Thomas, the Honda UK bikes of Karl Harris (who used to leave near Harrogate) and Ulsterman Jonathan Rea, as well as the Leeds based Sendo Superbike Team of Steve Plater and John Kirkham and the new Vivaldi Kawasaki Team of Ben Wilson (Boston) and Tristan Palmer (Nuneaton), both feature races are sure to be fiercely competitive.

Hoping to maintain local interest is Guisborough rider Dennis Hobbs aboard the Team Nvidia Yamaha although the 22 year old Teessider is facing a race against time to be fit for his local round. Hobbs broke a bone in his wrist a month ago and still has it in a cast as he waits to see if he is given medical clearance to race.

If not, then upholding local honour will be Middlesbrough rider Paul Veazey who holds seventh place in the National Superstock Cup aboard his Astro Kawasaki whilst Knaresborough's Dan Linfoot (16) lies in third in the British 125cc GP class and leads the ACU Academy Cup following on from two successive wins.

As well as the two, twenty two lap feature races, a full support race programme is included during the weekend. Cheshire rider Christian Elkin (E3 Honda) leads the 125cc class whilst Devonian James Buckingham makes the long trip north to defend his lead in the British Superbike Cup. Northwich's Craig Jones (Northpoint Honda) leads the Metabo British Supersport Championship by a single point ahead of Yorkshireman Tom Sykes (TAS Suzuki) with Broughton rider Gary Johnson (GTR Kawasaki) leading the Supersport Cup series.

Lincoln rider Lee Jackson heads the Metzeler Racetec National Superstock Championship aboard his Krystal Racing Yamaha with Kenny Gilbertson from Swindon heading the Superstock Cup and Australian teenager Billy McConnell leads the Virgin Mobile Cup.

Admission costs £12.00 per adult on Saturday and £25.00 per adult on Sunday which includes access to the paddock. A weekend ticket costs just £30.00 per adult and limited grandstand seating (£8.00 per person) is still available. Children aged 15 and under are admitted FREE and for further information call Croft Circuit on 01325 721815.


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About this article
Series Other bike
Drivers Jeremy McWilliams , Gregorio Lavilla , James Haydon , Glen Richards , Michael Rutter , Gary Mason , Scott Smart , Lee Jackson , Steve Plater , John Reynolds , Craig Jones , Tom Sykes , Leon Haslam , Tommy Hill , James Buckingham , Karl Harris , Ben Wilson , Dennis Hobbs , Jonathan Rea , Michael Laverty , Tristan Palmer , Ryuichi Kiyonari , John Gary , Dan Linfoot
Teams Williams