Leon Camier faces a triple challenge as he bids to tighten his grip on the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship in association with Pirelli in a spectacular bikers weekend that mixes nostalgia with the sport’s cutting edge over three days at Brands Hatch.
The “Big Brands Bash” provided a festival of sporting action featuring not just the world’s leading domestic series but also the 15 times World Champion Giacomo Agostini lapping the Grand Prix circuit aboard the iconic 500-3 MV Agusta in company with another multiple title holder Phil Read. Add to that that ear-piercing sound of the collection of classic Grand Prix Hondas – the 250-6, 350-4 and the 500-3 as ridden by the late, legendary Mike Hailwood, and the weekend provides the best of the old, contrasting with the new.
In terms of the BSB crown, Camier, riding the Airwaves Yamaha, has a comfortable advantage in the title stakes, but that could all change on the demanding Kent circuit. He faces up to his rivals in three races, rather than the usual two, for the first time this season and with 75 points up for the taking the pressure will be on as his rivals aim to close the gap.
The focus will be on consistency. The riders will resolve their grid positions for the races in a Saturday lunch-time Swan Combi 50 Roll for Pole before lining up for an 18 lap race later that afternoon with the other two races following on Sunday afternoon.
Camier together with his team-mate and title rival James Ellison expect to continue their front-running performances but Tommy Hill, continuing aboard the Worx Crescent Suzuki intends to build on his strong debut performance with the team at Mallory Park.
Hill, returning to domestic action from the World series, is buoyed also by track time spent on the bike at the Kent circuit as the team developed further the electronic systems. “It was good to be back out on the bike, putting in laps, working well with the team, and now I am ready for the races.”
Stuart Easton, riding the Hydrex Honda, like Hill, is determined to peg-back the leading duo in the series. The Flying Scot is currently third in the rankings and eager to make up ground lost during a tough time in the previous round from which he emerged pointless.
Simon Andrews, fresh from surgery on a wrist injury, is another rider keen to show what might have been at the Leicestershire circuit, when an incident at the hairpin arguably cost him a maiden victory at the series. He heads up the MSS Colchester Kawasaki challenge while in the HM Plant Honda equipe it is a case of all change. Aussie Karl Muggeridge comes in to replace their suspended Josh Brookes while reigning Superstock Champion Steve Brogan deputises for the injured Glen Richards.
Chris Walker, riding the Motorpoint Henderson Yamaha, is chasing a first victory of the season while Ian Lowry is long overdue a podium finish with the Relentless Suzuki by TAS team.
Gary Mason, riding the Quay Garage Honda, will be the rider to watch in the chase for the Mirror.co.uk Cup, as he works to make amends for recent inconsistencies which have allowed Peter Hickman aboard the Ultimate Racing Yamaha the opportunity to close in on the title chase.
Adding to the racing are rounds of the Fuchs-Silkolene British Supersport Championship; Relentless British 125GP Championship; Metzeler National 1000 and 600 Superstock Championships; Focused Events KTM RC8 Supercup and an International Classic Grand Prix UEM Cup race.
Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit fast-facts
Lap records – 2.3009 mile Circuit
Superbikes Gregorio Lavilla, Ducati, 1:25.724, 96.63mph 09/04/07
Supersport Andrew Pitt, Honda, 1m 28.399secs, 93.70mph, 03/08/08
125GP Robbie Stewart, Honda, 1m 34.274s, 87.86mph, 09/04/07
1000 Superstock Mark Aitchison, Suzuki, 1m 29.317s, 92.73mph, 05/08.07
600 Superstock Loris Baz, Yamaha, 1m 31.356secs, 90.66mph, 03/08/08
Flashback 2008 – Sunday 11 May – British Superbikes
Race one – 20 laps
1 S Byrne, Ducati, 29m 24.345secs, 93.89mph
2 T Sykes, Suzuki
3 C Crutchlow, Honda
4 L Haslam, Honda
5 L Camier, Ducati
6 J Ellison, Honda
Race two – 19 laps
1 C Crutchlow, Honda
2 S Byrne, Ducati
3 L Camier, Ducati
4 M Laverty, Suzuki
5 M Rutter, Ducati
6 L Haslam, Honda