Tommy Hill has the lead in the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship title stakes going into the penultimate round at Silverstone but the Worx Crescent Suzuki has no time for complacency as Michael Laverty is proving to be a real “title-fighter” as the action continues in the “Showdown” phase of the series.
Laverty, riding Relentless Suzuki by TAS, underlined his credentials for the country’s premier crown last time out at Croft when he took his second victory of the campaign, overhauling Hill, the winner of the first race at the North Yorkshire circuit, in the final stages to close within 16 points of him.
“It’s very close but it is nice to have a bit of a lead. Obviously thoughts of the title are always there, and we want to be holding the trophy up at the end of the season, but, you can’t think too much about that, rather you have to get out there and get on with the racing,” explained Hill as he prepared for two races on the new Grand Prix circuit that could be crucial to the outcome of the title.
“It is a new circuit for most of us, so I have to learn it fast, but it is good, big, with lots more track to use. Josh Brookes has won there in Superstock and he and Ryuichi Kiyonari have raced in the World Superbike there, so they should have that more set-up than us. I’ve just got to get up to speed and enjoy it.
“I keep telling myself that we’ve won races and the last few have been good so now it is a push for more podiums. We nearly had the double at Croft and if all is going good at Silverstone we will be pushing for the race wins – we have to keep doing what we’ve done, and this is being consistent, though now we do need podium finishes,” added Hill.
He knows that has a fight on his hands with the determined Laverty hitting a rich vein of form just at the right time. “That victory at Croft gave me a great start to the Showdown – I knew that I had to up my game after Cadwell Park and came out with all guns blazing,” reflected Laverty. He is good and ready now for the challenges of the new Grand Prix circuit, and has some experience of it having ridden a road bike there in a track day recently.
The two Suzuki riders have piled the pressure onto the HM Plant Honda duo of Brookes and former two times British title winner Kiyonari. They had a tough time in the previous round, but with 125 points still to play for, both have realistic chances of taking the crown, but, they have to finish ahead of Hill and Laverty.
“I feel there is less pressure on me now compared to before Croft as we have nothing to lose but I want to win these races,” said Kiyonari. “We raced the new track at the World Superbikes and I know the circuit and we have made some big improvements with the bike since then, so we should be fast.”
Brookes is eager to put Croft to the back of his mind and concentrate on the challenges that lie ahead: “That has gone but if you look back at Brands Hatch we had a bad weekend and then bounced back with a win and second place at Cadwell Park so Silverstone will be the round to recover what we lost in the last one.”
The Honda riders mean business, and they need to be at their best to deal with the considerable threat posed by RidersMotorcycles.com Ducati rider Michael Rutter who is keen to make amends for his tumble in the first race at Croft, while the sixth of the title-fighters Alastair Seeley, riding Relentless Suzuki needs a big points haul to stay in contention.
Keen to put one over the elite six will be the Swan Honda duo of Stuart Easton and James Ellison, while Loris Baz, the young French rider who made a big impression on his debut with the Motorpoint Yamaha team at Croft, continues as team-mate to Dan Linfoot. Stuart Andrews is riding strongly on the MSS Colchester Kawasaki, with John Laverty on the Buildbase Kawasaki always competitive.
Steve Brogan will be aiming for a return to winning ways aboard the Jentin BMW to tighten his grip on the Mirror.co.uk BSB-EVO title ahead of Splitlath Aprilia rider Hudson Kennaugh.