Thruxton sets the stage for round seven of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship next weekend (3-5 August), with the high-speed Hampshire battleground awaiting the nation’s most fearless two-wheeled warriors in what promises to be another gripping all-action encounter.
Among the fastest motorcycle racing venues in the world, the Thruxton round of BSB represents arguably the most exhilarating challenge for Britain’s premier biking heroes as they battle handlebar-to-handlebar at eye-watering speeds in excess of 170mph in Britain’s tightest and most keenly contested racing series.
Indeed, with precision passes, multiple changes for the lead and races decided by mere thousandths of a second proving the rule rather than the exception in this thrilling championship, BSB is one of the many dazzling highlights of Thruxton’s 50-year Golden Anniversary celebrations.
JG Speedfit Kawasaki’s Leon Haslam tops the table heading to Thruxton as he bids to maintain forward momentum in his quest for a long-awaited maiden BSB title. The Superbike stalwart is one of the series’ most successful racers with 37 victories to his name, six of which he has accumulated in 2018 alone.
However, while Haslam is no stranger to title fights at the pinnacle of Superbike racing both in Britain and on the world stage, many his main rivals for 2018 represent the best of a growing group of promising young talents seemingly destined along the path for success.
Leading this exciting new wave is Jake Dixon, who has forged a relentless route towards the sharp end of the standings in 2018 following a breakout race-winning 2017 campaign. At just 22-years old, Dixon is quickly establishing himself as a Superbike star having amassed no fewer than 12 podiums – including three wins – in little over 12 months aboard the RAF Regular & Reserves Kawasaki ZX-10R.
In third place overall, Glenn Irwin has dutifully stepped up to lead the Be Wiser Ducati team in the absence of Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne. The defending champion remains on the road to recovery for injuries sustained in a testing crash just as his quest for another record-breaking seventh BSB title was gathering momentum. Nevertheless, the mantle could well remain in the team’s hands courtesy of Irwin who has featured towards the front all year.
Then there is Bradley Ray – aged just 21 – who stunned the paddock at the start of the year with a double victory on the distinctive Buildbase Suzuki GSX-R1000 and has been touted for future success, while Danny Buchan has been the model of consistency riding the FS-3 Kawasaki ZX-10R.
That’s not to say familiar fan favourites won’t be out in force for more Thruxton silverware this weekend. Former champion Josh Brookes arrives on the back of a triumphant double victory aboard the McAMS Yamaha R1, while the charismatic Australian has reason to be confident around a circuit he has enjoyed immense success at in previous years. Indeed, Thruxton marked his first-ever BSB win back in 2010, while he was a double victor in both 2014 and 2015, and topped the podium again last season.
With everything still to play for ahead of the 'Showdown' – where the top six riders go forward to battle it out for the coveted title over the final three rounds – don’t rule out the likes of Smiths Racing’s Peter Hickman, who was a race winner at Thruxton in 2017, and fellow BMW contenders Christian Iddon and Michael Laverty on the Tyco Racing-prepared S1000RRs.
Moreover, fans will have every reason to get behind the local brigade this year as Etchilhampton’s Tommy Bridewell teams up with Winchester-based Moto Rapido Ducati in the ultimate regional ‘dream team’.
Beyond the British Superbike Championship races, the packed Thruxton itinerary features a superb support programme delivering electrifying action worthy of a headline act. The Dickies British Supersport, Pirelli National Superstock 1000 and 600 in association with Black Horse, HEL Performance British Motostar and the Hyundai Heavy Industries British Sidecars in association with Molson are all in action to keep visitors entertained from the first green light to the final chequered flag.
As well as three days of back-to-back track action, fans have the chance to meet the riders and grab their autographs and selfies with the Pit Walk at 09.30 on Sunday morning, while the addition of two more big screens at the first corner Allard and in the paddock will ensure not a single moment of the action is missed this weekend.
“It is a truly awe-inspiring spectacle to witness these masters of the discipline racing so hard and fast in breathtaking encounters,” remarked Group Managing Director, Bill Coombs. “With riders getting their knees and elbows down at staggering speeds as they jostle for position just inches from one another, it’s little wonder this annual Thruxton highlight draws such passionate bumper crowds each-and-every year.
“The British Superbike Championship has been the cornerstone of our racing calendar for decades now and we’re proud it is regarded as one of the most challenging, yet rewarding, venues among the most accomplished Superbike riders in the country – indeed, some of the finest riders in the world! Together with an action-packed support programme and a wealth of entertainment, exhibitions and activities for the entire family to enjoy, there really will be something for everyone!”