British Superbikes at Oulton Park and World Superbikes at Assen preview

Ian Marsden
Luke Mossey leads last time out at Brands hatch hatch, where he took his maiden Superbike victory - Impact Images Photoqraphy.

The May Day bank holiday weekend sees a feast of superbike racing, with rounds in both the British and World championships. World Suprerbike heads to Assen in Holland, while our domestic championship visits Oulton Park in Cheshire for the first time in 2017.

In World Superbikes it is very much a case of new season, same story. Reigning champion Jonathan Rea has won five from six races so far this season and remains favourite to clinch a third consecutive title.

In the British Superbike Championship, meanwhile, proceedings have been far from business as usual. The series may be led by a member of the established old guard in JG Speedfit Kawasaki rider Leon Haslam, but it is Haslam's young team-mate Luke Mossey who is making the headlines.

Mossey - previously without a race win in Superbikes - broke his duck in race one at the Brands Hatch Indy circuit in the last round, then followed that maiden victory by winning race two; matching the feat of his more experienced team-mate from the season's opening round at Donington Park.

Leon Haslam (91) leads the series, while reigning champion Shane Byrne (67) is languishing in 14th place Credit: Tim Keeton

Mossey trails Haslam by five points ahead of this weekend's two races. Reigning champion Shane Byrne (Be Wiser Ducati), meanwhile, is languishing in 14th position place on 13 points. From the four races so far Byrne has managed only one points-scoring finish, fourth place in race one at Brands - although he carshed out in race two, he was looking good for a top three finish.

He currently finds himself 73 points behind championship leader Haslam. More worryingly perhaps for Byrne is that he is 23 points and eight places behind team-mate Glenn Irwin, who also crashed out of race two at Brands.

In third place with 65 points is Tyco BMW rider Christian Iddon, who would dearly love to stand on top of the podium at what is his home round. Last year Iddon missed out on victory at the Cheshire circuit by just 0.135s behind race winner Richard Cooper.

2015 champion Josh Brookes is best Yamaha rider so far, in fourth place overall Credit: Wright/Double Red

The 2015 champion Josh Brookes has enjoyed a solid return to British Superbikes and is currently top Yamaha. Brookes is in fourth place with 48 points, seven ahead of Smiths Racing BMW’s Peter Hickman on 41. The top six is completed by Glen Irwin on the second Be Wiser Ducati.

As in World Superbikes, the new Honda Fireblades are not yet on the pace with Dan Linfoot and Jason O’Halloran in seventh and eighth places, the best finish both riders have achieved is fifth place.

The top ten is rounded off by the Yamaha McAms pairing of James Ellison and Michael Laverty.

2017 British Superbike Championship standings

1. Leon Haslam (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) 86 points

2. Luke Mossey (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) 81

3. Christian Iddon (Tyco BMW) 65

4. Josh Brookes (Anvil Hire Yamaha) 48

5. Peter Hickman (Smiths Racing BMW) 37

6. Glenn Irwin (Be Wiser Ducati) 36

 

After a three week break the World Superbike Championship returns for round four at the iconic Assen circuit. Kawasaki’s Jonathan Rea once again dominates the series and will line up at the Dutch circuit with a 50-point advantage at the head of the championship.

Last year Rea won both races with team-mate Tom Sykes and Chaz Davies on the Ducati taking one second place apiece. So far in 2017 Rea has been even more dominant than in 2016. He arrived in Assen last year with three wins from six races, this year it is five from six. His one blemish was a second place in the second race at Aragon last time out.

Rea has won the last five races and nine in total at Assen so as ever will be full of confidence heading into the weekend. Of the 50 World Superbike races held at the Dutch circuit, 26 have been won by British riders.

Sykes, currently third in the championship, won at Assen in 2013 and has secured pole position at the circuit on four occasions. Last year he crashed out of race one but went on to finish second in race two. After fighting off illness at Aragon, where he finished third and fourth, Sykes will be hoping to be closer to the pace this weekend.

Home support will be rooting for Michael van der Mark. The Pata Yamaha rider is currently sixth in the championship, six points behind British rider Alex Lowes, also on a Pata Yamaha. Last year van der Mark finished on the podium in race two.

Italian Marco Melandri on the same Ducati as Davies has impressed on his return to World Superbikes. He is currently in fourth position, with four podium finishes from the six races so far. Without doubt he has the pace to challenge for podiums, though whether he has the pace to challenge Rea at the head of the pack remains to be seen.

On the evidence so far this season, Rea looks as difficult as ever to beat and is looking odds on to clinch that third consecutive World Superbike title.

2017 World Superbike Championship standings

1. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) 145 points

2. Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing Ducati) 95

3. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) 91

4. Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing Ducati) 81

5. Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha) 65

6. Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha) 49

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