BMW Motorrad Motorsport
Brands Hatch, Great Britain, 21/10/2015, British Superbike Championship
Ending the year on top: Tyco BMW rider Michael Laverty claimed a win and a podium at the final round of the British Superbike Championship (BSB) at Brands Hatch. Fellow BMW rider Adam Jenkinson rounded off a successful weekend by taking his place on the podium after the Superstock race.
The fans were treated to a feast of racing once again at the finale. In the Superbike class (BSB SBK), three races were scheduled on the longer “Grand Prix” layout of the Brands Hatch circuit – one on Saturday, two on Sunday. Laverty came home ninth in the opening race, before landing his BMW S 1000 RR on the podium in both of Sunday’s races.
In the second race of the weekend, on Sunday afternoon, Laverty produced an impressive fightback: starting from 12th on the grid, he steadily worked his way through the field to cross the finish line third. While he usually opts for the hard compound, Laverty had decided to run the soft rear tyre this time. “I was actually learning the tyre in the early laps of the race and how the bike reacted. I got a little bit stronger through the race, and made some passes,” Laverty explained afterwards. He believed there was still room for improvement in the final race of the season: “The bike actually wasn't set up perfectly for it, so hopefully we can make a few tweaks for the last race and come back again stronger.”
He was to be proven right. In the final race, he was embroiled in a thrilling three-way battle with James Ellison and Shane Byrne. The lead changed hands between the three riders several times, but it was Laverty who ultimately came out on top: he crossed the finish line first with a lead of 0.273 seconds. This was the first BSB victory with the BMW S 1000 RR for Laverty, who was contesting his first season on the Superbike from Munich.
“We kept the best for last,” said Laverty after his win. “But all credit to the Tyco BMW lads, as they have kept their faith in me and this is a perfect reward for their efforts. We’ve been building towards a win for the past few rounds and, since we had the upgrades in Assen (including a new swing arm), I’ve always believed we’d have top three pace.”
“Coming into Brands this weekend I was thinking I’d love to stand on the top step,” Laverty continued. “After a few tweaks after today’s first race, I rode the final race with a lot of heart. In the early laps I wanted to get to the front but was scared of overworking my tyre. However, I had grip right until the end. I was a little weak into the second last corner and I knew the boys would have a go, but I kept going straight back at them. This win is as much for the whole team as it is for me. Thanks to the boys for giving me a great package, as my BMW S 1000 RR worked perfectly.”
Laverty was one of the six “Title Fighters” in the BSB Showdown. He ended the season in fourth place overall with 601 points. His team-mate Tommy Bridewell, also a Title Fighter, was sixth in the championship with 545 points. Bridewell finished 11th twice and 12th at Brands Hatch. BMW ended the year third in the Manufacturers’ Championship.
Buildbase BMW rider Lee Jackson, who was contesting his first season in the Superbike class, also impressed at the finale. He came home fifth in Saturday’s race – his best result of the season – making him the best-placed rider on an RR. He was then sixth in race two on Sunday afternoon. His only disappointment came in the form of an unfortunate DNF in the final race.
The 20-year-old has improved consistently over the course of his debut season in the Superbike class. He has shown the Buildbase BMW team enough for them to continue to put their faith in him next year. “I'm really happy to be staying with Buildbase BMW next year. We've got a great team here with an awesome package with the BMW S 1000 RR,” said Jackson. “We've had a good year, but as a rider I'm always looking for better results and I feel that next year, with a season under my belt, we can push on further towards the top six.” This will be Jackson’s fourth season with Buildbase BMW, having previously spent two years racing for the team in the Superstock class.
Team manager Steve Hicken has high hopes for the youngster: “Considering he only turned 20 a couple of weeks ago, Lee has had a brilliant season this year. He's one of the youngest riders on the grid and has shown himself to be a top ten challenger and even been fighting for top six positions this year. He has developed a lot as a rider throughout the year, found some consistency and each weekend he takes another step forward.”
As well as Laverty, Bridewell and Jackson, a further four BMW riders were in action at Brands Hatch. Peter Hickman (RAF Reserves BMW) finished 12th twice and 11thonce. Martin Jessopp (Riders Motorcycles BMW) was 16th, 15th and 13th. Billy McConnell (Smiths Racing BMW) came home 15th in race one, but failed to finish the final two races.
Jackson’s Buildbase BMW team-mate Richard Cooper was unable to line up for the races, after crashing in qualifying. He suffered slight concussion and a burst blood vessel in his neck. Cooper had arrived at Brands Hatch as the best-placed rider outside the Title Showdown, meaning he was well-placed to win the BSB Riders’ Cup. In the end, he came up 12 points short.
In the Superstock (BSB STK) race, the season drew to a close with another podium for the BMW S 1000 RR: Adam Jenkinson (Northern Escalator Installations) finished third. He was followed over the finish line by Luke Quigley (Formwise Washrooms / Bathams) in fourth place. Dominic Usher (DU Racing BMW) came home seventh to take his place in the top ten.
In the overall standings, places two to five all went to BMW riders: Alastair Seeley (Tyco BMW / four wins and four further podium finishes) ended the season in the runner-up spot behind champion Josh Elliott, Hudson Kennaugh (Trik-Moto BMW / three wins and five further podium finishes) was third overall. Quigley followed in fourth place, with Jenkinson fifth.