After months of waiting, we’re now three rounds deep into the shortened 2020 Bennetts British Superbike Championship, and overall, it’s been a strong start for us. We had a difficult start to the season, but as a team, we’ve been able to put our heads together and find a solution which paid off at Silverstone.
Last year was tough, breaking my wrist at Thruxton, putting in all the work and not getting results out of it made us more determined ahead of this season, but unfortunately due to Covid-19 and the lockdown restrictions we had to wait a lot longer to get back on track and back in the podium battles. After over a year since my last BSB win, I managed to get back on the top step at Silverstone and backed the performance up with a podium in the third race of the weekend.
It’s taken a while to get the feeling back with my YZF-R1. It started at the Donington test. We have new tyres for this season, and I’ve struggled to adapt my style to get the best out of them. It wasn’t coming to me, and I was never really fast, and we struggled to find the cure. It didn’t help me with the new format of the BSB weekend, with a single practice on Friday, and then you’re pretty much straight into Qualifying and the race on Saturday afternoon.
Donington didn’t start too well for me. I crashed on Saturday morning and then again on Sunday morning, which knocked my confidence. We came out of Donington with two sevenths and a sixth which wasn’t where I know I could be, but equally, it was good to get points in all three races. We worked hard between Donington and Snetterton, speaking to the World Superbike team who helped us a lot and from then I’ve felt more and more confident with my McAMS Yamaha.
Snetterton was a good weekend for me. Each time I went out on the bike, I felt better and better, and it showed in the third race, being able to fight with the front guys gave me the confidence I needed moving into a big weekend at Silverstone, where we took victory at last year.
I knew Silverstone was going to be a strong weekend, the nature of the track suits the YZF-R1, and myself and my team was confident. Although the set-up of last year was irrelevant, we found a good set up and focused a lot on race pace, completing practice on used tyres which paid off in the first race.
I qualified 12th for the opening race of the weekend, which made my podium charge difficult because there aren’t many passing opportunities on the National circuit. I aimed to get as close to the podium positions as possible, but as the race went on, my pace remained strong, and I eventually hit the front. I was telling myself to take a podium and not push too hard, but I saw the gap grow and grow and grow, and I managed to hang on after the last lap charge from Kyle Ryde to take the win. It was an overwhelming victory. After everything we’ve been through, to take the win was a special moment for the team. It was amazing to cross the finish line in first, and it meant a lot to the team, who was crying when I got to Parc Fermé which set me off!
The good thing was, nothing changed between Snetterton and Silverstone. I never found a bit more talent or a load more experience, it was just a case of hard work from everyone in my corner, and I’m grateful for their hard work to get me back on the top step.
Unfortunately, race two didn’t go according to plan. We had another strong start to the race but had to retire due to a technical issue. It was a bit frustrating because in this shortened season, with no showdown, every race is crucial and every point matters. However, it’s all ifs and buts, but those extra points could have made a massive difference to us. Despite not finishing, I knew I had pace once again and set off in race three ready to prove myself again.
It was a great race, and I was able to pick up another podium in second with Jason O’Halloran picking up his third podium of the weekend; so that proves what we already knew, the bike and team are an incredibly strong package.
We now head to Oulton Park, a circuit that I have been strong at in the past. I finished fourth in my debut season in the Superbike class and have had previous success’ there in the lower classes. Oulton is a track I like a lot. However, you always have the curveballs, changeable weather and challenging conditions will make it essential to finish and take as many points as possible to put us in a good position ahead of Donington Park GP and the season finale at Brands Hatch.
Finally, I want to thank all the BSB fans for their support. It’s tough not having you trackside to celebrate with but we, as a community, must do all we can to make sure it’s safe to return trackside sooner rather than later.