The MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship made its annual trip across the North Sea to the Circuit Van Drenthe in Assen, Holland last week end as the series entered the final two rounds. As is usually the case with Assen there is no place for the STK1000 or STK600 Championships for this trip so it was a weekend off for Jordan Weaving and Tom Tunstall.
For Tyco BMW man Josh Elliott it was a weekend of opportunity after the Northern Irishman was drafted in to the Superbike team to replace fellow #FuelledByXpressCoffee countryman Andy Reid. After a strong showing at Snetterton in the Summer coving for Christian Iddon, it was an unexpected chance for the former STK1000 Champion to make his mark in the premier class.
It was during qualifying that Josh really ‘made his mark’ when, during the opening wet Q1 session, he asked for the power on his Tyco BMW S1000RR only for it to flick him out of the seat for what looked like a certain high-side crash however he held on superbly, despite being thrown over the side of the bike and eventually remounting without stopping; definitely save of the year in BSB so far this season.
Despite his acrobatics, Josh joined McAMS Yamaha’s James Ellison and Michael Laverty for Q2 before impressively progressing to Q3 with Ellison as Laverty failed to make the cut for the final session. It was Ellison that took Pole Position at the Grand Prix circuit with Josh a very creditable 7th fastest in his first experiences of a full-fat Superbike in the wet.
Race 1 saw Ellison start like a scolded cat from Pole Position under sunshine and blue skies although the same could not be said for Elliott or Laverty. Elliott found himself punted wide at turn 2, rejoining further down the pack while Laverty made a swift return to the garage after just one lap. Another difficult weekend for the former Supersport champion.
Ellison held the lead until lap 10 when the chasing pack of Haslam, Byrne, Guintoli battled past the still-injured Cumbrian. A titanic battle ensued as Brookes and Brad Ray joined the fray. Haslam it was that took the flag ahead of Byrne with Ellison on the podium again in third place after a last corner pass on Guintoli. Josh Elliott and his Tyco BMW couldn’t quite replicate the heroics of qualifying in the warmer and drier conditions, coming home in 19th place.
Race 2 saw Ellison start 5th, Laverty 15th and Elliott in 19th as the tension in the MCE BSB Championship increases. A good start saw Ellison settle in to third place as both Laverty and Elliott held station while the laps unfolded. By mid distance Ellison tracked race leader Byrne while Laverty made inroads towards the top ten to try and salvage something from the weekend leaving Elliott to battle with championship regulars Jackson, Mossey, Jessopp and Smrz.
A charging and resurgent Guintoli took Ellison in to turn 1 on lap 12 before fending off the attentions of Leon Haslam for a handful of laps before Brookes took the initiative to chase the factory R1. A small mistake at turn 3 saw Ellison lose momentum allowing both Haslam and Brookes to push past, demoting Ellison down to fourth with two laps to go. Despite a herculean effort on the last lap it wasn’t to be for Ellison, just not close enough to make a move on third placed Haslam. Michael Laverty finished 15th and Josh Elliott 20th after a gamble on set-up failed to pay off.