It was the long trip north to the Scottish National Motorsports centre at Knockhill in Scotland that greeted the #FuelledByXpressCoffee riders as the MCE British Superbike Championship returned to action following the break in proceedings for the International NW200 and the Isle of Man TT Races. The Fife race circuit is one of the shortest on the calendar and almost always delivers great racing alongside occasionally unstable weather!
Although while the BSB boys had the full break, the Superstock riders contested their fourth round of the championship in support of the WorldSBK Championship at Donington Park over the late May Bank Holiday Weekend. Integro BMW’s Tom Tunstall and Briggs Equipment Lee Hardy Racing’s Jordan Weaving were in action with the Yorkshireman Tunstall bagging a 10th place finish while a luckless Weaving found himself in the gravel trap at Redgate corner after being collected by another rider.
The McAMS Yamaha pairing of James Ellison and Michael Laverty relished the return to action after the lay-off, determined to build momentum with their factory Yamaha YZF R1s. It was a front row start for Ellison as Laverty continued to work hard for a breakthrough on set-up with 15th place on the grid. After a strong start the Cumbrian’s race ended early, shortly after regaining 3rd place ahead of Jason O’Halloran it was a crash at turn 6 that ended Ellison’s hopes of a victory in race one. Ulsterman Laverty improved on his qualifying position with a 10th place finish and more data for the team to work through.
Race 2 saw a change in fortune for both McAMS Yamaha riders as Ellison lead the way for the majority of the race, only to be squeezed back to 2nd place in closing stages by the hard-charging revelation of the weekend, Jake Dixon. For Laverty it was something of a breakthrough weekend, the gap from the winner in race one stood at 20 seconds whereas in race two it was slashed to a confidence-inspiring 6 seconds, a big positive to take to Snetterton for the next round at the end of June.
The #FuelledByXpressCoffee stable was almost back to full strength north of the border as former STK1000 Champion Josh Elliott returned to the championship for the first time this season, standing in at Tyco BMW for the injured Ian Hutchinson. After 8 months off a motorcycle, the Ulsterman showed he’d lost none of his pace as he narrowly missed out on a front row start for race one ahead of fellow Xpress Coffee riders Tunstall in 17th and Weaving in 19th. Race one at the tight and twisty Fife circuit saw Elliott bag a solid top five finish while Weaving and Tunstall improved on their Qualifying positions with 11th and 14th respectively.
It was a different story for both Elliott and Weaving in race 2 as the Tyco BMW man was forced to retire with a technical issue while the South African double British Champion slid out of contention in the closing stages. So it was left to Tom Tunstall to fly the lone Xpresss Coffee flag, snatching the final point-scoring position in 15th place.
The MCE British Superbike Championship returns to action at the end of June at the Snetterton 300 circuit, a favourite for many riders. Will Josh Elliott return with Tyco BMW? Will we see Andy Reid return to action for his first laps of the season? As yet, we don’t know, but we have our fingers crossed for a full house of riders for the first time in 2017.