The British Superbikes Championship returns to Oulton Park this bank holiday weekend for the third round, and it is looking likely this year’s riders will bring warm and dry weather with them!
Widely acknowledged as the most picturesque race circuit in the country and voted best UK circuit by BSB fans in 2007, Oulton Park features rapidly changing gradients and blind crests which presents a supreme challenge to the riders.
The 2017 season saw some heroic rides from Jake Dixon at Oulton Park. Having consistently run in the top three during practice last year, Dixon secured pole position during qualifying for Sunday’s opening lap race with a time of 1 minute 33.959 seconds.
Unfortunately damage from a crash in morning warm-up meant he only just made the race start and, when he did it was from pit lane and not pole position! Despite never previously starting a race from pit lane; what followed was simply superb and belied his years as he fought his way through the pack in the wet and difficult conditions, moving up to fifth on lap 14. There was further drama when race leader Dan Linfoot went out on lap 14 with a technical issue and although the race was subsequently stopped, thus denying Jake a chance of third, fourth was a brilliant result.
His sterling efforts were rewarded with the fastest lap of the race which meant he could start the second encounter from a deserved pole position and he duly completed the first lap in the lead. He remained here until the tenth lap when first race winner Leon Haslam pushed him back to second and with the softer SC0 tyre not giving him as much grip as some of his rivals, the second half of the race proved to be a much sterner test. Jake was powerless to defend his position as he would have liked but he still crossed the line in sixth for ten valuable points, just eight adrift now of second place.
Team-mate Jordan Weaving qualified in a season’s best fourth for Saturday’s opening Pirelli National Superstock 1000 race but he didn’t quite have the pace to maintain that position in the fully dry conditions and, after also experiencing wheel spin, he slipped back to 14th although the tenth fastest lap meant he still started the second race from the fourth row of the grid.
Held over the slightly shorter distance of 11 laps, a good start by the 20-year old saw him move up to ninth and he got stronger and stronger throughout the race. With four laps of the race remaining, he was up to fifth and although James Rispoli pushed him back to sixth half way round the final lap, the former Superstock 600 Champion responded with an excellent final corner pass to secure a superb fifth place.
See how the lads got on last year:
We look forward to seeing how the boys get on this year; with last year’s results being so positive their hard work could seriously pay off. Will we see Jake on the podium having narrowly missed out last year?
To follow the weekend’s events you can see the TV coverage schedule here.