By Philip Wain
This weekend sees the MCE British Superbike Championship make its annual visit overseas with the penultimate round of the series taking place at Assen in Holland.
The Circuit van Drenthe, or ‘Cathedral of motorcycling’, as it is also known, has hosted a BSB round since 2012 and this year will again see it form part of the Showdown with Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne arriving at the Dutch circuit at the top of the Championship table.
A superb double victory last time out at Donington Park, coupled with a race two crash for closest rival Leon Haslam, has given him a 27-point lead but with five races still to go and 125 points on the table, the Be Wiser Ducati rider knows better than anyone that it’s only a relatively minute margin.
The four-time Champion has seen title leads come and go in the past and Haslam has, arguably, proven to be his biggest challenger of all. The JG Speedfit Kawasaki rider admitted he should have settled for second at Donington and taken the points but a double victory at Assen would see him go to the final round with a great chance of taking his maiden BSB title.
Whilst it looks like the Championship will ultimately be fought out between these two, the chasing pack won’t have given up just yet and, of course, the unpredictable Dutch weather could also play its part.
Dan Linfoot and Jason O’Halloran (Honda Racing) are their closest challengers and have regularly run at the front this season whilst the Kawasaki pairing of James Ellison (JG Speedfit) and Luke Mossey (Quattro Plant) will be looking to right the wrongs from their respective Donington weekends.
The points deficit to Byrne and Haslam looks ominous, to say the least, but they have nothing to lose and they’ll simply be going all out for race wins and podiums between now and the end of the season.
The race for the BSB Rider’s Cup, for the rider finishing seventh overall, is a lot tighter with just a handful of points separating Peter Hickman, Richard Cooper, Michael Laverty, Christian Iddon and Tommy Bridewell and this particular fight looks like it will go down to the very last race of the year at Brands Hatch next month.