This weekend saw the Bennetts British Superbike Championship setup camp at the historic Donington Park, nestled in the rolling hills of Derbyshire. It’s a special place not only for the LAMI OMG Racing crew, being our ‘home’ track, but for Kyle Ryde, who cut his teeth here as a youngster, having grown up just a few miles away. We were determined to put on a show for the thousands that came to support us, and neither Kyle nor Ryan (Vickers) would disappoint.
Friday would see two Free Practice sessions, the combined times of which would be used to decide who would fight it out in the very first Omologato Superpole of the year. The 10 fastest across both sessions would move through into the single lap shoot out on Saturday, deciding where they’d start Race 1. So it’s safe to say they’re important.
As you’d expect, our boys would take it in their stride, with Kyle finding his feet right from the off, finishing FP1 in second, less than 0.1 of a second from the top spot, before topping the times in FP2 with a spectacular 1:27.795, which had it been performed in a qualifying or race setting, would have been an outright lap record.
Ryan would ride incredibly during FP2 to secure the 7th fastest time overall, just over 0.5 of a second away from his teammate on the top spot. This is even more impressive when you consider that just a few weeks ago he had surgery to repair a broken wrist, which forced him to sit out the last round at Oulton Park. Throughout the whole weekend he was in pain, managing it fantastically to surpass any previous results within the championship, as we were to discover.
With both riders secured in the Omologato Superpole, Kyle’s first ever, all eyes were on the team as we headed into Saturday. FP3 was to act as a quick warm up, with Kyle electing to take it (relatively) easy in order to stay prepared for what was to come. Ryan, conversely, would push hard, despite being unable to take painkillers, crossing the line P6.
FP4 however would see Kyle go for broke, beating his previous lap time by 0.16 of a second and finishing P1, giving an indication of things to come, whilst Ryan would again close the session P6.
So this was it; The Big Moment. The first Omologato Superpole of the year, and Kyle’s first ever. As is traditional, he would go last, watching the times tumble as 14 other riders (the top 5 from Qualifying would go through) battled hard across a single lap to secure Pole for Race 1. One mistake and you’re out. The pressure was palpable. But we needn’t have worried. With everyone holding their breath, he would cross the line P1, yet again improving his lap time by 0.3 of a second, with Ryan P11 despite being less than a second behind.
With the mood high, the weather perfect and VIP guests enjoying their time on the BSB Grid, it was time for The Bennetts Bike Sprint Race. Could Kyle keep his cool and capitalise on starting at the very front?
Of course he could! A lights-to-flag victory would be his reward for a stellar start, pulling the gap between him and P2 out to almost a second by the time Lap 4 of the 12-lap session rolled around, taking the win in front of a screaming crowd. Ryan would be a little less lucky, as despite a storming start saw him close to the front, an incident that almost caused him to crash would drop him back to P15 during the middle of Lap 1. He would soon prove why he’s worthy of racing in the world’s most popular circuit series though, as he would battle like his life depended on it to cross the line P7 at the close, making up a seriously impressive 8 places during the short race. Would we have seen a podium had the incident not happened? Quite possibly. But with two races left to run, who knows what could happen.
Sunday dawned as a perfect British spring day, evidenced by the huge crowds lining the circuit from the moment the gates opened. Having posted the second fastest lap in the Bennetts Bike Sprint Race, Kyle would start the first race of the day P2, with Ryan not far behind in P6. Again, Kyle would make a textbook start to take the holeshot heading into Redgate, only losing the place briefly to Haslam on Lap4, before regaining it and pulling out a decent lead. In a stroke of the worst luck possible, his front end would wash out into Redgate on Lap 12, putting him into the gravel and costing him what could’ve been another win.
Whilst LAMI OMG Racing’s luck wasn’t on Kyle’s side during Race 2, someone was certainly looking down on Ryan. Following the relaunch of the pack on Lap 13 after the necessary Safety Car period, he would make up ground from P5 to P4, before dropping back to P7 on Lap 15. It seems this ignited something in the 24-year-old, as he would make a fantastic move around the Melbourne loop later that lap to fight his way to P5, before what can only be described as a furious charge through the front runners saw him secure P2 on Lap 17. He would bear down on O’Halloran hard during the final couple of laps, but was ultimately unable to quite topple the Aussie, crossing the line just 0.3 of a second behind to secure his first ever BSB podium, to the rapturous applause of thousands.
Respect has to go to the team, who worked relentlessly to repair the damaged Yamaha R1 of Kyle Ryde-not being out for Race 3 wasn’t an option. As you’d expect, we had nothing to worry about, as the perfect LAMI OMG Racing liveried carbon fibre machine would roll onto the grid P2 for the final race of the day, with Ryan kicking off P5.
In an almost perfect repeat of Race 1, Kyle would take the holeshot, and other than a short battle with Bridwell on Lap 6, would be unchallenged to the close, taking his second race win of the weekend. Following in the footsteps of his teammate, Ryan would himself make a flawless start to enter Redgate P2, giving LAMI OMG Racing the lead for the first lap. Unfortunately he’d concede the place to Bridewell on the second lap, dropping back to P6 on Lap 6, before a spectacular move on both O’Halloran and Iddon through the Melbourne Esses to secure P4. Despite charging hard, he wouldn’t quite be able to grab the podium spot from Glen Irwin, crossing the line just 0.102 of a second behind.
To round out the weekend, BSB fans voted Kyle the Bennetts Bike Rider of The Round, for which we’d like to extend a genuine thank you as a team.
LAMI OMG Racing leave Donington Park third in the Teams’ Standings, just 12 points off the top spot, with Kyle P5 & Ryan P9 in the Riders’ results. The latter is made even more impressive when you remember that he’s missed an entire race weekend so far this season. The team are now preparing for the Isle of Man TT, and will next be on track at Knockhill for BSB Round 4, on the 16th – 18th June.
Alan Gardner, LAMI OMG Racing Team Owner – “This weekend was almost perfect for LAMI OMG Racing, and I cannot begin to tell you how proud I am of every single team member for the work they put in to get us on the podium in every single race. For Kyle to take Pole in his first ever Omologato Superpole was an amazing moment for all of us, especially with our newly announced partnership with the watch manufacturer. It’s no secret that I’ve been a big fan of Ryan for a while, so to finally see him on that podium was a personal highlight for me. Had Kyle not had his off in Race 2, I think it’s likely we would’ve seen him on that top step for all 3 races, which at his and our home track would be amazing.”
Paul Curran, LAMI OMG Racing Team Principal – “From an engineering perspective I couldn’t be happier with the weekend. The team have worked relentlessly, as always, to make sure the bikes we give the boys are the best they can possibly be, and I can’t thank Shannon, Daz & Jim enough for the job they did putting Kyle’s bike back together after Race 2. The new track surface was a bit of an unknown for everyone going into the weekend, but it’s safe to say that with Kyle breaking records in almost every session, between us, Pirelli Moto & Bitubo Suspension we had the bike absolutely nailed.”