This weekend saw the Bennetts British Superbike Championship roll up en masse at Brands Hatch, one of the most popular circuits on the BSB calendar. Running on the full-length GP layout, it would be the first of our twice annual visit to the 2.4 mile long track, and would play host to the first proper wet race we’ve seen yet this year.
Friday’s two Free Practice sessions would be even more important than usual this round, with the Top 12 combined going through to the Omologato Superpole on Saturday afternoon-an event LAMI OMG Racing have seen great success in, with Kyle snatching Pole at Donington Park earlier this year. All eyes were very definitely on the prize, and both riders would set out like men possessed for the first session.
It would be Vickers that ultimately came out on top over his teammate, albeit by just 0.006 of a second, finishing the session P4. The session was ultimately cut short with 10-minutes left to run, which would prove to be something of a omen of how the rest of the weekend would run.
Free Practice 2 would be a little more exciting than the first, with the track running around 0.5 second quicker than the earlier afternoon session, along with the threat of rain forcing everyone to bank their fastest laps possible throughout.
With 13 minutes to run, Kyle would have completed just 5 laps, close to half of the majority of the grid, and would be sat in P13, before securing P12 and his place in Saturday’s Omologato Superpole with just 30 seconds to go.
With 30 minutes of the session to run, Ryan would be sat in P3, before boxing with 9 to go for some small setup changes. With just 7 minutes on the clock he would head back out, cracking Pole with just 4 minutes left on the clock by a massive 0.113 seconds over Bridewell. Despite the Ducati man’s best attempts, he was unable to best Vickers, leaving the Norfolk-based racer 0.084 seconds clear going into Saturday. Ultimately, the Top 16 riders would be separated by just 0.899 of a second.
Saturday’s weather would be less forgiving than the Friday, by quite some margin. As the time for the Omologato Superpole came around, with some serious rain coming down just a few minutes before it all kicked off, Series Director Stuart Higgs and his team made the decision to revert to the Wet Procedure, meaning the qualified riders would head out together for 12 minutes in the standard qualifying format.
Ryan would prove himself a force to be reckoned with, jumping straight to the top on his first flying lap, almost 0.9 faster than Bridewell on the following, dancing with the Ducati rider to swap places throughout the session. On his last lap he would drop to P3 to Brookes’ BMW, before crossing the line P2 behind the aforementioned Bridewell.
Kyle too would fight hard during the session, sitting P5 at the halfway point, before shooting up to P3 with 3 minutes to go, the Top 8 riders constantly swapping places during the final moments. Unfortunately, he would cross the line just a few seconds too late to bank another fast lap as the track surface improved and times shot up, meaning he would be forced to start the Bennetts Bike Social Sprint Race P8, a position far below his proven pace during the session.
Race 1 would start much like any other wet race for the team at LAMI OMG Racing, but end anything but, indelibly etched into the memory of every single member of the team.
Ryan would make a fantastic start, holding his position until Turn 1, losing P2 to Kent through Paddock Hill, before regaining it shortly after as they went through Surtees. He would make a lunge for P1 through Paddock Hill heading into the second lap, but was unable to make it stick. Not one to give up easily, he made it through later that lap and set off into the figurative sunset, grabbing the Fastest Lap on Lap 4, before very nearly losing the lead to the Honda of Kent on the same lap. He would remain in the lead until the close of Lap 8, whereby the session would be halted by a red flag caused by Haslam dropping fluid onto the track.
With the race having not quite run the required 2/3 of 12-lap distance to declare it finished, the whole team were on tenterhooks awaiting the news as to whether we needed to restart or not. After a few very anxious minutes, the news would filter down that the race had been called on safety grounds, declaring Ryan the winner – his first ever Bennetts British Superbike victory.
Kyle would have less luck, struggling with feel of his bike during the waterlogged race. Frustratingly for the multiple race winner and championship favourite, he would be unable to tame his Yamaha R1 as he usually can, eventually finishing P14, albeit it with only half the normal points due to the shortened race.
Despite rain throughout the night, Sunday would be mercifully dry, and back to the muggy heat we’ve come to expect from British summers. The sunshine brought with it more luck for the team – for the first race at least.
Kyle would start P15, after being unable to bank a fast lap during Saturday’s race, but would soon show the crowd he was back to his old ways by surging through the grid, making up 3 places during the first lap alone. By the close of Lap 3 he found himself P9, eventually crossing the line P7 to secure a strong points haul, bolstering his championship efforts.
Ryan would start P3, holding his position well despite a battle with Bridewell & Kent seeing the 3 swap positions a number of times. Lap 12 would see him just 0.05 seconds from the Ducati of Bridwell in P2, before eventually being passed by Kent and Glen Irwin to finish the session P5.
Race 3 would prove to be yet another eventful session for the team, with Ryan scoring yet another podium, fighting hard from a P7 start, dropping to P9 on Lap 2. From Laps 5 to 7 he would battle hard with Irwin and others to grab P5, before passing Kent & Irwin to bag P3 on Lap 10. What would follow was a fantastic battle between Bridwell, Iddon & Irwin for the place, finding himself P2 at one point, before eventually crossing the line P3, with the Fastest Lap of the race recorded on Lap 19.
Kyle would have significantly less luck, despite making a blistering start from P4, finding himself P3 on Lap 2, with the pace to potentially bag himself another win, before a broken gear selector arm forced his retirement on Lap 4, much to the frustration of Kyle & the team.
It wasn’t just the Superbike boys that were going well at Brands Hatch, though, as James Hillier found himself scoring his best Pirelli British Superstock results during the weekend.
Friday’s Free Practice sessions would see the TT-star secure a place in Saturday’s Qualifying 2, whereby he’d cross the line just 2 seconds off Pole, in P15. In Race 1, taking place in the rain on a very wet Saturday afternoon, he’d battle hard to secure P9 at the close. In a much drier Race 2, he would start P14 and hold on to his place until the end, grabbing a solid points haul across the weekend.
Aaron Daykin would work hard to improve his performance in the Pirelli National Junior Superstock championship onboard his LAMI OMG Racing Yamaha R6, making up more than 3 seconds & 7 places during the race. As a track he’s not felt strong at in the past on his one & only visit, he proved he’s one to watch in the future, and impressed the team with his level of effort & professionalism.
LAMI OMG Racing leave Brands Hatch second in the standings, with Kyle holding fast in P3 & Ryan P9. With 5 rounds left to go and more to come from both riders, the team will be looking to retain their title for a second year.
Alan Gardner, LAMI OMG Racing Team Owner – “It’s amazing to see Ryan demonstrating what all of us at LAMI OMG Racing knew he was capable of, and proving to everyone how fast he is, and that he’s capable of taking it to everyone at the sharp end! I’m incredibly proud of him bagging his first win this weekend, especially in the wet. He’s proving himself to be a consistent front runner now, and if Kyle hadn’t had been plagued by bad luck in Race 3, I think we would’ve seen them both on the podium.”
Paul Curran, LAMI OMG Racing Team Principal – “Firstly, congratulations have to go to Ryan & his side of the garage for the incredible performance he put on during the Bike Social Sprint Race. To score your first win is a massive deal, but to do it in such tricky conditions is even more impressive – well done guys! Race 3 was incredibly frustrating for all of us, not least of all Kyle, thanks to a small gear selector arm snapping and ending his race early. He was absolutely on fire during the early stages, and I think we would have seen at the very least a podium, if not a win, had the part not failed, but unfortunately that’s racing. We’re still second in the standings as a team, and Kyle third in the Riders’ Standings, so we’ve still got a good shot at retaining that title, and that’s all that’s in our minds as we prepare for Thruxton.”
Kyle Ryde, LAMI OMG Racing Superbike #77 – “The weekend started positively for me once we’d worked through setups and found one I Was happy with, but the changes in weather and a tricky Qualifying session meant I had my work cut out in the races. It took me a while to find my rhythm in the Bike Social Sprint Race and was cut short just as I was getting into it, meaning I couldn’t get a good enough lap time in to secure a decent spot for Sunday. Race 2 was strong for me, fighting my way through to the leading pack and bagging a second row start for the final race. The final race was feeling mega for me as I started to battle for the lead, but a small technical fault beyond the team’s control cut that short unfortunately. Its not how I wanted to end the weekend, but we showed great pace and will come out all guns blazing at Thruxton. Thanks again to my team for all their hard work.”
Ryan Vickers, LAMI OMG Racing Superbike #7 – “Traditionally Brands Hatch has always been the worst circuit performance wise for me, so this weekend has been amazing for me & the team, and I can’t thank them enough. It’s great that we’ve proved our pace in both the dry & wet now, and come Race 3 the bike felt absolutely amazing after the guys made a few changes from Race 2. It was great to be the fastest rider on circuit during the final race, and I just kept chipping away, but once we got up into P3 I put the hammer down and made sure I was the fastest in the final laps – that’s how you win races. I’m absolutely loving it, and I’m properly excited for Thruxton in a few weeks, as I know we can take what we’ve learned about tyre life and maximise it, hopefully for some more trophies.”
James Hillier, LAMI OMG Racing National Superstock #37 – “It’s been a really positive weekend and another step forward. We finished both races ahead of where we ended up at Snetterton, and grabbing P9 in the wet just shows we’re moving in the right direction. My riding is improving I feel, and I felt really comfortable with the bike in the wet, everything is working well, and the team do an amazing job every time we go out. It was genuinely an enjoyable weekend, which is what it should be when you go racing!”
Aaron Daykin, LAMI OMG Racing National Junior Superstock #29 – “It was a good weekend overall for us. Brands isn’t my strongest track – I’d only been there once before this weekend, and I struggled, but we made some really good progress during the weekend. I took more than 3 seconds off my lap times between FP1 & the race, and gained some positions during that, so we’re definitely going in the right direction and I’m learning all the time. I’m really looking forward to Thruxton, and then getting back to the circuits we’ve already raced at this year so I can make even more progress.