This weekend saw LAMI OMG Racing make their yearly pilgrimage to Thruxton circuit, the UK’s fastest race track, for Round 7 of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship. The Hampshire track provides a unique set of challenges to both the team & riders, with a rough surface placing demands on the tyres unlike any other UK-based circuit. In fact, Pirelli ended up bringing a somewhat new tyre to the weekend, which would be run across all teams, having only been used as the Option tyre at Silverstone earlier this year. It would make for an interesting few races.
As always, Friday would see two Free Practice sessions take place, the collective result of which would determine who would garner automatic entry into the hallowed “Qualifying 2” on Saturday afternoon, and which would need to fight for their place during “Qualifying 1” just beforehand.
Both riders would make a strong start to the weekend, with both Ryan & Kyle electing to use the first session to establish a good base setup for the bike, and to understand the nuances of the all-but-untested Pirelli tyre. During FP1, Kyle would hold ground in the Top 5 until just a few minutes before the end of the 40-minute session, eventually finishing P8.
Ryan would head out slightly later than the rest of the field, but within 3 laps was sitting firmly at the top of the times. After boxing (entering the garage) for some setup changes, he would head back out with 16 minutes to go, holding P2 until just 4 minutes before the end, where he’d be pipped for P3.
FP2 would yet again see Kyle head straight out to bank as much track time as possible on the new tyre. On his first flying lap he would find himself P4 across the combined lap times, boxing a number of times for minor changes to be made, before eventually finding himself rounding out the Top 10 combined times at the close, securing his spot in Quali 2.
Ryan would have a little less luck, with a fuel pressure issue in the pitlane delaying his exit. The team in the garage went straight to work and it was all sorted within 15-minutes, meaning he could head out and bank a fast lap. On his first flying lap he would go purple (fastest of the session to that point) in Sector 1, putting him immediately in P3. With times around him improving constantly, it was imperative that he kept moving forward to secure that all important Quali2 spot. Unfortunately it was not to be, and an incident with 19-minutes to run meant Ryan dropped the bike, with a few small repairs required before it went back out, ending his session after just a handful of laps. He would miss out on being in the Top 12 by just 0.080 of a second, meaning he would need to join Quali 1 the next day.
Saturday morning would see both riders head out immediately at the start of Free Practice 3, securing good lap times before the rain stopped play, with Kyle ending P3 & Ryan P6, proving that both were well on the pace and ready to go.
Early afternoon would see Ryan head out in the eBayUK Qualifying 1 session, from which the Top 6 would join the second qualifying session of the day just a few minutes later. Confidence in Ryan was high for not only the team, but the tens of thousands watching trackside & at home, and he wouldn’t let us down, going P1 on Lap 4, and holding that spot until the end.
Qualifying 2 would yet again see both riders at the sharp end, with Kyle bagging P3 on his first flying lap, and holding that spot until the close. Meanwhile his teammate would go P1 on his first flier, nearly 0.2 ahead of the pack, before being usurped by the King of Thruxton O’Halloran with just 6-minutes to run. This would secure a front row lockout for the manufacturer, following the announcement that OMG Racing would take over as the Official Yamaha Supported team from 2024, with Ryan & Kyle starting Race 1 P2 & P3 respectively.
The Bennetts Bike Sprint Race is the highlight of the weekend for many fans, with the full grid taking on 14-laps of the fearsomely fast Thruxton circuit. It would see both riders battling at the front of the grid, setting something of a pattern for the weekend, with Kyle kicking off proceedings by snatching P2 into the first corner. What would follow was an excellent display of race craft, battling closely with friend-of-the-team Lee Jackson for a podium spot, before tyre degradation would unfortunately cause him to lose a little pace, eventually crossing the line P8, despite holding tight in the Top-5 until a few laps before the end.
Ryan would have some similar battles during his first race on the R1 at Thruxton, following his teammate into Turn 1, before a wobble on Lap 3 caused him to drop back to P6. He would ride like a man possessed to regain ground, eventually passing Kyle for P2 on Lap 7, battling with the aforementioned Jackson on Lap 10 to take P3 and another podium at the chequered flag. Both riders’ performances would be enough to secure another pair of front row starts for Race 2 on Sunday, with Kyle kicking off P2 & Ryan P3.
Race 2 would see both Ryan & Kyle make a great start, with Kyle grabbing the Holeshot and holding the lead clean & clear until Lap 3, where he would start a fantastic battle with Cheshire Moulding Kawasaki’s Max Cook, eventually executing a beautiful pass around the outside on the entry to the chicane to regain the lead properly. It was on Lap 6 that the pair of LAMI OMG racers would start battling for the top spot, with Kyle retaking the lead from his teammate on Lap 15, before a lack of feel on the front thanks to tyre degradation would start increasing the lap times, crossing the line P6 at the end of the 20th lap.
Ryan would hold his starting position until Lap 2, whereby he’d give ground to Haslam, quickly recovering the place before a mistake dropped him back to P5. Lap 4 would see him post the Fastest Lap of the session, fighting his way through the front runners to eventually pass Kyle at the chicane on Lap 9, before almost high siding on Lap 15 and dropping to P3. The next few laps would see him battle with Kyle & The O’Show to maintain P3, before Nesbitt took it during the closing stages to finish P4.
Race 2 would see Ryan starting from Omologato Pole Position following his Fastest Lap in Race 2, with Kyle on Row 2 in P5. In an attempt to keep his tyres going until the latter stages he wouldn’t push too hard on the first lap, settling for P4 to Haslam, who posted the Fastest Lap, before engaging in one of the closest battles the BSB paddock has ever seen from Lap 5 onwards. After passing Haslam for P3, he would set off in pursuit of Kyle, going through on his teammate for P2 through the chicane on Lap 6, taking Max Cook’s lead at the same place on Lap 7. The youngster would tackle Ryan again on Lap 16, but the LAMI OMG racer would hold his ground, until the same Cook and O’Show would head through on him on Lap 18, dropping him to P3. Despite his absolute best efforts he was unable to hold onto his second podium place of the weekend, with Nesbitt passing him on Lap 20 for P5 at the close.
Whilst the Superbikes were undoubtedly the main draw, James Hillier would yet again be out on the team’s Yamaha R1 ‘Stocker’ in the Pirelli National Superstock with Santander Consumer Finance Championship. Across the two Free Practice sessions, he would secure a Top 13 spot, less than 1.5 seconds off the lead, before an incident in a rather damp Qualifying session would see him off the bike, settling for a P26 start position for Race 1.
The local boy would go hard in the first race of the weekend, making up 8 places to snag P18 at the close, starting Race 2 in the same position, whereby he made up another 2 spots, eventually finishing just half a second outside the points.
For this weekend, rookie Pirelli National Junior Superstock rider Aaron Daykin would be replaced by former British Talent Cup Champion & Red Bull Rookies star Casey O’Gorman. Despite having turned 16 just a few days before, and never having seen the track or even ridden a Yamaha, the teen was to impress not only the team but the entire BSB community during his first outing. Across the two Free Practice sessions his combined lap times would see him P3, just 0.133 off the top spot, surprising everyone with his obvious natural talent.
In Qualifying Casey would go straight to P7 on his very first flying lap, despite heading out a few laps behind his contemporaries, before jumping to P3 on Lap 3, P2 on Lap 4, and going to Pole with 3 minutes left on the clock. With just 1 minute to go his top spot was taken, but he would qualify P2 for his first ever British Junior Superstock race, just 0.017 off Pole.
Unfortunately, despite being tipped by many for the win, he would be taken out by another rider when they attempted a practice start on the green flag lap, meaning he was forced to retire from the single race, leaving him unable to secure victory.
The team (minus James Hiller, who is set to race at the upcoming Classic TT) are next out at Cadwell Park for Round 8 of the 2023 Bennetts British Superbike Championship on August Bank Holiday weekend.
This weekend would see Team Owner Alan Gardner publicly announce his diagnosis with prostate cancer, and the beginning of OMG Racing’s campaign to ensure all men both in & out of the paddock get themselves checked. As the biggest killer of men in the UK, 1-in-8 of us will experience it during our lives, and the likelihood of affliction rises significantly once you reach 40-years-old.
OMG Racing are urging all men, especially those over the age of 40, to contact their doctor or private health clinician and get checked! Together we can save lives.
Alan Gardner, LAMI OMG Racing Team Owner – “It’s been a strange weekend for me personally, but as always the team have done a fantastic job, and I couldn’t be prouder of them. Both Ryan & Kyle proved that they’re worthy of being at the front of that grid, leading two races at separate points, and regardless of wins or podiums (which obviously we always want!), they put on a spectacular display for the fans, which is what it’s all about at the end of the day. I wish we could’ve spent more time on the podium, but they came home safe with a decent points haul so I’m happy. I’m disappointed with what happened to Casey, which was entirely avoidable, but the lad did an incredible job and I’m really proud of him.”
Paul Curran, LAMI OMG Racing Team Principal – “Firstly I’d like to acknowledge the job done by the team in repairing Ryan’s bike so quickly after his off in FP2, as well as the job they did diagnosing and sorting the fuel pressure issue at the start of the session. At the end of the day Lady Luck wasn’t looking our way this weekend, but all 4 riders put in excellent rides and made the best of every situation. Casey has seriously impressed us with not only his very obvious talent, but his attitude surrounding the whole weekend, as he has a lot of people I believe. I think we’ll see some very exciting things from him over the next few years! We’re coming away with more data on the bike and a decent points haul as we head towards Cadwell, so I’m happy.”
Ryan Vickers, LAMI OMG Superbike #7 – “The weekend’s been really good for me to be honest-3 solid Top 5 finishes, a podium, Fastest Lap, leading races and in the battle until the end. The last race I genuinely thought I had a good chance of a win if not a podium, and we were leading it comfortably, but same as Race 2, the tyre pressure just went a little too high. The bike felt amazing in the last session, definitely the best bike I’ve had all weekend, which is always a positive sign, especially after taking a bit of a risk in the setup, but it gives up a perfect benchmark for when we return next year.”
Kyle Ryde, LAMI OMG Racing Superbike #77 – “It’s been a frustrating one for me to be honest, and I’m not happy going away with P8, P7, P6. We made changes each session which made the bike better, but with the new tyre each race the bike just felt completely different for me. Race 1 the tyre pressure was too high, which we sorted for Race 2 and it was perfect at the end, I felt like I could’ve won it, then the last race it went up again. There’s nothing anyone can do about it, it’s just bad luck, but onto the next one.”
James Hiller, LAMI OMG Racing National Superstock #37 – “It didn’t go THAT well, and I made life hard for myself by crashing in Qualifying, but taking the positives I’ve gone faster than I ever have around here and I’m feeling a lot more in tune with the bike – I’m learning. My confidence is definitely building, and I’m going home happy, which is what matters. Hopefully we can finish the final 3 rounds well and just carry some momentum of what we’ve learned into them. I’m missing Cadwell, but excited to get back out on track after that.”