Sometimes there are rounds that mirror your season – the final round of the 2019 Bennetts British Superbike Championship did just that for OMG Racing!
Coming into the weekend, Luke Mossey had the opportunity to end the season as the series’ top Suzuki rider, with a gap of just 4 points to the factory team’s Bradley Ray. A fact which highlights just how far the team have come in just their second season in the world’s top domestic series. So, with the team’s new BMW S1000RR wheeled out to be placed on display to highlight the team’s future plans – How would they end the 2019 season?
Free Practice saw mixed conditions throughout, but experienced rider James Ellison seemed to take to the conditions most saw as ‘risky’ like a duck to water, with a P5 and a P3 in Free Practice 2 and 3 respectively. Luke Mossey and Billy McConnell struggled to find the perfect set-up, but elected to run a limited number of laps with the condensed race timetable giving limited time to make any repairs.
Qualifying provided the first real fully-dry session of the weekend, and previous Brands winner Mossey capitalised to grab himself a place in Q3 for the second time in a row – a fantastic lap securing him P7 for the afternoon’s race. Ellison meanwhile was very close to translating his free practice pace into a strong qualifying time but did still manage to register his best Qualifying result on the OMG Suzuki with P12. And for Billy McConnell it was another solid performance to put under his belt in a difficult season, lining up for race 1 in P25.
Saturday afternoon brought the first British Superbike race, and unfortunately for OMG, probably summarised their luck at points this season. Billy McConnell was the lone OMG rider to survive a manic first few laps, bringing the fluro yellow Suzuki home in P21. After a clean start, Luke Mossey clipped the grass on the exit of Surtees and had a crash which sent him spinning across the track with half of the pack flying either side of him. Somehow, he managed to escape unscathed, but as he was climbing to his feet and heading for a quick check at the medical centre, a separate incident saw teammate Ellison sliding through the gravel. Joe Francis suffered an engine blowout, and James was an unfortunate passenger as oil spilled onto the track.
New day, new outlook, right? Race 2 was certainly more successful for the fluro trio. After a great start from P25, Ellison scythed his way through the pack and made 4 places within the first couple of laps, eventually climbing to P16 where he was unable to find a way past the fellow Suzuki of Stapleford. In his charge, he helped give Mossey a path to join him – where the opportunistic Royston man seized P16 from Ellison, followed by the elusive P15 from Stapleford. Billy McConnell enjoyed a rather solitary ride, after a great start he ploughed a lone furrow in P22 from start to finish.
With just 6 points separating Luke and Brad Ray, the opportunity to finish the season top of the Suzuki pile was one Mossey looked like seizing when he fought past the Buildbase rider with 12 laps remaining. However, despite his P12, it wasn’t to be. For Billy McConnell it was another solid ride in a season which really has had its tough moments, securing P18 with a fantastic last-lap move on former OMG rider Gino Rea, the Aussie ended the day with a wry smile. It was the opposite for the veteran Ellison however, who unfortunately crashed out with 2 laps to go after a great battle with teammate Mossey.
At the end of the day, there’s been plenty for the ambitious team to celebrate in just their second season. And as they say goodbye to the Suzuki GSX-R1000R and wave hello to the BMW.
Luke Mossey #12 – Bennetts British Superbike
Championship Position: 12th
Race 1 – DNF
Race 2 – P15
Race 3 – P12
“We had a big crash in race 1, I’m still a bit battered and bruised so to come away with 2 points-scoring races, I’m really happy. Looking forward to getting on the BMW’s now, It’s been a tough year with the Suzuki’s but credit to my team, who’ve done a fantastic job with them all year. Onwards and upwards for 2020!”
James Ellison #77 – Bennetts British Superbike
Championship Position: 21st
Race 1 – DNF
Race 2 – P17
Race 3 – DNF
“We made steady progression at Assen, struggled with the weather at Donington, but at Brands I think me and Ray really clicked. Unfortunately, we had a bit of a dodgy race one and was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. We went again in race two – made another step forward in our development and Ray found another change which really helped boost us up the timesheets which gave us a great starting spot for race 3.
We knew we had a decent setup and I think we could have made the top 10 really, we did a lot of 26’s which is faster than I qualified, was having a great race and then I had a misstep at Sterling. The bike blipped whilst I was braking and it’s like getting a shot of acceleration, obviously at that corner there’s just nowhere to go except the gravel. It isn’t what we wanted and to be honest I was gutted, but when I got back in the pitbox all I got was arms around me and support.
It’s what it’s been like working with OMG and working with Ray ‘The professor’ who really does know his stuff, the bloke can find improvements out of nothing. Of course, I was disappointed, but all the team were still happy and really supportive. It’s so different to any other team I’ve worked with and I’ve enjoyed every moment I’ve had with them since I joined.“
Billy McConnell #3 Bennetts British Superbike
Championship Position: 28th
Race 1 – P21
Race 2 – P22
Race 3 – P18
“It’s been an up and down season for sure, with my stomach injury and then my collarbone it’s just good to be back on a bike. Big credit to my OMG team who’ve stuck by me and given me the opportunity to ride the superbike at the end of this season. Wasn’t the best result this weekend but my confidence is a little bit low due to my injuries.
I enjoyed it but I spent big parts of it not really racing anyone which was a shame, except for a nice pass on Gino (Rea) at the end of race 3. All in all, what a fantastic team, what a fantastic sort of come back, I’ve enjoyed the whole year except the bad bits!”
Paul Curran – OMG Racing Team Principal
“Final round of the 2019 Championship, not exactly how we would have wanted the final round to go, a few crashes one of which wasn’t really our fault. But other than that, Luke’s been consistent, James chipped away in each session and it’s just good to see Billy on a bike considering the year he’s had and isn’t really at full fitness.
Could have been better at the last round, but likewise, it could have been worse. Hats off to the boys, there’s never a job too big or too small, they never moan (well, sometimes). A big thank you to Alan, who’s probably the most generous man I’ve ever met in the paddock. To do what he does, not just for us but for plenty of others in the paddock out of his own pocket – he’s a credit to the sport really.
Hopefully for 2020 we can build on what we’ve done so far and attract some support for the team so that we can share the load more between him and a sponsor. A New season brings a brand-new bike, so we’ll take a quick breather and then get right back to it.
Alan Gardner – Team OMG
“A big thank you to the whole team for their hard work throughout the year, we ask a lot of them and each and every one delivers at every round. To all our sponsors, who help us to go racing and to our supporters, who show us exactly why we race when times are tough.
Luke, Billy and James have been absolute stars this season and have brought a lot of experience to our still young team, we learn something new every round and we can end the season proud of our first ever British Superbike victory.
The BMW bikes bring new challenges and opportunities, but I have no doubt that our team and our riders will rise to it and we can continue our growth into becoming a real force in the paddock.”