Victories and podiums as BSB returns

Victories, podiums and personal best lap times – the opening round of the British Superbike series had it all.

Bridgnorth's Michael Rutter, team manager of Bathams Racing, enjoyed the perfect start to the National Superstock campaign as his main rider, Taylor Mackenzie, grabbed a victory at Oulton Park, in Cheshire, over the weekend.

Shrewsbury passenger Tom Bryant also stormed to a third-placed finish in the first British F1 sidecar Championship race of the campaign while Newport's Harry Rowlings came away from the GP2 class after setting personal best lap times in both his races.

Mackenzie produced a dominant and controlled ride to give the team its first victory in 22 months – and the all-new BMW M1000RR its debut win in the UK.

The combination of a challenging season in 2020 due to injuries sustained to Bathams Racing rider Richard Cooper – who is hopeful of returning this year – and a delayed start to the 2021 season meant victory had been a long time coming for the team.

However, thanks to a huge amount of work to learn the new BMW during the winter and spring seasons, with continued support from all the teams sponsors, suppliers and technical partners, it ensured Bathams Racing was soon back to winning ways.

Mackenzie made a good start from second position on the grid and quickly established himself in a break away pack of riders.

By the end of the 14-lap race, the breakaway of four riders became spread out, and Mackenzie finished the race with a 2.8-second lead over second place to take victory.

Rutter, 49, continued to focus on testing and developing electronic solutions on the M1000RR and having completed the testing programme, he decided to withdraw from the main race.

Rutter said: “I take full credit for the result, and will be giving myself a large pay rise for assessing all those electronic settings on the M1000RR since we took delivery of it, and all weekend!

"Seriously, though, this is great for everyone on the team who has worked so hard on the bike all winter, and our suppliers and sponsors who have helped.

"You never really know where you are until you get to the first race, and while it is a dream result for us, it is only one race, so we'll enjoy this evening and get back to work tomorrow.

"We've got a lot of useful data from the race, and feedback from Taylor to go through to hopefully make the bike better for Knockhill."

Bryant was back racing with Windsor's Tommy Philp, as part of the Philp Racing F1 Sidecar Team, and began the weekend superbly taking a third-place finish whilst battling for second place.

The second race, however, ended in a DNF due to a mechanical issue that struck with two laps to go, which left them seventh in the championship after one round.

Bryant said: "We had a great first race, settling down in to second place until the Christies got past us on the last lap.

"We got back in front of them but they managed to get it back. We finished the race with a podium in third place."

For Rowlings, the opening weekend of the GP2 series proved to be "a tough but productive first round" at Oulton Park.

Having only completed 12 laps during free practice one and two, due to the changeable weather conditions, he immediately set a new PB during qualifying for the first race but after making some changes to the bike he crashed out.

Another PB followed for the 21-year-old during qualifying for Sunday's second race and he managed to get a full race in for the first time in more than a year, finishing ninth in the GP2 class, which is raced alongside the main British Supersport series.

"We still struggled with the set up but with the data we have now we know where to improve," said Rowlings.

"We're looking forward to the next round at Knockhill. It’s a new track for me so will be a lot to take in but I can’t wait to get there.

"Massive thank you to all my sponsors who have helped us get this project off the ground and get us racing this season.

"It’s going to be a massive learning process for the whole team but I’m confident that it’ll all come together."

The BSB and sidecar series now heads to Knockhill, in Scotland, July 9-11.

Bryant and the Philp Racing F1 Sidecar Team will also be entering this weekend's World Sidecar Championships at Donington Park as wild card.

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.

Top Stories

More from the Shropshire Star

UK & International News