The championship for factory derivative bikes arrived in England, the country with the highest number of riders competing in the championship, six in both WSBK and WSS, in the case of the latter thanks to the participation of a few local wild cards.
Among the home town heroes for the British fans Leon Camier is held in high regard because, in addition to being a media sweetheart due to his strong image, he is also extremely fast, even to the point of taking pole position in the Friday practice sessions with a time of 1’29.314. The MV Agusta Reparto Corse team rider, hailing from Ashford in Kent, was also fast on Saturday, riding his F4 RC to take the seventh best time (1’.28.011), his best result in qualifying this season.
In WSS the battle for the starting grid spots was complicated by the participation of a few local riders such as Ryde and Stapleford, respectively on Yamaha and Triumph, who wedged their way between Sofuoglu at the top and Cluzel in third, whereas Lorenzo Zanetti took the fifth spot.
In the race Jules was the fastest going into the first braking section to move into the lead, putting Sofuoglu and Ryde behind him. And so, on the ups and downs of the track built near Sherwood Forest, the leading trio began to break away from the closest followers, maintaining their positions until the fourth lap when Sofuoglu attacked Cluzel.
The two touched and there to exploit the moment was the seventeen-year-old English rider who overtook Jules whilst the Turkish Kawasaki rider moved into the lead. Four laps later the Frenchman finally managed to break down Ryde’s resistance and he began to narrow the gap behind Sofuoglu. In the meantime Zanetti, in full comeback mode, caught up Ryde in the fourteenth lap, overtaking him, whilst Cluzel set the track record with a time of 1’30.05, drawing closer to the Kawasaki rider. His mad dash, however, was by now at an end due to a worn rear tyre that forced him to settle for second place, 0.891 behind a victorious Sofuoglu. Finishing third was the indomitable Ryde who got the best of a generous Zanetti, fourth across the wire.
At the end of the race Jules was visibly pleased: “We managed to bring home another good result. I’m pleased because we improved consistently throughout the weekend. The conditions here were difficult, with low temperatures that gave us grip problems, but we managed them as best we could.”
Accepting defeat in a hand-to-hand struggle is never easy, but Lorenzo Zanetti nevertheless was positive about the result of the English round: “I think I rode a good race. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get onto the podium but I battled and I just barely missed repeating the performance from Imola. I can tell that the feeling with the bike is getting better and better and that is a great sensation!”
Leon Camier had a more complicated day, finishing Race 1 in ninth place after dropping back to sixteenth when he ran straight on in the seventh lap. Race 2 promised to be an exciting one when Leon, lying sixth at the time behind Davies’ Ducati, lost grip on the third lap, ending his race prematurely.
The next WSBK round is scheduled for 7 June in Portugal on the Algarve circuit at Portimão.