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Double win in BSB 2015 for James Ellison at Brands Hatch

© Glynne Lewis

By Dan Moakes
May 14 2015

Reigning champion Shane Byrne had come out on top at Donington Park, venue for the first British Superbike round of the 2015 season. The 38-year-old Kawasaki rider would no doubt be looking for more success in round two, held on home ground at Brands Hatch in Kent.

James Ellison pictured on his Kawasaki in 2014

The short Indy circuit at Brands saw a mix of different motorcycles on the first two rows of the grid after qualifying, but with Honda not among them. Team leader Dan Linfoot, fourth and second at Donington, was unable to take part after a crash in practice left him with a wrist injury. Honda Racing team-mate Jason O’Halloran led row three in seventh position, with the two Paul Bird Kawasakis of Byrne (fifth) and Stuart Easton (sixth) just ahead of him. Pole position was taken by another ZX-10R man, JG Speedfit-backed James Ellison.

Between Ellison and Byrne there were Ducati, BMW and Yamaha bikes: second placed Jakub Smrž (Moto Rapido Ducati), Ryuichi Kiyonari (Buildbase BMW) and then Josh Brookes (Milwaukee Yamaha). In eighth was Christian Iddon (Bennetts Suzuki), from Broc Parkes (Milwaukee Yamaha), Jack Kennedy (WD-40 Kawasaki), Tommy Bridewell (Tyco BMW) and Danny Buchan (Be Wiser Kawasaki). Billy McConnell was right at the back on the Smiths BMW, and meanwhile Michael Rutter was back at the races in place of Joe Burns on the Gearlink Kawasaki.

Brands Hatch
Form guide
: BSB wins on both GP and Indy circuits
Shane Byrne · 2003, 2008 (x3), 2011 (x4), 2012 (x5), 2013 (x2), 2014 (x4)
Ryuichi Kiyonari · 2005 (x2), 2006 (x2), 2014
Josh Brookes · 2011, 2013 (x4)
Chris Walker · 1998, 1999, 2000
James Ellison · 2010, 2013
Michael Rutter · 2000
Michael Laverty · 2011
Josh Waters · 2014
Howie Mainwaring · 2014

The start of race one saw Smrž lose out, with Ellison getting away in the lead, from Kiyonari, Easton, Byrne, Brookes and O’Halloran. A few moments later, on the Cooper Straight, there was an incident involving Iddon, Kennedy and Robbin Harms (MotoDex BMW) with bikes down and the safety car called into action. From the restart, Byrne took over from team-mate Easton in third, behind Ellison and Kiyonari, these four followed by Brookes, O’Halloran, Parkes, Smrž, Bridewell, Richard Cooper (TAG Kawasaki) and Howie Mainwaring (Quattro Plant Kawasaki). Taylor Mackenzie for Team WD-40 was another early retirement.

Even with Brookes passing Easton for fourth place at Clearways bend, soon enough it was the first three who were getting away at the head of the field. But even Byrne seemed unable to stay with Ellison and Kiyonari, and in fact ‘Kiyo’ took over in the lead as the pair lapped the Brazilian rider Rhalf Lo Turco (SBKcity Kawasaki). This didn’t last, and soon enough James was ahead and pulling away on his own. Brookes caught up to Byrne and looked to attack for third, and now it was O’Halloran in fifth, from Easton, Bridewell, Mainwaring, Parkes, Peter Hickman (RAF Reserves BMW), McConnell and Chris Walker (Be Wiser Kawasaki).

Smrž had already suffered a highside crash down the right-handed Paddock Hill Bend, with Filip Backlund also out in the pits on his Kawasaki. But now followed crashes for both Bridewell and Hickman, which meant debris on the track and another Safety Car. The race was duly extended by three laps, with Ellison once again faced with the task of defending from his closest pursuers. But following the restart he once again began to pull away and was able to make it two wins from three starts.

Byrne benefited from the field closing up behind the Safety Car and the last lap saw him pull off a move on the inside at the Surtees left-hander, demoting Kiyonari to third; then, as they raced for the line, Brookes also managed to edge ahead of the BMW rider. There was a gap back to fifth, with the order not much changed in the late stages: O’Halloran then Easton, Mainwaring, Parkes, McConnell, Walker, Cooper, Luke Mossey (Quattro Plant Kawasaki), Michael Laverty (Tyco BMW), Buchan and Josh Waters (Bennetts Suzuki)

For race two, Kiyonari’s 200th in the championship and the 150th for Brookes, they lined up with the main contenders at the front: Ellison on pole, then Kiyo, Byrne and Brookes. Bridewell was fifth, then Smrž (although he would have to start from the pits), followed by O’Halloran, Mainwaring, Easton, Buchan, McConnell and Parkes. Grid order for the first four was unchanged as they got away, with Easton up to fifth then O’Halloran, Buchan, Bridewell and Mainwaring. Buchan was quick to move up a spot and Bridewell also made some early progress.

Ellison was again able to start stretching his advantage at the front, leaving Byrne, Kiyonari and Brookes to contest second place. Easton continued as leader of the pursuit, now from Bridewell, Mainwaring, Buchan and McConnell, as O’Halloran had lost out. Kiyonari was looking to move up, attacking for second at Paddock Hill Bend, then getting the inside slot on Byrne at Druids Hill Bend, the right-hand hairpin - but in the process he went very wide and lost out to Byrne and to Brookes.

Then came another Safety Car interlude, following the highside crash suffered by Danny Johnson (Morello Kawasaki). The order among the leaders was unchanged from the restart, and again Ellison was able to start pulling clear. This time Kiyonari could not stay with Byrne and Brookes, with the Australian looking to move up to second but with Shakey able to fend him off in a move on the outside at Paddock. Ellison eased off in the late stages but the order remained unchanged.

The finishing order behind Kiyonari saw Easton fifth, then Bridewell, Mainwaring, Buchan, McConnell, O’Halloran, Parkes, before Iddon, Walker and Hickman (after a notable three-way contest) and then Cooper and Waters; with several more finishers also missing out on a points result.

James Ellison took his overall BSB race victory tally up to twelve, making it three from four in 2015, and significantly it was his first double win in the series. With Shane Byrne on the podium both times at Brands, the 38-year-old remained at the head of the standings, although Ellison was now just ahead on podium credits for the Showdown. Josh Brookes moved up to third at the expense of the absent Dan Linfoot, but with Yamaha and Honda remaining outside the winners’ circle as all races had gone to Kawasaki. The next venue is Oulton Park.

Standings after four races: Byrne 85; Ellison 79; Brookes 58; Easton 42; Linfoot 33; Bridewell and Kiyonari 28; Hickman 26; Iddon 24; Walker 23; O’Halloran 22; McConnell 21.
podium credits: Ellison 15, Byrne 14, Linfoot and Brookes 3, Easton 1.

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