VisionTrack Ducati rider Christian Iddon got his 2021 title challenge firmly back on course when he romped tovictory in the opening BikeSocial Bennetts British Superbike Championship race at Knockhill this afternoon.
In doing so, the Tyneside-based rider got the better of Oulton Park nemesis Jason O’Halloran over 20 fast and furious laps of the Scottish track to cut the gap to the Yamaha rider in the championship table to ten points after four races.
With the meeting cut to two days due to ongoing restrictions, it was a busy day for Paul Bird’s Penrith-based squad, but Iddon continued his Oulton form as he set the second fastest time in qualifying to line up in the middle of the front row for the opening race.
Meanwhile teammate Josh Brookes again found the going tough as the defending champion battled to find a good set-up but after advancing from Q1, he posted the 13th quickest time in qualifying which saw him head the fifth row of the grid.
As the race got underway, it was O’Halloran who made the early running before Iddon took the lead on the second lap. Despite a brief foray at the front by Danny Buchan, Iddon was soon back in front and although shadowed by his rivals, he hung on aboard the factory-supported VisionTrack Ducati Panigale V4 RR to take his second career win.
It wasn’t such a happy story for Brookes who took tenth place on his VisionTrack Ducati Panigale V4 RR after another challenging race. From 15th on the opening lap, the Australian double Bennetts BSB champion gradually picked off the riders in front to cross the line for valuable points to add to those he scored in the opening round.
Christian Iddon: “I’m delighted to get the win especially so early in the season. It’s been a bit of a strange day as I haven’t quite got the feeling with the bike I’m looking for although it’s doing what I want it to do. I have a lack of sensation at certain places on the track where I’ve been strong in the past, but the good thing is that our form is good and we’re improving all the time. I learned a bit more when Danny was ahead of me and have a small change to make for tomorrow which should help us further. The weather may have a part to play but we’re on the front row for the first race and whilst it’s very early days in the season, it’s definitely a case of so far, so good.”
Josh Brookes: “It’s been a similar situation to Oulton in the sense that I’ve got no grip and it’s frustrating as a race winner and British champion to be rolling around in tenth. The bike’s not behaving badly or getting out of shape but for some reason the set-up is not there and in today’s race, I had three to four moments every lap. Christian’s settings and mine are as close as they’ve ever been but he’s won and I’m in tenth so it’s hard for us all to get our head around at the moment. All I can keep doing is relay the information to the team and hope something can be found. I’m sure our hard work and perseverance will see everything come good.”
Johnny Mowatt, Team Co-ordinator: "It's been a brilliant start to the season for Christian and all the hard work is paying dividends. We did a lot of work at the two tests we had at Knockhill, and he's got a bike and setting he can go fast with whilst he's also carrying a lot of momentum. Hopefully, we'll have more of the same tomorrow. For Josh, it's been a carbon copy of Oulton in that he has no grip, whether on corner entry or exit, so can't attack as he'd like. It's frustrating as he was also happy and quick at the tests here but is now unable to replicate either the feeling he had or the times he could do. There's a lot of head-scratching going on at the moment to get to the bottom of it and his head is obviously down so it's up to us as a team to pick him up and give him what he needs."
Tomorrow sees two 30-lap races scheduled to take place at 13:30 and 16:30.
Bennetts British Superbike Championship race one (20 laps)
1 Christian Iddon (VisionTrack Ducati)
2 Jason O’Halloran (Yamaha)
3 Danny Buchan (BMW)
4 Bradley Ray (BMW)
5 Rory Skinner (Kawasaki)
6 Tarran Mackenzie (Yamaha)
10 Josh Brookes (VisionTrack Ducati)
1 O’Halloran 95pts
2 Iddon 85
3 Mackenzie 44
4 Buchan 41
5 Hickman 40
6 Bridewell 40
8 Brookes 31
Images courtesy of Double Red: Josh Brookes (1) and Christian Iddon (podium)