The outcome of the Bennetts British Superbike title chase is in the balance as the country’s top motor sport championship returns to Oulton Park for a second visit in what is proving to be a dramatic, all-action season.

Three riders power into the Cheshire parkland circuit, as it hosts the ninth round, separated by only 20 points: defending champion Gregorio Lavilla hopes to avenge a disastrous trip to Knockhill where he saw his lead over Airwaves Ducati team-mate Leon Haslam slashed to just eleven points, and, adding to the pressure on him, Ryuichi Kiyonari, the winner of four of the last six races is firmly in contention, just a further nine points down.
They are all in a winner takes all shoot-out for supremacy over the final third of the season, which features a double points showdown in the Brands Hatch finale, making it vital for consistency over the remaining rounds, beginning with this Sunday’s double race round at Oulton Park.

Lavilla heads there anxious for a repeat of his May Day winning double to re-establish his grip on the title which he worked so hard to achieve last term but the Spaniard knows that nothing comes easy. He is nursing a dislocated little finger on his left hand, the aftermath of a heavy crash in the second race at the Scottish circuit and adding to his discomfort is the return to form and speed of former champion Shane Byrne.

The Rizla Suzuki rider took a second place, and then a dominant victory at Knockhill, his first success since returning from two years in World MotoGP and his team are confident of building on this at the Cheshire circuit, especially as earlier in the season Byrne enjoyed two podium finishes. He faces an uphill struggle to reel in the leading trio, currently fourth, and some 94 points adrift, but, if nothing else he can make life difficult for them by racking up points.

Haslam, who took a brace of thirds last time out, has been riding consistently and is long overdue a first victory of the season, something that is not lost on him as he bids to head off Lavilla in the scrap for the ‘number one’ plate. There are no team orders, and the Spaniard is ready to take on all-comers. “For me the championship fight starts now!”

Kiyonari, a double winner there in September 2005, is hoping that the mechanical gremlins that cost him dearly in the second race last Sunday have been solved and he can concentrate on two strong race results amid a quality field that is turning the screw on the leaders in the title chase.

Jonathan Rea, the 19 year old Red Bull Honda rider, having taken his first pole of the season, and followed that with a first ever Superbike podium, taking a super second place, is hot on the charge now for a first victory in the top flight. He is riding well and that is not too far distant.

That in turn piles the pressure onto the more established riders, including the Stobart Motorsport Honda duo of Michael Rutter and Michael Laverty, together with Virgin Mobile Yamaha’s Tommy Hill and Scott Smart aboard the Vivaldi Suzuki. Craig Coxhell is looking for another top six finish aboard the Hawk Kawasaki, while Glen Richards and Gary Mason are keen for a strong points haul.


Circuit Length: : 2.692 miles International Circuit

Lap records

Superbike Karl Harris Honda 1m 36.245s, 100.69mph, 01:05:06
Supersport Cal Crutchlow, Honda, 1m 39.357s, 97.53mph, 11:09:05
Superstock Brendan Roberts, Suzuki, 1m 40.552s, 96.38mph 01:05:06
125GP James Westmoreland, Honda, 1m 45.819s, 91.58mph, 11:09:05
Virgin Mobile Cup James Rose, Yamaha, 1m 44.748s, 92.51mph, 11:09:05

Rd 4 – Monday 1 May 2006
Bennetts British Superbike Championship
Pole: Leon Haslam, Ducati, 1m 35.120s

Race One – 17 laps
1 G Lavilla Airwaves Ducati 27:41.446, 99.16mph
2 S Byrne Rizla Suzuki + 0.429
3 L Haslam Airwaves Ducati + 0.870
4 J Haydon Rizla Suzuki + 2.087
5 K Harris HM Plant Honda + 11.188
6 R Kiyonari HM Plant Honda + 19.467

Race Two – 17 laps
1 G Lavilla Airwaves Ducati 27:33.612,99.63mph
2 K Harris HM Plant Honda + 0.058
3 S Byrne Rizla Suzuki + 12.004
4 J Rea Red Bull Honda + 12.380
5 R Kiyonari HM Plant Honda + 12.430
6 M Rutter Stobart Honda + 14.764

British Superbike Cup
Race One
1 J Buckingham Quay Garage Honda 28:17.879

Race Two
1 J Buckingham Quay Garage Honda 28:16.351

RIDER’S VIEW: Gregorio Lavilla – Airwaves Ducati
“Oulton Park has one of the best layouts in the championship and as a track I like it, it’s just a shame it’s not wide enough to be a really good racetrack.”


Sunday 23 July

ITV 1: 15.00 – 16.30

Sky Sports 3: 21.00 – 00.30



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