British F1: Birchall brothers flying high to Donington Park 1-3rd October
With eleven victories from thirteen outings Ben and Tom Birchall (Haith Honda) head for Donington Park on target for the championship. But for the double points on offer in the Brands Hatch finale, they would be home and dry anyway, However, Lewis Blackstock and Paddy Rosney still have a mathematical chance of stealing the title. Their record of podiums is equally impressive, having only missed out twice.
A clash with the FIM World Championship in Oschersleben sees four of the top runners absent, including the only crew to beat the Birchalls this year, Todd Ellis/Emmanuelle Clement (Santander Salt Yamaha). That leaves the door wide open for others to capitalise at Donington, with Blackstock/Rosney at the front of the queue. They have been edging ever closer on the DHR/Express Tyre Service Yamaha LCR.
A real battle is shaping up for third place between John Holden/Jason Pitt (Barnes/Silicone Yamaha) and Ben Holland/Tom Christie (Team JH Racing Kawasaki). Just three points split these two crews, as Ben Holland continues to find his mojo.
Rupert Archer/Phil Hyde (Hannafin Adolf RS) will benefit significantly from the absence of Rob Biggs/Jeroen Schmitz and Scott Lawrie/Shelley Smithies (Team SLR Yamaha) who are also entered for Germany.
Despite the FIM clash, the grid is strong with several wild cards joining the party. Among those is the extremely fast Lee Crawford, who with regular passenger Scott Hardie alongside, is expected to be getting to grips with a new “long chassis” LCR powered by Kawasaki for team ARC.
TT winner Conrad Harrison joins the line-up as do Brian Ilaria and Matty Sims with their Suzuki. It will be interesting to see how these short chassis outfits cope against the long bikes on the flowing lines of Donington Park.
Lewis Nicol and Rhys Gibbons make the long trek from Cupar to throw their hats into the ring and are an unknown force against the Molson regulars.
It could well be a very different points table at the close of play at Donington Park on Sunday with Lewis Blackstock desperate to keep his hopes alive going into the Brands finale.
One thing is certain, it will be a brave man to place odds against Ben and Tom Birchall doing the double.
Photo credits: Jenny “Triker” Wells