Our factory race team Smiths Triumph endured a roller-coaster of emotions at the sixth round of the Motorpoint British Supersport Championship at Thruxton but it ended positively with Graeme Gowland taking a win and the championship lead with team-mate Billy McConnell recording yet another podium to sit just one point behind.
After a wet qualifying session on Saturday morning, conditions cleared for the afternoon's 12 lap Sprint race and it proved to be one of the best races of the season so far as McConnell, Gowland, Alistair Seeley, Luke Jones and Glenn Irwin battled for the lead throughout. Positions changed at practically every corner with the quintet never more than a second apart but at the chequered flag Australian ace McConnell took second and Graeme fourth as Seeley took the win.
However, the stewards later deemed that Adelaide rider McConnell had overtaken under a yellow flag approaching the chicane on the final lap and he was relegated to fourth with Gowland, from Allandale near Hexham in Northumberland, promoted to third.
It turned the championship standings around and saw McConnell lose his title lead for the first time since he'd hit the front at Oulton Park back in May and added further spice to the second Feature race on Sunday, which saw another ferocious battle, this time involving Seeley, Jones, Luke Mossey and the two factory-supported Smiths Triumph Daytona 675Rs once more.
On this occasion it looked like Billy would take the race win as he led approaching the chicane but the slipstream effect came into play once more and it was Gowland who grabbed his fourth victory of the season, ahead of Mossey and McConnell with Seeley back in fifth. The result meant Gowland took the championship lead for the first time, one point ahead of Billy with Seeley three points further back in third meaning all is to play for at next weekend's round at Oulton Park.
A dry Friday qualifying session saw Sam Cox top the time sheets with a lap record beating 1:20.722 circulation. Joining him on the front row for the opening race was Sam Middlemas and Phil Atkinson.
Taking the lead on the opening lap, Cox cruised to victory by 4 seconds, bettering his qualifying time to set a new lap record of 1:20.586 on lap six. However it was an exciting battle behind for the remaining podium positions as Scott Pitchers and Atkinson fought throughout the race, however a late charge from Championship leader Freddy Pett saw him pass Atkinson in the final lap to take third. In the cup class Sam Thompson continued his impressive run of victories to take his fifth consecutive win and the Championship lead.
Continuing to set the standard, Cox made the most of the warm and sunny conditions on Sunday to become the first rider to dip below the 1m 20 barrier, setting an incredible 1:19.876 in the morning practice. It was a pace he carried into a dramatic second race. Leading from the opening lap Cox took control, however was unable to shake off the close intentions of Atkinson, Tom Carne and Jesse Jones. As the four riders edged away from the pack it was Carne who set the fastest lap, and a new lap record, with a 1:19.996. An unfortunate and nasty looking crash from Jones on lap nine saw the red flags deployed and a result declared. It was another victory for Thompson in the Cup, finishing ahead of Max Alexander and Andrew Lund.
Oulton Park - 8th - 10th August 2014