Express & Star

McConnell retains superstock championship lead as Mackenzie closes the gap

There was plenty of neck-and-neck racing between the region's riders and teams as the British Superbikes returned.

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David Allingham, of Brownhills-based Astro JJR, Billy McConnell, of Cannock-based OMG Racing, and Black Country-based Bathams Racing rider Taylor Mackenzie, all starred in the National Superstock series.

But while Allingham's pole was later overshadowed by mechanical problems, McConnell retained his lead at the top of the championship, which was reduced to just three points by Mackenzie at Brands Hatch in Kent over the weekend.

Mackenzie kept his National Superstock title challenge alive after bagging a third and fourth at Brands Hatch.

The Bathams Racing rider fought his way through the pack during race one and then enjoyed a real battle in the second to cement second in the championship, much to the delight of Brierley Hill-born team boss Michael Rutter.

The weekend, however, did not get off to the best start as a technical issue cut the first practice session short for Mackenzie.

In the second session, he produced a series of promising lap times and provided some valuable feedback.

Qualifying in mixed conditions, with the track drying quicker than expected, Mackenzie qualified in 13th position on the fifth row.

But he showed his class during a dry race one, battling through the pack to finish on the position, as well as setting a lap time good enough to claim a front row start for race two the following day.

Mackenzie was part of a group of riders who broke away in race two and finished fourth to claim valuable championship points and close the gap on the championship leader to just three points.

Rutter said: “Massive thanks to everyone in the team for coming away this weekend with a third and fourth.

"It could easily have been a disaster for us but they were all brilliant and worked so hard."

McConnell ended the opening race in sixth and then grabbed a podium during the second with a third, following a stunning ride from seventh on the grid, to maintain his championship lead.

After showing such great promise, Allingham was forced to nurse his bike home to 20th in race one after a small mechanical forced him to drop back through the pack rapidly, before going on to finish 16th in race two, which leaves him 19th in the standings.

Astro JJR team-mate Shane Richardson finished 17th and 20th in his two National Superstock races.

In the main BSB series, OMG Racing's Brad Ray was on top form once more, qualifying in fourth and then taking seventh in race one.

Ray followed up those results with a 12th and 13th, after a red flag and restart took the energy out of his initial rise through the grid, which left him ninth in the standings.

Team-mate Kyle Ryde qualified on row four for the opening race and scooped a 15th, 13th and 16th, which leaves him 14th in the championship.

But it was another difficult weekend for 18-year-old Storm Stacey, from Eccleshall, who despite bagging a solid 17th in the opening race failed to finish the next two.

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