Express & Star

Emotional weekend of podiums and retirements at Donington Park

Podiums and an emotional retirement all formed part of another memorable weekend of BSB action for the region's riders and teams.


Cannock-based RICH Energy OMG Racing were celebrating as Kyle Ryde secured a second in the main BSB races while McConnell also kept his National Superstock championship title hopes alive by claiming his own podium in race two.

Black Country-based Bathams Racing rider Taylor Mackenzie was full of emotion too after storming from the back of the grid in the second National Superstock race to claim the win before promptly announcing his retirement from the sport.

After his podium in the final race at Oulton Park the previous weekend, OMG Racing rider Brad Ray entered Donington Park with high hopes of a repeat performance, but he was unable to find the same confidence in the wet weather, splashing his way round to a solid ninth place in the opening BSB race.

Teammate Ryde had qualified 13th for the opening race, after spending Friday making major changes to the setup of his BMW M1000RR, and after a lightning start he stormed to a podium finish.

Sunday's two BSB races were a tale of two halves as bright, dry but cool weather for race two made way for monsoon conditions as the grid formed for the start of race three.

Ryde battled his way through to the front group once again, securing another strong result in sixth in race two, while Ray struggled to 12th.

A difficult race ensued for Ray and Ryde in race three, who came home in 14th and 15th respectively.

The results left Ray 10th and Ryde 15th in the BSB championship with one round to go.

Storm Stacey once again put on a class act and, as a result, had a very strong start in a race two on Sunday in the dry.

The 18-year-old, from Eccleshall, led the race for the first few laps before being hauled back in and eventually suffered a second DNF of the weekend.

Stacey recovered in race three to claim an 11th and more BSB points, to sit 19th in the standings.

Michael Rutter and his Bathams Racing team enjoyed a dramatic turnaround in form at the penultimate National Superstock championship round, as Mackenzie claimed an unlikely victory in race two before announcing his retirement.

The team had been struggling with the BMW M1000RR's electronics set up for the cold, wet and windy conditions.

The result was a qualifying position of 19th for the wet race one on Saturday and Mackenzie decided to retire due to no significant improvements to the set up, and no prospect of scoring championship points.

That meant Mackenzie had to start race two on Sunday in 31st position, out of 36 riders, but following a complete re-evaluation of the bike's electronics, he went an historic charge through the field to claim his third – and by far his most dramatic – victory of the season.

Mackenzie has been a massive part of the success of Bathams Racing since he joined at the end of the 2018 season, when he claimed one victory and two podium finishes during the five rounds he competed in.

In 2019, he was locked in a year-long battle for the championship that yielded four victories and nine podiums, finishing runner-up.

He returned to Bathams this year, following a brief stint in the main BSB series, winning three races and climbing on the podium a further two times during the 2021 campaign so far.

OMG Racing rider Billy McConnell had secured pole for race one of the National Superstock series but after leading the initial stages of the wet race he crashed after suffering visibility issues.

During race two, the Aussie was in a head-to-head battle with Mackenzie, before a late-braking competition at the Melbourne Loop saw McConnell pass the Bathams rider, only to run a few feet deep to settle for second and his eighth podium of the season.

He now sits 22 points off Tom Neave in first place with one round to go.

OMG Racing team principal Paul Curran, from Cannock, said: "Overall we're happy with all three riders after what was a difficult weekend with the weather.

"We're really happy for Kyle, as you'd expect. Just as Brad last week, it was important for Kyle to get that podium finish and a bit of silverware for the mantlepiece to give him the confidence boost he really needed.

"Saturday was bittersweet for Billy. He dusted himself off and did exactly what was expected of him to take another podium and keep the championship chase alive. Taylor rode well for the win, but Billy certainly gave it his all on that last lap!

"Thanks to the whole team for all their huge efforts over the weekend."

Brownhills-based Astro JJR rider Shane Richardson enjoyed his best weekend so far starting on the front row for the opening National Superstock race, eventually finishing in fourth, followed by a 15th in race two.

Team-mate David Allingham also bagged a solid eighth place in qualifying, going to claim a 15th and 10th in the same series.

The BSB series and all its support classes now head to Brands Hatch, in Kent, for the final round of action, October 15-17.

Rutter will also be back in racing action with fellow Bathams Racing rider Richard Cooper – who is still fighting his way back to full fitness following a serious injury in 2020 – this weekend (OCT 9-10) for Stars at Darley meeting, at the Darley Moor race track, in Derbyshire.

Both have a record six wins and will be gunning for a seventh.

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