Above: Glen Irwin is a man fast on the roads and on the short circuits. He won the feature race at last year’s North West 200 and backed that up with a win in Macau. As I write this, he’s just won a race at the North West 200 on his Ducati.
If MotoGP contracts were handed out based solely on the character of a race track, then Oulton Park in England would be at the top of the list.
The city is set in the idyllic Cheshire countryside, only 30 miles from the Beatles hometown of Liverpool, and 13 miles from the historic city of Chester. The track is fast, techinical, with natural elevation changes and spectacular scenery.
There are few finer places to watch motorcycle racing when the sun is shining than at Oulton Park. The natural banking around the track offers great unobstructed views.
If you’re a keen photographer the circuit offers fantastic opportunities with very few fences getting in the way.
A lot of things that make Oulton Park so compelling also contribute to some of negative points. The track is narrow, it is pretty bumpy, and the runoff is too short in places. It is not unheard of to find a Superbike up a tree or in a lake during a race weekend.
While it may never host MotoGP or World Superbikes, that doesn’t mean there is no top-class motorcycle racing there, as it is currently home to two rounds of the British Superbike Championship.
And that is exactly where I found myself recently, on a glorious bank holiday weekend, along with around 35,000 sun-baked racing fans.
For anyone not particular familiar with BSB, you should check out this excellent article from a couple of years ago by my good friend Scott Jones. It’s worth taking a look to see Scott’s photos:
I can only echo Scott’s observations. The organisers, on the whole, have done a great job with the series. The regulations, which include a spec-ECU, no electronic rider aids, and controlled tires, have leveled the playing field between the manufactures and teams.
After only three rounds of the 2018 championship, there has been wins for Suzuki, Ducati, and Kawasaki and podiums for Yamaha, BMW, and Honda.
With a wide variety of support classes, including Moto3 Grand Prix machines and sidecars, there is always some action on track. At only £36 (around $50.00) for a weekend, the ticket price is fantastic value for money.
If you have been thinking of a trip to Europe, to take in some motorcycle racing, I may have the perfect trip for you.
The BSB paddock returns to Oulton Park on September 14th-16th, which is nestled nicely between the Misano and Aragon MotoGP rounds. I said it was perfect, I didn’t say it was cheap.
Interesting Oulton Park fact: The land the circuit now sits on was used throughout the war years as an army staging camp.
General Patton was based there in the run-up to the Normandy landings, and his PT instructor, the Heavyweight Champion of the World, Joe Louis, gave exhibition bouts in the valley at the Deer Leap section of the track. Fact courtesy of Oulton Park.
Peter Hickman may be known as the fastest ever newcomer at the Isle of Man TT, but he is also an excellent rider on short circuits, having won races in BSB. TT fans will be loking to him to challenge Michael Dunlop in the upcoming Isle of Man TT.
James Ellison in another name that may be familiar to long time fans of MotoGP, having spent some time on the Tech3 Yamaha. He also spent a season on the PBM CRT machine in 2012.
Leon Hamslam won both races during the weekend, before heading to Imola for a wild card ride in World Superbike. He’ll be in WorldSBK again at Donington Park, and will be hoping to repeat his podium from 2017.
Isle of Man TT star Conor Cummins was racing at Oulton Park as part of his preperations for the Isle of Man TT.
Former Moto2 podium finisher Gino Rea is making his debut in BSB this year, after several years racing at the world championship level.
JG Speedfit Kawasaki technicians working hard to replace the radiator on Leon’s Haslam’s Kawasaki during Superpole.
Chocs away Ginger. The next time we will see Josh Brookes and his moustache will be at the Isle of Man TT.
Ryuichi Kiyonari, a four-time British Superbike champion, was back in BSB for the weekend filing in for the injured Dan Lintfoot at Honda.
Bradley Ray on the Suzuki. Remeber the name as I think you will be seeing more of it in the future.
Shane “Shakey” Byrne sideways at Deer Leap during warm up. Two photographers in the background appear to have forgotten why they were there.
With two wins, Lean Haslam spent most of the weekend looking behind him.
The riders forming up for the grid during the first Superbike race.
Leon Haslam leads Jake Dixon as the fans enjoy the action in the sunshine.
Former MotoGP rider Michael Laverty. Laverty also spent some time racing in AMA for the Celtic Racing team.
Five times British Superbike champion Shane “Shakey” Byrne will be familiar to MotoGP and WSBK fans.
Photos: © 2018 Tony Goldsmith / www.tonygoldsmith.net – All Rights Reserved
Tony Goldsmith is an Isle of Man based freelance motorcycle racing photographer specializing in MotoGP and the Isle of Man TT races. His website can be found at www.tonygoldsmith.net. He can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.