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Mar 20, 2018

British Superbike: Leon Haslam Fastest During Official Pre-Season Test At Donington Park (Updated)

Leon Haslam (91). Photo courtesy of MotorSport Vision Racing.

Haslam wraps up pre-season testing fastest ahead of Shakey as anticipation builds for Donington Park opener

Leon Haslam set the pace at the Bennetts British Superbike Championship official test at Donington Park today (Tuesday) as the JG Speedfit Kawasaki contender pushed ahead of defending champion Shane 'Shakey' Byrne in the times. The ‘Pocket Rocket’ is determined to bounce back from last season’s devastating title defeat at the opening round of the season at his home circuit on Easter weekend (March 31 – April 2).

Haslam and Byrne had switched positions at the top of the times, but in the final stages and as the chequered flag fell, it was Haslam who held the advantage ahead of the opening two races next weekend.

Glenn Irwin was third fastest on the second of the Be Wiser Ducatis, consistently moving up the order which pushed rookie Gino Rea back into fourth as he prepares for his Superbike debut with the OMG Racing Suzuki team at Easter.

Luke Mossey dropped to fifth fastest in the final ten minutes of the session on the second of the JG Speedfit Kawasakis, remaining ahead of Christian Iddon on the leading Tyco BMW, despite suffering a technical problem in the final 20 minutes of the day.

Michael Laverty was seventh fastest ahead of last year’s title runner-up Josh Brookes, who was continuing his progress with the McAMS Yamaha team, whilst James Ellison and Tommy Bridewell completed the top ten.

Bennetts British Superbike Championship, Donington Park, Official test result:

1.Leon Haslam (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) 1m:29.902s

2.Shane Byrne (Be Wiser Ducati) +1.179s

3.Glenn Irwin (Be Wiser Ducati) +1.182s

4.Gino Rea (OMG Racing Suzuki) +1.869s

5.Luke Mossey (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) +1.957s

6.Christian Iddon (Tyco BMW) +2.193s

7.Michael Laverty (Tyco BMW) +2.278s

8.Josh Brookes (McAMS Yamaha) +2.355s

9.James Ellison (Anvil Hire TAG Yamaha) +2.394s

10.Tommy Bridewell ( Halsall Racing Suzuki) +2.500s

The opening round of the 2018 Bennetts British Superbike Championship takes place at Donington Park this Easter weekend (March 31 - April 2).

For more information please visit

Leon Haslam (JG Speedfit Kawasaki)

Fastest rider at the official test

"I just want to get the season started now! It has been a long winter, especially with my injury and testing has gone really well; everywhere we have been, we have been competitive.

"The team have worked hard and we can't wait for the season to get underway. I feel in a good place to go and win two races at the first round of the championship at Donington Park.

"That is what we did last year so that is the aim again and it is always special to do it at your home race."

More, from a press release issued by OMG Racing:

OMG! 4th in BSB test

Bold, brash and brewing an upset, OMG Racing UK Suzuki Team leaves the Bennetts British Superbike test at Donington Park brimming with confidence going into the first round of the season, with fun-loving Londoner Gino Rea firing to fourth by the end of the day. After losing their V-plates and smashing all speculation about pre-season performance at the previous test in Cartagena, Spain, all the team’s hard work was reflected in the lap times come the end of play.

Hard graft, determination, fun and banter has made the OMG Racing team garage a hive of activity and entertainment, even if the British weather blighted OMG Racing for the second consecutive test. Their competitiveness in all conditions was proven by finishing significantly higher up the timing charts than fellow Suzuki riders. Running through a robust schedule focused on cutting-edge developments, Gino was in high praise for both bike and team.

#GinoRea44: ‘My hands have only just thawed out! It's been a long chilly day but very positive. It’s nice to see where we stack up against everyone on a UK circuit. I didn't really get a clean lap in at the end with the new tyre, but I did a lot of laps on used tyres and we're pretty happy with the wear life.

‘We still have areas to improve on the bike but it's a fantastic start, and it's all thanks to the work that Ray Stringer, Paul Curran and the team have put in during the off season. I'd like to say a massive thank you to everyone in the OMG Racing team and I’m looking forward to starting for real next weekend!’

Superstock 1000 rider Ben Luxton was also feeling the speed (and the chill!) on the Donington Park GP circuit. Debuting the latest Yoshimura electronics on his striking black-and-yellow Suzuki, his time was dedicated to familiarisation of the new category and feel of the bike on British shores.

#Luxton9: ‘It has been a positive test at a chilly Donington Park and I am happy with how today went. We have worked through different set-ups and improved in every session, which leaves me excited and confident for round one in just under two weeks time. I must say a big thank you to everyone in the team at OMG Racing for all their hard work. I can’t wait to get started!’

Paul Curran, Team Manager, believes that the upstart outfit is tantalisingly close to a great result for the first round of the 2018 season, whilst equally in high regard for the quality of the riders.

Paul Curran: ‘Apart from the weather conditions, today could not have gone any better for team OMG Suzuki. Both riders completed as many dry laps as possible, with Ben testing out the new Yoshimura electronics that only arrived with us a day before we were packing up for the event. Gino had some new development parts on the Superbike too.

‘Both riders are posting competitive times in very cold conditions. Now with more data and information to work with for round one, we will have a very strong start to the 2018 championship. I just want to say a very big thank you to all of Team OMG, it feels like one big racing family.’

Feeling more confident than ever before, the OMG Racing bosses know that success may only be a matter of weeks away.

‘Despite cold and damp conditions, there was a real warmth in the 'OMG' garage! It was great to be back with the team since the Cartagena test. I think we should all be very proud of what we have achieved so far; today has really made it a reality!

‘Both of our bikes looked fantastic and - with the help of both riders - definitely turned heads! Gino and Ben are still finding the settings they require but every lap moves us in that direction, having had limited time and inclement weather at every test. The team is getting stronger all the time and I am sure we are set for a great season.’

Ray Stringer, Crew Chief, is also impressed with the fresh Suzuki machinery and team alike.

‘I am really pleased with how the day went. The entire pit lane has had to sit up and take notice of the new boys on the block! The part of the day that I am really really happy with is the tyre wear. It is fantastic compared to other motorcycles and riders I have worked with, firstly at Cartagena and now at Donington in the freezing cold. That is going to be a massive advantage to us as the season goes on.’

OMG Racing would like to say a big thank you to the product sponsors that have helped to make the team a reality:

Powerslide Motorcycles, GB Racing, MWR Air Filters, Valter Moto, K-Tech Suspension, Hel Performance, RRPS, Concept Furniture, Silkolene and Red 5 Vinyl Wraps.

OMG Racing would also like to thank all the supporters who have been cheering them on at every turn.

Stay tuned for OMG Racing UK Suzuki Team team's first races over the Easter Weekend at Donington Park. 

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