It was only in 2011 that GBmoto Racing made the brave decision to start entering the British Superbike Championship; racing alongside teams that far exceeded their experience.
Now, five years, 1600 laps and 88 races later, GBmoto team – JG Speedfit Kawasaki – have raced their way up the rankings and are now celebrating the honourable positions they’ve found themselves in.
Earlier this month, the Maxxis sponsored team – consisting of Leon Haslam, James Ellison and Peter Hickman – took to Brands Hatch to compete in the 2016 MCS British Superbike Championship; an event that sees riders pushing themselves, and their bikes, to the limit. Despite a series of knocks, defeats and bad weather throughout the rallies, team members fought their way to creating history.
Experiencing a crash in the penultimate race, setting him 23 rd in the final starting positions, team member, Leon Haslam knew that in order to be crowned champion, he would have to put up a mean fight. Sitting just 27 points behind the series leader, it would take a final win to place first overall. However, despite such efforts, first place went to Byrne, leaving Leon Haslam in second place overall in the championship; up two places from last year’s races.
Of this feat, Leon spoke of his disappointment in just falling short of the winning place: “The 2016 races have been full of highs and lows. We’ve experienced some issues along the way, and the last round at Brands, in particular, has been extremely hard. In spite of the problems we’ve faced this year, I’ve learnt a lot and now I’m fired up to come back stronger next year.”
However, despite falling short of the Champion title, the team created titles of their own by becoming the first ever to have three riders win races in one MCE BSB season, and having three riders finishing on the podium – as closely following Leon’s second place positioning was teammate James Ellison. He finished off the season in true style by taking two 1 st place wins, securing himself 3 rd place overall.
Speaking of his double win, Ellison said: “I’ve been working really hard all year, so it’s great to have achieved two wins together- it means everything! The top ten has been unbelievably fast this year, and we’ve been breaking and setting records throughout every round. I fought really hard throughout all my races, so to get third in the championship is great – especially given the multitude of problems we encountered mid-season.”
But it wasn’t just rankings that team JG Speedfit have to be proud of this season. On top of their two Top Three standings, team member, Peter Hickman, also managed to secure the Riders Cup, on top of taking his second win of the season, placing him 7th overall.
Delighted with his award, Hickman said: “I’m absolutely over the moon the get the Riders Cup. After narrowly missing out on the Showdown, my goal was to win the Cup – so it’s really exciting to be leaving here with it!
“It’s been an incredibly strong season for us, and I’m incredibly proud of all that the JG Speedfit Kawasaki team has achieved – particularly in such a tough year.”
Derek McMartin, Maxxis UK Managing Director, congratulated the team on their success throughout the championships, commenting: “The sheer determination and resilience of JG Speedfit, when faced with adversity, is commendable. For a team who came into the competition only a few years ago, with very little experience compared to those they were competing against, the achievement they’ve made this year is incredible. We are extremely proud of the team and we are very excited about their futures.”
Following from JG Speedfit’s achievements at the 2016 MCS British Superbike Championships, it has since been announced that GBmoto Racing will no longer be competing in races for ‘fundamental reasons’. Though it is expected that team members will go on to compete respectively in the future.
Speaking on the team’s final race together, GMmoto Racing Team Principal, Mark Smith-Halvorsen said:”Following a fantastic final weekend, where team JG Speedfit won won all three races, we can now officially say that we’ve won 50% of the 2016 races; an incredible achievement for us.
“I am incredibly proud of what the team has achieved this year; being the first team to achieve a podium lock out, as well as having three riders win in a season. We may not be Champions, but I am certain that we have been the best team.”