Team Suzuki Press Office – August 5.
Billy McConnell – SST – 3rd
Luke Mossey – BSB – 9 – 9th
Josh Elliott – BSB – 18 – 15th
The privateer OMG Racing Team enjoyed some of the best Bennetts British Superbike racing of the year at Thruxton in a set of nip-and-tuck races that saw Billy McConnell bring home a Superstock podium on his Suzuki GSX-R1000 after his long road back from illness, while the Superbike pairing of Luke Mossey and Josh Elliott made a couple of outstanding comebacks to score points.
After just missing out on a podium at Snetterton on his return to the National Superstock grid following a lengthy illness, you would have put money on the fact that McConnell wouldn’t settle for that and after losing-out to Richard Cooper off the line, ‘Skippy’ enjoyed plenty of great battles and overtaking moves as he, Cooper, Jackson and Mackenzie broke away from the chasing pack to decide the podium positions. Unfortunately, he wasn’t close enough to challenge for the win going into the last corner, but he was more than happy to claim a place on the rostrum for the first time this season, taking a well-deserved third place.
A promising start to events in BSB Free Practice, particularly on the blue side of the garage, with Mossey spending both Free Practice 1 and Free Practice 3 comfortably inside the top 10 (P5 and P6 respectively), whilst in Free Practice 2 he placed P11. Elliott set to work on finding a setup, seemingly having to balance good top-end speed with slower acceleration out of the slow corners. A pair of P19’s and a P25 showed that progress was being made between sessions in their steep learning-curve in the BSB.
Following less success in final qualifying, a poor start to race one saw both riders slip backwards off the line, with Elliott ending up at the back of the field after being forced wide into turn one. But both fought back; Mossey scything through the field passing ‘Showdown rivals’ Forés, Buchan, Bridewell, Brookes, Iddon and was running P5, but slipped back to P9 at the flag.
After being bumped to the back of the pack in the first few corners, Elliot showed real fight to begin his own push through the grid, fighting up to P18.
Race two was eventful with the red flag being brought out on two occasions; firstly, for rain and then because of an accident. In between pauses, Mossey’s headway was quickly lost when he dropped to the back of the field after running wide into the chicane to avoid a sliding rider. The comeback was on by the time the first red flag was waved, with Mossey already in P22, which became P15 at the second flag. His comeback was complete with a brave move on the final lap, putting him P9 after all the drama.
Elliott made a storming start in race two, moving up two places as the lights went out and getting right on the rear wheel of Luke Stapleford. There he had more of a steady ride, but after a long battle with the Buildbase Suzuki pairing, managed to scoop-up the points that his efforts this weekend deserved. It was tough weekend for the Ulsterman on his return from the Suzuka 8 Hours, but progress was made by the team when it counted.
Billy McConnell #3:
“What can we say, we got pole position on Saturday and finished third today – really great to get pole yesterday after a long time away and just missing out on the podium last time around. To come back and challenge for pole positions and a race win has really boosted my confidence moving forward. Just over the moon to repay the OMG Family after they’ve stuck by me throughout my illness and I feel like now I have that bit more confidence and we can keep moving forwards.
“Towards the end there I just got myself in the wrong position, but overall it’s been a really brilliant weekend and we got that champagne which we’ve struggled to get all year. Next up its Cadwell which is a track I have really strong form at, so I’ll definitely look to build on this result there.”
Luke Mossey #12:
“We had a really good weekend at Thruxton, we showed good pace on the Friday and Saturday with two top-10 finishes which is important for us. We’re going in the right direction definitely and we made a big change on Friday night which paid off, so I think that’s going to really help us for the rest of the season. I’m looking forward to Cadwell Park, it’s a proper circuit for riders and one I really enjoy heading to. With the test on the Thursday too, it gives us a slightly bigger window to get the bike back into that window, so it should be a good one.”
Josh Elliott #10:
“A very challenging weekend for us where we really struggled to make any headway. Any change we made didn’t seem to affect the bike positively. Race day the bike definitely felt better, but we still lacked a bit of punch in the corners despite being really good at the top end. It’s something for us to look at before Cadwell, which is a track I really enjoy riding. We just need to rethink and really brainstorm some ideas on how to move forward quicker on a Friday where we just seemed to be hitting a wall at times recently.”
Team Principal Paul Curran hailed an impressive ride from Billy and the work-rate of OMG’s two Superbike riders, who pushed for everything this weekend;
Paul Curran – OMG Racing Team Principal:
“A good weekend for Billy who chipped away during each session and then in qualifying produced an absolutely incredible lap – the fastest ever Superstock lap around Thruxton – to grab pole position. He rode a really sensible race, looked after the tyre and the winner really could have been any of the top three. P3 though is a fantastic result, back on the podium and back to the Billy we all know!
“On the Superbike side of things, Luke was pretty consistent across every session throughout the weekend and had a bit of bad luck in Q2 where on his last lap, a few riders were touring round which spoiled a lap that would have put him in Q3. Apart from that, he rode a good couple of races, the second race I think for everyone ended up being a bit eventful. Three starts in the end worked in our favour with events that happened throughout the race.
“On Josh’s side, we’re slowly getting there – it’s all about finding a setting on the engine and the chassis which gets him feeling comfortable again. He improved in each session, it just feels like at the moment we seem to be running out of time and races when we get the bike where it needs to be. Hopefully we can get a head start on that at Cadwell with the pre-race weekend test on the Thursday and have a good solid weekend there.”
Alan Gardner was delighted with the spirit shown by all three riders this weekend, and OMG leaves Thruxton still comfortably as the leading Suzuki team.
Alan Gardner – Team OMG:
“We’ve seen some really great racing today every time we had a bike out on track, Luke and Josh showed real tenacity to battle back after losing positions off the line in race one and in race two we brought home a double points finish with Luke somehow making the top 10 in a race that saw him almost at the back of the field!
“As for Billy, what can you say? The boy is an absolute star! What a way to come back.”