Donington Park will see chase for the Dickies British Supersport crown intensify this weekend – six races remain, the first two of which are at the Leicestershire circuit, and James Westmoreland goes into them with a three-point advantage over Tarran Mackenzie.
But, it is more than shoot-out between them. Both will be looking over their shoulders at the fast-catching Bradley Ray, who has taken seven podiums in the last eight races, although he embroiled in a scrap of his own with Mason Law, a late-comer to the party with his current rich vein of form.
Westmoreland, riding the CAME BPT Yamaha, is under no illusions of what he has to do. The Yorkshireman has twice been the runner-up in the title chase, and now he is determined to take the silverware. “To do that I have got to win races. I have to ride better than I have. I have to win both races at Donington. It is no longer just about beating Taz, or that he is winning races, I think it is a three way fight with Brad coming on strong and I have to stop that. If he takes 20 points a race, then he is going to be up there.
Westmoreland has taken the top stop of the podium twice, each time at Brands Hatch, first on the Indy and then the Grand Prix circuit. “I need to start winning and build the gape, though that it is easier said than done. There is no room for error in these last six races, I have to finish them all, scoring as many points as possible, as one DNF could be very costly. I need to improve, step up our potential which is better than where we are now. I know what I have to do.”
“The bikes are very equal which has surprised me a bit – the rules have been dumbed down a bit but have created a level playing field,” added Westmoreland who is focussed and comfortable with the team around him. “I love the team – they are what I have wanted since 2010 to enjoy my racing as much as I am this year.”
Ranged against him is Mackenzie aboard the Stauff Connect Academy Kawasaki and the winner so far of four races in an inconsistent campaign, his first in the series since his graduation from the ranks of SUperstock 600 action. He is a little surprised, though delighted, to be challenging: “I’ve never been in a championship position this late in the season. To be up against such an experienced rider as James is goo and I’m taking it round by round, trying to get some points on him, really keeping doing what we have been doing.
“In Moto3 a few crashes let me down, last year I took it to Mason Law but crashed so now it is a case of just keep going – I am still learning but dad (Niall – the former triple BSB champ) keeps me on it. He’s a great help, but he’s your dad – you still take the mick out of him, he sometimes embarrasses me but then he’ll talk to me after practice and in the evenings and go through everything. He knows what it is all about having been there and done it himself.
“Beating James is one thing but Brad’s confidence is high – he is winning races, taking points out of me – I have to get close to him and try to beat him. And Mason struggled a bit but now is coming on strong. They are the ones to beat.”
Mackenzie is 42 points ahead of FAB Racing Yamaha’s Ray who reckons: “It is getting interesting, getting closer – it is a bit unreal, scoring 95 points in my last four races but I am feeling confident and comfortable on the bike. Our lap times are coming together well. I need podiums, well, I need more wins. I though it would Taz, Westy and me, but now Mason is involved.
“Me and Mason seem able to get away from the rest at the front but it couldn’t be much closer. These last six races are vital. I will be fighting for the wins, or podiums, keeping a watch in case anyone has a problem. If they do, then I will have to use my brain and settle for points.”
Law is a further 32 points down and fifth overall, just adrift of the injured Andy Reid, and while realistically out of contention for the crown, can still play a big part in its outcome with his speed aboard the Gearlink Kawasaki as illustrated last Sunday at Oulton Park where he as Ray traded wins and second places leaving Westmoreland and Mackenzie to squabble over third and fourths.
“I am the uninvited one to the party but I can have a big influence on the outcome of the title though I am not in the championship chase. The start of the year didn’t go according to plan but now we are doing our own things, turning up and looking to win races.”
Law had technical problems early season, but has Andrew Pitt as his mentor and a strong team around him. “The pieces of the puzzle have come into place in the last couple of rounds, we are digging in and the results are coming. I am feeling comfortable on the bike, though was a bit frustrated in the last race when we had a recurring issue with the bike. We can only work with what I’ve got but now we can reap the rewards.
“We could have been championship contenders, but things happen for a reason and new we can get the results we deserve in what has not been been the smoothest season but we have kept our heads held high. We are pushing 100% and now I am pleased not to be happy with a second place – I want the wins.”
Should make for some interesting action and it will be brave man to bet on the outcome.