Team Appleyard Macadam are 2018 Champions!
Round 12 - Brands Hatch
The Dickies British Supersport Championship headed to the Brands Hatch GP circuit for the final race of the 2018 season. With the battle for the 2018 title yet to be decided, there was added pressure than that of a normal race weekend. The Appleyard Macadam Integro Yamaha Team arrived Thursday ready for the job at hand. Bikes meticulously prepared for the final two races that would decide the 2018 champion.
Mixed conditions for FP1 meant the majority of the grid opted to venture out on wet tyres for a first look at the track. However, race engineer Garry Hayes and crew chief Alex Smith made the perfect decision to send both riders out on intermediate cut tyres which paid dividends, as both riders topped the timesheets for the majority of the session before eventually ending up P2 & P6.
Later that afternoon the second of the free practice sessions got underway. Both riders again got out of the blocks fast. Some chassis changes during the session enabled Jack Kennedy to take the provisional pole over championship rival Ben Currie. Unfortunately whilst pressing on for a lap time, Brad Jones tipped off at Paddock Hill bend. Unhurt, Jones managed to finish the session in 8th position.
Feeling positive from Friday's performance, the team began preparing for the final Qualifying session of the year. A fantastic ride from Kennedy saw him take pole position for the 13th time in 2018, by just 0.088 of a second. Jones started out strong but began to fade and later retired from the session with a small electrical fault. However, he still managed to put in a decent lap time to put him 9th on the grid for Race one.
As Saturday afternoons sprint race loomed, the tension began to build. It was a tense few hours for the team as they stared down the barrel of their second, back-to-back British championship. Equally so for Kennedy, as he prepared to fight for his first ever British Championship.
As the race got underway Kennedy and Seeley had just started to break away from main rival Currie when the red flag came out and the race was stopped. After 15 minutes it was underway again, this time with only an 8 lap dash. As the red lights came on Ben Currie made a jump start, earning himself a ride through penalty and the battle for the championship was over before it had started. This left Kennedy and Seeley to fight it out for race victory. Jones meanwhile was battling it out with championship regulars Wilford and Allingham. A hard ride from Jones gave him the upper hand and he managed to bring his R6 Yamaha home in 6th position. Back at the front, a real bar banging match was breaking out. However 2 laps from the end, Kennedy managed to get the better of Seeley - crossing the line as the race winner and the 2018 Dickies British Supersport Champion!
Sunday morning was met by miserable, wet conditions that would stay for the remainder of the day. The riders ventured out for a warm up where Jones found a good feeling with the bike and set the 4th fastest lap time. Kennedy on the other hand wasn’t feeling as comfortable and had some work to do before the 18 lap feature race.
Still wet, the feature race got underway and Jones made a flying start straight into 4th position. However, a moment at turn 3 would see him on the grass and seemingly out of the race. He managed to rejoin the circuit in last position. This time it was a 4 way battle at the front. Seeley, Kennedy, Currie and Westmoreland. At the halfway point Seeley dropped back, before high siding out of the race at turn 3. A few laps later, Currie also started to drop back leaving just Kennedy and Westmoreland at the front.
Meanwhile further down the field Jones was having the ride of his life and by this point had battled his way back to 4th position, closing in on 3rd. With 2 laps to go Westmoreland made a break for it and Kennedy would have to settle for second place. Jones made amazing progress over the last 2 laps and finished the race in 3rd, an outstanding performance by the 20 year old Supersport rookie - claiming 5th overall in the championship and the top rookie position.
"To be crowned the 2018 British Supersport Champion feels amazing! I've dreamt of winning it for so long. It's what you go racing for - to become champion, be the best of the your class and have your place in the history books. Going into the last race we had a little bit in hand with a 41 point lead and I knew what I had to do, but if you're gonna win a championship you want to do it in style, so to sign off with the win made it all that bit sweeter.
For the last six races I've had to keep a cool head and think of the big picture to ride for the championship, sometimes just narrowly missing out on the wins by a fairing, but in the race on Saturday I laid it all on the line. The pressure was there but I didn't think about it on the bike, and if anything it just made me up my game. It was another tough fight for the win with the usual bar to bar racing but I stuck my neck out and it paid off!
It's certainly been a season to remember and one of my most enjoyable ever with 11 wins, 10 2nd’s and 1 3rd, and only dropping one round due to injury. Finishing on the podium in every race we competed in says it all! That's all credit to my team - they gave me a faultless bike all season with not one mechanical issue which just shows their professionalism and work ethic, so hats off to them. It's great to reward them with the championship title for all their hard work. I've had a worthy opponent in Ben with some good, close but clean battles. I have the greatest respect for him as a rider and he sure didn't make it easy, pushing me all the way.
It was also fantastic to have so many of my family, friends and fans with me at Brands to see me clinch the title. That made it all the more special and you don't ever do it on your own, so thanks to everyone who helped in me any way to make this possible."
"Overall it was a great weekend, although it didn’t come easy with a crash on Friday and an engine blow up in qualifying. But a solid 6th in race 1 from 10th on the grid wasn’t bad, and it was good to finish the last dry race of the season strong. Race 2 was hectic after running off track on lap 1 leaving me dead last, then coming back all the way to 3rd was just mad! The bike felt good and I felt great! To come away in my debut season with 5th in the championship and top rookie is mega, it sets us up nicely for whatever 2019 brings."
"An amazing end to the 2018 season. Fantastic for the team to achieve back-to-back championships as well for Jack in claiming his first British Championship. I’m so proud of all the team for the efforts in elevating us to this level. None of this would be possible at all if it wasn’t for our amazing partners who continue to support the team. I’m very excited for 2019 - we will be back in Supersport with another two rider team."
The 2019 season has already started for Team Appleyard Macadam, and we look forward to starting the journey all over again we aim for a 3rd British Championship.