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 Knockhill British Superbike Round This Weekend

Steve HislopThought I would cobble together one or two bits of information on the Knockhill BSB round 11th/12th August. By the way, I make no apologies for putting a Scottish slant on this. Most of you will be aware that Naill Mackenzie will be competing at the hill and I can assure you he was not hanging about when the Suzuki team along with John Crawford were testing here a couple of weeks back. I think it says a lot for John Crawford as I'm sure he's aware that the spotlight will be on "Mac's Back"……maybe not a bad thing for JC me thinks.

Personally speaking, I think it's a nice touch that Mac 3 is saying goodbye in front of his home crowd and what better way than being out there on the racetrack doing what he does best. By the way, Naill has brought together some of his bikes from his former glory days including the carbon fibre Armstrong that's just been restored, a V4 GP Yamaha, not sure what one, and many others. So all these machines will be on display, not sure if he will be giving them a spin though. The fact that Whizlop is leading the championship can only add to the scottish flavour but the inclusion of Mackenzie could also take some pressure, if any, off Hizzy.

Incidentally, Hizzy's and Stuart Easton have also been testing at Knockhill and both were looking really good. Hizzy was on it within a few outings, but it's hard to gauge as the track has undergone some changes, which could result in a sub 50sec lap. Had a word with young Stu and he's maturing in his approach and presence, comes over well. Knockhill isn't really his home circuit as he went south straight from the outset, but I'm sure the home crowd and others will take the youngster to their hearts.

Scotland has always produced some great champions over the years and it needs Hizzy to continue that tally, but with no Moodie, this year anyway, and Callum Ramsay not having the best of seasons, for whatever reason. Then there's Ross McCulloch who's moved onto the supersport class, so it's all down to Whizlop to keep the Scottish ball rolling…. No pressure Steve!

Top class Scottish riders are a little thin on the ground these days and it's hard to gauge the next crop that will take over. A few years back, riders like Simpson and Moodie went south and were on it almost right from the off, their class and abilities were apparent right from the start. I think Scottish punters must think themselves lucky when you consider the population we have to choose from, remember there's only about 5 million skulls up here, so we do well considering. How many champion riders do you get from say London and there's what, 8 million there.

So who will be the next Scottish rider's heading for stardom? Sorry not a lot to choose from, yes there's a few good riders like Les Shand and Steve Allen, but I'm talking BSB championship winning material. Being honest I can only see two guys that have the potential to go all the way. First of all--it's apart from the already established riders like Fearless, Hizzy, JC, Moodie and the likes.

Harvey's tip for the top is Stuart Easton and Ross McCulloch. I'll bet that came as a surprise eh. Stuart continues to improve and I thought putting him into 250's this year could have been a year too early but he's adapted well. The real test will come if and when he goes four stroke, although I don't know if he will. For sure it will be interesting to see how he goes over the next few years.

Ross on the other hand has jumped straight into one of the toughest classes, supersport, and looking at his results you could say he's not done all that well. However, looking closely at his lap times, then he's not that far away from the top runners, he only needs to get a couple of finishes under his belt and more will follow. Our own Mr Moodie has taken over, for the rest of the season, managing the Elec Trak team that runs Ross. Jim is not only overseeing the operation and helping set up the bikes, who better, but he's also putting Ross through the Moodie training programme, not for the faint hearted me thinks.

Anyway, the upshot being that Ross has the boost mechanically, mentally as well as physically, and I can assure you he was looking good when he was testing his new V&M prepared Yamaha at Knockhill recently. Lots of you will be wondering how Jim Moodie is getting on? As most of you will know Jim's been through a series of operations on his ankle. All is well, in fact he is fitter than ever, and he now has the ankle movement he needs to race again. Jim was hoping at one stage to ride at Knockhill but he's decided against it, as he doesn't want any set back after such a long haul. In other words he will be fighting fit for next year, so watch out for #21 in the year 2002.

Before I forget, there's also bonus race for the punters at Knockhill this year as Regal has put up a £1000 prise fund to run a Scottish Production race. I can assure you it will be fun, as the skill level, is wide and varied. Take it from me the entertainment level will be high if the last few Regal races are anything to go by and believe me the front runners will not be hanging around.

So who's going to win then troops? Don't care as long as he's scots…..only kiding folks. I would like to see JC up there. He started the season well with a couple of rostrums at Donington, but following up from that has proved illusive. Being trackside at the earlier Oulton round and watching JC closely, he looks to be riding well enough. What I did notice, and this is only my observations, the bike was wanting to go in a different direction from what JC wanted, especially when on the gas. Not being an expert on this and I could probably be in trouble for saying so, but what the hell. I think JC's talent is better than the bike and if they can find a way of laying down the power without the bike wanting to go elsewhere, John could be in the top three again.

Hizzy for the win, easy to say, but with John Reynolds having to make a move soon, it could be a close run thing. JR has won a few times at the hill over the years, but there's something about Hizzy's body language this year that has champion written all over it. Watching him over the years, I can just about tell you if he will be on it, so you'll have to wait until I see the man on race day, Sunday morning.

The problem for JR, is he just cannot afford any mistakes, and as the season goes on, that pressure could tell. What the Red Bull team needs is for Emmett to get back to the form he showed two years ago when he won a few rounds, including knockhill if I remember rightly. Emmett doesn't look to have that aggression he showed two years back when he was running up front for a full race distance. However, he could prove me wrong or give me a good slap for saying so.

What about Haydon, one of the pr-season favourites along with JR. They, the media, forgot about Hizzy though…stupid stupid people. You don't need me to tell you Haydon has tested his leathers a few times this year as he did while testing at Knockhill a couple of weeks back. How much longer Haydon can go on like this before it effects him mentally, if at all, I don't know, but Haydon has the ability to win but does the bike have the ability to beat the best of the Dukes? Oh, what about Paul Brown, he's been getting closer to the front runners of late, but running with Hizzy or JR is a tall order.

Michael rain man Rutter could win if the weather's under the weather and as you know, Knockhill has it's own micro weather system, so this could be the opportunity for Kawasaki and Rutter. I honestly believe that Plater is the better bet of the two Quack runners but that's only my opinion, another slap?

Talking about the Knockhill weather…I think it was Naill Mackenzie who said you can tell by how far up the hill the sheep are grazing…. you can tell what I wonder…. and does Michael Fish know about this theory. Please no replies to this one. Could be yet another slap.

So there you have it….if you've managed to read down this far then you deserve a medal and as for me, well I'm only passing the time until the BSB circus rolls into Knockhill so don't believe a word I say.……don't miss the action though.

Words and pictures by Harvey Thompson

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