- Jeremy Ryan
Blues for Brothers at Oulton Park
Although the weekend at Oulton Park brightened up, once the April showers of Saturday and Sunday disappeared, ultimately it proved a gloomy weekend for the McManus brothers in the British Supersport Championship.
Whilst Eugene McManus managed a solid 11th-place finish on a rain-soaked track during race one, the second ended early when another rider fell on the first lap. Their crash sent McManus into the gravel and down and out of the race.
James McManus was riding only his third and fourth competitive races in the British Supersport class. After a fall in qualifying left him near the back of the grid, he did well to work his way through the field but ultimately suffered to DNFs.
On Saturday there were the usual two free practice sessions. At the end of FP1 Eugene was 15th quickest with James lying in 23rd in the British Supersport class. The rain then appeared for FP2 leaving the track wet. The McManus brothers only briefly ventured out on track meaning the riders' positions at the end of the day remained unchanged.
On Sunday morning there were two qualifying sessions due to the number of riders. In Q1 James made a positive start to his 15-minute session before tipping off in tricky conditions. The track was drying and as such the remaining riders were getting quicker. Fortunately, whilst James slid down the grid order he had put in a sufficiently quick lap time to avoid the qualifying cutoff time.
Eugene had made it straight to Q2. The track was wet and Eugene used the 15-minute session to slowly increase his pace on the slippery Oulton Park track. He finished Q2 15th quickest and 14th in the British Supersport class.
Sprint Race (8 laps)
The race was delayed after the rain fell again and the race officials made a track inspection. When the race finally got underway it was reduced from twelve laps to eight.
Eugene held station on the first lap running in 15th position on the track. After a tumble in qualifying James had to start from 37th place. He immediately made an impression flying through and up to 31st by the end of lap one (23rd in the British Supersport class).
Two laps later and James was running in 29th as he continued to move through the riders ahead. Eugene was also heading in the right direction running 12th in the British Supersport class by the end of the fourth lap.
Unfortunately, for James, the conditions would again catch him out. He high-sided on lap 5 and his ran was over, the rider was OK.
Eugene McManus went on to cross the line in 11th position at the flag.
Feature Race (16 laps)
In the second race of the weekend, Eugene’s best lap time from race one meant he would start from 8th on the grid. James lined up 35th on the combined Supersport and GP2 grid although 25th in his class.
The circuit was dry for the Feature Race but Eugene McManus was unable to make the best of the track conditions. Only a few corners into the race another rider slid off in front of Eugene. The Completely Motorbikes / Affinity Sports Academy rider had nowhere to go and in taking avoiding action ran into the gravel crashing out on lap one.
James McManus made a flying start to the second race of the weekend. He made up seven positions on the first lap at Oulton Park gaining a further position on lap two. This took him to 19th in the British Supersport class.
Unfortunately, he then found he had seven riders ahead of him before reaching the nearest British Supersport rider but that didn’t stop him from trying. By lap ten he was the 18th British Supersport rider on the track. James then managed to pass a couple of riders from another class before he fell on the penultimate lap.
Eugene McManus said,” Unfortunately this weekend is one to forget about but I will gather myself up and move on to Donington where I will be back to fight strong“.
James McManus said, “A tough weekend at Oulton for me, still learnt a lot and making progress although results might not show that, we learn from the weekend and move on to Donington now."
The third round of the British Supersport championship is from 19-21 May at Donington Park.