- Jeremy Ryan
James extends championship lead at Thruxton
The unusually hot weather added to some fantastic racing making for a special weekend for motorcycle racing fans at Thruxton. James McManus took a hard-fought second place in race one and having looked like he would take another podium in race two was swamped through Club Chicane on the final lap going on to cross the finish line in seventh. McManus leads the Championship by 20 points at the midway point of the season.
On Friday, the number 14 from Randalstown finished the single free practice session the British Junior Supersport class get in fifth position overall.
Track temperature at the Hampshire circuit rose to a sweltering 42 degrees during the 25-minute qualifying session.
James McManus was quickly established inside the top five riders before slipping back as he tried to find a good rhythm and clear track.
Returning to the track after a pit stop and with around six minutes left McManus was soon back up to 11th place before finishing the session in fifth just 0.485 seconds from the front row.
Making one of his now customary good starts the rider from Randalstown was quickly into fourth position and then on the second lap moved through into third at Segrave. On the third lap, McManus was around three-quarters of a second behind the leading two riders as he headed a group of four in the hunt to make sure the gap did not grow.
A lap later the group had bunched up again as three Completely Motorbikes/Affinity Sports Academy riders battled each other for the front positions.
On the fifth lap, McManus crossed the line at the front of the race but the leading group was very tightly bunched and positions rotated regularly.
With a lap to go, McManus was pushing hard with the other chasing riders to close the 0.7-second gap that the leading rider had managed to obtain. As they approached the Club chicane and on the approach to the final lap they had caught him once more.
There were now six potential race winners challenging for track position on the final lap. McManus made a good overtake round Church and onto Brooklands and as he approached the Club Chicane he had gone from third to first. McManus ran over the kerb coming out of Club and as he put on the gas out of the final corner the back stepped out. He controlled the moment well to stay on but the slide caused him to lose drive and he was pipped for the win by 0.164 seconds.
James Mcmanus made his second good start of the weekend as he swept into third position at the end of lap one. Canadian rider, Jack Roach managed to make a break at the front of the field leaving a huge 14-bike chasing pack battling for the final two podium positions.
McManus spent the next few laps always in the mix at the front of the chasing group. As the race went on it looked like McManus was positioning himself well, keeping at or near the front ready to make a move on the final laps if necessary.
So densely packed were the riders that although James McManus was second at the end of the penultimate lap he was overrun by his rivals as he went into the first right of the final chicane on the last lap. Forced to ease off to make sure he got through safely he went from second to cross the line in seventh position.
The season is still only halfway through and there are another eight races to compete in. However, his podium finish in race one and seventh in race two saw his championship points tally rise to 147 points. He leads the second place rider by 20 points and the rider in third is a further 12 points behind.
James said, "It wasn't a bad weekend, I came away with a second and a seventh, not happy about race 2 but it's 400 racing. It's so tight and I just got caught out, but happy to come away with more points for the championship and onwards now to Snetterton."