- Jeremy Ryan
James McManus returns to the Championship lead
James McManus took a second place and a race victory at Donington Park to return to the Championship lead with two races remaining. Having missed out on victory in race one by 0.150 seconds the Completely Motorbikes / Affinity Sports Academy rode a perfect second race winning by over three seconds. The result on Saturday saw McManus return to the top of the championship standings. With his race winning performance on Sunday he now has a 35-point lead going into the final round at Brands Hatch in two weeks.
After being knocked off on his first lap in free practice the qualifying session was the first time James managed to get any track time at the Donington Park circuit this time round. He managed to record the 8th fastest time. Despite his lack of track time, two of his main championship rivals were one and two places behind him, whilst another started ahead in fourth.
It has now become expected that James will make a great launch when the lights go out. For race one on Saturday McManus did not disappoint. By the end of the first lap, the Completely Motorbikes / Affinity Sports Academy rider was up into second place.
As they started the second 2.5-mile lap of the track James McManus tipped into Redgate Corner leading the field.
McManus then went on to cross the start-finish line at the front for most of the race despite stiff opposition on other parts of the circuit. He was involved in a race-long battle with teammate and championship rivals Mikey Hardie and Charlie Atkins as well as Joe Ellis.
At one stage another rider came into contact with the rear of McManus’ Kawasaki, which stripped the fairing of the bike behind and that rider shortly crashed out. McManus was unable to do anything about it and although it upset his machine he kept control and stayed upright.
With three laps to go McManus was down to fifth but kept calm and on the penultimate lap moved up to second through the Melbourne loop and started the final lap leading the race once more.
In the end, he was narrowly beaten to the race victory finishing second just 0.150 seconds from the win. The result was another 20 points and with the championship leader having got caught up in a crash late on in the race McManus took the championship lead by 15 points.
With grid positions for the second race of the weekend set on the fastest laps of race one, James McManus started on the front row in third position.
Again he made a great start taking the holeshot into Redgate. Within a couple of laps, there was a five-rider breakaway with McManus leading from the front.
James McManus tried to stretch away as early as lap four of ten but another teammate of his closed in within a couple of laps. The two then began to open a gap of around a second over the riders in third and fourth.
By the end of lap eight, McManus started to apply the pressure. He edged just over a half gap on his teammate behind setting his fastest lap at that time. He wasn’t finished yet, as he went even faster on the penultimate lap stretching his lead to 1.5 seconds as he began the last lap.
The number 14 Kawasaki of McManus crossed the finish line to take the race victory by over three seconds. Having regained the championship lead yesterday and following some incidents for his main rivals, McManus goes into the final two races at Brands Hatch with a 35-point lead in the Championship.
The final round which will decide the championship will be at Brands Hatch from 14th to 16th October.