James Westmoreland boosted his hopes of qualifying for the Showdown as he scorched to his, and Buildbase BMW’s, maiden pole position ahead of the ninth round of the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship at Donington Park.
The historic milestone was the first time in Championship history that the German manufacturer has claimed an outright pole position.
The Yorkshireman starts the races in seventh place in the overall standings, five points down on his team-mate Jon Kirkham, and needs to be in the all-important top six to make the cut for the title deciding sequence of seven races which begins at the next round at Assen, Holland.
Westmoreland powered in a stunning time of 1m 29.726s around the Leicestershire circuit to top the qualifying timesheets but did not realise how strong his performance was, he explained: “My lap timer wasn’t working on the bike so I just went as fast as I could.
“I did enough with that very good lap but now I have to keep it going as I want to be in the top six by the end of this round. I need podium finishes and will push as hard as I can in the races. I’ll get a good night’s sleep and then come out fighting and show what we can do,” he added.
Samsung Honda’s Alex Lowes who has already qualified for the Showdown, set the second best time ahead of Milwaukee Yamaha’s James Ellison who should rack up the seven points needed in the Donington Park races to make the cut.
Series leading, three times champion Shane Byrne starts his Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki from the second row of the grid in fourth ahead of fellow confirmed Title Fighter Josh Brookes. The Australian’s qualifying performance for Tyco Suzuki meant that five different manufacturers from five different teams feature in the first five race one grid positions.
Halsall Racing Kawasaki’s Tommy Bridewell is still hunting a Showdown position and he will start sixth fastest, completing the second row despite a tumble in the final qualifying session after his incredible podium finish last time out at Cadwell Park.
Kirkham meanwhile faces an uphill struggle to fight off team-mate Westmoreland as he starts from the third row of the grid, while three times former title winner Ryuichi Kiyonari, also scrapping for a place in the Showdown starts his Samsung Honda from the fourth row.
Datatag Extreme Qualifying:
1: James Westmoreland (Buildbase BMW) 1m:29.726s
2: Alex Lowes (Samsung Honda) +0.271s
3: James Ellison (Milwaukee Yamaha) +0.312s
4: Shane Byrne (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki) +0.445s
5: Josh Brookes (Tyco Suzuki) +0.485s
6: Tommy Bridewell (Halsall Racing Kawasaki) +0.634s