THE DUCATI 848 CHALLENGE RETURNS FOR A NEW SEASON AT BRANDS HATCH THIS WEEKEND
The Ducati 848 Challenge returns for another season of fast and furious action as the series opens this Easter weekend at Brands Hatch at the start of the British Superbike Championship.The 848 Challenge was the talk of the BSB paddock last year due to the close and exciting racing that transfixed audiences throughout the eight rounds as every one of the sixteen races went down to the wire.The successful format of the Ducati 848 Challenge continues with eight rounds and sixteen races, including six British Superbike rounds and two overseas rounds. Brands Hatch is followed by Assen, Snetterton 300, Misano and the famous World Ducati Week, Oulton Park, Cadwell Park, Donington Park and finally Ducati UK’s home circuit, Silverstone.The success of the championship has been reflected with 33 entries that will form the grid for the two races at Brands Hatch over the Easter weekend. Neil Hodgson, the 848 Challenge series ambassador will be present to offer advice and encouragement for some of the debutants and younger riders of the Championship.The 33 entries for 2012 includes Ducati Manchester’s Robbie Brown, who last season finished third overall, and starts as one of the Championship favourites along with Darren Fry (JHP Racing/Ducati Coventry), 2010 title winner, and last year’s runner-up Mike Edwards (Ohlins and P&H Motorcycles) . However, they face stiff competition from riders switching to the Challenge for the first time in 2012, including Marty Nutt (NUTTTravel.com) and Ed Smith (Ultim8 Racing) who all spent last season in British Supersport. Former British 250 Champion Woolsey Coulter is coming out of retirement to take up the Challenge and will be joined by 2011 MRO Stock1000 Champion Byron Beckett, ex-TTC rider Nicky Wilson (NWR), along with Sean Neary (Motocorse UK Racing) and Ryan Myler (Close Brother Asset Finance).Although there are some experienced riders competing, the Challenge welcomes a group of up and coming young riders eager to make their mark in the BSB paddock. James White, 18, (Team After Dark) the 2011 Thunderbike Champion will seek to use his experience of racing a Ducati (his 2011 title was achieved on a 749) while James Folkard, 20, (Win43.com) will be stepping up as last year’s Aprillia RRV450 Champion. Sam Coventry (Moto Rapido) joins the series from the Spanish CEV Stock Extreme Championship, Ryan Gibson, 17, (Fast Frame UK) comes from North Gloucestershire 600 class while Kasey Wyatt, 18, (GBmoto Racing) moves up from the highly competitive Aprilia Superteens.Other riders returning to the fray include Stuart Poyser (P & H Motorcycles), Mark Cheetham (Hunt Pie Machines), Ricky Holden (Holden Racing), Jamie Poole (Moto Rapido), Aaron Brown (Ladybirds Ducati) and Barry Poll and Dan Cruickshank (both Pumpkin Patch Racing). Another returnee, Steve Jordan, will be joined this year by his wife, Sarah Jordan (both Global Robots/Steve Jordan Motorcycles), no doubt creating the first husband and wife team in the BSB paddock to ever race against each other!