It is that time of the year again, after all the training, practice and sacrifice, where riders and teams hope that all the preparations finally pay off. The glory of the podium beckons.
There is a provisional 8 rider grid as at time of writing. Could there be a possibility of wildcard entries this year. Watch this space. In addition to the usual suspects, three rookies partook in qualifying this year.
Qualifying had a different format this year. Unlike the two flying laps used in the previous years, we had a single flying lap. This writer prefers the current method. Comparing the times between 2018 and 2019 requires we took an average of the two flying laps in 2018 and compared with the lap times this year. The lap times have dropped some more. Depending on who you ask, the gains are as a result of riders having more confidence, better machinery, data analysis etc.
They say in life change is constant, same applies in motorcycle racing. There were a few movements for the calendar year. BKG finally makes an appearance in the intermediate class with the addition of Dot formerly Dot-09 to the team. More surprisingly is the current two time defending champion Ahmed “Al-Pacino” Mohammed leaving 24-7 racing. See quote from the man himself;
“.. The BT2019 championship is here and as I am currently confident that @24_7__racing is at the top level of motorcycle racing in Nigeria. I felt the need for me to stay can only saturate the talent and resources in the team, I’ll miss everyone and hope to have fun with you all in the BT2019 championship season as the entire team holds a special place in my heart. This year, I will be competing as a component with the aim of training alongside other new and veteran racers and ofcos [sic] trying my best to make sure any victor over me has earned the title if me and Alharis’s [sic] best comes short of the cut. Support my team as I and Alharis prepare to face the fiercest BT supersport championship so far“
We now know the team is Inferno racing. It looks like the vision of the Inferno team principal to finally conquer the class might come to fruition with this arrangement.
Of the eight riders that have qualified for the finale this weekend, the top four went faster than the pole time of 2018. Ime, P5, was only four tenths away from the pole lap of 2018. Unsurprisingly, Ahmed is on provisional pole again this year with the first sub 1:12 in the intermediate class. This time would have put him in P4 in the liter category. An immense achievement regardless of how you look at it. While there are a few riders that are yet to run their qualifying sessions including, Lolu, Dot and Kominati, his pole position is almost secured. The rookies, Myke, Derry and Saheed qualify in P3, P4 and P8 respectively.
The veteran, Blow, qualifies in P2 while the rookie of 2018, Flygirl starts from P6. Archie, last of the riders to have posted a qualifying time starts from P7. Expect some shuffling of the grid once every rider has a lap time.
With Ahmed being favorite for the race victory and Blow in second, the fight for the remaining podium place with Myke and Derry should be exciting. Which of the rookies will come out tops. Write off Flygirl at your own peril, she was in a similar situation last time out with what was potentially a strong grid but came up with the sauce.