Performance and poise

The British Superbike Championship is a byword for eye-catching average lap speeds – and never more so than at Thruxton – ADVERTISING FEATURE

Motorcycle racing is not just part of the modern landscape at Thruxton – it played a pivotal role in the former World War II airfield’s adoption for competition. The Southampton & District Motorcycle Club applied to the Auto Cycle Union for a racing permit in 1949 – and hosted the first ever race meeting at the track the following year, on Easter Monday.

This was not the Thruxton we know today, but a combination of perimeter roads and runways. Car meetings also took place in 1952 and 1953, after which the venue was left to the motorcycling community and remained in use until the mid 1960s. Notable race winners during that time included Mike Hailwood and Phil Read, while Triumph acknowledged its successes at the circuit by introducing the Thruxton Bonneville.

Since the British Automobile Club took over the venue in 1968, remoulding the layout into its current form around the old airfield perimeter, motorcycle racing has remained an annual staple. The Thruxton 500 was a popular two-rider endurance race, before and after the circuit update, and Norton set up a development base at the track, to help prepare its machines for the Isle of Man TT.

Thruxton has also been a regular haunt for one of modern motorcycle racing’s greatest success stories – the British Superbike Championship.

Run in its current form since 1988, the BSB has produced a number of well-known champions – including Rob McElnea, John Reynolds, Jamie Whitham, Steve Hislop, Niall Mackenzie, Troy Bayliss, Shane Byrne and Josh Brookes – and generates the quickest two-wheeled racing on the UK mainland.

This is most spectacularly showcased at Thruxton, where at some points of the lap bikes reach maximum speeds of 180mph-plus. In 2017, pole-sitter Jake Dixon qualified his Kawasaki at an average speed of 114.53mph.

The BSB returns once again this summer, with Byrne seeking his first Thruxton victory since 2016 as he chases down a record-extending seventh title. Meanwhile, the circuits 50th anniversary celebration in June will see demo runs from historic bikes including a 1972 John Player Norton as well as current BSB machines.

For more information about Thruxton’s 50th Anniversary celebration visit