Last weekend saw the motorcycling calendar for 2015 get underway with the opening round of the World Superbike Championship taking place at Phillip Island, Australia and whilst it was certainly a meeting full of racing of the highest order, we’ve perhaps got to wait a further six weeks before we see the best of the action this season.
Why? Because that’s when the domestic series kicks into life and whilst it may not contain the full factory Superbikes it once did, the British Superbike Championship has something that none of the other Championships have – strength in depth and a fully loaded grid.
Donington Park plays host to the first BSB round over the Easter weekend and a whopping 39 bikes and riders will line up on the grid, more than a third than its World counterpart and the premier MotoGP series and something that those respective aficionados can only be jealous of never mind the likes of America and Australia where the Superbike class is a shadow of what it once was.
That alone makes it stand out from the rest but its strength in depth and competitiveness that are its ultimate selling points and it’s no exaggeration to say there’ll be 12 potential race winners – at least – at each and every round. And a lot of top flight riders will not only be fighting it out for points at the bottom end of the top 15, some will be missing out completely.
The reason is simple – the rules. A tightening up of the rules in the last few seasons – control tyres, performance limitations and series-specified ECU systems, for example – has put everyone on a more level playing field and has meant that the majority of riders and teams can compete financially off the track and competitively on it, certainly for the initial part of the season at least. At least 80% of the field will be capable of scoring points at the opening round.
There’ll be inevitable attrition over the course of the season – there always is – so it’s highly unlikely we’ll have 39 riders on the grid at Brands Hatch in October but there’ll still be more than the 23 found in World Superbikes, and that means the paying public will continue to see some of the best, closest racing on the planet.
However, the cream will always rise to the top and, ultimately, the riders with the biggest teams and budgets behind them will prevail. That means we can expect the usual suspects to be the main Championship contenders – PBM Motorsport, Milwaukee Yamaha, Tyco BMW, Honda Racing and Buildbase BMW – with four-time, and reigning, Champion Shane Byrne (PBM Kawasaki) and three-time former winner Ryuichi Kiyonari (Buildbase BMW) set to renew their rivalry of 2014.
The Australian duo Josh Brookes and Broc Parkes (on the all-new Milwaukee Yamaha R1), MotoGP refugee Michael Laverty and Tommy Bridewell (both Tyco BMW) could well be the other four riders to make the three-round ‘Showdown’ at the end of the season although Dan Linfoot (Honda Racing), Stuart Easton (PBM Kawasaki), Josh Waters (Halsall Suzuki), Chris Walker (Be Wiser Kawasaki) and the JG Speedfit Kawasaki pairing of James Ellison and James Westmoreland are just some of the riders expected to have a say in that.
There’s plenty of new blood in the series too with the likes of Parkes, Jason O’Halloran (Honda Racing), Danny Buchan (BeWiser Kawasaki), Luke Mossey (Quattro Plant Kawasaki), Taylor Mackenzie and Jack Kennedy (both WD-40 Kawasaki) and Lee Jackson (Buildbase BMW) all embarking on their first full BSB season. Expect Parkes, O’Halloran and Buchan to be the pick of the crop with the first two definitely possessing the potential to be race winners.
The racing gets underway on the weekend of April 4-6 and it has all the ingredients of being the most competitive BSB season in its 20-year history.
Having started watching motorcycle races all over the world form childhood, Phil Wain has been a freelance motorcycle journalist for 15 years and is features writer for a number of publications including BikeSport News and Classic Racer, having also been a regular contributor to MCN and MCN Sport. He is PR officer for a number of teams and riders at both the British Superbike Championship and International road races, including Smiths Triumph, Quattro Plant Kawasaki, John McGuinness, Ryan Farquhar and Keith Amor. He is also heavily involved with the Isle of Man TT Races, writing official press releases and race reports as well as providing ITV4 with statistical information.