The curtain came down on the 2016 British Superbike Championship at Brands Hatch at the weekend and whilst it wasn’t quite the cliffhanger we’d hoped for, it was certainly dramatic!
As perhaps we could have expected, the British weather played its part with only one of the three races going the full 20-lap race distance and it was a relatively low key sixth place finish that saw Shane Byrne clinch the title, his fifth in total, in the second race. The most successful rider in BSB history was almost embarrassed to have achieved his aim with such a finish but he did exactly what he needed to do, shadowing main rival Leon Haslam across the line.
Consistency pays dividends:
The Be Wiser Ducati rider eventually took the Championship by 29 points, Haslam’s crashes in the Showdown at Donington Park and in the first race at Brands proving to be his undoing. He made mistakes at the worst possible time and perhaps even more galling for the Derbyshire rider is that if the Championship was decided by the traditional points scoring method, he’d have come out on top by four points.
The Showdown is what it is though and is certainly here to stay. There’ll always be winners and losers which is ultimately its appeal and with exactly the kind of drama the series organisers want.
Challenging weekend for all concerned:
With rain, crashes and oil spillages affecting all three races, it was certainly a testing weekend for the riders and, of course, track officials, and the last race of the 2016 season was only just completed before darkness descended on the Kent venue. If truth be told, neither Byrne nor Haslam looked like winning any of the races over the course of the weekend but having worked so hard to become title contenders, they can certainly be forgiven for their somewhat tentative approaches during the races.
The war was there to be won, not the battle, and it was Byrne who got to bask in the biggest accolade of all – 2016 BSB Champion.
Different winners and front runners:
With Byrne and Haslam doing everything they could to win the Championship, a number of other riders were simply looking to end the season on a high and put themselves firmly in the shop window for next year’s Championship.
Haslam’s team-mates James Ellison and Peter Hickman took the race wins, the latter winning the BSB Rider’s Cup, whilst two strong rides saw John Hopkins claim two podiums on the ePayMe Yamaha, his first rostrums since the same meeting twelve months ago.
All three are yet to secure rides for 2017 although their names, as you’d expect, have been linked to a number of teams with Hickman also bringing with him his road racing prowess. They’re not alone in seeking new employment but as the saying goes, you’re only as good as your last race so they certainly didn’t harm their chances at the weekend.
Winter shake-up expected:
A number of changes are now expected over the winter months with a number of rider and team shake-ups but what looks almost certain is that Byrne and Haslam will be continuing with Ducati and Kawasaki respectively which means we can all look forward to a repeat performance in 2017.
However, it now looks almost certain that Mark Smith-Halvorsen’s JG Speedfit Kawasaki have bid farewell to the Championship whilst rumours persist that at least two other teams are rumoured to be following suit.
At the same time though, teams are expected to move up to BSB from the supporting Supersport and/or Superstock 1000 Championships so the strength in depth should still exist.
As is often the case, once one thing slots in to place and gets announced, the rest soon follow so expect some announcements to start happening over the next few weeks particularly at the Motorcycle Live show at the NEC next month.
Want to find out more about the BSB? Why not check out our BSB guide for features such as the Hall of Fame, records and stats, BSB history and much more!
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.