Sunday, 7 February 2016

WSBK: Philip Island preview

The full entry list for the 2016 World Superbike Championship has now been released and with the first round of the season at Philip Island only weeks away, this is probably the right time to make some predictions about how the season will kick off.

The 2016 season already looks to be much stronger than in 2015. The return of Yamaha and a much improved presence from both BMW and MV Agusta should mean that there will be more competition, both in the battle for podium places and in the mid-pack.

As seen in previous seasons, a strong showing at Philip Island does not always translate throughout the entire season but who are the ones to watch in the season opener? Expect the well-prepared factory Kawasaki and Ducati teams to hit the ground running with Jonathan Rea and Chaz Davies both keen to continue their strong end of season form into the new campaign. Reigning British Superbike Champion Josh Brookes joins the grid, aboard a semi factory supported BMW S1000RR. He will be looking to start the season well after a great season in BSB, we believe that he has a chance to be top five in Australia, in front of his home fans. Nicky Hayden joins the championship from MotoGP, riding for the factory Honda team. The Honda's performed well last year at this round so he will also be looking to make a positive start aboard the doubtless ageing Honda Fireblade.

It will also be interesting to see which teams and riders adapt best to the new race weekend format which sees the first race take place on Saturdays after qualifying with the second race the following day.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

WSBK and BSB: New season updates

As is normal in superbike racing there has already been a raft of rider movements and machinery changes in both the World Superbike and British Superbike championships.

Reigning British Superbike champion, Josh Brookes, moves into the World Superbike championship with the same SMR team that won him his first title for 2016. The team will move away from Yamaha for 2016 and will instead run factory-supported BMW S1000RR's. Josh has proven his ability to help develop a bike during a season and will need to get up to speed quickly if he wants to compete for podiums in the early rounds.

Yamaha make a belated return to the World Superbike paddock, with Alex Lowes and Sylvain Guintoli. The new Yamaha R1 has already proven itself in other superbike series around the world and the fully factory supported team will be one to watch in 2016.

After failing to secure a ride in World Superbike for 2016, Leon Haslam returns to the British Superbike Championship aboard the factory supported JG Speedfit Kawasaki. He will add his considerable talent to what is already a stacked British Superbike line-up!

It's all change at PBM for 2016 as they return to their roots to run the Ducati Panigale for the 2106 British Superbike season. Shane Byrne retains his place in the team and is joined by up and coming rider from British Supersport, Glenn Irwin. With full factory backing, expect to see a return to the front for the distinctive sound of a Ducati twin!


Friday, 23 October 2015

BSB: Brookes a worthy champion

Australian Josh Brookes has finally achieved his long term goal of winning the British Superbike Championship. Winning the first of three Brands Hatch races last weekend meant he secured the title with two races of the season still to run.

With thirteen race wins and a total of twenty three podiums throughout the season, Brookes is clearly a worthy winner of the title this year, keeping Shane Byrne and James Ellison at bay in the process. This is especially true when you consider that he, along with his team have developed the new Yamaha R1 from something close to showroom spec to a consistent race winning superbike within the space of a season.

Brookes' achievements this year should surely put him in the shop window for a competitive World Superbike ride next year although with most of the factory rides already taken, a lot may decide on what the Shaun Muir headed, SMR team plan to do for next year.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

BSB: Top six nearly set

With Josh Brookes and Shane Byrne having long booked their places in the showdown, only four spots remain and these will be confirmed by the end of next week's triple header at Oulton Park.

James Ellison, Tommy Bridewell and the returning Stuart Easton realisticly should only need a handful of points in each race to ensure that they retain their current placing in the top six. Stuart Easton has the biggest battle on his hands of these three, currently laying in fifth place in the standings and just about healed from his injuries sustained earlier in the season.

The sixth place in the showdown is still very much up for grabs with Michael Laverty, racing for the Tyco BMW team, the man currently in possession. He has a 19 point lead over Dan Linfoot and a 32 point lead over Richard Cooper (Jason O'Halloran, currently in eighth spot will unfortunately miss the Oulton Park round and therefore has no chance of making the showdown top six) and will need to have decent finishes in each race at Oulton park to make sure he is isn't overtaken at the final hurdle before the showdown begins at Assen.

Friday, 7 August 2015

BSB: Close at the top

The British Superbike title looks likely to go to one of two contenders this season. Shane Byrne started the season with exceptional form, even managing four wins on the bounce at Snetterton and Knockhill.

While Byrne had hit the ground running with a bike and team that he knew inside out, fellow championship contender Josh Brookes was having to gradually improve a completely untested bike in the form of the new Yamaha R1. Early rounds saw Brookes just about making the podium and pick up useful points as the development of the R1 increased at pace. This has culimnated in a run of four wins for Brookes in the last four races at Brands Hatch and Thruxton and has meant he has taken a slender lead in the overall standings and is only six points beyond Byrne in the podium credits table.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

BSB: Top six starting to take shape

The championship format in British Superbikes means a rider must be in the top six in the championship standings before the final three rounds of the season to have a chance of winning the title.

The top three of Byrne, Brookes and Easton look to have already secured their places with consistent podium finishing and are already looking for podium credits as the showndown part of the championship gets ever closer.

James Ellison is nearly there, currently in fourth place in the standings and would likely be higher if bad luck had not hampered his season. Jason O'Halloran, currently in fifth place is the surprise package of the season and is performing well on the aging Honda Fireblade. He will need to continue his early season form if he wants to hold onto his place in the top six.

Currently holding the final top six spot is Tommy Bridewell who has seen his lead over the chasing pack cut dramatically over recent races, not least from his team mate Michael Laverty who has finally got to grips with the BMW and the BSB specification bikes. It is very difficult to predict who will get the final two showdown spots. A lot will depend on if Kiyonari, currently languishing in ninth position in the championship, can get his season going. If he can then he will likely take one of the remaining showdown places as on his day he is a match for anyone on the grid. In our view the experience of Michael Laverty will also see him overtaking his team mate and Jason O'Halloran before the final three rounds and grabbing a place in the top six.

Saturday, 30 May 2015

BSB: The top level

The 2015 British Superbike grid has the greatest depth of talent seen for many years and has possibly it's strongest line-up ever. There are over eight well-funded teams running at least two strong riders each along with numerous other high quality smaller teams with riders which are proven at national level.

However, looking at the early part of the season we can see that the very top level riders are still the same as they have been in recent years. None of the new riders have yet been able to raise their level that little bit extra to get to the very top. The familiar names of James Ellison, Shane Byrne, Josh Brookes and Stuart Easton head the championship and already all four look likely to take their place in the season ending top six showdown. Josh Brookes further underlined this at the recent Snetterton test by topping the timesheets and smashing his old lap record.

It is in the final two showdown spots where the real battle lies; with more riders having a genuine chance of getting into the showdown than in any year since the showdown system was introduced. They are currently filled by Tommy Bridewell and Jason O'Halloran with three times former champion, Ryuichi Kiyonari not yet featuring in the top six, something he will surely be looking to put right in the next few rounds of the championship.

Congratulations to Kyle Ryde who wildcarded at the Donington Park World Supersport race and finished in third place on the podium after lining up in second place on the grid! The seventeen year old from the midlands is clearly a fantastic talent and has a bright future ahead of him. He currently lies second in the British Supersport Championship after winning the National Superstock 600 championship last year.