Photo Courtesy of PBM/Double Red
Lately the British Superbike Championship has attracted a bunch of up-and-coming stars and seasoned riders from all over the globe. It’s made for a very exciting championship and this year appears to be no different.
The series kicks off this weekend at Brands Hatch where defending champion and fan favorite Shane “Shakey” Byrne hopes to start the season where he finished last October – on top of the box on the Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki. Last year’s championship title was his third in the series, and he is the favorite to win the championship in 2013.
Making a return to the championship after winning last year’s Asia Road Racing Championship is Japanese rider Ryuichi Kiyonari. Also a three-time champion in the series, Kiyonari hopes to had a fourth BSB title to his resume on the Samsung Honda. He is seen to be Byrne’s strongest rival with both riders’ win statistics making them two of the most successful riders in British Championship history.
Speaking of rivals, this year there’s the Aussie contingent with Josh Brookes and the reigning Australian Superbike Champion, Josh Waters. The two riders didn’t move to England for the weather, they are both there to win a championship. Tyco Suzuki rider Brookes is tired of being the bridesmaid with two runner-up seasons already. And the Milwaukee Yamaha rider Waters is looked at as being the next big export out of Australia with two Australian Superbike titles and an impressive ride in last year’s Suzuka 8-Hour.
Another rising star is American PJ Jacobsen and the New Yorker makes his Superbike debut for Tyco Suzuki. He’s seen as the dark horse, but his wins last year in both British Supersport and Superstock 1000 impressed many and graduated him to the big class.
Another dark horse in the series this year is Czech Jakub Smrz on the Padgett’s Honda. Smrz’ World Superbike pedigree makes him a contender and will be interesting to see him up against the rest of the field.
Like Byrne, there are number of British riders hoping to keep the championship title domestic. James Ellison returns to BSB with unfinished business in the series after an injury wrecked his title shots in 2010. He reunites with the SMR team in Milwaukee Yamaha colors in his return from MotoGP with a point to prove that he is a contender again.
Tommy Bridewell, one of last year’s stars and winner of one of the Showdown places, returns to Ian Woollacot’s Bathams Honda team and has retained his Italian team in his garage.
Another one of last year’s stars is Samsung Honda’s Alex Lowes, who despite some bad luck at the final round at Brands Hatch could have given Byrne a run for the title. Like Bridewell, he’s matured as a rider and has seemed to stop crashing and is also a potential title contender.
Add to that a list some experienced riders like Chris Walker, Michael Rutter and Robbin Harms and a list of youngsters like Dan Linfoot, Danny Buchan, Keith Farmer, Jon Kirkham, Martin Jessop, Karl Harris, James Westmoreland and Peter Hickman, and you have the prospect of another interesting championship fight. The series is very healthy with factory support for the various teams, prime television coverage and huge trackside crowds. It’s no surprise that it attracts international and national talent to create a very interesting championship.
In the U.S. you can keep track of the series online this weekend with live BSB commentary on British Superbike website starting from 9 a.m. (GMT) both days.