Confirms 30 Strong Line-Up
The British Superbike Championship is set for another fiercely competitive season with a buoyant 30 strong starting grid, featuring leading British and International riders aboard machines produced by five of the world’s leading manufacturers, being confirmed by the race organisers, MSVR.
The series, which begins at Brands Hatch on Easter Monday, 13 April, has bucked the trend of other major championships by maintaining a high entry level despite the current economic downturn and it boasts four factory backed teams. Once again, BSB will be pioneering new elements with a three race format at the Brands Hatch GP event in August and at the Oulton Park finals weekend, complementing the three stage knock-out format which proved so popular when introduced in the latter half of 2008.
Much of the early season attention will be focussed on the Airwaves backed GSE team which this year has switched from the Ducatis which have powered it to three British titles to running the latest Yamaha R1s in the hands of James Ellison, a rider who won the Privateers Cup five years ago before embarking on MotoGP and then American action, and Leon Camier.They have already tested strongly, but will need to be at their best as they face the daunting challenge of the twin Aussie force of reigning British Supersport Champion Glen Richards and Josh Brookes who are spearheading the HM Plant Honda bid to regain British racing’s premier crown.
Sylvain Guintoli switches from MotoGP to head up the Crescent Suzuki challenge, and the Leicestershire based Frenchman has impressed already with his speed and style in testing. He is joined in the Suzuki ranks by Ian Lowry and Atsushi Watanabe who are riding in Relentless TAS colours.Kawasaki have a strong presence with twice World Endurance Champion Julien da Costa and Simon Andrews riding for the MSS Colchester equipe while Tristan Palmer and John Laverty, last term’s Daily Star Cup champion, ride for the Buildbase backed Hawk team. Kenny Gilbertson races a similar bike backed by JX Fuelcard
Stuart Easton impressed the Hydrex Honda team with his determined ride at the Macau Grand Prix and that has earned the young Scot a place with them alongside the experienced Karl Harris who has moved over from the Rob McElnea Yamaha team.
McElnea who seems to be the best prepared of the Yamaha teams has the latest R1s for Chris Walker and Graeme Gowland, running in Motorpoint/Henderson colours while Michael Rutter rides for Coca-Cola Zero NW 200. Jon Kirkham is another Yamaha rider, with the Lloyds British team, while David Johnson rides for Team Maxxis Branson.Jason O’Halloran, the young Aussie who caught the eye in a handful of rides at the end of last season returns with the SMT Honda while Aaron Zanotti has a Fireblade running with the Red Viper team which also enters Alastair Fagan into a strong Daily Star Cup championship within a championship.
Fagan takes on the experienced Gary Mason, riding for Quay Garage Honda, against the likes of Martin Jessopp (Riders Honda), Tom Tunstall (Hardinge Doodson Honda), Peter Hickman (Ultimate Team Yamaha), Matt Bond on the MIST Suzuki, Brian McCormack (MAR Kawasaki) and the STP-JHS MV Agusta duo of Victor Cox and Chris Burns who will be upholding the Italian manufacturer’s pride.
“We took account of the current financial situation in our planning, working to keep costs down but also providing a championship that is high on value with big exposure not just in terms of spectator attendances but also through our significant television broadcast coverage which in 2009 will well exceed 240 hours,” explained BSB Series Director Stuart Higgs.“By taking note of feedback from the teams, we have provided another quality championship, this year decided over 26 races at 12 events, with full support, a level playing field thanks to our one-make Pirelli tyre contract, and they have responded with a magnificent entry, the envy of others at all levels of the sport, which will ensure that we remain the top domestic series across the world,” he added.