Here at BikeSocial we believe the only thing better than riding bikes is racing bikes! Sadly, for most of us the levels of skill and bravery required to take part are out of reach. But fear not because we’re bringing you a comprehensive guide to the four main classes of racing – MotoGP, World Superbikes, British Superbikes and the Isle of Man TT - telling you the who, what and where to watch the best racing in the coming season.
Today we look at the fiercest domestic series in the world: the 2017 British Superbike Championship (BSB).
DOWNLOAD: BikeSocial has put together a comprehensive guide of the season with all the riders, circuits and dates. Click following link to download: British Superbike Guide 2017
A superbike is derived from a bike you can walk into a dealership and buy. There are many parts which must remain the same as those on the road going version and parts that you can modify, in this section we cover some main points. The engine externally must be the same as the road bike and internally the pistons and combustion chamber must be standard. You can skim the head to increase compression, and the amount and timing of the valve lift is free to exploitation, although valve size must be the same as stock. Gearbox must be of the same design as the road bike and can use one set of ratios for the season. Exhausts can be modified, but the bikes airbox must be as per the road bike. The rear subframe can be changed, as can front and rear suspension and swingarm. The bikes wheels are the final major component that is changed and can only be made of alloy. The tyre used in this class is a control tyre supplied by Pirelli, this means all bikes will use the same, slick and wet tyre. This is an overview of the main points, if you would like to read the full regulations for BSB teams and riders, click here.
A British Superbike must have a capacity of 750cc to 1000cc for four-stroke three and four cylinder machines, while four-stroke two cylinder machines must be between 850cc and 1200cc. The reason for the larger capacity for twin cylinder machines is down to manufacturers like Ducati and Aprilia historically only building V-Twin engines. A twin cylinder of any configuration will sit at a disadvantage next a high revving four-cylinder engine of the same capacity, hence the dispensation.
With a minimum weight of 165kg and more than 200bhp on tap, a BSB bike will see 200mph at tracks like Silverstone and Snetterton. If you are wondering how a lap stacks up to in comparison to a MotoGP bike, the current lap record at Assen sits with 2015 Champion, Josh Brookes at 1:36:904. While a certain Mr Rossi holds the same accolade at the same track in MotoGP with a time of 1:32.627. Unlike a MotoGP bike carbon disc brakes are not allowed, steel discs must be used although aftermarket items can be fitted.
The BSB championship is a big draw for all the manufacturers, as they can show off the bikes that look almost identical to the ones in the showroom. The manufactures can also use the BSB as a test bed for ideas that can sometimes see their way onto their road going bikes. That’s the reason the factory backed team’s budgets can be huge. The factory in some cases will absorb this cost and use data that the team give to them and feed this in to their research and development programs. Teams with factory backing are: Bennetts Suzuki, Honda Racing, JG Speedfit Kawasaki, and BeWiser Ducati. This does not mean that the factory bikes are immediately quicker or more succesfull than the non-factory or privateer teams. The BSB championship has created some surprise results, like Luke Mossey's surprise pole position at Brands Hatch in 2016. Mossey took advantage of Shane Byrne's lack of pace and Jason O'Halloran's crash to take the top spot on the grid.
Since 2010 BSB has had a format all of its own; it mostly has two races each weekend, one on Saturday and one on Sunday, the only exceptions to this is the Season Finale at Brands Hatch and another selected round that have three races over a weekend.
To start with, on Friday morning, all the riders head out for the first of two practice sessions to help them acclimatise to the track and conditions. They will also begin the process of setting the bike up. This involves tuning the suspension, brakes and engine to provide the rider with the best package come race day. If the event is a two race weekend the riders get a third practice session on a Saturday prior to qualifying, if the event has three races they do not.
Qualifying takes place in three stages.
Session 1: The fastest 30 riders in the overall combined classification of the Free Practices take part and try to set their fastest time. At the end of the 18-minute session the riders placed Riders placed 19 to 30 are ‘knocked out’ meaning they must start from this position in the race.
Session 2: The fastest 18 riders now fight it out for a chance to take part in the final part of qualifying, they have 12 minutes’ track time. At the end of this session riders placed 10 to 18 are knocked out and will start from this position in the race.
Session 3 – Superpole – The final part of qualifying is Superpole. The fastest 10 riders from session two now have one flying lap to claim their position on the grid. The top 10 places can be separated by half a second, meaning one tiny mistake could be the difference between pole position and 10th place.
This is the format for qualifying for race one, for race two they use the fastest times from race one to determine your staring position.
In the event of rain, the nine riders will fight it out in a 12-minute timed session instead of the one-lap format. If there is rain in the middle of the superpole session, it will be red flagged and the grid will be formed from the result of Q2.
To avoid delays and complications, if Race Direction's weather systems predict a high chance of rainfall during the session, they will pre-empt the weather and run the 12 minute wet-style session.
BSB races last for around 30 minutes and are a straight dash to the chequered flag. There are no mandatory pit-stops and the bikes should be able to finish on the amount of fuel they start with. If the race starts dry and then becomes wet the race stops and the bikes feed into the pits to change to a wet race set up before restarting.
BSB has points placed finishes to 15th, (25 points for a win, then 20, 16, 13, 11, 10and so on, down to 15th place) but only for the first nine events. Then the format Switches up a gear and is known as The Showdown. Now only the top six riders, known as Title Fighters, are in with a chance of taking the crown. They each get a tally of 500 points for getting this far, and bonus points added for podium placed finishes throughout the season – five points for a win, three for second, one for third. For example: A racer has 3 x 1st place: 3 x 5 = 15, 2 x 2nd place: 2 x 3 = 6, 1 x 3rd place: 1 x 1 = 1, they have 22 Podium points going into the showdown.
The Showdown was brought about in 2010 and is designed to take the championship down to the wire. The change in scoring may have been ushered in by organisers after Leon Camier stormed to the title in 2009 taking 19 wins in the 26-race series, 136 points ahead of second place James Ellison. Whatever the reason, the Showdown is a favourite with the fans and does give the feeling that anything could happen in the closing stages of the season.
Those riders who don’t make it into the showdown still have something to fight for as they are competing for the BSB Riders Cup, the best of the rest if you will.
2 Race Weekend
3 Race Weekend
Practice 1 (50 Mins) Practice 2 (50 Mins)
Practice 1 (50 Mins) Practice 2 (50 Mins)
Practice 3 (50 Mins)
Qualifying (3 Sessions)
Qualifying (3 Sessions)
Warm Up (20 Mins)
Warm Up (10 Mins)
With BSB races scheduled in every corner of the UK there is sure to be one near to where you live. But if you can’t make it down to an event the BSB has it covered. Every race of the season is broadcast live in HD on Eurosport. This includes a full programme of the support races and rider interviews. You can also follow the action on ITV4, the races are shown on the Wednesday and Saturday following a race weekend. Catch up and on demand services are also available for those who can’t wait, available on the ITVPlayer and ITV.com.
For 2017 the British Superbike Championship grid has never looked faster, so here we take some expert opinion from two-time British Champion and BSB pundit Jamie Whitham:
For me it’s quite easy to say who will be at the front in BSB for 2017. The two fastest men from 2016 should, without any major upset be there again so Shane Byrne and Leon Haslam are my top two. They are on the same bikes as last year, the fastest bikes with loads of data – these guys are the benchmark.
Snapping at their heels will be Josh Brookes. Bags of talent and a fire in his belly and coming back after the tricky season in WSBK he’s going to be gunning for the top spot. The only question mark over Brookes is the team, are they big enough to give him what he needs? Only time will tell.
I think we’re going to be seeing a lot of Sylvain Guintoli. He’s a super experienced rider that is going to bring a wealth of knowledge to the team but, like Brookes, are they big enough to support him. Suzuki are not going to be building a slow bike. On paper, at least as fast as the competition, a question mark remains over the software. Sylvain is a thinker and is very good at setting a bike up though, I have high hopes for them.
Next I think you will have the likes of Jason O’Halloran and Dan Linfoot. Both quick, both on the new CBR1000 Fireblade, questions mark over the bike but like Suzuki, they wouldn’t build a slow bike! Luke Mossey too is a quick lad, ferociously quick over one lap and if he can make a tyre last a race he could be winning in 2017. Finally, Christian Iddon. Was strong at the beginning of last season and towards the end of last year. It’s great to see a rider that loves his racing – he races with a smile on his face!
Superstock is a completely new format for 2017. With 100mile races and a compulsory pitstop, the dynamic has completely changed. I’m thinking that Richard Cooper is going to be fast this year. He’s dropping down from BSB to this class so his confidence with the bike is going to be high. SS1000 is a more standard bike so if the Suzuki GSXR1000’s stock electronics are good; the bike should be quick.
Keith Farmer is my next one to watch. He’s been working miracles on a nine-year-old Fireblade that should not be competitive. So, on a new Fireblade, who knows!
Finally, Danny Buchan should be very quick. Won this class by a country mile three years ago, then had two frustrating seasons in BSB. It was lacklustre and accident strewn so the move back SS1000 should be a confidence booster.
This is probably the most open class and therefore the hardest to judge! I’m going with Joe Francis, super-fast and when he’s got his head down, almost impossible to beat! The Aussie lad Ben Currie. Typical racer from down under, came to the UK with a rucksack of clothes and is staying at a mate’s house but I see something in him. If the team get it right this year, then he could be in with a shout.
BSB has always been a hotbed of talent with world champions and Grand Prix race winners such as Casey Stoner and Cal Crutchlow beginning their careers racing in Britain. That means the youngsters you see racing on a Sunday afternoon could actually be stars of the future. The BSB offers masses of bike shaped value for money, whether you have travelled to the track or are simply watching from your sofa. It is a full weekend programme of practice, qualifying and race action, including:
|The Santander Consumer Finance KTM British Junior Cup – Identical KTM RC390’s ridden by teens|
|Hel Performance MotoStar British Championship – UK version of Moto3 world championship|
|Ducati TriOptions Cup – One make series for Ducati 959 Panigales – privateer and pro teams|
|Pirelli National Superstock 600 – Super competitive racing on slightly modified 600cc machines|
|Pirelli National Superstock 1000 – The springboard to the BSB – 1000cc street machines|
|Dickies British Supersport – 600cc races with highly modified street bikes|
|The MCE British Superbike Championship – The main event|
|1||Donington Park GP||31st March - 2nd April|
|2||Brands Hatch Indy||15th - 17th April|
|3||Oulton Park||29th April - 1st May|
|4||Knockhill||16th - 18th June|
|5||Snetterton 300||30th June - 2nd July|
|6||Brand Hatch GP||21st - 23rd July|
|7||Thruxton||4th - 6th August|
|8||Cadwell Park||18th - 20th August|
|9||Silverstone GP||8th - 10th September|
|10||Oulton Park||15th - 17th September|
|11||Assen TT||29th September - 1st October|
|12||Brands Hatch GP||13th - 15th October|
Calendar may be subject to change
|Number||Rider||Team / Bike (F=Factory support)||BSB Debut|
|50||Sylvain Guintoli||Bennetts Suzuki(F)||2009|
|11||Taylor Mackenzie||Bennetts Suzuki(F)||2015|
|67||Shane Byrne||BeWiser Ducati(F)||2004|
|2||Glen Irwin||BeWiser Ducati(F)||2016|
|91||Leon Haslam||JG Speedfit Kawasaki(F)||2005|
|12||Luke Mossey||JG Speedfit Kawasaki(F)||2015|
|4||Dan Linfoot||Honda Racing(F)||2009|
|22||Jason O'Halloran||Honda Racing(F)||2015|
|24||Christian Iddon||Tyco BMW(F)||2015|
|34||Davide Giugliano||Tyco BMW(F)||2016|
|3||Billy McConnell||FS-3 Kawasaki||2015|
|27||Jake Dixon||Lee Hardy Racing BMW||2016|
|25||Josh Brookes||Anvil Hire TAG Yamaha||2009|
|8||Shaun Winfield||Anvil Hire TAG Yamaha||2015|
|21||John Hopkins||Moto Rapido Ducati||2011|
|7||Michael Laverty||MCAMS Yamaha(F)||2010|
|77||James Ellison||MCAMS Yamaha(F)||2008|
|46||Tommy Bridewell||WD40 Kawasaki||2007|
|60||Peter Hickman||Smiths BMW||2006|
|14||Lee Jackson||Smiths BMW||2015|
|69||Jakub Smrz||Lloyds & Jones/PR Racing BMW||2012|
|64||Aaron Zanotti||Platform Hire Yamaha||2007|
|40||Martin Jessop||Riders Motorcycle BMW||2010|