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.