The Easter break is underway and while that may mean bunnies, eggs and chocolate for many, for us that means the start of the 2022 Bennetts British Superbike Championship.
Kicking off this weekend with the first of this season’s 12 rounds at Silverstone, the short, high-speed blast around the Home of British Motor Racing should be more than enough to shuck off any winter cobwebs.
With a mammoth field primed and ready to do battle, the 2022 Bennetts BSB Championship is shaping up to be a classic.
It means that not only is it hard to pick a potential title winner out of a long and talented list of options, just predicting which eight riders will go head-to-head in the Title Showdown at the end of the season is similarly head-scratching.
That hasn’t stopped the ‘experts’ here at BikeSocial from giving it a go though… will be champs or chumps come September? It’s hard enough picking just eight let along getting them in the correct positions, so take it as a given that they’re in no particular order.
But first, let BikeSocial’s Michael Mann and Michael Burton walk you through the runners and riders:
No Haslam, Ray, Iddon, Vickers or Irwin among my selection…what have I done?! I’m almost ashamed to have missed them off but, a) this could be the strongest field ever assembled in BSB and therefore the toughest to forecast, and b) these predictions are just a game!
Rather obviously, I’ve stuck with the champ and his teammate because the Yamaha’s showed such cornering prowess and agility last season, and Taz and Jason took 21 wins from the 33 races between them, plus they have upgrades and WSBK support too.
Then the three Ducati’s because of their established race-winning ability plus three riders with immense experience and skill.
Hicky and Buchan are seasoned contenders, race winners, and they’ve got another year of development with the BMW under their belts.
Then Rory Skinner courtesy of his outrageous talent coupled with some searing pace in pre-season testing.
Plenty depends on injuries and weather but whoever makes the showdown, it’s guaranteed to be a belting year.
News and Features Writer
This is a difficult task! I’ve had a go at predicting Title Showdown participants previous years but this has most definitely been the hardest yet even with the extended eight spots up for grabs.
As such, instead of agonising over the minor details, I’ve opted for a theme in my selections - experience! With such a big field and tiny margins between them, the defining factor that could make the difference will be the consistency that comes with keeping a level-head. Indeed, it is perhaps no coincidence six of the eight here have all been Showdown contenders previously.
Perhaps I am playing it safe but McAMS Yamaha were so head and shoulders above the rest in 2021 it’s hard to see it losing that advantage and more to miss the Showdown. Then again, defending champion Mackenzie needs to stay on the R1 first…
Bridewell was a low-fi runner-up in 2021 and the King of Consistency in previous years, while Brookes - despite his out-of-sorts season last year - at least showed he can dig deep when it matters, while hands don’t get steadier than Leon Haslam on the VisionTrack Kawasaki.
The wilder cards here are Bradley Ray, who many of the top riders are tipping to upset the form book in 2022 on last year’s dominant Yamaha R1, and Rory Skinner, who has made a big step forward in testing and could cement his status as a future superstar with a Showdown spot against a strong field.
Finally, while Tom Sykes might get a little bit of a culture shock when he gets his elbows out at Silverstone after so many years away, I reckon his WorldSBK honed class will come good…
But with the likes of Glenn Irwin, Peter Hickman, Danny Buchan and Christian Iddon missing from this selection, I am fully prepared to be the chump come season’s end!
Adam ‘Chad’ Child
Sykes is a World-class rider on one of the best bikes on the grid. That will give Brookes extra motivation. Hopefully Taz will recover from the injury quickly, he’ll be consistently fighting for wins, while Jason was unlucky last year but has the bike and even more determination. Haslam knows the tracks, is former champion, and can quickly adapt to different bikes. Extra track time in WSBK will only improve his riding. Hicky is always in the top 5 or 6, is with a good team and bike – same as last year. Bridwell’s also got the same bike and team and has gone from strength to strength each year. Iddon had a fantastic year last year, it wasn’t just the bike. I think the experienced team has finally got the bike to where they want it. He’s talented, great in all conditions, and will be more motivated than ever.
Just missing out Danny Buchan, Bradley Ray and Glenn Irwin. Danny will take wins at Knockhill, and possibly in the wet. If Brad clicks with the Yamaha, he’s talented and the bike is a championship-winning bike, he could be a regular podium man. For Glenn, I think North West wins, great results at the TT, and again the odd podium
Senior Social Media Executive
You can’t count out the Champion, even with a broken ankle he’ll be there at the end of the year, while his teammate was unlucky to lose the title last season, he’ll be a cert for the showdown in 2022. Brookes has showed promise in testing, and seems to be back to his best, and you can’t count out Sykes, the former WorldSBK man, who’s also looked strong in testing and is on one of the best bikes on the grid.
Haslam is a former Champ back on his beloved Kawasaki, he’ll certainly be in there. Hicky is Mr consistent and a seasoned showdown performer. Skinner’s looked strong in testing, and on his second season on the bike he’ll be one to watch. While Bradley Ray is another strong performer in testing and on a proven package, he’ll be a tough man to bet against.