After a weekend of British Superbikes action like we saw at Snetterton last weekend, it’s time to (try) and condense it all down.
But there’s one point that really needs nailed down and focused on in particular: Tommy Bridewell.
An eight-point lead heading into the fifth round quickly jumped up to a 25-point buffer come the end of the weekend’s action, making one thing clear.
Bridewell has truly stamped his authority on this year’s championship.
Of course, there’s still absolutely anything that could happen with six rounds and 18 races remaining this year, and as we’ve seen in the past things can change in the blink of an eye in the UK’s premier motorcycle racing series.
However we’re seeing a side of Bridewell that has been waiting to be unleashed for years, and right now the 34-year-old is flying.
“These types of meetings don’t come around too often, so I’m delighted to take my first ever treble”
He took three wins from three at Snetterton, something he’d never achieved in the BSB prior to last weekend, and each of those victories were more than deserved.
But the BeerMonster Ducati rider had to work for it right from the off, with Saturday’s opening race coming down to the wire as Bridewell snatched the lead from teammate Glenn Irwin at Nelsons corner.
The disappointment for Irwin didn’t end there however, as he then dropped another two places at the final corner with Josh Brookes sliding up the inside of the Ducati which then invited Jason O’Halloran through on the run to the line.
Snetterton’s second race of the weekend was a little more straightforward for Bridewell, who made the most of a red flag restart to edge away from his rivals as they scrapped for the remaining podium positions.
But once again the pair of PBM Ducatis put on a show in the final race, and this time it was Irwin chasing down Bridewell for the win after the Northern Irishman made a slight mistake in the closing stages when he ran wide and lost the lead.
On the final lap Bridewell looked comfortable out in front, but that gap quickly diminished in the final sector, and it was a drag race to the line with the championship leader coming out on top by just 0.032 seconds.
A treble in the books and a comfortable lead in the championship going to Brands Hatch meant Bridewell was understandably delighted.
“What can I say!? It’s been a great weekend and these types of meetings don’t come around too often, so I’m delighted to take my first ever treble,” he told Paul Bird Motorsport.
“We’ve hardly changed the bike all weekend and the team absolutely hit the nail on the head with set-up so a huge thanks to them.
Tommy Bridewell left Knockhill after the fourth round of the British Superbikes season with a slightly bigger championship advantage than he arrived with.
Heading into the weekend he held a slender three-point lead over teammate Glenn Irwin in the standings, but following a strong outing on the Fife-based circuit with two fourth-placed finishes and a second-place finish to his name gave him an eight-point lead going to Snetterton at the beginning of July.
But it’s no longer Irwin that follows him – Kyle Ryde is the man now settled in behind the current championship leader, and that’s thanks to an Irwin crash on the second race of the weekend.
Leading the pack with just three laps to go, Irwin looked set to take his second victory of the weekend following a victory on Saturday’s sprint race.
But that all unravelled in the blink of an eye when the Northern Irishman crashed at the Hairpin, promoting Ryde into first to take his fourth victory of the year.
However, Irwin bounced back in fine form come the final race of the weekend to take victory and wrap up BSB’s visit to Scotland.
The BeerMonster Ducati rider had to work for it however and benefitted from a Jason O’Halloran crash – the Yamaha rider had been locked in a battle with Christian Iddon from the beginning of the race, but it was a disappointing end to the weekend for the Australian whose final race of the weekend ended prematurely.
Irwin – promoted up a position thanks to O’Halloran’s crash – eventually made his way past Ryde on lap 10 of the race and quickly set about catching teammate Bridewell for the lead.
He had to remain patient, and eight laps later he pulled the trigger into the first corner, which was all he needed to do as he held off any pressure from behind there on to take the win.
🥇🥇 Round 4 in 🏴 was a good one! Now time to chill in Tenerife with my family! Thanks team yous are the best. Thanks Ducati for the v4r and thanks to my friends, family and sponsors for allowing me the time to do what we do. pic.twitter.com/2pZMMO2jN1
With a second victory wrapped up from the weekend’s action, it was a question of what could have been for Irwin had he not suffered his race two crash.”
It’s a shame what happened in today’s first race as I could have been coming away with a hat-trick but I’m happy with the two wins we had, and I really enjoyed the final race,” he told Paul Bird Motorsport.
“I could see Tommy in the lead and knew when it was time to up the pace as whilst he was strong in some areas, I felt strong all around the circuit.
“He’s improved his braking into the Hairpin all weekend, but the BeerMonster Ducati was strong out of the Hairpin, and I was able to make my move along the straight and into the first corner.
“Two wins out of three means it’s been a pretty good weekend.”
British Superbikes 2023 – Some of the Story so far.
Round 3 Donington Park. Baking under the early Spring sunshine, the Derbyshire track once again provided a great weekends racing. Dominated by a trio of wins from Yamaha, namely Kyle Ryde Lami Vape OMG Yamaha (2) and Jason O’Halloran McAMS Yamaha (1).
Followed up with podiums from regulars to the box and clear championship contenders, Josh Brookes, Glenn Irwin, Tommy Bridewell and Leon Haslam. Surprise of the weekend coming in the form of 2nd place finisher from Race 2, Ryan Vickers bagging his maiden podium in the Superbike class on board his Lami Vape OMG Yamaha.
With the new points system in place, cast aside have been the moans and groan of the pessimists as the new points system is proving to be keeping the points close this season, that in addition to the different mix of riders able to win races in 2023 and the unfortunate DNF’s of the Beermonster Ducati team (neither rider finishing the first race on Sunday). Also add in to that the unexpectedly problematic start to the season from widely acclaimed preseason favorite, championship contender Jason O’Halloran and you have the top 5 in the standings covered by 10 points after 9 races.
So who’s got 2023 right so far?
For one it seems now the move by both Glenn Irwin and Tommy Bridewell to Paul Bird’s Beermonster Ducati has been a stroke of genius for all involved, especially Paul for pursuing the 2 riders. Many expected fireworks from the Ducati pairing, with Irwin being a feisty character who commands ‘full gas’ from those around him while Bridewell has been the solo entrant for his team for the last 5 years under the Oxford Products Ducati banner in the MotoRapido team ran by Steve Moore, it was thought by those in the know that the two potentially wouldn’t co-exist in the same environment.
So far though, the 2 British Superbike veterans are remaining professional, co-existing nicely and keeping the on-track battles clean and respectful. Whether this will remain the plan come Brands Hatch in a few months remains to be seen. Both Irwin and Bridewell are in the best position they have ever been to be crowned British Superbike Champion this year. Tommy is leading the championship on 119 points followed closely by Glenn on 116 points.
Another rider to be kicking 2023 off on the positive foot is Lami Vape OMG Yamaha rider, Kyle Ryde.
With 5 podiums, including 1 win throughout the whole of 2022 season, Ryde has already chalked up 3 dominant wins in 2023. He is 5th in the championship, but crucially only 10 points behind leader Bridewell. According to paddock sources, Ryde is fitter, stronger, more determined and professional this year. It seems nothing but a championship is the goal for the team which secured the 2022 BSB crown with Brad Ray, and Kyle is on course for being right in the mix come the end of season. Depsite a DNF at Donington Park, Ryde has laid down a marker that he IS one of the men to beat in 2023. Kyle Currently sits 5th in the standings on 109 points. Also a special mention to his team mate, Ryan Vickers who despite missing a full round of the BSB after an opperation, he currently sits 8th overall, helped by his maiden podium this weekend at Donington Park.
Some of us are not surprised at all!
Josh Brookes left the PBM Ducati team at the end of 2022 with some questions as to whether he was past his best? Struggling with form since his Championship winning 2020 season, Brookes made no secret of the fact he believed it was the Ducati Panigale V4 that was the problem during the 21 & 22 seasons.
FHO BMW announced Brookes as partnering their long-term rider Peter Hickman on the BMW M1000RR and from Round 1, Josh has come out swinging. 5 podiums including 2 wins so far in 2023 shows Brookes still has the will to win, the skill to win and the determination to be British Champion. It also points towards the fact Josh could have been correct, claiming it was the previous version of the V4R that was hindering the popular Australian. The PBM team have returned to winning ways under new riders Irwin and Bridewell aboard the new for 2023 V4 Ducati, but it’s somewhat Ironic that the rider joining them, winning races and sharing the podium is the very same rider who left the team the previous year under scrutiny. No doubt Josh finds humor in this, ‘coz I know we all do. Josh currently sits 3rd in the standings on 114 points.
Rokit BMW Motorrad Team.
In true Haslam style, grit and determination have put Leon on the grid this year in a true privateer effort. Sponsorship coming from the Rokit company with some support from the SMR BMW team in World Superbikes bringing together the infrastructure for Leon to start his own team with a view to bringing talent through the ranks all the way to BSB. No surprise to most, after a very successful test out in Spain at the start of the season, it was clear Haslam has gelled with the BMW machinery and it has enabled him to mount a strong start to the 2023 season. While race wins have evaded him so far, 4 podiums in 9 races is a vast improvement on his 2022 campaign aboard the Lee Hardy Racing Kawasaki and one that Leon would have snapped your arm off had you predicted this before the season got underway. Outshining all but Brookes on the FHO BMW, Haslam’s operation is certainly turning heads. Leon proves a case for experience will always carry the series forward over youthful exuberance. Leon currently lies 4th in the standings on 110 points.
2023 is shaping up to be a strong debut from the Mar-Train Yamaha team.
Making the step up to Superbikes from Supersport after years of domination, Jack Kennedy and team are regularly inside the top 10 and has scored points in all but 1 race so far this year. Being honest, I think it’s surprising the team can run in such company so early in their superbike tenure, while vastly experienced in the 600 category, the Superbike is still new ground. However, I am not shocked Kennedy has been so competitive. If anything as a multiple Supersport Champion, I feel Jack should be able to run with the front pack. I’d go as far as saying by next year he should be running for the podium. Kennedy has the experience and the calibre to do so. Hopefully over the summer of racing, the team and Jack keep making them marginal gains and start to knock on the door of regular top 5’s. Kennedy will be under survailance from some of the other teams in the paddock, if not already on the radar for the likes of McAMS Yamaha, Honda Racing UK etc. Well done Jack and Mar-Train Yamaha I say! Jack currently sits 9th in the championship on 50 points.
Jack Kennedy – MarTrain Yamaha – Image Official BSBMy final hurrah goes to Danny Kent of Lovell Kent Racing Honda. While the standings themselves do not show it, Danny has pedaled some good laps this season. Running in the top 5 and spinning some fast laps in qualifying. For another true privateer team, Kent has adapted to the Honda well and hopefully a little consistency will come his way and bring the points. A DNF at Oulton Park and 2 DNF’s at Donington haven’t helped Kent, but by the same vain the points gaps are closer and if Danny can spin it around, he will soon make ground on the top 5. He is a World Champion after all.
Who hasn’t 2023 been kind to?
Unfortunately the first name on the list has to be Jason O’Halloran. The curse of Oulton Park kicking in again for the 3rd year running with a double DNF during iffy weather conditions, also affecting his qualifying positions for Race 3 where he was able to fight his way back into the top 10 to finish off the weekend, some 22 seconds back from the leaders. Unfortunately for Jason, Donington didn’t start well either. What appeared to be a wrong tyre choice left him battling to save points with Jason crossing the line in 14th overall. Luckily a change of tyre compound for the Sunday racing, O’Show was out of the blocks bagging his first race win of the season in Race 2 and a close battle between Oxford Products Christian Iddon, FS3 Lee Jackson and O’Show in Race 3 saw Jason come off worst with a 7th over the line.
39 points separate O’Halloran from Kyle Ryde in 5th position overall and it doesn’t take a genius to work out that Oulton Park and Doningotn Race 1 have left O’Halloran with quite the hill to climb. Later in the season we enter the showdown races and the finale. Showdown in title only, the new points system could give Jason the opportunity he needs to recoup some points on his competitors if a late season flurry of wins is on the cards. Jason currently lies 6th in the championship on 70 points.
Another victim of 2023 cruelty?
Christian Iddon. Widely anticipated to hit the front winning races from the very get go, Iddon seems to have had no luck so far this season. A few early technical gremlins for the Ducati, combined with Christian being taken out of the race by Charlie Nesbit (Silverstone) and Andrew Irwin (Donington) have left ‘fan favourite’ Iddon pedaling like mad playing catch up. Unfortunately, once you are on the back foot it is very difficult to bridge the gap without other riders suffering misfortune. Hopefully Iddon will benefit from the new points system, while working on fighting his way back to the front of British Superbikes. Christian is currently 10th overall in the championship on 49 points.
Poor Andrew Irwin of Honda Racing UK.
A triple DNF at Donington Park has left the Honda rider down in 12th position in the standings. Many expected Irwin to be resurrecting his winning form of 2019/20 where he teamed with brother, Glenn but so far it hasn’t gone to plan. With a lot of fans arguing over “Do you go for the gap or not” after Irwin was involved in an incident with Chrstian Iddon, going for the gap at the hairpin with both riders going down. BSB Race Direction said “Following analysis of multiple video sources including onboard cameras, and after hearing the accounts of both riders, the Race Direction concluded that neither rider acted in a careless, reckless or dangerous manner and no further action was required”.
However after an incident with Storm Stacey in subsequent race, in almost identical moves, Irwin was handed 3 penalty points and a 3 place grid penalty for the next race following the incident with Stacey. Irwin apologised to Storm, his team and the Honda Racing UK team in a post on social media.
The truth be told it’s a conversation for race direction, Andy Irwin himself and team principal Harvier Beltran. Only they know if this is a homecoming combination of their dreams or whether it’s going tits up. Andy Irwin comes across as a lovely lad, popular with some fans and hopefully can find some consistency and finish races. I wish him luck.
So that’s it. A bit of a wrap up on 2023 so far.
Who’s your money on moving forwards? Are you more interested in the story from the back half of the grid? The progression of riders such as Davey Todd, Jack Scott, Tom and Tim Neave? Are the rookies performing as you expected? For more thoughts, chat and a bit of banter follow me on twitter and we can continue this discussion @RacingArmchair
Bank Holiday weekend played host to British Superbikes for Round 2, Oulton Park.
Known for it’s changing weather conditions, Oulton didn’t buck the trend for three seasons in one weekend when it rained solid for the Sunday sessions, dried up for Race 2 on the Monday and finally allowed the sun out for Race 3.
The rain finally abated for the Sunday ebay Sprint race long enough for the track to dry out and allow the Superbike riders to get out on their slick tyres.
After an eventful start to the race, which saw the Curse of Oulton Park strike again for Jason O’Halloran when a crash saw the McAMS rider slip off, a somewhat linear Race 1 ensued, with the top 6 riders braking away. Brookes, a resurgent Leon Haslam, G Irwin, Hickman, Bridewell and A Irwin ticking off the laps at a steady pace, while pulling somewhere around a 8-10 second gap to chasing riders Christian Iddon, Storm Stacey, Lee Jackson and Charlie Nesbit.
Counting down the laps and revving up for a last lap push, the typical North-West weather robbed the fans of any last lap shenanigan’s when a sudden downpour brought out the red flag handing another well deserved race victory to Josh Brookes. While Brookes openly admitted he doesn’t like to win under such circumstances, he’ll gladly take them where he can. The FHO BMW rider gladly banking another race win in the 2023 season.
Race 1 Top 10 – Brookes, Haslam, G Irwin, Hickman, Bridewell, A Irwin, Ryde, Iddon, Stacey, Jackson.
Bank Holiday Monday, in front of a packed crowd, kicked off in Oulton Park style with Peter Hickman sliding off his FHO BMW at Turn 1 and saw him retire from the race. Hicky later mentioning a change in the tarmac surface potentially leading to a loss of grip whilst admitting he was clutching at straws for an answer as to what happened.
Another rider having a disastrous lap one was Jason O’Halloran once again. A slide on his Yamaha R1 while dropping down Cascades ended his race there and then, unfortunately collecting Josh Owens on the Crendon Hawk Honda. Owens’ Honda was so badly damaged, he was unable to contest Race 3 later on in the afternoon.
Bridewell got on with the job and led from the front for the race, while 2-6th was battled for between G Irwin, A Irwin, Brookes, Ryde and Haslam. With Ryde dropping back in the early laps, but fighting his way back into the battle, Brookes bemoaning a lack of feel on the bike after opting for a stiffer rear spring for Race 2, both were unable to join in the position swapping with Glenn, Leon and Andy. It was ultimately Glenn Irwin whom made his way forward to try and challenge team mate Tommy Bridewell for the win. As we have seen before, when Bridewell gets in the groove at Outlon Park, generally no one can lay a glove on him. In the end a comfortable 1-2 for the Beermonster Ducati riders.
Race 2 Top 10 – Bridewell, G Irwin, Haslam, A Irwin, Ryde, Brookes, Iddon, Jackson, Kennedy, Dean Harrison.
This felt like the most action packed race of the day. Perhaps from where I watched, on the inside of Lodge Corner it’s probably true. Most overtakes of the race would no doubt go to McAMS Yamaha rider Jason O’Halloran who managed to put some of his demons to bed and see the chequered flag. Starting from near the back of the grid saw the Yamaha rider school many competitor on how to slip underneath someone on the brakes into the final corner on the lap. So a special mention to Jason for a gritty performance in the 3rd and final Superbike race of the day.
A strong start from Andy Irwin saw the Honda Racing UK rider lead off the start, chased down by brother, Glenn. Closely followed as expected, based on weekend form, Brookes and Haslam. After a hand ful of laps, the aparent lack of race winning pace from the Honda began to show as Glenn made his move for the race lead.
With the laps ticking down, the front 8 riders of G Irwin, A Irwin, Haslam, Bridewell, Brookes, Hickman and Iddon broke away from the chasing pack of Jackson, Stacey and Kennedy, pushing on to the flag.
The mainstay of the action came from Leon Haslam on the Rokit BMW, Glenn Irwin and Tommy Bridewell on the Beermonster Ducati. The pair swapping positions multiple times throughout the race, all looking for victory in the final race if the day. As usual though, there can be only one and resisting the pressure, and it was Glenn Irwin’s turn to take the spoils followed by Leon Haslam. A resurgent Kyle Ryde was able to get his head down and catch Bridewell, ultimately fending off the Ducati rider for the final place on the podium.
Race 3 Top 10 – G Irwin, Haslam, Ryde, Bridewell, Brookes, Hickman, Iddon, Jackson, A Irwin, Jason O’Halloran.
British Superbikes kicked off the 2023 season this weekend at Silverstone and what a treat it was. What would await us at the long anticipated opening round of the season, with a shake up of the showdown points and one of the biggest changes up in terms of teams and rider movement for a long time… Well let’s say if this is a sign of the season to come, then sit back, strap in and hold on tight!
Three different winners, from three different manufacturers kicks off the first race meeting of the year from Silverstone National circuit. A scrappy little track with little room for error and rest. With only two main straights, the national circuit is a busy, short lap with lap times under a minute. No wonder all three superbike races were contested with +0.00 on the leaders pit board.
Race One saw battle commence between a resurgent Josh Brookes on his FHO BMW swapping places with Kyle Ryde OMG Lami Yamaha, Beer Monster Ducati riders Glenn Irwin, Tommy Bridewell and a feisty Jason O’Halloran of McAMS Yamaha. The pack closely followed by Leon Haslam of Rokit BWM Motorrad Team and Mar-Train Yamaha’s Jack Kennedy. An intense sprint race saw first seven places covered by only three seconds. Kyle Ryde managed to get his hands on the winners trophy in Race One after an adrenaline fueled fight, sharing the podium with Tommy Bridewell and Josh Brookes.
After his Race One victory, Ryde said,: “That was a great race! It was definitely the hardest, but most enjoyable races I’ve had since I started in BSB. I was pushing because I just wanted to get to the front because I knew I had a little bit more pace than what the lap time was saying. It was very clean and good fun to ride – there was a lot of moves in turn one from me, I must’ve made about 15 moves but none of them stuck! I had to work, so for me it’s been a great weekend so far. We’ve had a great pace all weekend and been strong, the only thing that went wrong was to have a silly little crash in qualifying and that did hinder me a bit for the race. It took me ages to get going again to know where the braking marker was and Josh and Tommy kept passing me. I’m really happy to get the win; I think over the winter and everything we’ve done so far, I feel like we deserve it, so I’m very proud of myself.”
Race Two was much of the same but for second place back as Josh Brookes hit the front after the first lap and maintained a relatively trouble free race barring a bit of back and forth with Jason O’Halloran. While not breaking away, as is very difficult on such a small track when the level is as competitive as it is in BSB, he was also unchallenged for the win when the race finished under a red flag incident involving Synetiq BMW’s Danny Buchan crashing out of the race. Race Two winner, a very popular winner might I say, Josh Brookes followed by both Beer Monster Ducati riders Tommy Bridewell and Glenn Irwin.
Race Three started off with surprise leader Danny Kent of Lovell Kent Racing Honda hitting the front, and looking very competitive around his peers. Surprisingly Kyle Ryde didn’t seem to have the pace to match the front runners in the third and final Superbike race of the day with Glenn Irwin, Josh Brookes and Tommy Bridewell stretching a lead after working their way past the former Moto3 World Champion, Kent. A very close chase towards the end of the race saw a first race win of the season from Beer Monster Ducati rider, Glenn Irwin closely followed by Josh Brookes FHO BMW and Beer Monster team mate Tommy Bridewell.
All in all a successful weekend for Brookes, keen to put the last couple of season behind him and show that he’s not ready to stop racing just yet. Beer Monster Ducati, Bridewell and Irwin will all be pleased to also start the year off competitively after a couple of seasons in the doldrums. How ironic they have shared the podium with their former rider, Josh Brookes.
Standings after round one have Brookes in the lead of the championship, by two points from Tommy Bridewell and then Glenn Irwin.
Today, I caught up with Eurosport pundit and commentator James Haydon to see what’s occurring. After a long career as a Superbike / Supersport rider himself, James is the perfect person to bounce a few things off and get some thoughts from a neutral with a constant eye on the ball.
It’s a long one, but it’s well worth the read.
Racing Armchair: The season opener is upon us. The new showdown format has been unveiled. Are you excited and do you agree it was time for a change?
James Haydon: “I’m always excited by a new season. It’s such a great championship. It’s so competitive and always so much fun to be a part of so it’s great to be back. There are always plus and minus points for the showdown. It generally keeps it tighter by the points reset but it often feels unfair, especially if you take in someone like Jason O’Halloran who’s had the rub of it for a couple of seasons now. I feel sorry for him really as by rights he should be a double British Champion by now but it’s racing, it’s the same for everyone but he’s just been very unlucky. That’s the negative of the showdown.”
“The showdown was brought in after Leon Camier steamrolled everyone and they didn’t want that to happen again. They wanted to avoid the championship being boring. Last year, did it work very well? Again plus and minuses for both sides of that one. It definitely needed a shake up and now it keeps the championship interesting doesn’t it? I’m yet to work out whether it’s going to be better or worse but we shall see. ”
Racing Armchair:I listened to the Off Track Podcast with Leon Haslam (Click and listen here) and he was quite vocal about the electronic differences between BSB (with no electronics) and World Superbikes (with full electronics) and how that will affect the younger riders from trying to move up to the world scene. Do you think riders from BSB are hindered by a lack of electronic aids?
James Haydon: I understand exactly what Leon was saying. Usually with the full electronics, it’s so different in ways like how you can use the throttle? How much you can trust it? It takes some learning, because if you come off a BSB spec system with no electronics and are straight onto a World Superbike with full electronics, you can’t suddenly just expect to jump on and ride it in the same way. You have to learn to trust it and the longer you’ve been in BSB, the harder it will be in some ways to jump on one and go. Likewise, the opposite way round is hard too when you go from using electronics to not using them”.
“The thing we found was the electronics cost a fortune to run. You need a proper engineer. You need a proper data man who’s going to study everything that needs studying and on top of that, the systems themselves are expensive. There’s no two ways about it, they do take something away from the riders. I think one of the reasons BSB is so exciting is these riders are going around with no electronics. I love Leon. He’s a great friend of mine but for him and people like Tom Sykes to come back from WSBK where they’ve been sort of spoiled with that extra blanket of electronics, it does make it harder for them.”
“I can remember the first time I saw an electronics package working in the flesh. 2004, I was on a Yamaha and funnily enough it was Leon on the Airwaves Ducati that year. He was running electronics and we weren’t. We were riding in the damp at Brands Hatch and while I was taking a corner, right on the edge of grip, Leon came around the outside of me and opened the throttle and just rode away. So I came back into the pits and spoke with Rob Mac and basically said “I’ve just witnessed those Ducati electronics and we are going to need something like that or we won’t be able to compete.”
“The thing is now the bikes have so much power, they’re very difficult to ride without the electronics. They’re designed from the factory with full electronics even as a road bike. So I can see both sides. As a rider, if you’ve grown up without them, then getting on a bike with them is going to be very hard but you’ll learn it. The problem being if you let electronics back in, where do you draw the line? A basic system almost like a controlled electronics package? It would have to be a standard, cheap package that would have to be the same parameters and settings for everyone but I do think it would take something away from the show. You always see the best riders rise to the top. With electronics it would be about who’s got the best package or even who’s got the most money.”
Racing Armchair: So we think it’s a good thing for the experienced riders in BSB who probably aren’t looking to step up to SBK, but how does it effect the younger riders like your Max Cook’s / Davey Todd’s / Jack Scott’s? Think back to Hicky and Taz at Donington SBK when they entered as wild cards. Do you think the lack of electronics shines a negative light on the skill set of BSB riders as it’s too much faffing about trying to set up when you and the team aren’t used to it?
James Haydon: “It’s true it’s much harder to do it all in one race. There’s no way you can get it all setup just for the one round either. It’s unfortunate as back in the day, you did a wild card and as long as you were on the good stuff, you were usually pretty competitive but with the rules we have now, you’re not. It’s all for a good reason though. It keeps the racing good but most important of all it keeps the racing affordable. We’ve never had so many competitive teams in BSB so again it’s swings and roundabouts. It’s unfortunate it doesn’t translate well in a wild card, but it does allow such a broad scope of person to be competitive in BSB. Although it’s much easier to go from no electronics to having them, than it is to go from having them to not.
Racing Armchair: I think someone like Stuart Higgs (BSB Series Director) probably has one eye on moving talent up, but am I right in thinking that his priority is to ensure BSB itself thrives first and foremost?
James Haydon: “Very much so. That’s what it does and that’s what it has done. Thrive. Yes it’s a bit harder for the stars moving up but then again that’s part of it. That’s BSB. I mean when you look at some of these packages now, like in MotoGP or World Superbikes, companies like Ducati, you can see how extensively good their package actually is and how in harmony the motorcycle works. We are in a good time of racing right now in all classes. It’s really interesting.”
“We do have to be a little careful with some of it. Careful with the aero not to allow the bikes to get to the point the aero is so invasive it stops good racing. Changing the feel of the front tyres. Not being able to follow closely like we see in Formula One, that’s the last thing we need for bikes. People talk about development for the future but on the road, these aerodynamics are all but irrelevant. Yes ok they work on the track but how far do you want to go? They need to cap that before it gets out of control. Imagine getting to a point when following a rider in front you have to drop back before you can attack. What’s the point in that? We have to carefully balance these things and not get into a situation where they ask “is it the best person that won or the best bike”? We are in a delicate position at the moment where technology might not allow the best talent to shine”.
Racing Armchair: Well speaking of talent shining, who of the rookies have you got your eyes on?
James Haydon: “There’s a couple. Max Cook for one really impressed in the Superstock. He was consistent and quick. I was impressed when he stepped onto the Supersport bike too. Into the top class, no mistakes. Not throwing the bike down the road. Just quick. He looks a right talent to me. He’s got a great team around him. Lee Jackson is quick. The team are very friendly and won’t put a great deal of pressure on him to do too much too soon. I think that’s a great little setup for Max. As long as he keeps his feet on the ground and sets realistic goals, it’s a really good opportunity for him to be able to miss a class and jump straight in. Very exciting!”
“Bradley Perie did really well in the 600’s. He’s a complicated rider, mentally. I really like the cut of his jib. He’s a bit bonkers and I’d like to see him do well. It’s really nice to see the progression of these people stepping up from the support classes like him and Jack Kennedy. Jack dominated the 600’s and he’s got nothing more to prove there at all. Some of the 600 riders needed to step up. If you spend too long riding a 600 you end up stuck in this situation where you ride everything like a 600. Rolling corner speeds rather than standing the bike up and firing it out of the corner. You can spend too long on a 600 and that can hamper your superbike development”.
“I also like Jack Scott. I’ve been impressed with him and the job that he did so I think someone like Jack will have a good season. Hopefully they all have a good season. These Superbikes, they’re naughty things and it doesn’t take a lot to get it wrong so I just want everyone to build and learn, safely.”
“I think it’s great for the championship because it did get a little bit stale in some ways. Last year felt like a real changing of the guards in some ways. That’s really important because we have seen the same names in BSB for years. Like World Superbikes, you see them [other riders] moving around you’re thinking “What are you doing? If you couldn’t beat Johnny Rea on that bike, you’re not going to beat him on this bike instead!” It’s been like 5+ years and it’s taken new talent coming in, namely Toprak, plus experienced guys like Bautista. You see it and you think “I can’t believe some of these guys are still in there and still doing it!” Make the change, try someone new, get some new talent in!”
Racing Armchair: So on the theme of the experienced guys also moving teams, how do you see Josh Brookes getting on at FHO BMW this year?
James Haydon: “Fascinating! For the last couple of years he seems to have really struggled. I don’t think the bike has been anywhere near as bad as he made it look. Just look at Sykes. When he had his head in gear at Donington, he just went out and won. I asked the team at the time, “What have you done?” and they were like “Nothing!” while scratching their heads. It’s just that Tom felt happy that day and that’s that.”
“It’s difficult to know with Brookes. He’s getting older and it can change you a little bit. I’m really not sure if his best is behind him and he’s on the way down and maybe this is where he is now, but he thought the problem was the Ducati and decided he needed a change of team and swapped bikes, giving it another go on something else. I wouldn’t say the BMW is the easiest of motorcycles but Hicky has ridden it very well this last few years and Josh was fastest in recent tests. I think it’s going to be very interesting. I really like Josh Brookes and think he has been amazing in this championship. He’s been a champion for us and he’s been super fast but he’s struggled this last few years, some of it seemed in his own head if you ask me, but he needed the change to prove to himself one way or the other. I think we will just have to wait and see.”
Racing Armchair: How do you see some of the other moves panning out, such as Glenn Irwin and Tommy Bridewell to Paul Bird on the Ducati?
James Haydon: “Well Glenn has ridden there before. Glenn is a fiery character and Birdy is not too easy either. Tommy Bridewell is also a fiery character so that is a fascinating one to play out. I really hope they all make it to the end of the year together! One thing Birdy does, even though he’s a hard team boss, he gives you an amazing motorcycle and an amazing team. I am a big fan of Paul Bird and everything he has done for the sport. Glenn and Tommy? I can see fireworks and kicking off in that team quite easily. They are both hard, tough riders. Tommy has been in a one-man team for for the last few years and it will be a different feel at Birdy’s but Bridewell needed a change. He still on a Ducati. He’s been top Ducati most of the time and I can see why Birdy looked at him. I think if they all get off to a good start, they’ll be ok but if they struggle a bit, I think there will be fireworks.”
Racing Armchair: Ryan Vickers at OMG is going to be interesting.
James Haydon: “It’s kinda’ funny because I really rated Vickers a few years ago. He was like in the “Max Cook” shoes with a very promising start but he seems to keep having loads of big crashes, silly ones very early on during the races and he just seems to be trying too hard. He’s lost his way, lost his mojo. He’s struggled but that Yamaha R1 is a great motorcycle. It dominated last year. OMG and McAMS bikes have got to be the easiest package spread across all the circuits. Ok they might not be great in any one area but they’re so good in all the areas and the teams are really impressive. OMG have impressed how quickly they have come to the forefront.”
“Kyle Ryde will be a good benchmark for Vickers. I was disappointed with Kyle Ryde last year. I didn’t think he was consistent enough. He was very hit and miss. He can be super quick but there are question marks on how much he wants it and the effort he puts in away from the track. Both Kyle and Ryan are in a team that can win the championship and it’s going to be very interesting. I hope Vickers has a good year. I like him as a rider and I want to see the young British talent doing well. He’s been lost and I hope he finds his way again. I think Kyle Ryde is going to be a nice team mate for Vickers but Kyle needs to step up now. He’s got everything he needs to win that Championship but it comes down to how hard he works.”
Racing Armchair: So who’s your money on for the Championship?
James Haydon: “Oh it’s such a difficult one. You have to look at the Yamahas. Don’t write off Jason O’Halloran. He’s always been so fast and so consistent but he has to ensure he doesn’t have issues with the showdown, mentally, because it’s always been so cruel to him the last few years. He’s one of the favorites. I think he’s on his own in McAMS. Tim Neave hasn’t shown anything to be able to say he’s going to come in and challenge for the championship just yet but then neither has his brother Tom, in the Honda Racing UK camp.
“Christian Iddon in the Oxford Products garage is in a great, one-man team who will really be loved and really appreciated there. He could easily challenge for the championship.”
“Glenn [Irwin] is always going to be there or thereabouts. Last year it was amazing he was there in the showdown as he had been missing for most of the year but then the showdown came along and went his way, next thing he’s in second overall.”
“Danny Kent. We haven’t mentioned him yet. He’s gone really well in testing on his Honda. He’s a quick rider. If he can get his confidence going, he could be really good”. Speaking of Honda, Davey Todd. He could win a race and get on the podium but I’m not sure he will have enough for the whole championship but I certainly see him being a showdown man.”
“Tommy Bridewell is going to be there or thereabouts as will Lee Jackson. Lee is very good but he’s just missing that small bit of ultimate ruthlessness, killer instinct to actually win the championship but I would love to be proven wrong by him. We have so many great names in there like Danny Buchan and lots of other great guys like Hickman.”
Racing Armchair: Come on James, you’ve named nearly everyone there. If you had a cheeky £10 on it now, who would you put it on?
James Haydon: If I had to put the house on it, I’d say O’Halloran. He’s been the most consistently fast man in the championship and I think you can’t deny him. He’s dominated but things just haven’t gone his way but he’s showed his speed and the fact Taz and Brad have moved to World Superbikes, Jason will see it as a golden opportunity. So I’d just have him a nose in front of the rest.”
“I can’t wait really. It’s exciting and I just hope we all have a good weekend and the weather is nice it should be absolutely brilliant!”
Silverstone BSB Round 1 this weekend. As James says, it’s going to be a very exciting event.
Davey Todd, the reigning Pirelli National Superstock 1000 Champion this year steps up to the British Superbike series along with his team, Milenco by Padgettts Honda after a successful assault on the Superstock Championship in 2022.
Clive Padgett and the whole squad have made the leap up alongside fan favorite, Davey Todd to BSB. Multiple road race winner and Isle of Man TT podium finisher, Davey is keen to set the record straight for anyone wondering, not only does he intend to take British Superbikes very seriously, it’s just as important as his beloved road racing and he plans to give both disciplines the full commitment they deserve.
I caught up with him to see what’s on his mind and where his head is at.
Racing Armchair: So let’s talk BSB…
Davey Todd: “It’s nice actually because a lot of the media attention comes at you from the Road Racing because everyone looks at me like a TT rider. You usually get everyone coming at you from that direction as opposed to anything else. When you do alright in British Superbikes, people are watching you because of the roads and then they’re usually shocked that you aren’t “just a road racer” which I’ve been trying to prove for a bit now.”
Racing Armchair: Meaning a lot of people think you only crossed over because of Covid and there being a lack of road racing?
Davey Todd: “Actually more so being that I’ve actually only done a full season in the British paddock once in my life [prior to 2022] and that was in Stock 600 in 2016. Since then I’ve done the roads, because I was given an opportunity there, but no one would even give me a chance in BSB so it wasn’t because I didn’t want to be there.”
“I love road racing but I also love short circuit racing and never wanted to come out of it. Ever since leaving in 2017 I’ve wanted to be back and worked on the opportunities to return. By that point, I had started to do well on the roads and people just treat you as a road racer and ask things like “Oh are you just coming back to do a few rounds to get yourself up to speed for the roads?” and it’s like, no! I want to be a short circuit racer but people don’t seem to believe that. The road racing alone isn’t my goal. Don’t get me wrong, I want to do the roads. I love it. I want to do the TT too but I also want to be a short circuit racer.”
Racing Armchair: So the plan then is to do both properly, rather than choosing one over the other?
Davey Todd: Exactly. “I will be working just as hard at both of them, side by side. I feel I have a good team around me to do that too. Padgetts are experienced on both sides, albeit a bit more on the roads but they know how it works in BSB paddock. The team haven’t been in the British Championship for something like 10 years, then we came back last year and won the Superstock Championship. For sure it’s a big step up to Superbikes but there’s no reason why we can’t do it. The team build superbikes for the road, while they’re a little bit more ‘stock’ than most bikes in BSB I think, but we work with what we’ve got and we’ll see how we get on.”
Racing Armchair: Would it be fair to say, with your experience on the Superbikes from the Road Racing, you’re not as worried about the step up to Superbikes this year?
Davey Todd: In a way, but I wouldn’t say I’m worried about the step up really. It’s a new venture but mainly for people who haven’t used MoTec (electrical systems). Me and the team throughout the testing sessions we have just been learning the MoTec systems which is probably the biggest part of jumping up to BSB. The fact that everyone thinks getting used to no traction control, no anti-wheelie and no electronic aids is the thing as is the case with MoTec, but I’ve never used any of that stuff anyway. I’ve always preferred to ride with nothing. I think that step will definitely make it easier for me but then a lot of other things are different with the step up. Believe it or not the tyre size change [from Superstock to Superbike] not even the fact we change to a slick tyre, but the size itself is different size which creates a different feeling. On top of that there’s also the racing to get used to with a new schedule. 3 races per weekend etc.”
Racing Armchair: Have you changed the training routine for the Superbike v the Superstock? Do you need to be even stronger?
Davey Todd: “No not necessarily. It’s a common thought, but these days it really isn’t a thing. Yes the races are a little bit longer [than Superstock] but it’s only like 2 – 4 laps and yes there’s an extra race per weekend but people go on about the power difference but there isn’t really now. The Superstock bikes are so good these days and all over 200bhp in stock trim anyway, so any engine builder can give you like 250bhp but then you can’t ride them because we still have no traction control, no anti wheelie like they do in World Superbikes and the biggest difference in SBK is they have the electronic intervention. We don’t have that at all in BSB so that power is just not going to be useable.”
“You hear a lot of riders run the engines basically stock, or just over stock power. Not really a big difference. The bike feeling is pretty similar, it just does everything that little bit better and you can fine tune it all. You have a bit more grip. A bit more edge grip. You can stop the bike a bit faster. Your riding style has to change a tiny bit to get the most out of the tyres [on a Superbike]. The lap times we did last year in Superstock, a lot of the time were only like a second a lap off what they were doing in Superbikes. There’s really not a lot in it.”
Racing Armchair: Has there been any set expectations from the team or just suck it and see?
Davey Todd: “No. There’s never any expectations from Clive and the team. The atmosphere there is very much on the relaxed side of things. They’re so laid back and REALLY passionate about racing and wanting to do well. But Clive couldn’t be any more laid back. He’s an awesome team boss. Whether it is going out for a test session at the start of the year in Spain, or it’s sat on the start line in the Senior at the Isle of Man TT, he says the same thing to me, “Go out and enjoy yourself”. That says everything you need to know.
“There’s never any pressure from the team to do anything. We are all there to do as good as we can though. It’s not like if Clive says “Can you ride a bit harder” you actually do ride harder because you are already riding as fast as you can go. It’s not like you need someone telling you to speed up, certainly not me anyway. Any pressure on me comes from myself, no one else. In the same breath though, we aren’t in the championship to make up the numbers. I didn’t want the step up for the team to be going out and scoring a couple of points. I want to be competitive and the team think they can be and I agree with them. I’m really excited to find out!”
Thanks for your time Davey. Good luck with the start of the season this weekend from all the team at Pitcrew Online.
Rapid CDH Racing Kawasaki are partnering this year with Jack Scott along side the returning Liam Delves.
Jack joins the team as the reigning Quatro Group British GP2 Champion, having won the series in 2022, taking a whopping 14 victories within the GP2 Class on board the RS Racing Kalex.
After 71 podiums within the British Paddock during his tenure, Jack will debut in the Superbike class at the upcoming Silverstone round.
Team Owner Dean Hipwell recently said of Jack: “We were pleased to announce the signing of Jack for 2023. He impressed us during the 2022 season with some good rides against the main Supersport field.”
I caught up with Jack to see what his mindset is prior to the Silverstone round and he was very upbeat about the task ahead. Excited, nervous, but most of all eager to get on with the job.
Racing Armchair: Are the nerves kicking in?
Jack Scott: “Definitely. We had a good test out in Spain. I had a little bit of a crash on day two which isn’t ideal. Then we came back to the U.K and it rained throughout testing. We didn’t really get much running time in the dry at all so the nerves are definitely kicking in for this weekend. I want to get the first race under my belt, see where we stand and go from there.”
Racing Armchair: Stepping up from GP2 to British Superbikes, is it nice to be off the hook somewhat on the food intake and allowing you to engage the strength training / muscle building etc?
Jack Scott: Yes 100%. Not just in GP2 but throughout my whole career, being a tall guy I have always had to keep and eye on my weight. Moving on to a superbike, it’s not so much of a worry with 230+ brake horse power. Being 6ft2 it’s also nice to be on a bike that actually fits me rather than being too big for it. Not so much worried about weight, but I can now do a lot more strength exercises and lots of cardio. I mean it’s obvious I can’t be at McDonalds all the time, but it’s nice not to be worried about being able to treat yourself once in a while.
Racing Armchair: In terms of expectations, what conversations have you had with the Team Management?
Jack Scott: “So far the team has been really relaxed. Dean [Dean Hipwell – Team Owner] has said let’s just learn the bike and you have to also remember it’s a brand new team to me. It’s a whole new environment so I have to learn who everyone is and all the stuff that comes with that. Dean has expectations on my training, as in he expects me to train hard, as I am going from two races a weekend up to three now on the superbikes, which is obviously a big difference and the races are longer in length, more laps etc. But he hasn’t put any pressure on me yet. It is my first season in the BSB and think if you pile the pressure on early, you are going to end up really de-motivated. Every racer is here to win but that’s the highest of expectations. Obviously once we get the first few races under our belt, we will have more of an idea of where things stand.”
Racing Armchair: On the amount of rookies stepping up to BSB this year, do you think that will add to the pressure?
Jack Scott: “Me and Dean had the conversation about the rookie element and I know the media have picked up on it too. The Rapid CDH Team’s stance on that is you can’t put yourself under the pressure of trying to be “Top Rookie” because you aren’t going to perform as well overall. You have to take it race by race and not worry about what other people are doing. As I said, let’s get the first race underway and see what’s what.”
Lining up along side Liam Delves, Jack is in a good position to benefit from the team’s experience and data collected over the last few seasons, especially from it’s owner Dean Hipwell who has spent years inside the paddock running his own team and racing under the same banner. Good luck to Jack being one of the new faces on the grid and we at the Pitcrew Online hope for a successful, safe season for him. Good luck Jack!
This evening, I caught up with British Superbike Championship contender Christian Iddon to see how he’s feeling as the countdown to Testing and Round 1 looms ever closer.
Iddon joins the Oxford Products Ducati team ran by Steve Moore’s Moto Rapido Racing outfit as they challenge for British Superbike Championship glory in 2023.
“I’m really excited for the season ahead. Back to the Ducati which I know really well and I’ve had success on in the past. I have really high expectations, that is clear! I really want to put everything that happened last year behind me. I just had one of those year where I feel I didn’t get the most out of the package and things just didn’t work out.”
“In 2022, I struggled with an injury and things just never fell my way. It’s not an excuse as the bike, although it wasn’t the best on the grid, it certainly had more potential than what I showed. I wish I’d been able to do that, but I wasn’t.”
“So we start a fresh and go again! I am really positive about the year that’s coming up. We have some really exciting riders coming in to BSB and a few have left and I wouldn’t be racing if I didn’t think I could do a particular job, and that’s the job in hand, the one I am aiming to do but it’s the same one I’ve been doing the whole time I’ve been racing.”
“This year I definitely believe I have the tools to do the job required. Although we’ve not been out yet, so far the Moto Rapido squad from what they have shown me, what I have seen of them is beyond impressive really. They’re probably one of the most technically advanced teams I’ve ever worked with, in any part of my racing career. That’s really exciting for me. I feel like I’m cut from a similar cloth, though I am clearly not as technically advanced as the team members but I’m on that trajectory shall we say? I’m on that similar wavelength, so I am really looking forward to that. It’s a slightly different way of working but it’s one that I think will suit me.”
“I just want to get the first test out of the way and spin those first few laps. It’s been a long time since I raced, or since I cocked a leg over a tarmac based bike anyway so I’m looking forward to getting out. I have high expectations but you never know, there’s a massively stacked field this year and I can only control the ‘controlables’ which is to just work on myself, as I always do and what will be, will be more or less. There are a lot of strong riders and packages out there this year, and hopefully we are the best of them. I guess we will find out at the end of the season.”
Christian had a year in the doldrums on the Buildbase Suzuki in 2022 and would be the first to say he didn’t live up to his own expectations with the Hawk squad. 2023 is about getting back to winning ways and returning home with even more silverware for the trophy cabinet. Christian seems determined that this year, nothing but the championship is expected! I for one wish him the very best of luck! #Lightning
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The latest news from the British Superbike paddock sees McAMS Yamaha announce the promotion of Tim Neave from National Superstock 1000 to British Superbikes for 2023.
After an injury riddled season aboard an R1 for the team in the National Superstock 1000 category which saw a broken pelvis ruin Neave’s season, McAMS have decided they had seen enough to warrant signing Neave into their superbike squad in the vacated seat of Tarran Mackenzie.
With Mackenzie, the former British Superbike Champion of 2021 having announced he is moving on to pastures new for 2023, this leaves the Fleetwood based squad in a position to take a chance on the young BSB rookie. Neave joins the team to learn and develop alongside current Yamaha Veteran rider, Jason O’Halloran.
Neave said: “To get the call up to ride for McAMS Yamaha is a dream come true. When I signed to ride for the team last year, in the back of my mind I was thinking if I could do a really good job on the Superstock bike and a seat became available, it would be the dream but I didn’t think it would actually happen!
“Raceways are one of, if not the best teams in the paddock – they’ve certainly won more races than anyone else in recent years so I can’t think of a better team to step up into BSB with. I loved riding the R1 Superstock bike, it really suited me as a rider and from what Jason has told me, the Superbike has similar characteristics so I’m looking forward to getting out on it for the first time. BSB is one of the toughest classes in racing, but I’ll give it my everything to make sure this opportunity isn’t wasted on me.”
Team Owner Steve Rodgers commented:“When Tim joined the team to race the Superstock bike in 2022 we were all really impressed by him. Not only was he super quick straightaway, but his attitude and the way he went about things meant that he fit in to the team immediately. There’s no doubt had the Knockhill accident, which wasn’t his fault, not occurred, he’d have continued to fight for the Superstock title.
“When he was fit, he was super-fast on the R1 and the Superstock bike has a lot of similarities to the Superbike, including the fact that we couldn’t run any traction control on the stocker, so the jump isn’t as big as it is with some other manufacturers. There’s still a lot to learn, but we are confident he’ll pick it up and look forward to seeing what he can achieve.”