After what seems like a lifetime, BSB is finally back. The British Superbike Championship is, without doubt, the best domestic racing series in the world. And for five very good reasons. Here they are…
You don’t need a massive ego to be a British Superbike Racer, but it certainly helps. If you’ve got your own name and/or race number inked onto your skin, you’ve got a cupboard full of ‘snapbacks’, and you can hold your sponsor logo festooned crash helmet in an uncomfortably and unnaturally high position for as long as a post-race interview lasts, you’re half way there. But that’s the easy bit. To be a bona fide BSB star, you also need to be disgustingly fast on a motorbike.
One of the biggest draws of the BSB Championship is the quality of rider. There is, and has for a long time, been genuine world-class talent in BSB. As proven by the likes of previous BSB winners such as Leon Camier, Alex Lowes, Leon Haslam and Scott Redding. All of whom have gone on to do big things on the world stage. You’ve also had the likes of Cal Crutchlow and Jake Dixon, riders that didn’t manage to win a BSB title, but still went on to impress in the MotoGP paddock. It might be a British Championship, but BSB attracts top riders from all over the world. And not only has it been a stepping stone for WSBK spec riders on their way up, plenty have finished their careers off there too.
If BSB has world class riders, it’s definitely got world class circuits too. Brands Hatch, Silverstone, Donington Park and Assen are all no stranger to international competition. They’re all on many a bucket-list of ‘must-ride’, or even ‘must go and spectate at’ race tracks. But it’s not the big famous circuits that give me a raging Casey Stoner; it’s the comparatively Mickey Mouse tracks like Thruxton, Cadwell Park, Oulton Park and Knockhill, that send the blood rushing in a penis-ly direction. The facilities might be a little bit wank for the likes of Valentino Rossi and his MotoGP mates, but if you don’t mind hovering over a skid-mark stained bowl of a morning and tiptoeing through all and sundry’s pubic hairs when it’s time to take a shower, you’ll love what these smaller circuits have got to offer.
No short circuit is as fast as Thruxton. At no other short circuit can you see superbikes getting genuine airtime like they do at Cadwell. And as for Knockhill and Oulton Park, they both offer genuine opportunities to be within feet of your favourite BSB superstars giving it big licks on 220+bhp bikes. Awesome for the riders, and even better for the fans.
Whether you are at a BSB for a day or an entire weekend, you’re probably going to want something to keep you entertained when the Superbike stars have parked their bikes up and are busy updating their Instagram profiles and going through the team’s latest brolly girl. Well you won’t be left wanting. There’s always something going on at your local BSB round. If it’s not one of the many support classes on track it’ll be live music in the bar. Either that or the dodgy fairground people trying to take your money (and your daughter) off you.
By day, the Superstock and Supersport classes offer racing as entertaining as anything else. For the Ducatisti amongst you there’s the Ducati Cup. And of course the kids get a go, in the British Talent Cup and Junior Supersport. There’s something for everyone. You’ll find plenty of stalls selling useless tat and a few selling decent stuff, so if you need to replace that old HM Plant fleece that you’ve had for 10 years you needn’t look any further. By night the bar will keep you in drink and cheese burgers and if you stay for the last round, you might even catch a fight, as an added bonus. What more could you ask for?
It could be argued that Fireblades, R1Ms, V4Rs, GSX-R1000Rs, ZX-10RRs etc don’t make BSB that special a domestic championship. The truth is that they don’t. But what does make BSB special, is just how special these ‘Blades, R1s, Dukes etc. are. They haven’t just been rolled out of a showroom or thrown together in some pipe-smoking, beard-wearing wannabe GP technicians shed, oh no. Plenty of the bikes on the BSB grid have had serious factory input and use chassis, engine and electronic parts that you or I could never get our hands on, even if we did have the cash.
And it’s not just the ‘factory’ teams that can turn out a decent BSB bike. There’s a handful of lesser funded independent teams that regularly keep the factory boys honest. In fact it’s not uncommon to see a bike from one of the smaller teams cross the line first; thanks, no doubt, to the stringent rules in place (regarding engine tuning and electronics) to try to keep the championship as level a playing field as possible. MotoGP bikes might be sexier, but I don’t think there’s anything better than seeing a trick as fudge version of your own road bike getting thrashed to within an inch of its life by a proper fast, professional racer. Ok, maybe there’s one thing that’s better.
2021 might be a bit of a Covid flavoured washout, as far as packed stands at BSB are concerned, but in seasons gone by (and let’s hope future seasons) the baying crowds definitely added to the electric atmosphere during the races. Unlike football matches, where all the fans want to glass each other over the head, the fans at a BSB round tend to be far too engrossed in the racing and trying to see up the grid girls skirts to want to harm one another. There’s the occasional punch up, don’t get me wrong, but it rarely ends up with a GBH charge; there’s normally some boring old twat telling Rocky Balboa and his mate to sit down and shut the fuck up.
At any normal BSB round the stands and grass banks will be jam packed with men, women and children (mostly men). They’ll all be sporting Team Green, Ducati Corse, and HRC jackets, as well as Donington Park MotoGP 1997 tee shirts (bought at the 1998 NEC bike show for a quid). They could tell you the middle name and date of birth of all their favourite superbike superstars; they’re not anoraks that need to get a life – they’re superbike super-fans, and don’t let anyone tell you any different.