The new MCE Insurance British Superbike season is only 43 days away and the series Director, Stuart Higgs, is confident that this could be the greatest season ever.
There will be 40 riders on the grid in this, the 20th anniversary edition of the series in its current guise, making it more competitive then ever.
Higgs said: “The much talked about Showdown format will exaggerate the tension further: realistically, half of the 40 riders, yes 40, our biggest rider line-up ever have the talent and equipment capable of making the top six come Oulton Park in September.
“To illustrate the depth of talent, 11 riders on the current grid have been race winners [Easton, Laverty, Mainwaring, Walker, Waters, Kiyo, Brookes, Bridewell, Byrne, Ellison and Hickman] and a further three have secured podiums [Parkes, Linfoot and Cooper].”
The 40 riders that will take part in this season’s championship represent 11 different countries, which is more than that of the World Superbike Championship.
The 2014 Champion, Shane Bryne, will return once again on his Paul Bird Motorsport Kawasaki along with his main title challenger from last season, Ryuichi Kiyonari, also on the grid on his Buildbase BMW.
Both will have to be at their very best though, as the 2015 BSB grid is full of race-winners and seven top manufacturers all aiming to be in the final showdown.
Higgs added: “Full factory Yamahas for Josh Brookes and Broc Parkes – the new R1 has been developed by Valentino Rossi no less, and everyone is expecting big things from the 2011 title-winning team. Last year there was a real scrap to be the leading Milwaukee Yamaha rider at the finale – Brookes has come close before and Parkes has been a runner-up in World Supersport, so you have to expect more of the same!
“BMW launch their strongest ever challenge as they join forces with Tyco to field MotoGP rider Michael Laverty and 2014 third place finisher Tommy Bridewell. The team have won Supersport titles, but have only finished runner-up in Superbike and this manufacturer switch could be what they need to go one better.”
Along with the BMW and Yamaha squads, the Honda team will also return to the Championship following a year out of the sport after winning the title with Alex Lowes in 2013.
Honda will have three bikes on the grid in 2015, with Dan Linfoot and BSB debutant Jason O’Halloran being joined by Jenny Tinmouth.
James Ellison will also return to action with GB Moto and Higgs believes that he has to be a contender in 2015.
Higgs said: “A fully fit James Ellison is sure to be a contender. He must surely have got his bad luck out of the way now, after two chances to fight for the title were curtailed through injury and a determined recovery to return. In his second season with the GBmoto team he has consistency, which means he should be up the front from the start.”
2015 also sees the arrival of two new teams in Smiths Racing BMW and Be Wiser Kawasaki – which is owned by 2011 BSB Champion Tommy Hill.
Hill’s team is a mix of youth and experience, with 21-year-old Danny Buchan returning to the series alongside BSB veteran Chris Walker. Smiths Racing BMW on-the-other-hand have the reigning British Supersport Champion, Billy McConnell, fronting their first attempt at BSB.
Along with the new teams, BSB also has new riders as Higgs went on to explain: “We welcome new riders to the grid for this season, including Spain’s Dani Rivas, Italy’s Vittorio Iannuzzo and South Africa’s David McFadden, plus former British Supersport title-contender Jack Kennedy, who makes his Superbike debut on his return from the World Supersport Championship.”
Alongside the main BSB races there will once again be plenty of support races throughout the race weekends.
The Motorpoint British Supersport Championship will be joined by the HEL Performance British Motostar Championship, which will now have two races per round.
They are also joined by the brand-new Santander Consumer Finance KTM British Junior Cup, which will give young British riders a chance of one-day making it into MotoGP. Two selected riders from the championship will be chosen to move up into the MotoGP Rookies Cup selection process.
Each event will be shown live on British Eurosport, with qualifying and racing both included, and also on ITV4, which will show a one-hour highlights show after each event.
With a grid full of talented riders from all over the globe, the 2015 BSB Championship is shaping up to be one of the best in its history.
Higgs finished by saying: “There is huge anticipation for the season ahead, perhaps more than any in recent years. Best ever? Hell yeah!”