The tension is building ahead of the much-anticipated opening round of the 2017 MCE InsuranceBritish Superbike Championship this weekend (March 31 – April 2) at Donington Park as some of the world’s best riders prepare for the first clash of the season.
The rivalry has never been more intense before the opening races of the season; the grid featuring 2014 World Superbike Champion Sylvain Guintoli and five-time MCE BSB title-winner Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne, who is ready to lock horns with his arch rival, returning 2015 champion Josh Brookes.
“Well, finally round one is here. It’s been a long winter to be honest, having won last year, I’ve been itching to go racing again ever since. Pre-season testing was good but not ideal as some of the parts we wanted to test weren’t available. But hopefully those parts will be with us shortly and will certainly be worth the wait. The plan at Donington is to push as hard as I can throughout the weekend to get my title defence off to the best possible start.”
The 2015 BSB Champion returns to Old Blighty with plenty to prove after a troublesome season on a BMW in World Superbike last year. Brookes is back on the YZF-R1M for season 2017, reuniting with essentially the same model Yamaha he powered to title glory in 2015.
Brookes’ preparation for season 2017 has been far from perfect, so himself and the Anvil Tag Yamaha squad will be under the pump when things get underway at Donington this weekend.
“I have had very few dry laps in my pre season. We were in Spain for three days but the first two days were wet. Then had a day at Donington last week that was also wet. I only went out for six laps at Donington, and was the fastest in that session. Even with the limited dry track time I still enter the weekend positive and expect to be in the fight for a podium position. This confidence comes from my experience in this series, bike, circuit etc… the team appear to have worked hard to deliver a bike capable of winning. Even if it takes some time for the team and I to grow I feel we have the potential to be a title contender.”
Ten riders have already celebrated MCE BSB race victories with Byrne holding the record, but home hero Leon Haslam is feeling bullish about going one better this season with JG Speedfit Kawasaki after finishing runner-up last season to the Kent ace.
Honda Racing unveiled their new Fireblade in pre-season testing and Jason O’Halloran scored a debut victory with the team last season, but Yamaha are also fighting back strong with the McAMS Yamaha team of race winners James Ellison and Michael Laverty.
“I am looking forward to the season getting started, we have a new bike for this year that is still very young and we are still learning our way. I would have loved a few more test days before we go racing, but with the weather and time frame it just hasn’t been possible. I’m looking for two solid races to kick the season off and get as much data and information as we can to build over the first part of the season.”
John Hopkins proved he is not going to settle for less than podiums when it comes to his return with the Moto Rapido Ducati team; the American determined to fire himself back into title contention after he missed out in 2011 against Tommy Hill in the most dramatic finale in MCE BSB history.
Luke Mossey has yet to claim an elusive first race win, but the JG Speedfit Kawasaki rider was the man to beat at the recent Spanish test at Cartagena, smashing the lap record and proving that he is out to do more than just repeat his Showdown finish of last season.
Adelaide’s Billy McConnell will be on a ZX-10R for FS-3 Kawasaki.
“I’m looking forward to Donington as it is my home race in the UK for my FS-3 Team. I feel good and fit after two months back home in gods country. We as a team feel ready to go as we have got the all new Kawasaki, going from 14/15 model to the current 2017, so more power straight off the bat felt really good in Spain. So today we go to track set up and sit on my baby and pray that I can do the business this year.”
Throw into the mix young guns Glenn Irwin, rookie Bradley Ray and Taylor Mackenzie and there is guaranteed to be fireworks at the British Superbike season opener next weekend!
More on the Aussie assault!
Australia is represented in the Supersport 600 ranks by Perth’s Sam Clarke who joins long -time BSB campaigner Benjamin James-Currie in the Supersport ranks.
“The CF Motorsport team and I couldn’t be more ready and excited to start the BSB season. Kicking off at Donington park, this Friday I feel comfortable and ready going into this first round. Completing a day on track at Donnington just a few days before i have learnt the circuit and it’s fast corner speed however due to being so close to the round and BSB rules i was unable to do it on my race bike, doing it on a borrowed bike it allowed me to learn the track at a nice even pace. Earlier in the year we did our first test in Calafat, a short and tight track very much like Wakefield Park that saw a couple of engine issues for me but nothing my team couldn’t over come. Only getting a day and a half on the bike I still felt i didn’t completely know the bike. Not long after the team and I tested in Jerez, a world known fast track that put my pace to the test. This test was much more successful for us even due to the severe weather that prevailed for a day and a half. So we may have only had just a short few days to prepare in testing for this first round but i couldn’t be more confident in the bike and my team this weekend coming and can’t wait to put my riding skills to the test. “
“Preparations been good, mind set is good, now to convert into a solid result and get the season underway with no mishaps. Build up to the long term goal of winning the championship!”
Brayden Elliott joins the BSB ranks for 2017 contesting the Superstock 1000 category for the Pacedayz Trackdays squad.
“I am feeling really excited and prepared for round one this weekend at Donington Park. I have been putting all my focus into this round, which I think will be the hardest just because of not knowing what to expect. I have recently ridden the circuit and feel super comfortable already, although only on my practice bike. I know that on Friday we are going to have to work hard and fast to get up to speed with bike setup and track knowledge, but I feel comfortable that come race day on Saturday we will be 100 per cent ready to go. It feels like a lifetime of preparation, but I am ready to finally jump back on the bike and into race mode. I can’t wait for the championship to kick off and to experience the atmosphere of the BSB!”
Arthur Sissis returns to road racing and joins the Superstock 600 category with the Moto-Breakers Team.
“Testing went quite well. We only had one dry session, the rest was freezing and wet but I felt comfortable in both conditions so I’ll be aiming for the podium. I haven’t raced road for a few years so it’ll take time getting use to these tight tracks but I’m confident I can fight for wins at all the races. I had thoughts about it last year but couldn’t find a team so I just did speedway again, but it’s just a different feeling to speedway. A lot cleaner as well!”
Levi Day this year is contesting the Ducati Tri-Options Cup. The South Australian will start the series on the 899 but may move up to the 959 during the season if the 899 proves uncompetitive.
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