BSB 2019 Rider Line-up taking shape
More pieces of the BSB 2019 puzzle have fallen into place with Smiths Racing BMW confirming that Peter Hickman will be joined onboard the brand-new S1000RR by James Ellison.
31-year-old Hickman from Louth in Lincolnshire remains with Alan and Rebecca Smith’s team for a third successive season having finished in an impressive fifth place in the 2018 Bennetts BSB series with a double podium finish at Thruxton to ensure qualification into the Showdown for a second successive season, from where he scored another podium at Assen.
“I’m absolutely over the moon to be staying with Smiths Racing for 2019. Myself, Rebecca, Alan and all the team get on so well and really gel as our results prove, so staying with them was always what I wanted. And now we’re welcoming James into the fold too, someone I’ve worked with before in 2016 and we got on great, he helped me a lot that year and I really think we’ll motivate and push each other. He’s a championship contender and so am I, so between us we have one of the strongest teams on the grid and to say I’m excited is an understatement. Along with all that we have the new Smiths BMW S1000RR which looks absolutely stunning and I can’t wait to throw my leg over it in testing before it gets real at BSB and on the roads.”
Hickman had a stellar season on the roads too, winning at every major road race, including the Isle of Man TT Races, International North West 200, Ulster Grand Prix as well as this month’s Macau Grand Prix. Peter also claimed the outright TT lap record at 135.452mph on his way to victory on the Smiths BMW in the Senior TT race. Hickman will also contest the full closed roads programme once again as in 2018.
Joining Hickman in the Smiths Racing BMW squad will be experienced Cumbrian James Ellison, who joins Smiths Racing BMW from rivals Anvil Hire TAG Racing. Originally from Kendal but now residing at Swadlincote in the Midlands, the 38-year-old is a former World Endurance and double European Superstock champion who has just missed out on the BSB title in the past.
“First of all I just want to thank Alan, Rebecca and Darren for giving me this opportunity. I had an incredibly difficult 2018 season for various reasons, we had great pace but were lacking one key component that stopped me from getting the results which both myself and the TAG team were capable of. They are such a friendly, family-run team that made me feel so welcome, so I want to say a huge thank you to them and I wish them the best of luck in the future. I figured it would be impossible to call 2018 my ‘last’ season in BSB after having so many successful seasons fighting for the championship and it is just not in my nature to walk away knowing I can still fight for the BSB title given the right tools. The Smiths Racing BMW team have had another strong season with Hicky proving they are true title contenders and I’m delighted to be teaming up with Hicky again. We are really good friends off track but of course tough rivals on it and I believe we will push each other all year and work closely together to speed up the development of the all-new BMW S1000RR. The support from the fans has been incredible, even when I was struggling, which means so much to me and I can’t wait to start testing in March.”
BSB Musical Chairs
Other recent movements in BSB include Jason O’Halloran heading from Honda to McAMS Yamaha and Dan Linfoot to Tag Racing Yamaha. Their previous positions at Honda have been filled by Xavi Fores alongside Andrew Irwin.
Before the 2018 season had even finished Josh Brookes announced his move to Be Wiser Ducati where he will be joined by MotoGP exile Scott Redding. The pair should be a force to be reckoned with on the new Panigale V4 R. In addition to their British Superbike Championship campaigns, Redding and Brookes are also hoping for wild card appearances at least one event in the World Superbike Championship.
Australia’s Ben Currie makes the step up to Superbike with the JG Speedfit Kawasaki squad alongside Glenn Irwin.
Christian Iddon and Keith Farmer are expected to ride for Tyco BMW while Ryan Vickers steps in to the RAF Kawasaki squad.
Danny Buchan is definitely in with a good chance aboard the FS-3 Racing Kawasaki and has the benefits of being one of the few top runners not to move teams for the new season.
Buildbase Suzuki have confirmed Bradley Ray but it seems that a possible second GSX-R1000R seat is yet to be filled in that team. Luke Mossey and Gino Rea will ride for OMG Suzuki.
Who will rise to the top?
With Shane Byrne’s recovery from injury seemingly further delayed, 2018 BSB Champion Leon Haslam heading to World Superbike, and second place getter Jake Dixon heading to Moto2, it will be very interesting to see how the form guide for season 2019 shakes up when things get underway in the 12-round series at Silverstone over Easter next year (19/21 April).
Who is your money on?