by Andrea Periccioli
The British school has written numerous chapters of motorcycling history in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Nevertheless, there has been a marked change in the trend over the past few seasons.
The UK has always produced a top-level platoon of riders, and we are not the only ones who say it. Lovers of our two-wheel sport still remember fondly the successes of Geoff Duke, John Surtees, Mike Hailwood, Phil Read, Barry Sheene to name just a few.
While in the Superbike World Championship Jonathan Rea has continued to demolish his rivals for five years now, in the premier category of the world championship the only successful rider to race under the banner of the ‘Union Jack’ is Cal Crutchlow.
The British are no longer up to scratch, is this the reason? Despite all this, in the land of Perfidious Albion, the races continue to produce young talent to bet on in the near future.
British Superbike is the national championship par excellence, favoured by the presence on the calendar of circuits full of charm such as Silverstone, Brands Hatch and Donington Park. The riders put themselves to the test by squeezing over 200 hp from their motorcycles without any kind of electronic assistance.
In BSB the technical regulations place everything in the hands of the riders…
After the acquisition of the rights by MSV Racing in 2008 and the introduction of technical regulations capable of levelling the differences in the bikes, the series has benefited massively. By placing everything in the hands of the riders.
Criticized too hastily, it has now become a globally recognized brand. And a reality that has become a mid-way stepping-stone between World Superbikes and domestic racing.
Scott Redding has regained impetus by salvaging his career with victory in the BSB
It fully reflects the modern-day Anglo-Saxon philosophy of focussing mainly on Superbike.
As has often happened in the past, the BSB is a competition capable of upsetting the values on the track. One example is Scott Redding who, following some up-and-down seasons in MotoGP with Honda, Ducati and Aprilia, found a new life back over the Channel in the UK.
Success there in 2019 opened the doors of World SBK to him and he was able to conquer three third places in the opening round at Phillip Island.
Without neglecting the 24-year-old Jake Dixon, considered by many as the new hope of British motorcycling, and capable of earning himself for a full-time gig in the Moto2 world championship.
The British Superbike grid alternates between old foxes, young lions and is demonstrating that it can enhance the talent of a new generation of riders in an original way. A season that promises to offer a lot of different riders aiming to make a leap in quality and to make their name wherever possible.
A fair compromise of youth and experience is represented by Bradley Ray, a darling of the home crowd because of his hair similar to one of the characters of ‘The Simpsons’, who MotoGP has already had the opportunity to see how he goes in a test with Suzuki. Despite his age, he is considered as one of the top riders by virtue of his two wins, six podiums and three pole positions, achieved in the BSB. The 23-year-old from Ashford, due to a 2019 annus horribilis, has decided to leave the Buildbase Hawk Racing Team and relaunch his prospects by joining up with the renewed Synetiq TAS BMW Team.
In Lee Hardy Racing they are betting strongly on Ryan Vickers, class of 1999, and very competitive during the last winter tests. A rider of undoubted qualities who, after having earned his spurs for a number of years in motocross and road races, opted to switch over to track racing. A thoughtful choice, but one that has proved to be successful. In fact, in just two seasons, the young man from Norfolk managed to conquer the title in the British Stock 600. Now he will be able to test his qualities again on the Kawasaki, with an extra year on his shoulders at the end of his period of adaptation in 2019.
All eyes are also on the 16-year-old ‘baby rider’ Storm Stacey who, even before his debut, is already considered to be a record man given that no one has raced in the BSB at his age. A career matured in three classes in the championship and capable of finishing third in the British Motostar Moto3 at the tender age of 14 years. A promising rider indeed and someone who, after only one season with production-derived bikes and a third-place finish in 600cc, will debut this year in the GR MotoSport Team thanks to a special license obtained directly from the promoter MSVR and the MCRCB.
These are considered to be the new rising stars by the experts, and it is also demonstrated by the choice of prestigious teams that hope to give a chance, in the top category of British Superbike, to a new breed of riders that can help fly the Union Jack high and bring back the glories of the past.
Obviously, part of their fate will depend on the results they will get on the track during the new season and on any paths that will open up for them later. But all the right conditions to surprise away from the spotlight are there. The present has to watch out because the future starts here.