Gary Pinchin's British Superbikes blog: BSB's wholesale changes
I don’t know about you but I can’t wait for next year’s British Superbike season to blast off.
I’ve been around the series for a while now and I certainly can’t remember a time when there’s been such wholesale changes in team line-ups.
For me, and I’m sure many of you out there, it’s given British Superbikes a whole new breath of fresh air. It’s uncanny there’s not one of the acknowledged top teams that has remained intact.
The Airwaves Ducati line-up will be the biggest surprise to many with Shane Byrne and Leon Camier riding the 1098R F08 factory bikes next year.
Only a few days ago in my blog I said that with Leon Haslam shifting to HM Plant Honda, it seemed likely that Gregorio Lavilla would stay with Airwaves, if the team remained in British Superbikes. But that didn’t take into account Greg turning a British Superbike offer down.
So Shakey and Leon Camier it is then and I can’t think of a more exciting pair of characters to be on the equally exciting new V-twins.
But then again I can’t think of a more exciting line-up on the HM Plant Honda with Leon Haslam and Cal Crutchlow on the new Blades.
And then there’s Rizla Suzuki. We all know how well Tom Sykes went this year on the Stobart Honda. I can’t wait to see how he’ll go on the Rizla Suzuki.
And what about Atsushi Watanabe? Okay, he’s an unknown right now but he is the Japanese Superbike champion and, judging from the pictures we’ve seen so far, he looks a bit of an action man on track. Hopefully he’ll be as colourful off it too!
With the factory backing his presence brings the team, the arrival of Jack Valentine to manage the outfit and two eager-to-impress riders, I’ve got a sneaking suspicion we’re going to witness the re-emergence of the Rizla Suzuki team this year.
And if you doubt it, just check out Cal Crutchlow’s end of season results to see how much progress the team made last year.
The casualty in all this is Paul Bird’s Stobart Honda team. It’s hard to believe that they’ve lost not one but both of their riders within a few days – especially after such a brilliant year that saw Shakey and Tom Sykes both challenging for podium places.
I’ve not been able to contact Birdy since news broke of Shakey’s move but I’ve heard all sorts of rumours. The strongest is that he’s trying to do a deal with Gregorio Lavilla, to run him in a one-man team – but if that doesn’t happen there’s talk he may call it a day.
I’d love to see what Lavilla could do on the Honda. My bet is he’d run top three most weekends. But I can’t even begin to contemplate British Superbikes without Birdy and his team.
The other big issue is the single tyre supplier rule and I heard from British Superbikes Race Director Stuart Higgs the tender documents have been despatched to the relevant tyre companies and he expects to announce the results by the end of this month.