In the first of a new series of weekly sports blogs, MCN reporter Rob Hull says BSB should follow the example of the Premier League when it comes to foreign signings. The best talent will secure the championship’s future and give fans the best spectacle. Join in the debate by posting your comments at the foot of the page.
Honda’s British Superbike team have been getting a lot of stick during the last week for signing two Australians for 2009. But I can see their reasoning.
The team’s manager Neil Tuxworth only has one goal – to try to win the championship for Honda and its sponsor HM Plant. That means picking the best riders who are available and who his budget will allow. Trivial matters like patriotism cannot afford to get a look-in when you’re a professional team with a serious goal.
You only have to look at how English football has changed to appreciate that point. And that’s why I’m sure Glen Richards (who is part-British anyway) and Josh Brookes won’t be the last foreign signatures in BSB.
It’s a hard game to play for the teams because they know fans will tend to back someone British. But when the top four riders in the championship have been lost to World Superbikes, no one can afford to sign a British rider in favour of a foreigner who is likely to bring better results.
Just being a British rider doesn’t earn you the right to a top ride in British Superbikes. BSB shouldn’t be seen as some kind of formalised pecking order, where once riders who have done well move on, their rides are automatically given like hand-me-downs to the guys below them. That’s not to say the guys below them might not deserve the rides – but they need to accept that their talent will be judged against all the available talent in the open market – not just that in the UK.
British Superbikes is without doubt the best domestic championship in the world - fact. So let’s get the best riders possible to maintain the championship’s development, I say. At the end of the day it’s going to make better viewing for all of us, and secure the future of the series. There isn’t another domestic championship anywhere in the world where you can see former MotoGP riders like Sylvain Guintoli and James Ellison rubbing shoulders with fresh WSB talent like Brookes and Japan’s current big hope, Atsushi Watanabe. We’re very fortunate that BSB attracts big names like this. And they have been part of the reason the series is currently doing so well. How many British fans even now remain loyal to big personalities like Yukio Kagayama, even though he’s been in WSB since 2005 now.
Don’t get me wrong - I would like as many quality British riders to break into the championship as possible. But for the first year in a long while we can’t rely on British Supersport to graduate a new breed of young British talent, because that championship itself is going through a regeneration. I would expect that in the next two years we’ll get a new breed of Brits stepping up from BSS, but when you look at the 2008 championship standings, only Ian Lowry stands out as a clear candidate to make the move for 2009.
If any of the above has got you frothing at the mouth or if you agree that foreigners are good news for BSB, please post your comments below in “Discuss This” - and I’ll be back shortly to rejoin the debate.
But for now I’m heading off to Waterstones to buy a set of multilingual dictionaries – how else am I going to keep in touch with the pitlane gossip in 2009?