BSB testing starts in earnest this week (Thursday, March 4) for some of the top teams at Cartagena, Spain.
It’s a hectic four-day test, swiftly followed by another three at Guadix with the influx of even more BSB teams.
The Cartegena test is organised by former Rothmans Honda and JPS Norton team boss Barry Symmons and features no less than 49 riders (at the last count) ranging from the top BSB riders to Irish national regulars with 125s.
Symmons has run this gig for several years and it’s superbly organised, with dedicated sessions for each different class of machine. And it’s a British-style circuit – elevation changes, a wide range of corners from slow to total-commitment fast.
Cartagena is essentially going to be a shakedown for most teams and riders – a chance to clock up laps in half-decent weather (hopefully), get the riders back up to speed, find a good base setting for the machine – and do a bit of bonding to get new team line-ups working as one.
The more reliable weather is why the majority of teams prefer to go to Spain rather than try to second-guess the British climate.
So it’s not a test where you can read too much into the times. Saying that, it’s going to be interesting to see how Ryuichi Kiyonari and Josh Brookes shape up on the much-revised HM Plant Hondas – especially with the Worx Suzukis of Tommy Hill and Yukio Kagayama on track.
Hill especially has had a rake more track time than most this winter.
Also out will be Neil Hodgson and Dan Linfoot on the Motorpoint Yamahas. They tested before Christmas but that was only a very brief run-out and the team has been hard at work making improvements to the bike since then.
Relentless by TAS Suzuki riders Michael Laverty and Alastair Seeley have a fair amount of track time on the GSX-R1000s, but like most, their going to find the massive amount of winter work might well give their bikes a very different feel.
It’ll be good to hear the rumble of a v-twin among the BSB fours again – with Michael Rutter and Martin Jessopp on the Riders Ducatis.
Their bikes might have started as 2008-spec but again, massive updates will have turned their former supersport-spec build engines into competitive machines.
It’s the first time we’ll see the Splitlath Aprilias on track, ridden by Chris Burns and his teenage brother Joe.
For one thing it will be good to see exactly how quick the BSB Evo-spec RSV4s are against the full-one BSB bikes.
But it’s going intriguing to see a) how competitive Chris is going to be after so many years without a proper ride and b) how the rivalry between the pair shapes up on track!
After Cartagena there’s a day off then three days at Guadix – a lovely venue, beautifully manicured, but with a very demanding, tight, hectic lap.
HM Plant Honda have booked the track but invited other BSB teams to share it so we’ll be seeing Swan Honda pair Stuart Easton and James Ellison in action, as well as MSS Kawasaki’s Simon Andrews and Gary Mason.
MCN will bring you all the latest news, on the web and in next Wednesday’s paper so I’ll be off now to pack my bags and get down to Stanstead to hook up with photographic agency Double Red for the flight to Malaga.
I know, it’s tough. But someone has to do it.