Ahead of the 2018 Bennetts British Superbike Championship getting underway at Donington Park, James Whitham chats about his expectations for the season ahead...
The competitiveness of BSB in the past few years has been insane and I think the racing this year will be as close as you’ll ever see it. When you sit down and look at who is on the grid, there are some seriously talented riders.
There are the three main men: Haslam, Byrne and Brookes – the best mix of talent, experience and savviness on the grid. Unless there’s anything unexpected like injuries, these three will be in the Showdown no doubt at all.
But then when you consider those remaining three showdown spaces, it’s an open book! I tried to pick my top six the other day and I just can’t. Linfoot, Hickman, O’Halloran, Iddon, Dixon, Cooper, Laverty, Ellison, Ray, and I’m sure I’ve missed some, are all capable of getting in the top six. It’s complete madness outside the top three!
I went through the grid the other day and ticked anyone who I thought could potentially win a race, even some who might only do it if the conditions are a bit iffy, and I got 12 riders. 12 riders with race winning potential!
We’ve got it all. The three established contenders, a load of young guns rising through and then there’s quite a few rookies this year too. BSB is a tough class for a rookie, and I reckon that what Brad Ray achieved last year is about as best as a rookie can hope for. He got on that bike and just got on with it, he’ll go on to big things this year.
From my heart, I’d love to see Haslam win it after how it went for him last year. I don’t think he has any more chance than Shane Byrne, Josh Brookes or anyone else. He dropped back from fighting at the front in WSB and he’s been unable to win his national championship, so it would be sad if he didn’t get one under his belt. That being said, whoever wins BSB is always a more than deserving champion. It’s going to be a great season.
For an extensive 2018 Bennetts British Superbike Championship season preview, including exclusive interviews, tech features and the Bennetts BSB grid predicting their 2018 #ShowdownSix, pick up this week's MCN.