|Glen Richards in action at Donington Park
Photo: Smiths Racing Triumph
The Motorpoint British Supersport Championship protected by Datatag kicks off this weekend at the picturesque circuit of Brands Hatch in Kent and anticipation is building quickly ahead of what is shaping up to be yet another hotly-contested series this year. BSS has seen its fair share of intense title battles over the past few years and 2013 is set to be no exception; even though the championship runner-up from last year, Jack Kennedy, and the revelation of the latter part of the campaign Christian Iddon, have departed to the world scene there is wealth of talent remaining and some fast new additions to the main championship too.
The strong field boasts two former champions in Stuart Easton and Alastair Seeley as well as the current champion Aussie Glen Richards. Richards remains with his title-winning team of Smiths Racing Triumph aboard the 2013 Triumph Daytona 675R and alongside him once again will be fellow Aussie Billy McConnell, who has more than proven his worth in the class without lifting the title as yet as well as numerous proven race winners and regular podium placings.
|Easton at Cartegena during testing
Photo: Mar-Train Yamaha
Scot Stuart Easton returns to the class where he made his name lifting the title for Paul Bird’s Monster Mob Ducati squad in 2002, with the championship runners-up of last season Mar-Train Yamaha. The Scot spent last season in the BSB class with Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki but the brutal Superbikes at times proved too much for the still-healing Scot as he continues to over-come the life threatening injuries sustained in practice for the NW200 in 2011. The Northern Ireland-based team are aiming to go one better than last season after a dramatic final round saw the title snatched from their grasp with a rare mechanical failure on their Yamaha R6 after Glen Richards crashed out early in the final race and to bolster their championship attack the team have drafted in 2012 Supersport Cup champion Glenn Irwin, an exciting youngster also from Northern Ireland, with the ability to push Easton and his rivals all the way.
|Glenn Irwn getting to grips with his Yamaha R6
Photo: Mar-Train Yamaha
2011 Champion Alastair Seeley is back in the series that suits him most after an unsuccessful foray in to the senior class for 2012. The diminutive Northern Irishman has struggled to gel with Superbikes on British circuits but has more than proved his worth on the Roads by securing numerous NW200 wins on both STK1000 and Superbike and on Supersport bikes too. For 2013 Seeley has, somewhat surprisingly, joined the Gearlink Kawasaki squad alongside long-term rider, and arch-enemy from 2011, Ben Wilson. Seeley remains one of the most aggressive Supersport riders in the field and will be looking to assert his authority over his championship rival but rest assured, and as he proved two years ago, Wilson can give as good as he gets as he himself looks to secure his first title.
|Samsung Honda’s Jason O’Halloran|
Bolstering the grid this season are the returning Samsung Honda squad, the Louth-based team will field Jason O’Halloran as their title challenger this season with the former Australian Supersport Champion returning to his roots and looking to add that British title to his collection. The other team returning to the Supersport grid are Tyco Suzuki after securing the services of Taylor McKenzie. After an early season of adapting to riding 4-strokes, Mckenzie found his rhythm mid-way through the year and consistently finished in the top twelve for Mar-Train Yamaha and it was this show of promise that prompted the Tyco squad to act.
|Alastair Seeley in the green of Gearlink Kawasaki|
Other notables for success in 2013 are the Seton Tuning Yamaha squad who suffered a difficult 2012 but come back refreshed and ready to fight for the championship with a similarly rejuvenated Graeme Gowland, who parted company with BSB squad Team WFR before Cadwell Park last year and is keen to prove his worth in this most competitive of series. The second Triumph squad of Oxford Tag Triumph will field 2011 British Superstock Champion Richard Cooper, 2011 Supersport Cup Champion John Simpson and former BSB race winner Scott Smart while Appleyard/Macadam racing will see fast Scot Deane Brown returning for his second season with the squad alongside bright South African Bjorn Estment, who’s sure to bring even more colour and excitement to the series.
The British Supersport championship is even more difficult to predict than the main series due to the more traditional nature of the scoring system but the fast riders, as always, will still be fastest. Richards, Seeley, Easton, Wilson, O’Halloran, McConnell and Irwin will all be fighting for the crown with some surprises like Gowland and Simpson thrown in for good measure. Supersport is more than just a ‘support’ series, it’s a strong championship in it’s own right and deserves its mantle as one of the hardest fought championships around.