With the raft of announcements flowing forth from Motorcycle Live at the Birmingham NEC over the last week or so, it’s becoming ever more apparent that, due to the high level of competition, top teams in the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship are evermore turning to experience over blooding youngsters in to the series. Sure, there are talented young riders making their mark already such as Bournemouth Kawasaki’s ever-impressive Luke Mossey, the youngest rider to make it in to the 2016 Showdown at 24 years of age, however the average age of the Championship top three last season was 36. That’s a huge amount of experience to fight against for any rider, let alone one in just his second season like Mossey and with Giugliano at Tyco BMW and former WSB Champion Guintoli at Hawk Suzuki, the bar has been raised even higher.
The MCE British Superbike Championship appears in good health despite losing two major teams for 2017. The calibre of riders that the series is able to attract is testament to the show and the fans that support it. In the main, experienced riders are employed ahead of youth, although it’s not a closed shop, far from it, as RAF Reserves BMW, MotoRapido Ducati and Buildbase BMW will testify along with Glenn Irwin on the second seat at Be Wiser Ducati.
However, questions have been raised on various platforms of where is our next MotoGP race winner coming from, with many harking back to the halcyon days of ’07 and ’08 when first Rea, Crutchlow, Haslam, Sykes and Camier were ripping up the tarmac across the UK before Rea, followed twelve months later by Crutchlow, Haslam and Sykes departed to the World scene and Camier joined them a year later. Times have changed, but the ‘how?’ is for another day.
What now for the youthful talent of the British scene today? The wannabe’s and gonnabe’s of the next ten or fifteen years? Mossey, Jackson and Irwin are the unquestionable mainstay youth of BSB today, however beyond those three is the difficult world of expensive rides on not the most competitive machinery. A tough learning curve with no guarantees and little TV coverage. So, step forward STK1000. BSB’s ‘loss’ is the Pirelli-backed championship’s gain. Tough seasons for both Danny Buchan and James Rispoli showed just what levels are needed to put a consistent BSB season together and what’s required to run with the incredible pace set last season so 2017 will see both take on the challenge of STK1000.
Word is, that with the dwindling nature of Supersport racing globally, STK1000 could take on a bigger role in the UK in 2017. A ready-made big-bike showcase for youth and an opportunity for teams to look at the development curve of a rider, allowing them to hone their skills before moving them in to the talent-riddled premier class. In 2016 STK1000 had its share of drama, politics and close racing. The Champion, Taylor Mackenzie, was a deserving one, without a shadow of a doubt. However, 2017 will throw in ex-champions and fast rookie talent alongside the usual suspects, who will be ready to welcome any challenger warmly and with wide elbows.
Josh Elliott, Keith Farmer and Adam Jenkinson, should they all return, have points to prove. Two former champions and a runner up and all three multiple race winners, won’t lay down for any new and returning adversaries. Young talent could also join the series from Supersport and STK600, with the Supersport situation as it is the likes of Andy Reid, Joe Francis, Mason Law and Jordan Weaving could well join the fray should they wish and what a time to join a series that, to all intents and purposes, could well develop in to a true feeder class for MCE British Superbikes. And even if it doesn’t, STK1000 undoubtedly has the potential to be one of THE race series’ of 2017.