The throaty roar of an inline-four, the swish of a chequered flag, the camaraderie of riding together, and the legends and their greatest hits.

Young Guns

The first race I ever watched live, at a circuit, was in 2010. It was the Cadwell Park round of the British Superbike Championship. I remember every little detail: the train ride up to Market Rasen, the rolling green hills, the sea of parked motorcycles, and of the bikes flying over The Mountain under a light drizzle. I remember that dizzy feeling of absolute happiness, and I remember the promise I made myself: I will watch a race live, anywhere, wherever I can, at least once a year. I have kept that promise. And Cadwell Park is stored away as one of those special moments.

So when Tim Morson asked me if I would like to feature his photographs from the Silverstone round of BSB on this website, I jumped at the opportunity. As much as I would like it to be, this post is not a race review. The BSB season is nearing its end, so it’s perhaps a little late to begin reviews. But fingers crossed, BSB will become a regular feature on this website from 2013. This post then, is an ode to a championship that helped kick off this website – in more ways than one. It’s an ode to those riders who strive for perfection at every turn, fighting for a win, fairing to fairing. Here’s to BSB, a championship that is visceral and fervent, the way it should be.

It is an opportune moment too, isn’t it, to write this first post on BSB? Especially given that the latest round was at Silverstone, the Home of British Motor Racing. Some key highlights:

Clean Sweep

Alex Lowes set the pace after grabbing the pole position. Image courtesy Tim Morson

It was a double win – and a first – for 22-year-old Alex Lowes whose twin Sam Lowes is getting ready to fight it out at Magny-Cours this weekend. The first race seemed almost a breeze as Alex cruised to victory almost 5 seconds ahead. The second race proved to be a tougher fight to the finish. After all, the series are drawing to a close and the championship contenders are now fighting for every single point. But the young racer was more than up to the challenge. In the final laps, he played footsie with Josh Brookes and Shane Byrne, finally overtaking Byrne to grab his victory. It was fine end to a weekend where Alex ruled the scoreboard. This victory now puts him in the running for the title. He’s currently at the 3rd position with 584 points. Will he become the youngest ever BSB champion?

Byrne-ing Rubber

Championship contender Shane Shakey Byrne had a disappointing session scoring only a second in both races. Image courtesy Tim Morson

Shane Shakey Byrne has always been a favourite and his race resume reads like an honour roll: Double British champion, MotoGP and WSBK rider, you name it. But the practice session at Silverstone did not really go the way he planned. He lost control of his Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki ZX10R on the first day. It was a high-speed off, the rider sliding uncontrollably on the sodden run-off area for what seemed like a millennia. Luckily the injury was no more than a sprained wrist. A mechanical fault on Sunday’s warm-up added to his woes. So, needless to say as Shakey took his 5th position on the grid, all fingers were tightly crossed. During the two races though, Shakey made Lowes work for a podium win, dancing the tango with the young rider, pushing hard. But it was not to be. Lowes pushed through in both races, leaving him to take the 2nd spot. Shakey leads the championship – barely – with 608 points. But, the final round will be played out Brands Hatch, Shakey’s home ground. What are the chances?

Closing In

Tyco Suzuki’s Josh Brookes: Incredibly fast and definitely a Championship challenger. Image courtesy Tim Morson

Josh Brookes was known as that rider who got into trouble once too often with the Stewards. But that was then. Now, he’s 9 points behind Shakey and challenging that experienced rider for the Championship. Even though Brookes took the 4th spot in the first race, he chased down Lowes in the 2nd race, hoping to get past. But Lowes was too fast and too determined. Brookes claimed the 3rd spot on the podium, still trailing Shakey in the championship.

Playing Defence

Swan Yamaha’s Tommy Hill just seemed to go downhill. Image courtesy Tim Morson

The season began with reigning champion Tommy Hill successfully defending his title. But things have gone awry since. There’s that Assen-incident where he hit a mechanic on the grid. Silverstone was supposed to be better. But it wasn’t. It was a lacklustre performance that saw Hill claim the 7th position in both the races.

Women Power

Jenny Tinnmouth and Noriyuki Haga. Image courtesy Tim Morson

A special mention, of course, to #8 Honda rider Jenny Tinmouth, even though she finished last in both the races. The only female competitor in the series, the 34-year-old, was the first woman to win a British Supersport Cup race and is definitely a rider to watch.

Nitro No More

It was to much excitement that Noriyuki Haga made his transition from WSBK to BSB this season, riding for Swan Yamaha. But he has failed to set the world alight – disappointing many – especially given that he was replacing TT specialist Ian Hutchinson after his injuries in 2010. Those were some big shoes to fill. But unfortunately, the replacement has not been very successful.

All Images Copyright Tim Morson. Please contact him for re-use.

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