The new Masters Superbike Championship season will kick off 2016 with the most competitive Superbike field in its history as new Riders and new machinery take to the grid for the opening race of the year at Mondello Park this coming Sunday, March 20th.
Certain to be fan favourites during 2016 will be the IFS Yamaha pairing of Ryan Rainey and reigning Supersport Champion Robert English. Rainey will ride the highest standard machine seen in the series so far as he campaigns a brand new World Superbike specification R1. One of the riders Rainey will most have to look out for is team mate English who makes the step up to Superbike on Rainey’s 2015 R1.
Joining the move to new machinery will be returning champion Cody Nally, the 2014 Superbike winner will have a brand new Kawasaki for his Masters campaign and will ride it for the first time at the Masters opener before embarking on a campaign of Irish and UK races.
Joining Robert English in making the move from Supersport to the 1000cc class will be the vastly experienced ex Moto2 racer Nikki Coates who will ride a Kingsbury Packaging Kawasaki ZX10 alongside occasional Supersport outings on the 600cc machine he rode last year. Also moving up will be Jamie Patterson who will move full time to Superbike having previously mixed Supersport with occasional outings on an underpowered Suzuki 750 in the bigger class.
Two riders who will stay with their tried and tested 2015 machines and may therefore start the season with an advantage will be Brian McCormack and Gerard Kinghan. Former champion McCormack kicked his season off with his first victory of the year last Friday as he set fastest time in the Mondello Park Race Experience, as the the top riders from the series got together to launch the 2016 campaign. The Waterford man will return with the only Honda to be used by the front runners. Kinghan will continue his quest for his first Masters win, which can’t be far away based on his performances last season, riding his familiar Kawasaki.
Others of note include Peter Moloney who forsakes his ageing Yamaha R1 for a newer BMW machine and should be a more regular contender for podium positions. Also worth watching will be two former Superbike ‘Cup’ champions, Frank Smyth who returns following an injury enforced lay-off and 2015 winner Edward Comerford who will go up against the big boys having dominated last seasons ‘Cup’ class.