After 187 days the wait is over. The Bennetts British Superbike Championship returns for the hugely-anticipated season opener at Silverstone this Easter (April 19/20/21) as the 2019 protagonists line up for the first two races in the title fight.
The grid had an incredible shake-up over the winter with former MotoGP contender Scott Redding and 2018 WorldSBK Independent Riders champion Xavi Forés joining the 30-strong permanent line-up for the Be Wiser Ducati and Honda Racing teams respectively, and both with a point to prove.
The Be Wiser Ducati team also features the only former champion on the grid with 2015 title-winner Josh Brookes alongside Redding on the new Ducati V4 R.
At last week’s final official pre-season test though it was McAMS Yamaha who claimed the top spot in the hands of Jason O’Halloran, and the Australian is one of nine different race winners on the Bennetts BSB grid.
Tarran Mackenzie returns on the second McAMS Yamaha, feeling confident ahead of the new season as he heads back to Silverstone; the circuit where he scored his first podium finish in the Superbike class last year.
When the season kicked off last year it was Bradley Ray who celebrated the double victory for Buildbase Suzuki and the Kent contender is back with the Leicestershire-based team and ready to build on 2018, when he qualified for the Showdown for the first time.
A further six riders have previously been Showdown contenders including Glenn Irwin, who switched to the 2018 title-winning Quattro Plant – JG Speedfit Kawasaki team. He is joined by Dickies British Supersport Championship runner-up Ben Currie; the Australian is one of six Superbike rookies to feature this year.
Fellow previous Showdown contenders are Luke Mossey who moved to OMG Racing Suzuki, Tommy Bridewell, who also lines up on Ducati V4 R machinery with the Oxford Racing Ducati team, plus Smiths Racing BMW duo Peter Hickman and James Ellison plus Dan Linfoot at the Santander Salt TAG Yamaha team.
Silverstone will also mark the rise of two 2018 champions to the Superbike grid with Pirelli National Superstock 1000 and 600 title-winners Keith Farmer and Ryan Vickers joining Tyco BMW and RAF Regular & Reserves Kawasaki respectively.
The Championship maintains its position as the biggest motorsport series in the UK and will continue its unrivalled live coverage on Eurosport UK throughout 2019 with over 100 hours of live coverage broadcast over the season.
In addition to Eurosport broadcasts across 54 European countries, in 20 different languages, with a potential cumulative reach of 231 million households across Eurosport 1 and Eurosport 2, four rounds will be on free-to-air Quest including this weekend’s season opener at Silverstone. This will be further boosted by the hour-long highlights programme the week following the event on ITV4.
For more information on the Bennetts British Superbike Championship visit www.britishsuperbike.com
“At Silverstone it was the first time I rode in the cooler conditions with that bike which was different for me, and I think in general we had a good feeling. I had a great reception from the fans and I can’t wait to get back there for more this weekend; we still have a lot of work to do with the new bike but I am quite comfortable and feeling good.
“This will be the first BSB race for me so I’m interested to see how it pans out and I am looking forward to getting back battling for podiums again – I am excited and ready to get tucked in there!
“I of course have a target on my back as everyone wants to beat me, that’s for sure. But that is the same for everyone, it doesn’t bother me though as I am ready to just get stuck in!
“This weekend I want to see improvements, do my best, get stuck in and at the end of the weekend to win a race or two would be amazing. We are in a good position to be fighting for them and I am ready to get on it!”
Xavi Forés – Honda Racing
“Finally it is Round 1 this weekend – it feels like it has been a very long winter and I am ready! We had a very good final test at Silverstone last week and we have made a great improvement with the Fireblade.
“The last time I rode Silverstone was 2011, but it was on the GP circuit, so I had some time to adjust to the shorter layout. At the start I was missing some reference points with braking and getting on the gas, but towards the end of the day we had improved and were constantly on the pace.
“During the final session I went out on a new tyre and was doing a flying lap, but had a big highside and nearly crashed, so I decided to finish the day and not risk anything a week before the race. The Fireblade is working really well and I know we have a good base setting for the race weekend.
“A huge thanks to the team for all their hard work getting us to where we are now, I am looking forward to my first BSB and can’t wait to experience the weekend.”
Jason O’Halloran – McAMS Yamaha
“The testing has gone really well pre-season and it was nice to get back to familiar territory last week at Silverstone. I felt in a good place after riding in all conditions there and you never know what will happen until the first race, but we start in a strong place and I am feeling confident and that is all we can ask for at this point. I have to say though I like the feeling of being on top of the timesheets so far!
“I do feel more confident starting this season than I have in the past and also more relaxed because I am satisfied with what we have achieved so far in testing.
“We are turning up this weekend ready to put our best foot forward; you certainly don’t forget the feeling of being on top, but once you are there you want to keep it. That’s the mind set – I want to be first not second.”
Glenn Irwin – Quattro Plant JG Speedfit Kawasaki
“I feel really revved up for the weekend. It’s been clear to see that testing didn’t always go completely to plan after Spain, but we had some good areas to work on and the team have done a great job and after the Silverstone test we have a clear direction of what comes next.
“I definitely have a fire burning in my belly as where we were on the timesheets in testing is not where we are and as a team we are ready to come out fighting this weekend.
“I don’t think being in the championship-winning team from last year brings any more pressure; I think that is more on the riders who have stayed with the same team. I am feeling good and ready for the weekend now.”
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