Friday, October 17, 2008

BSB: HM Plant Goes All Aussie For 2009

HM Plant Honda will field two Australians in the 2009 British Superbike championship: Glen Richards and Josh Brookes.

There are two big teams in BSB that have won the last few championships between them. GSE Airwaves won this year's title with Shakey Byrne on a Ducati, but they are switching to Yamaha bikes next year, and most people expect them to take a few races before they get into the groove. For that reason, HM Plant Honda are favourites for next year's BSB title, so these two Aussies will be expected to win lots of races and challenge for the title.

Glen Richards is a relative veteran, having done well on a Kawasaki in BSB back when that was possible. Last year, he rejuvenated himself by dropping to British Superstock 1000 and winning the title. This year, he moved up to British Supersport 600 and won that title on a Triumph after a season-long battle with the South African Hudson Kennaugh on a Yamaha. There was a massive contrast between the two, with the laid-back, humble, down to earth Aussie becoming hugely popular while the quick but highly-strung, mouthy, bike-blaming South African got up more and more noses as the year went on.

Fans of the theory of karma will be nodding sagely as Richards has bagged the best ride in the paddock while Kennaugh has seemingly had a massive row with his team and disappeared back to Africa. The post-race interviews with Richards gave a lot of chuckles as he gave his rival a bit of needle, but the year will be remembered for an outrageous overtaking move at Oulton Park. Towards the end of a breathtaking last lap, Richards passed Kennaugh around the outside in the move of the season.

Glen Richards has become so popular among BSB fans that you get the feeling there would have been some kind of riot had he not ended up with a good seat on a superbike for next year, but there will be no need for that now.

Josh Brookes is an up and coming Aussie who is currently in third place in the World Supersport championship standings, and still in with a shout of second place. He is obviously very quick as they don't give away top three positions in the WSS championship table free in packets of rice crispies (I've checked.) Brookes made a one-off appearance for HM Plant in the final round of the British Supersport championship at Brands Hatch. He finished third behind Richards and the blindingly fast, but almost wilfully erratic, Steve Plater. That ride seems to have sealed his contract for next year. As Tom Sykes, Leon Haslam and Shane Byrne have shown, winning races and fighting for the BSB title can get you a move to World Superbike. Josh Brookes will surely follow that path over the next couple of years too.

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