Monday, October 12, 2009

BSB End of Season Roundup

With the British Superbike Championship finishing in autumnal scenes at Oulton Park, let's have a look at how some of the top names performed over the course of the season.

Leon Camier - BSB Champion
Even if you chopped him in half at the waist, he'd still be one of the tallest racers in the paddock, but he's damn quick nonetheless. Camier's record of 19 wins in a season blew away Niall MacKenzie's previous record of 13 wins, and will probably stand either until BSB has 50 races per season, or until Ducati are allowed to dictate their own rules again. Terrible starts followed by scything through the field were the order of the day, nearly every day. Needed a masterclass in flag rules from the marshals after failing to stop when there was a teeny bit of smoke coming out of his bike, but apart from that and a couple of erratic races at Croft and Silverstone, the big lad was head and shoulders above the other riders. (Head, shoulders, hips and knees above Stuart Easton.)

James Ellison - Runner up
The Kendal Beefcake had a pretty good year, getting closer and closer to his lanky team-mate as the season wore on and ending up right on the pace. There's not that much to say about a guy who was there or thereabouts all the time but rarely challenged his title-winning team-mate for victories. He certainly did well enough to bag a good ride for next season, though.

Stuart Easton - 3rd
The BSB paddock's answer to Dani Pedrosa romped away with the Stihl award for leading into turn one in more races than anyone else, winning a chainsaw among other things. Presumably the little baby-faced Scotsman, who doesn't look a day over 12, had to show ID before being allowed to play with power tools. He got his Honda off the line like there was a rocket up it, and won a couple of races towards the end of the year. After flattering to deceive in years past, he seems to have clicked with the Hydrex Honda team and is now one of the big shots.

Josh "Bowling Ball" Brookes - 4th
Brookesy has his own way of making friends and influencing people. Poor Sylvain Guintoli was left sitting in hospital, sticking pins into a voodoo doll after being torpedoed by the fast but erratic Aussie on the way to the grid at Donington. However, rumours abound that his HM Plant Honda team staged a cover-up after realizing that Brookes's brakes failed... Still, he was given a second chance, which he seized with both hands, bowling a clean strike when he took out virtually the entire field at Mallory Park. Strictly speaking, he only hit the leader, but the oil and carnage caused everyone else to fall off down to about 12th position. The race win was awarded by Race Director Stuart Higgs to a baffled Leon Camier on the grounds that he hadn't had a chance to fall off yet when the red flags flew, leading to comical scenes as various team bosses surrounded Higgs like hungry hyaenas. A judiciously acquired injury forced Brookes to sit out most of his resulting ban, but he remained fast and unpredictable when he returned. Probably the only rider who could pick up a 7-10 split with a bike.

Sylvain Guintoli - 8th
The likeable and charming Frenchman looked like being the only rider who could give Camier much of a challenge at the start of the season, until it was all ended with a broken frog's leg at Donny. He was starting to get back to form at the end of the season, but the year has basically been a write-off. He should be back on the Worx Suzuki next year for another go, and will be hoping that Josh "Bouncing Bomb" Brookes bags a ride in World Supersport or something.

Karl Harris - 11th
The burly Yorkshireman must have been hewn from granite. The last race meeting proved this when he tangled with Tommy Hill and bounced through a gravel trap into a tyre wall. He was knocked out, but nobody was at all surprised to find him back in the paddock the next day (albeit battered and bruised and banned from riding due to a concussion.) Not a great year for Karl, with Hydrex showing him the door due to poor results, but he's made of strong stuff and will be back again for more.

Tommy Hill - 14th
Only a partial season for Tommy "Super Sub" Hill as he lost his WSBK ride early on and ended up deputising for Guintoli at Worx Suzuki then replacing Harris at Hydrex Honda. However, he was another rider who got faster and faster as the season progressed, and ended up battling at the front in the final races at Oulton. This has pushed his stock value up hugely, and he's one of the big fish in the BSB pond as the team bosses try to poach next year's riders.

Michael Rutter - 16th
A ridiculous season from the veteran rider saw him ride Yamaha, Honda, Suzuki and Ducati bikes at various points. He had a couple of decent results, particularly with Worx Suzuki as one of the Guintoli replacements, but this year will be remembered for his full house of manufacturers.

GSE Airwaves Yamaha - Championship winning team.
They started the season with fairly stock bikes, which many people took to mean as similar to a dodgy Superstock bike with full race swing arm, cams, pistons, conrods and traction control, as the Airwaves Yams certainly didn't appear to be 30bhp down on the opposition when they were clearing off into the distance. Anyway, they cleaned up the championship thanks to Camier's great performance. Team Boss Colin Wright should also win an award for the most number of times someone embarrassed Eurosport's Tony Carter on live TV, topping it off with a comical "I love you, Tony" at Oulton, that left the ginger presenter speechless for almost a whole second (the longest silence from him all year.) GSE's usual rivals HM Plant Honda were left looking like a bunch of amateurs in comparison, and it was the smaller Hydrex Honda and Worx Suzuki teams that provided the opposition, though neither could keep up the momentum all season long. GSE are now claiming that they might pull out of BSB, but as they've cried wolf about a million times in the last 2 years, who knows?

BSB has had a mixed season this year. Leon Camier legged it with the title before everyone else had woken up, leading to some boring races. However, the season ended very strongly with Ellison, Easton, Hill, Brookes and Guintoli all looking quick. It bodes well for next year.

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