The long winter break is over... The British Superbike Championship has begun and looks to be one of the most closely contested championships in the series' history.
The rider lineup for this season of BSB must be considered the strongest ever. Shane Byrne returns aboard the PBM Kawasaki and will face strong competition from familar foes. Ryuichi Kiyonari stays with Buildbase BMW, after coming so close to winning the championship last year. Australian Josh Brookes also stays in the BSB paddock aboard the brand new Yamaha R1 and will look to go the step further and take home his first championship. Experienced Cumbrian James Ellison has looked strong in the early part of the season after recovering from a bad injury sustained at the end of last season and will provide strong competition for podiums and race wins throughout the year.
Expect the 2015 champion to come from one of those four riders but the chasing pack are as strong as ever, making finishing in the top ten or the season ending showdown more difficult than it has ever been. Tyco Racing switch to BMW this season and are running experienced former race winners Michael Laverty and Tommy Bridewell. Tommy Hill also returns to the BSB paddock but this time as a manager to a strong rider lineup of the experienced Chris Walker and rising star, Danny Buchan. Honda return to the championship after taking a year out in 2014 and run a three-strong rider lineup of Dan Linfoot, Jason O'Halloran and Jenny Tinmouth. Stuart Easton, Lee Jackson, Peter Hickman, and James Westmoreland add to an already packed grid with ten riders capable of being on the podium at every round of the championship!
The BSB championship rolls into Brands Hatch this weekend and we can't wait for the racing to begin! As far as a prediction goes, it's difficult to look past Shane Byrne for two wins on his home patch.. Expect Kiyo to manage a couple of podium finishes along with Josh Brookes who is still developing the all-new Yamaha R1.