Bennetts British Superbike Championship
There is nothing more exciting than the Bennetts British Superbike Championship, so-called due to the sponsor’s name. Often referred to as the British Superbike Championship - (BSB) for short - fans will know it as the UK’s major road racing event for domestic superbikes, recognised as a premier sports event the world over.
Managed by MotorSport Vision Racing (MSVR), this tremendous racing series comprises twelve events that run from April through to October on the superbike calendar. The final three rounds include the top six riders. Referred to as the Showdown, the championship is finished in this way to ensure that a single rider does not end up with a runaway win.
This championship event dates back to 1988. It began with 750cc bikes that met Formula 1 regulations. This continued until 1993 when superbike guidelines took over. It didn’t take long for the BSB racing series to amass a huge following and in 2009, 368,000 people visited BSB events throughout the UK.
By 2010, the BSB Privateers Cup was superseded by the Evolution Class. MSVR put rules in place, dictating that engines would have to conform to stock regulations. In addition, an ECU-specified control device became compulsory, preventing traction and launch control as well as anti-wheelie mechanisms.
Competition point scoring
It was essential to get the rules for the Bennetts British Superbike Championship clear and suitable for the sport. One of the biggest rule changes to date has been splitting the competition into two sections, similar to those used in the USA for automobile racing. The initial nine meetings make up the main season with the final three concluding in the showdown.
As for point scoring, the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) system is used, giving 25 marks for the winner and just one point for the 15th. Come the end of the season, riders discount their worst scores and the first six become the Title Fighters, going forward into the final three events. Those that don’t get selected for this very special group of six go forward for the BSB Riders' Cup.
In 2012, MSVR made further changes to the regulations as a way of making the championship even more exciting. From now on, only 32 entries were allowed, consisting of sixteen two-bike teams. 2014 saw the playoff bonus points system upgraded and in 2021, further adjustments were made to the playoff, enabling eight riders (not six) to participate.
The BSB is now recognised worldwide as the UK’s leading domestic bike championship. To date, it has produced some of the most talented and sought-after riders as well as teams, famed throughout the international racing scene. It is known globally as one of the most popular domestic motorcycle championships. Its amazing success has been accredited to the nail-biting racing techniques of these elite riders. Year after year fans are treated to exhilarating and spine-tingling action thanks to the skills displayed by each team. As an offshoot of this, BSB has also developed a reputation for creating some of the top names in this sport.
The riders and their bikes
For those of you looking to experience the world of BSB for the first time, look out for famous names such as Leon Haslam, Jason O’Halloran, Lee Jackson, Tarran Mackenzie, Christian Iddon, Jack Kennedy, Kyle Ryde, Glenn Irwin, and Josh Brookes to name just a few.
And of course, no rider would be complete without an amazing superbike racing motorcycle. Created from standard production models, it was not unknown in the past for manufacturers to look for loopholes in the specification rules, enabling them to produce unique motorbikes made only for superbike racing.
The Bennetts BSB bikes boast an impressive power output of 190-210BHP and can achieve speeds of over 200mph, which is an event to behold, and a stunning crowd-pleaser. First-time viewers of the BSB races are constantly treated to a spectacle with a thrilling and electric atmosphere, with riders making sure to display the highest amount of acceleration possible from the starting line, getting up close and personal with each other as they vie for peak position.
In addition to the famed Superbike Championship, we also have another leading support category, consisting of the Pirelli National Superstock 1000 Championship. This entails 'nearly road legal' bikes being put through their paces by skilled riders and amazing crowds with their outstanding performances. Recent events have included the Isle of Man TT races as well as the International North West 200 in Ireland.
Fans of the BSB think nothing of travelling around the UK to attend these spectacular events, something very deserving of the riders who go all out to push themselves and their bikes to the limit, never forgetting that they are performing for the entertainment of the massive crowds at the circuits. The championship draws over 55,000 spectators at various events throughout the year, with a TV audience of just under 7.5 million viewers and 350 hours of TV coverage. Additionally, the series has a publication outlet in over 200 magazines and papers, as well as live coverage on Eurosport HD and repeats throughout the week on ITV2/ITV4.
For those who would like to begin experiencing the thrill of BSB racing, venues are spread throughout the UK and include the following circuits:
Adored by fans for its famous Craner Curves, this is an internationally renowned circuit that hosts key events, including the premier FIM Superbike World Championship. Fans will not hesitate to confirm that this is an unmissable event, spanning the whole weekend. It is one not to be missed so get it marked on your bike-racing calendar now.
For newcomers, it’s important to locate the best viewing point. This has to be the Knickerbrook stand, which gives unrivalled views of what is one of the UK’s most impressive racing circuits. The track’s corners point to the history of the track, a good example being Old Hall – named after Oulton Hall, which used to stand at the rear of the circuit’s first turn.
Mention Cadwell Park and followers will immediately mention the Mountain. Even the most experienced riders can struggle to tackle this section in the right way. Every person that has ridden this track has longed to leap off the Mountain section, astounding the crowd and gaining rapturous applause.
With Brands Hatch comes the famous Paddock Hill Bend. Rightly named one of motorsport's most dangerous black spots for accidents, making it out of this blind bend cleanly takes mighty talent.
As we have seen, in the world of sports, BSB is regarded as one of the most thrilling championships to take place worldwide. It comes with the full package, including stunning venues, passionate fans and riders that display unsurpassed skills.