It took some time for the game to understand that they are stuck in the sports business, motorcycle “toy” included.
However, those watching the 12-lap MotoGP “smart” in Argentina at the weekend must admit that they are watching incredibly exciting stuff – aggressive as it was – the action is certainly capable of attracting new and younger audiences.
The British Superbike Championship, which had already gone way with the ‘showdown’ and now a new points system designed to keep momentum throughout the series, kicks off at Silverstone this weekend.
There’s no denying that last year produced some of the wildest rides of any series, an approach that may not appeal to everyone, especially some older hands.
Not an old hand by any means, but certainly an expert, BSN asked James Whitham what he thinks about sprints and, perhaps more importantly, who should be making a splash in BSB 2023;
“Knowing the races are exciting and I think it has worked both in the Superbike world, which is where they have tried it, and it is really good in MotoGP. It was seen by some as a gimmick and traditionalists did not like it. I know people said it was an art, but it worked really well for both series.
“I read that Formula One was thinking of taking it over but it seemed that I had some business in Melbourne accused of turning a serious sport into showbiz through the much acclaimed Netflix promotion that will bring more F1 races to the US.
“Well, there’s quite a lot that I’ve done in the world championship, certainly in Europe, which comes from America. They’re very successful in that they’re trying to make it more spectacular than the traditional genre that we’re stuck with here.
“It is likely that America will be more important for MotoGP and it is rumored that Dorna will try to market itself with a new top market outside of the US.
“They’re definitely becoming more global and realizing how important marketing and media are. A motorcycle racer with one or two exceptions, especially the TT, is never very good at it. it seems useful. “
“I do – they sell something and it’s a great career. But there are things that I still miss about MotoGP in terms of sport.
“Not the running but the saturation of the classes and everything else that I think creates a few problems for him. The curriculum is clear, though and in that respect there is a lot to sell.”
“Just moved on to what’s up this weekend at Silverstone with British Superbikes. How fun is it to go and just kick off the rumor of Paul Bird Motorsport – what are you doing with the new signings Glenn Irwin and Tommy Bridewell? It seems the team has had a lot of good help from this year as well…
“Well, for the first time, I’m really pleased that Paul Avis is still passionate about his team. A couple of years ago, when his son Frankie was racing cars at a reasonable level, everyone thought it was a matter of time before Paul collected his toys and helped the boy to four-wheel racing fodder. If so, that would be really sad, I really love Paul – some do, some don’t!
“But the BSB fodder needs someone like him. Once you’ve lost a couple of people like Paul, it starts to look a little amateurish, which it isn’t. And yet he was truly pleased with the complex, yet great and greater.
“In terms of how well the BEERMONSTER Ducati will do, I think it’s really quite good. I think he feels he doesn’t have the support from Ducati that he deserves and the machines that BSB needs to win. Two things are different in the comparison of BSB with WorldSBK where Ducati are the dominant force: Number one, the rules, especially electronic, and number two, the circuit.
“In a lot of circuits like Cadwell, Knockhill, Oulton and such, do you need 260hp? You don’t do it enough. And Ducati put themselves in and give them a lot of trick stuff that they developed for WorldSBK, they don’t need to give it to give them a big advantage in other series.
“That said, a little factory support from the leadership is always good. They are very savvy people, lateral calculations and seem to be able to work their way around regulations legally and quickly better than anyone else.
What are you doing with the new knights?
I think his knights got two good blodes. My opinion Glenn Irwin it is very good. I finished last year really well and started off really well. Even after breaking his brakes in a practice accident, he won three races at Silverstone – incredible as the Honda engine was quite new – and finished the year as well as anyone. So good choice for me.
Tommy Bridewell? Well, everyone loves Tommy because he’s quirky, a typical English loon really. And you don’t think about it like that. But he is also extremely talented when things fall into place.
“When he’s got things going he can do them. Like Oulton Park two years ago when everyone was just smoking. Managing him properly and keeping him happy is the key to him being a championship threat.
“They’ve got a couple of good riders and it looks like they’ve got a bike that’s going to be pretty good. Hats off to em.”
Paul doesn’t seem too enthusiastic about his ride last year. What’s your opinion of that? “
“There aren’t many reasons why riders don’t do it. Motorcycle racing is dangerous, and you know that when you sit on your motorcycle and you can’t do what you want or you want to give yourself up for whatever reason.
“It can also happen that you don’t make the right steps. If you were a footballer, it would be that you don’t like a certain crowd or a certain pitch. And with motorbike racing you know that if you get it wrong it’s going to hurt badly. So it’s a small thing that you’re not lucky to make a big difference He can never say that he is not looking for a passenger, he is looking for any passenger, but he does not have what he needs at that time.
“Tom is back in a very competitive championship and he hasn’t been racing in places for 13 years. There is no question about his ability, but maybe he didn’t like to turn one with 15 other riders all fighting on the same tarmac! WHO? A lot of riders don’t go back to the national championship they want after they are in the world championship.
“Josh Brookes he was, I believe, in a bad way. We’ll see if he can get around on the new bike but we think we’ll have to leave whether Paul wants to keep him or not. He had to leave and get on another bike. He needs to find out whether it’s just coming to the end of a great life or something with the bike and I think this year will be the key for him to find where he is going to be a person or a rider. And that is enough.
“Do you think part of the reason why he’s going to TT again is that I don’t think it’s to make his beautiful wife Aimee very happy?”
“TT is TT. I like it, I like it. I did it. I know what to do mentally. And I think if you want to do it and you are in it fully, but not only for the money that is wrong to do it, good on yer. More power to you!
“They are ski jumping, climbing, challenging and slightly dangerous. If you want to do it, do it well. If Josh does it the right way, great. He was really good there, and always looked good and always enjoyed it. And he made a lap at that Norton show. I took my hat off to him. “
Josh will, of course, also be at Silverstone with the FHO Racing team. Do you think BMWs will be competitive with the Duke or Yamaha?
“To be fair, BMW have been more competitive over the years in BSB than they have in the Superbike world, but the rules are very different.
“I think it’s great, but they were more successful here maybe because the courses are very different in WorldSBK. But I hope so. And we must not forget that the team is stronger this year and Peter Hickmannthe best all rounder in the UK, he will be the man to beat in the TT and the North West.
“Finally, outside of the PBM team, who will be competing for the championship in the final round at Brands Block?”
“It will be for me.” Jason O’Halloran. Here’s the front run, there’s no doubting how good the Yamaha is, even though it’s not the best run of all. And the family Tim Neave not yet fast enough to race. Christian Idon let it go somewhere near the front. This is hard work and the Oxford Ducati products that Tommy rode last year will be working with him.
“My horse would be dark.” Andrew Irwin. Yes, he is aggressive, but he has a lot of potential and I think he will be happy to return to Honda. He has come on the bike a lot and I have a feeling about him and he can run a lot closer to the front than he did a year ago.
“There must be a big shout out for FS-3 Racing.” Max Cook that’s a big deal coming from Junior Stock to Superbike, but boss Nigel Snook did a great job with Rory Skinner last year.
“He will be a great rider and winner Lee Bob Jackson who constantly amazes me with his ability to run ahead. I don’t think he can do it, but I hope he can and the team.
“The BMW team has it hicky who is always good and in the top five or six and now Jos can become so. Danny Buchan he is with Synetics and quick, especially at Knockhill, but he can feed the game.
“But certainly they are not the least” kyle ryde and Ryan Vickers In the LAMI OMG Yamaha, he is doing very well in the test, and he is very talented in the championship. That is enough of a constancy, and would give me much pleasure, if he had won, the heart says so, the head denies.
And certainly Leon HaslamThe best person we’ve ever brought out at home, he runs the ROKiT BMW team. Not to be let go.’