I’m a getting concerned right now at the future of the Supersport classes. It often provides the best racing of a weekend in WSB, and nearly every weekend in BSB. However, with only MV Agusta and Yamaha bringing out ‘new’ Supersports machines, and not much else on the horizon, there’s a limit to how long it can go on.
Upon moonlighting at a BSB round earlier in the year, I was astonished to see just how old many of these bikes were. Look under the flashy fairings, especially the more private affairs, and you see some serious race mileage on them. Which is why you see this Spirit creation from Tony Scott, in the hands of Alastair Seeley, doing the odd round in the British series. Unable to score official points, the bike has done quite well. With a gently fettled Triumph 675 engine in a Moto2 style chassis, and Seeley at the helm, it quite rightly should be doing good things. So, what’s the problem?
The problem for me, is that the Moto2 route is being mooted in the UK, but unless Stuart Higgs and his bunch work miracles, I can’t see how it’s sustainable or even viable. The Spirit itself, were you to buy one, is about the same price as a Ducati Superleggera! Never mind budget for the rest of the year, crash damage on so on.
Okay, you could make it a one engine class and put financial limits on the chassis side of things to severely reduce costs, but over in my GP paddock Moto2 was supposed to do the same thing – yet by the end of the first year, the top teams had spent nearly half as much as they ever had on the ‘expensive’ Aprilia RS250s, and the costs in Moto2 have done nothing but go up ever since. This cannot happen in BSB.
The simple truth is that right now, more than half the current Supersport grid could not afford to race for an entire season even if it was a ‘budget’ Moto2 series. Again, I’ve come to expect miracles from Higgs and Co, and they may yet surprise me, but I’ve another worry – the racing in Moto2 just isn’t often very good.
We’ve been lucky this year as we’ve had three close and interesting Moto2 races, including Aragon. But over the past few seasons these are few and far between, and I desperately don’t want one of the most entertaining classes to end up being the same the world over. When it comes to production based series, I honestly think it should remain as such. Yes, a naked class has been mooted, but I believe there’s another option.
Ducati make the Panigale 959, MV the F3 800 and Suzuki the GSX-R750 (I hear a new version is coming). Then there’s rumours of a 765 Daytona, given the engine slots nicely into the current 675 chassis. That’s up to four bikes, all with similar performance traits. Make this the new Supersport class, and I’d bet you’d see a return of the 750 bikes from some manufacturers like Kawasaki and Yamaha. It’d almost be forcing manufacturers’ hands, but there are plenty of sportsbike buyers out there who don’t want a 600 or litre bike, but something in between. Yes, as always I’m dreaming, but I’m also convinced I’m right and it should keep those close, hard fought battles alive and kicking too – who’s in?!