For starters, it would be unfair to start this col­umn with­out giv­ing a nod to Brad Ray – com­ing out of round two with the lead in the cham­pi­onship is be­yond im­pres­sive, even if Byrne equipped with that shiny new swingarm did have the mea­sure in a straight up scrap at Brands. But what can you ex­pect? The kid is still, well, a kid and if his con­fi­dence keeps on build­ing I’m not con­vinced it will be as easy at the end of the year, which is a wor­ry­ing thought for most of the es­tab­lished roy­alty who are hav­ing a real tough time – al­though some­times through no fault of their own.

And with BSB be­ing what it is, even though we’re only at round two ev­ery point and podium credit is vi­tal – mean­ing just one mis­take can cost you a shot at the ti­tle. I hate look­ing at points, but ly­ing out­side the top ten you have gen­uine cham­pi­onship fight­ers and for­mer show­down con­tenders Josh Brookes, James El­li­son, Jake Dixon and Tommy Bridewell – and the list of tal­ent goes all the way up to the likes of Syl­vain Bar­rier, a dou­ble Euro­pean Su­per­stock 1000 champ who hasn’t even bro­ken into the top 15 yet. It’s al­most unfair how ruth­less BSB is yet it does make for some ab­so­lutely stonk­ing rac­ing. But why is every­one strug­gling so much? Is it the tyres? The bikes? The pres­sure? It’s hard to say un­til fur­ther into the sea­son, but it’s look­ing like a mix­ture so far, and with the roller­coaster-es­que race track of Oul­ton Park up next there won’t be any hid­ing a lack of con­fi­dence which is bad news for the likes of Mossey and Brookes, who haven’t quite found their rhythm yet. To make a mark in BSB you have to be in the top six by the end of the year, and now the ice has been bro­ken, the dodgy weather is out the way and every­one has set­tled in, things are go­ing to get even tougher – al­though I re­ally don’t think it will be nor­mal ser­vice re­sum­ing.

And by nor­mal ser­vice, I mean the ‘fac­tory’ teams run­ning away with things, with the likes of Haslam, Shakey and Brookes be­ing at the very sharp end week in, week out. This is be­cause the thing that stuck out the most at the first two rounds is the ap­proach a lot of rid­ers are tak­ing; whereas a few years ago, we knew that four or five guys truly be­lieved they could win, it’s now­more like ten or eleven, and lis­ten­ing to post-race in­ter­views be­ing laden with dis­ap­point­ment at not fin­ish­ing on the top step rather than joy of be­ing on the box only con­firms that the chas­ing pack are hun­grier than ever. Buckle in ladies and gents, be­cause things are go­ing to get tasty…

Brands de­liv­ered first class rac­ing.

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