RAC­ING

Hav­ing won his first ma­jor ti­tle Leon Haslam is off to pas­tures new, and his is not the only change in British Su­per­bike…

BIKE (UK) - - CONTENTS -

All change on the British Su­per­bike front, and some good news.

IT FEELS LIKE THE CHANG­ING of the guard at British Su­per­bike. Leon Haslam duly won his first ma­jor ti­tle at the fi­nal round, a mere 21 years af­ter win­ning the British Gil­era Scooter Cham­pi­onship and gets the prize of a sea­son with the fac­tory Kawasaki World Su­per­bike Cham­pi­onship team next sea­son – as Jonny Rea’s team mate. That should be fun. It’s worth not­ing that it was the fac­tory back in Japan who pushed this through. The team were keen on Turk­ish won­der kid To­prak Raz­gatli­oglu but will have to wait an­other year. Think of Leon’s 2019 sea­son back on the world stage, where he fin­ished run­ner-up in 2010, as a re­ward for his heroic per­for­mances at the Suzuka 8 Hours. All he has to do to get a sec­ond year is beat Jonny Rea! And it’s not just the cham­pion who is leav­ing the BSB pad­dock. Jake Dixon, sec­ond this year, is off to Grand Prix to ride Moto2 for As­par. Third and fourth-place fin­ish­ers Glen Ir­win and Josh Brookes, are mov­ing teams leav­ing fifth and sixth-placed Peter Hick­man and Bradley Ray as the only Ti­tle Fight­ers from this year’s Show­down to go into 2019 with the same team and bike as they fin­ished 2018. And there is one great un­known, Shakey Byrne. The six-times cham­pion will know any time now if there’s any chance of him mak­ing a come­back, which isn’t the same thing as ac­tu­ally mak­ing a come­back. He has made a stun­ning re­cov­ery from the mul­ti­ple in­juries sus­tained in a test­ing crash at Snet­ter­ton early in the sea­son but the medics still have to give the all clear, and the like­li­hood is that there will be con­sid­er­ably more re­cov­ery time. As usual there is pre­cious lit­tle sen­ti­ment in­volved in rac­ing, so the PBM team have re­placed Shakey with Motogp man Scott Red­ding. As­sum­ing the V4 Du­cati is sorted, that should be a very in­ter­est­ing com­bi­na­tion. Just to add a bit of spice to the mix, the Moto Rapido Du­cati team and Shakey had an en­ter­tain­ing ex­change on Twit­ter about join­ing forces next sea­son. Don’t write that off as mere stir­ring, any racer forced to re­tire through in­jury has trou­ble deal­ing with it, cham­pi­ons like Byrne more so. They’ll go through phys­io­ther­apy hell to

get back to com­pe­ti­tion but once they’ve proved to them­selves that they can still win, they find it eas­ier to hang up the leathers. Ei­ther way, he will still be in the pad­dock be­cause if he’s not rid­ing Shakey will surely con­tinue with his per­cep­tive anal­y­sis on Eurosport TV.

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