Sunday, April 20, 2008

British Superbike - it didn't snow

After the disappointment of the first round of British Superbike being postponed due to snow (check out the utterly bizarre pictures of Brands Hatch buried in the white stuff), it was great to watch round two play out at Thruxton today.

So what did we learn?

Cal Crutchlow really IS that talented: His debut season was on the Rizla Suzuki, a device invented with the sole purpose of turning kick-ass riders into also-rans. Despite this, he showed flashes of promise. Now that he's on the HM Plant Honda, it's clear he's a race winner. This is best exemplified by the fact he won a race...

Holy cow, Michael Rutter, you're not as over-the-hill as you seem: Rutter is probably benefitting in the same way that Max Biaggi and Ruben Xaus are in World Superbikes, by being on the 1200cc Ducati before regulation changes slow it down, as they inevitably will. Still, he spanked Leon Camier in race one, even though Camier is on the bigger budget and de-facto "factory" Airwaves Ducati.

Karl Harris isn't done yet: It appeared as though Harris was on a downward slide, having lost his factory Honda ride at the end of 2006, and then being booted by the privateer Hydrex Honda squad following an average 2007 season. However, he's adapted well to the Rob McElnea-run Yamaha, and if hadn't been for the fact he was bitch-slapped by Tom Sykes' flying Suzuki in race two, he could have placed very well. Nice that we'll have an additional "win-capable" rider challenging Airwaves and HM Plant every race.

We don't really miss Stobart: The loss of the Paul Bird Motorsport Stobart Honda team to World Superbikes might have been more keenly-felt if it wasn't for the fact that other teams seem to be in with a shout, chiefly Rutter's NW200 team and Harris' Yamaha squad.

Are the Leons feeling the pressure?: Neither Leon Camier nor Leon Haslam looked quite as sparkly as they should have done today. Haslam has probably got the best bike but seemed to be outridden by his team-mate Crutchlow, whilst the promise shown by Camier last year that should be fulfilled by being on one of the top two bikes has not yet been.

Watanabe, whatalearningcurve: Atsushi Watanabe doesn't yet look like the superstar that Ryuichi Kiyonari was. In fact he looked like a bit of a rookie, being bashed around by BSB mid-pack regulars. The fact he's on the Suzuki probably isn't helping, but they're the cards he's been dealt. I'd like to think he'll adjust quickly, along the lines of Kiyo in WSBK this year.

This should be a great year: I was concerned that losing Stobart, Kiyo, Lavilla and Walker would seriously detract from the championship. It looks like I needn't have worried.

No comments: