By Sandrine Wyrich
With just three rounds of the 2019 Bennetts British Superbike Championship remaining, the paddock heads to Europe and the TT Circuit Assen where the title showdown gets underway.
Now that the riders that will contest in the showdown for the championship crown are confirmed, the title hunt enters its crucial phase.
The final six are the championship leading Ducati trio of Josh Brookes, Scott Redding and Tommy Bridewell alongside Yamaha’s Tarran Mackenzie, Kawasaki’s Danny Buchan and BMW’s Peter Hickman.
Greg Haines, superbike commentator for Eurosport UK, says: “It’s a cliché, but anything really can happen now.”
Current championship leader Josh Brookes (PBM BeWiser Ducati) collected seven wins so far this season and holds a marginal three points lead over his teammate Scott Redding in the table.
Scott Redding (PBM BeWiser Ducati) had an impressive start to his BSB career, taking seven wins in his debut season.
Ducati’s championship domination is completed by Tommy Bridewell (Oxford Racing Ducati) who heads to the Netherlands after having taken his first win of the season at Oulton Park.
It’s been an up and down year for Tarran Mackenzie (McAMS Yamaha). Three podiums, including one win in the opening seven races, were followed by the Scotsman missing two rounds due to injury and scoring only 31 points since.
Danny Buchan (FS-3 Kawasaki) won the first race of his BSB career this season at Knockhill and followed it up with another victory at Cadwell Park.
Peter Hickman (Smiths BMW) had a poor start to the season with only one podium to his name, but fortune was on his side in the showdown decider where his rivals didn’t do enough to overtake him in the standings.
LISTEN to the BSB showdown preview featuring Greg Haines:
Greg says: “There’s different sorts of pressure on people.
“Hickman is the outsider in many ways, he’s got nothing to lose.
“Buchan, they’re really going to be pushing for a good performance next year, but they’ll do what they can this year.
“Mackenzie has been injured a few times this year, so there was a big worry within the team that they might not get into the showdown at all. But now he’s in, he’ll be going for it because he’s a demon when he gets on that bike.
“Bridewell cracked a little bit under pressure earlier this year at certain times, however, this is going to be new territory for that team, they’ve never been in the showdown before.
“And then the favourites, PBM BeWiser Ducati. Brookes knows what he’s doing, about that there is no doubt. Scott Redding has never been in the showdown before, but he knows exactly what he has to do.”
WATCH the Highlights of the final race before the showdown:
Greg expects an exciting end to the season and a vibrant showdown opener in the Netherlands: “The first few races at Assen this weekend are going to be very important psychologically. If someone has a great weekend, the momentum is with them. And of course, if you don’t have a good weekend, that is also going to affect you.
“Right now at Assen, nobody can afford to play the points game. They just have to go hell for leather and win BSB races, so it’s going to be spectacular.”
It’s a fairly open race for the championship, but early favourites can be pointed out says Greg: “I’d be very surprised if a Ducati didn’t win the title.
“They have been the favourites all year, that is definitely the bike of the year and three of the very best riders are on those bikes in two particularly good teams.
“Then again, you just never know. The rider’s emotions are going to be a big part of this too, uncharacteristic errors can happen. And if you look at the points now, it could close up dramatically.”
BSB is becoming increasingly popular with racing fans around the world.
Judith Taylor, a year-long fan of the series, says: “BSB is a lot closer than most other motorsport series. When you watch MotoGP or World Superbikes, you can tell that it will go down between the same two or three riders. BSB is just open, there is about five different guys every weekend that could win.
“Especially since the showdown format has been introduced, the championship has been interesting until the end.”
UK as well as European fans relish the atmosphere around the BSB circuit. Assen, as the only race outside Great Britain, has a special appeal to it.
Josie Martin, Assistant PR at the TT Circuit Assen, says: “Due to the many Brits that come here, it is very enjoyable on the stands and in the paddock. Fans meet each other, have a drink and watch the races together.
“Special is also the accessibility of the event, with an open paddock where you can meet the riders, who walk around and are approachable, for a selfie or an autograph.”
As every season, it is going to be a busy event says Josie: “We hope for the same number of visitors as last year, about 25,000 in the whole weekend.”
FIND the TT Circuit Assen online at https://www.ttcircuit.com/en/
Alongside BSB, there is plenty to look out for in the support classes in Assen.
A lot of the sidecar championship crews made the journey overseas, promising great on-track battles.
Current Motostar leader Brandon Paasch will be looking to extend his championship advantage at Assen and get a hand on the trophy before the series shuts for good at the end of the season.
Every race at Assen is shown live on the Eurosport Player all across the weekend and will also feature on BSB Extra on Monday.
Cover Photo: Sandrine Wyrich