Not so long ago it would be the Spanish or Italian national anthems we’d hear on the podium at end of a MotoGP or World Superbike race, but last year, it was nice to hear our very own anthem quite few times and see a few of our own lads on the top step.
Who are they?
Well, if don’t already know, we had a World Champion in Moto3 this year. His name is Danny Kent.
The last time the UK produced a motorbike world champion was in 1977, when Barry Sheene claimed his second consecutive title in the 500cc class, riding a Suzuki.
Danny made a great start in the 2015 Moto3 on the Leopard Racing team Honda. Towards the end though he had a few problems, but managed to do enough to hold off some hard-charging competition to eventually take the world title for Moto3.
Next year he’s with the same team in Moto2 – the larger 600cc bikes – having turned down an offer to go straight into MotoGP.
He’ll definitely be the one to watch, alongside the other Brit, Sam Lowes, who also races in Moto2.
Sam, the forever smiling racer, finished well last year with a win and quite a few well-earned podiums. With one season under his belt and getting to grips with his 600cc bike, he’ll definitely be up there at the sharp end this year.
In MotoGP – if you ignored all the shenanigans between Rossi and Marquez – there was a lot going on between the British lads. Bradley Smith on the Monster Tech 3 team Yamaha finished 2nd at the San Marino Grand Prix, with the other British rider, Scott Redding just behind in 3rd.
Smith, Marquez and Redding at San Marino
Bradley or ‘Bradders’ as he is often called, was very consistent throughout the season and finished each of the first twelve races in the top ten places - with two fifth-place finishes being his best result. He was our top finishing rider in 6th place overall, with Cal Crutchlow, who lives on the Isle of Man, in 9th place riding for the LCR Honda team.
It’ll be worth watching both this year to see who finishes top Brit in MotoGP for 2016.
World Superbikes seemed to be the place to wave the Union Jack last year. With most of the top finishers from the United Kingdom. World Champion was Jonathon Rea, (Northern Ireland) on a Kawasaki. Runner-up was Tom Sykes (England) also on a Kawasaki, third place was Chas Davis (Wales) riding a Ducati and fourth, our very own Derbyshire lad, Leon Haslam.
The UK’s Kings of Speed!
Chas Davis with his 1199 Panigale
Rea is a natural on a race bike and is the one to beat; but my tip to watch this year would be Chas Davis on the 1199 Panigale Ducati. He showed great pace and finished well last season with 5 wins and quite a few 2nd and 3rd place podiums too. Look out for him pushing the leaders in 2016.
Our very own British Superbike Championship could be anybody’s choice. They’re all top riders in what some people say is the best and possibly the hardest competition in the world to win.
Josh Brookes won it last year, but the person I’d like to see do well is Jenny Tinmouth – a very competitive woman in a grid dominated by men – who races for the Honda Team. She didn’t have such a good season in 2015, but that was last year! She has competed at the TT and is blisteringly fast. I think she’ll do much better this year.
I hope she does, and continues to improve in 2016.
Team talking - Jenny Tinmouth.
I’ll also be watching James Ellison on the awesome new Kawasaki ZX10R Ninja. It’s the closest stock bike to a factory Kawasaki ever produced. I should imagine James could pretty much ride it straight out of the crate!!
Later in the year it’ll be worth keeping an eye out for James Hillier who’ll probably ride the ZX10R at the Isle of Man. The Honda Fireblade still performs well round the TT circuit with John McGuinness on board, but for 2016 it might the Green Ninja that takes the honours - we’ll see!
Superstock 600 racing can be a bit of a lottery at times. If you can get through the crashes you might stand a chance of winning! It’s full of youngsters who know not the meaning of fear!
This popular class always produces good young talent and many have progressed to Superbike status in the past. Last year’s champion, Mason Law, was consistently strong all year. He joins the newly formed Russo Kawasaki Team in an attempt to retain his title!
However, one of lads I thought rode well at times and finished 3rd in Junior Superstock 600s was Tarran McKenzie. He steps up to 600 Supersport making his debut in the series for 2016.
Also, look out for a big challenge from Prodigy’s Keith Flint. He’ll be back with his team, ‘Traction Control’, and James Westmoreland, who returns to the Supersport 600 class in a strong bid to bag the championship title.
He’ll be one to watch in this very competitive class.
Can you think of any racers who might be worth watching in 2016? Then tell us what you think on Facebook and Twitter!