MOST EYES ARE FIRMLY FIXED ON THE SUPERBIKE CLASS BUT THERE'S A WHOLE HOST OF TALENT SHINING BRIGHT IN THE SUPPORT CLASSES, WHERE SKILLS ARE HONED AND THE BATTLES ARE FIERCE.
The support classes for the Bennetts British Superbike Championship are packed with talent at both ends of the age scale and 2021 sees the talent level rise even further with both new and familiar names completing the rosters of each championship. Champions either stay to defend their titles or take the opportunity to move on and in 2021 the majority of champions will be looking to make waves in another series within the paddock, which can only enhance the experience they've already gained. The support classes provide some of the most exciting racing across the BSB weekend and this season has the potential to be the most competitive yet across all of the championships.
Arguably the most entertaining support class of 2020 was the Pirelli National Superstock 1000 Championship, which for this season has been simply renamed the Pirelli National Superstock Championship while the Pirelli National Superstock 600 Championship becomes the Pirelli Junior Superstock Championship. The Road to MotoGP returns as the Honda British Talent Cup continues to unearth the stars of the future along with the HEL Performance Junior Supersport championship. The middleweight Quattro Plant British Supersport Championship rightly loses its dominant champion to BSB so who will triumph this year? What of the prototypes? The GP2s are growing year on year and this season should see the tightest battle so far.
Geordie maths teacher Chrissy Rouse returns to defend his National Superstock crown after an unsuccessful attempt to secure a competitive British Superbike ride. Rouse will campaign a STAUFF Fluid Power Kawasaki ZX-10RR for GR Motosport against a field that boasts series champions and race winners from Superstock, Supersport and British Superbikes. The list of protagonists in the class for 2021 is stronger than ever; former champions Taylor Mackenzie and Keith Farmer, Alex Olsen, the Neave twins, Fraser Rogers, former Supersport champion Billy McConnell, testing sensation Luke Hedger and Lewis Rollo all line up to take the fight to the champion.
Bournemouth Kawasaki's BSB race winner Luke Mossey joins the series after a difficult British Superbike campaign alongside a host of talent that includes a returning double British Champion, Jordan Weaving, TT star Ian Hutchinson, Antipodean quartet Brayden Elliott, Levi Day, Damon Rees and Shane Richardson plus the young guns Ben Luxton, Joe Sheldon-Shaw, TJ Toms, Richard Kerr and Tom Ward to name but a few, all looking to make their mark in the championship. It all adds up to a thrilling season in prospect.
In the Pirelli Junior Supersport class it's all to play for after 2020 champion Ben Luxton moved on to National Superstock at the end of the season. The class has been vital in the career development of riders such as Jake Dixon, Lee Jackson, Tarran Mackenzie, Kyle Ryde, Joe Francis and Rory Skinner and remains a breeding ground for future talent. Luxton's former teammate at JR Performance, Joe Talbot, will be amongst the favourites from the opening round as will Zach Corderoy, who took four podiums on the way to third in the championship last season. Talbot's teammate, Liam Delves along with Simon Reid, and James Alderson, will all be battling for the podium places from the opening round.
To compliment their Supersport squad, the Appleyard Macadam team have this season launched their academy to develop talent in the Junior Superstock class and this season Jack Nixon and Charlie Farrer will benefit from Appleyard's extensive knowledge and experience. Bolstering the Junior Superstock entry list are two of the stars of the British Talent Cup and Junior Supersport in the shape of champions, Franco Bourne and Owen Jenner, who line up on the grid alongside fellow rookies Seth Crump, and FS-3 Racing's Max Cook who returns from two years in Spain with the CEV Junior Talent Team and contesting the Red Bull Rookies Cup.
In the Quattro Plant British Supersport and GP2 championship, the series retains a host of talent despite the departure of champion, Rory Skinner and runner-up Brad Jones to the superbike class but welcomes the return of multiple champion, Jack Kennedy. The welcome addition of the Dynavolt Triumph duo of Daytona 200 winner and former British MotoStar champion, Brandon Paasch and former World Supersport campaigner, Kyle Smith to take the fight to the imperious Appleyard Macadam squad. The Truimph team are shouldering the development work of new regulations governing the Triumph 765 in conjunction with WorldSBK technical supremo Scott Smart to enable the British manufacturer to compete on a par with the 600cc 4-cylinder Supersport machines.
Brad Perie and Rhys Irwin form the new dynamic duo for the Keighley-based Appleyards squad while young guns Harry Truelove, Scott Swann and Korie McGreevey, will all be in the mix. Roads starlet James Hind enters the fray and the experienced Ben Currie also returns to the Gearlink fold alongside Eunan McGlinchey. The GP2 class will be a battle for honours between reigning champion Mason Law and young pretender Charlie Nesbitt, with Cameron Horesman, Dan Jones, Jack Scott and Jake Archer all having their say this season.
The challenge for the HEL Performance Junior Supersport crown is wide open for 2021, after the departure of two of the main men from last year in Jenner and Crump. Ash Barnes, Brody Crockford, Osian Jones, Lewis Jones, and James McManus along with a trio of lady racers in Chloe Jones, Annabel Thomas and Katie Hand will all be battling for honours. The Honda British Talent Cup provided some incredible racing in 2020 and 2021 is likely to be more of the same as the roster of talent expands again with a host of names new to the class as well as continued campaigners. Evan Belford returns as do Harrison Crosby and James Cook to follow in the tyre tracks of Max Cook, Scott Ogden and Eddie O'Shea to take on all-comers for the chance to progress to the Junior Talent Team in the Spanish CEV championship.
Finally, the Ducati Performance TriOptions Cup returns once again with champion Josh Day aiming to keep hold of his crown as Elliott Pinson, Craig Neve and Dragon Racing pair Matt and Dave Jones look to take the fight to the dominant Day. Hot on the heels of John McGuinness, another big name joins the fray for 2021 in the shape of Chris 'Stalker' Walker. The four-time BSB bridesmaid moves on from his foray into three wheels to return to two and rest assured he won't be there just to make up the numbers...
There's an absolutely fantastic season of racing ahead.