WSBK » Ben Bostrom
After being a pre-season title favourite, Ben Bostrom finished just 5th in the 2002 WSBK championship - and failed to win a single race - following a mystifying loss of performance which he has arguably never recovered from.
California native Bostrom began riding at age four aboard a Honda Z50 and he's been riding motorcycles ever since. After years of learning to ride dirt track at venues such as the merciless Lodi Cycle Bowl in California, Bostrom turned professional in 1992 at the age of 17.
That year he hit the AMA dirt track series and earned Rookie of the Year honours. By 1995 Bostrom was road racing and in 1996 doing it quite well. He won five AMA SuperTwins finals, and was barely beaten for the championship. He also finished fourth in 600 Supersport competition that year.
After another successful year as a privateer, Bostrom stepped up to the factory Honda team in 1998, and what a year it was. He piloted his RC45 to the Superbike championship, finishing outside the top five only twice.
The following year, Bostrom left the Honda team for Ducati, but failed to repeat as AMA Superbike champion. However, he won both legs of the U.S. round of FIM World Superbike Championship at Laguna Seca Raceway, and that attracted the European scouts.
In 2000 Bostrom travelled to Europe and competed in the World Superbike ranks for the factory Ducati outfit, finishing an impressive seventh overall in his first season.
But it was during 2001 that BB really became one the leading lights of the championship - winning six races and claiming an additional three podiums to finish third in the standings, behind only Troy Bayliss and Colin Edwards, after a brilliant second half of the season.
As such, BB was a clear title contender for 2002 but - to the mystery of just about everyone - he would claim just one podium finish on the way to fifth overall. Those results cost him his factory Ducati ride and, after three years of spanning the globe in WSBK, he accepted an offer to return to the US to race a Honda in the AMA SBK championship for 2003 - a series he'd previously won in 1998 - but maintained he had unfinished business in WSBK.
Bostrom would finish fourth in both the 2003 and 2004 AMA Superbike championships, with Honda, but - despite regular podium appearances - was never a serious championship contender against Mat Mladin and Suzuki and decided to mount a popular WSBK return for 2005.
Bostrom signed for the Renegade Koji Honda team - which had been a championship contender with Noriyuki Haga and Ducatis in 2004 - but a late deal saw Bostrom start the season with virtually no testing and he never really caught up.
BB showed occasional signs of his old speed, but his Fireblade all too often looked 'nervous' and hard to ride. Bostrom also suffered a back injury during a one-off BSB debut at Silverstone later in year and would eventually end a disappointing year with a best finish of sixth, on his way to just 14th in the WSBK championship.
With few top WSBK seats available for 2006, Ben returned to AMA Superbike to ride a factory Ducati alongside Neil Hodgson.
1992: AMA Dirt Track 'Rookie of the Year'.
1992: 6th AMA 600 Dirt Track.
1994: 14th AMA 600 Dirt Track.
1995: 7th AMA Super Twins (Rookie road racing year).
1995: 9th AMA National 883 Dirt Track.
1996: 2nd AMA Super Twins.
1996: 4th AMA Supersport Championship.
1997: 2nd AMA 750 Supersport Championship.
1997: 12th AMA 600 Supersport Championship.
1997: 16th AMA Superbike Championship.
1998: AMA Superbike Champion.
1999: 2nd AMA Superbike Championship.
2000: 7th World Superbike Championship - Ducati Infostrada.
2001: 3rd World Superbike Championship - L&M Ducati.
2002: 5th World Superbike Championship - L&M Ducati.
2003: 4th AMA Superbike Championship – American Honda.
2004: 4th AMA Superbike Championship – American Honda.
2005: 14th World Superbike Championship – Renegade Koji Honda.