21 March 2007
Q&A: Stuart Higgs, Race Director for BSB.
Stuart Higgs, Race Director for the Bennetts British Superbike Championship is fired up about the season ahead. It is shaping up to be a vintage season in all classes not just Superbike. He spoke to Crash.net Radio about his hopes for this year.
Are you looking forward to the first round of the season at Brands Hatch?
Yeah it is going to be huge. We have kind of flipped it around that the GP circuit is the first round of the championship. Easter weekend is the first kind of wake up call weekend for the racing community. Not with standing World Superbike the week before at Donington, but Easter is the kind of spiritual first weekend of the year.
BSB has been on the up these past few years what is it that is pulling the fans back in?
I think we keep reinventing a product that has got big fan appeal. We've seen a lot of other championships, and to be fair we have seen how they have made some mistakes in terms of distancing the fans from the participants. You can't just make it carte blanc but if you can get the balance right where on a weekend the fans can really identify with their hero's and meet them. Not disrupt them too much, they can be a real part of the show and the riders just love playing to an audience and it compliments each other. That is the secret to its success.
You've a huge depth of field in BSB can you give us a run down on the key players?
It is an incredible mix and it is three distinct categories. There is the established BSB heroes of the last ten years, Michael Rutter, James Haydon, Tommy Hill who is almost like a veteran now in BSB and I'm sure he won't thank me for saying that! We've got those established riders; we've got Chris Walker, hero of the late nineties and the year 2000 coming back. International stars like Ryuichi Kiyonari and Gregorio Lavilla who for sure have world championship ability. Then we have the mix of the new real exciting riders like Cal Crutchlow, Tom Sykes, and Leon Camier who by far are the best riders of their generation. We would have liked to have had Eugene Laverty in there too but he went to GP. That kind of mix, the young riders, the established riders and the old guard is something quite unique to any kind of motorsport and put them together on pretty equal machinery and that is going to be such a dynamic mix.
Supersport has had a shake up as well this year tell us about that?
Absolutely it almost replicates the Superbike category. Everyone thought with the big three or four riders moving out of the class Supersport would be in for a quiet year but quite the reverse has happened. We've seen the new Virgin Media Yamaha team, a big factory Yamaha team in there. We've got TAS Suzuki with Michael Laverty, he has been re-energised. Guy Martin is in there, John McGuinness is there, and we've got the Lowes twins coming up from 125s. So again people are trying to make a name for themselves, people trying to defend their reputations and six manufacturers which is fantastic.
What about the 125 and Superstock classes?
The Bradley Smith story is one that I think everyone wants to follow. There is the link with Dorna MotoGP Academy so the route is there, if you are good enough and young enough, at fourteen of fifteen you can check out early and get into the MotoGP Academy, Spanish Championship, World 125 and you are on your way. Tremendous depth of talent and I've got to say we have some more female riders in there. We've got Nicole McAleer who is just quite and outstanding rider, she brings a new edge and there is Sam Burnham in the Virgin Media Junior team as well, Jenny Tinmouth and Lisa Thorn is putting a programme together again. That has a new edge as well. Superstock had gone crazily international with riders from South Africa, New Zealand, Australia; I think there is an America rider in there, and a Norwegian rider. There are five of six manufacturers, just now we've got MV Agusta coming in, Glenn Richards is coming into the series, a factory Ducati team on the 1098. There are almost too many stories to actually get the message across, we will doing press releases until about August telling everyone what is going to happen! It is going to be good for sure.
If anyone is undecided on whether to attend the first round at Brands Hatch, what would you say to them?
It is not just about race day. Brands is a fantastic party kind of venue just like the World Superbike in August. It is a little bit later Easter this year so I'd say come for the whole weekend, we've organised Pit walks on the Sunday and the Monday, and there are two giant big screens on the south bank so if you get a good spot on the Indy circuit you can see the whole race live and uninterrupted. A full three days of action and it is £25 or thereabouts when booked in advance for the weekend which is phenomenal value.
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