The 2008 season will see the British Superbike Championship enter a new era, with Jonathan Palmer's Motorsport Vision group taking over the commercial rights to the series at the start of a ten-year deal to run the biggest domestic bike series in the world.
The former Formula One racer readily admits that he was a bike racing virgin prior to taking control of Brands Hatch, Oulton Park, Snetterton and Cadwell Park back in 2004, but has since being converted by the all-action thrills and spills served up by the BSB brigade.
Ahead of the new season, Crash.net Radio
caught up with JP to see how he plans to take the BSB forward…
How exciting is the move to take over the running of the British Superbike Championship for MSV?
It's very exciting indeed. The BSB is Britain's biggest national championship and the gates are even bigger than we see for British Touring Cars. However, it's no surprise, as the entertainment on track is outstanding. Bikes, as I found out when I took over the circuits in 2004, do provide fantastic entertainment. They overtake and they obviously have some pretty big moments as well. When a car spins off its one thing but, when someone drops a bike, it's a real heart in the mouth spectacle!
The riders in it though are such pros and, as a car driver, you have to have such respect for guys who can sit on a bike with 200 horsepower, a contact patch the size of your hand, no downforce and race shoulder-to-shoulder as they do regardless of the conditions. They are also good with the crowd and I feel it will be a very exciting era for us.
It's difficult and isn't easy to get the commercial rights to a series and develop them, the main burden being the costs of TV to promote it well. But that is something we have to deal with and I'm confident that we can move it forward; it's such a great championship.
Is that going to one of the main focuses for your ten-year period in charge? To secure a strong TV package to sell to the teams who, in turn, can then sell it to sponsors and commercial partners that they may have?
Absolutely, the whole thing is a balance. We have to have a strong TV package, but we also have to make sure it works economically. It isn't a case of just buying the most, as that is almost certain to lead to higher entry costs and things that aren't necessarily good for the competitors.
We have to be careful and find a TV partner who really value BSB, want to be part of it, really put some effort into it and want to help promote it heavily. We also want someone who will make it a logical destination for fans to turn on the TV and find it.
Promotion of the series on the whole is something you'll also want to boost I assume, as MSV has always been strong at promoting its events in things like the local press. So is that something key to the agenda going forward?