While he may have been the favourite to win the British Superbike Cup, the manner in which Gary Mason and Quay Garage dominated proceedings in 2009 still beggared belief.
In 26 races, Mason was triumphant in the Cup on 18 occasions, the 30-year-old pulling out an eventual winning margin of 154.5 points. He was the dominant force for sure, but it isn't Mason's class-bound performances that garnered him attention in 2009 – it was his David versus Goliath act against the main competition.
Having shown flashes of giant-killing pace in a fragmented half-season with Quay Garage in 2008, Mason arrived at the 2009 opener with a new engine and quiet confidence, but no marker with which to measure himself against his rivals.
When the expensive new engine blew in free practice, Mason's season threatened to stop before it had started. One stunning sixth place finish later and it was clear that Mason was able to ride round his dated Honda to embarrass a number of better fancied rivals.
He continued to bother the top ten over the next few rounds, Mason adding two sevenths and three ninths into his points tally to put him unusually high in the overall standings after ten races.
Unsurprisingly, Mason's form ebbed away as better funded, championship class rivals began to forge ahead, although he did repeat his career-best result again at Mallory Park, while a front row starting position at Thruxton made BSB history too.
Although he was riding for the Cup series, Mason was still able to mix it with the mid-field runners, putting Quay Garage ahead of the likes of SMT, Rob Mac Racing and Buildbase Kawasaki at times. In fact, Mason's eventual 13th place in the overall standings doesn't necessarily do justice to his mighty efforts in 2009. Indeed, just 5.5 more points would have seen him snatch an overall top ten finish.
An outstanding performance for a rider looking to rebuild his reputation in BSB after a few false starts, Mason and Quay Garage may be parting ways in 2010, but with the former moving to MSS Colchester Kawasaki and the latter stepping up to the championship class, the future looks rosy for both.
6th (Brands Hatch, Mallory Park)
Top 10 BSB Rider of the Year 2008:
Top 10 BSB Rider of the Year 2009
– Tommy Bridewell
– Tommy Hill
– Sylvain Guintoli
– Ian Lowry
– John Laverty