The 2017 MCE British Superbike championship cranks up the pressure this weekend with the triple-header Silverstone round deciding who will make it into the top six Showdown spots to battle for the riders’ title.

For the first time in BSB Showdown history, none of the top six places have been locked down before the deciding round while mathematically nine riders are challenging for the right to make it into the title tussle. For some it should be a formality but in racing nothing can be guaranteed. Here is a breakdown of the Showdown contenders set to light up Silverstone.

 

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Shane Byrne, Be Wiser Ducati

Championship position: 1st, 219 points

Podium Points: 31 points (5 wins, 1 second, 3 thirds)

The defending BSB champion has said it himself on many occasions, when the Be Wiser Ducati works it’s almost untouchable but when it doesn’t it can be outside of its own postcode, and for a variety of reasons Byrne’s season has followed a similar flow.

After missing the opening round with concussion, followed by an off in race two of Brands Hatch Indy, Byrne picked up just 13 points from the first two rounds but what followed was the familiar form of a five-time champion. Between Oulton Park and Brands Hatch GP Byrne notched up five wins, one second place and two third place finishes to rocket to the top of the standings.

But since then it hasn’t been smooth sailing with just one podium from the past two rounds allowing the rest of close the gap. Mathematically, Byrne only needs 12 points from three races at Silverstone to keep ahead of seventh-placed rider Jake Dixon so his place in the Showdown, barring disaster, looks assured. What will be key is returning to the rostrum to regain that mid-season momentum into the final rounds.

 

Leon Haslam, JG Speedfit Kawasaki

Championship position: 2nd, 209 points

Podium Points: 26 points (4 wins, 1 second, 3 third)

A blitzing start of three wins, one second and one third from the opening five races of 2017 gave Haslam the ascendency but like a number of his rivals a mid-season injury jolted his progress when he suffered a nasty off at Knockhill which ruled him out of the Scottish round.

Three point-less races were ended at Snetterton and a podium at Brands Hatch GP followed by a superhuman effort at Suzuka 8 Hours appear to have got the JG Speedfit Kawasaki rider’s title challenge up and running again. A victory in race one at Cadwell Park coupled with a crash leaves Haslam needing 22 points from the Silverstone triple-header to be mathematically safe as he aims to close the Podium Points deficit of five points on leader Byrne.

 

Peter Hickman, Smiths Racing BMW

Championship position: 3rd, 193 points

Podium Points: 9 (1 win, 1 second, 1 third)

The star performer of the last three rounds has added consistency to his natural pace in 2017 for Smiths Racing BMW as he is the only rider, other than Jason O’Halloran, to score points in every race so far this year. The constant trickle of points kept Hickman in the Showdown picture but his recent run of podiums (all three coming in the last two rounds) has seen him shoot up the order into third to take a 37-point cushion over nearest dangerman Jake Dixon.

Despite his wealth of experience, Hickman is targeting his maiden BSB Showdown having finished ‘best of the rest’ last year and heads to a circuit he favours having won at Silverstone last year. If Hickman can maintain his consistency a first top six should be on the cards.

 

Jason O’Halloran, Honda Racing

Championship position: 4th, 178 points

Podium Points: 3 points (3 thirds)

Another consistent performer, with points in every race so far this season, O’Halloran remains in the mix while getting up to speed on the new Honda Fireblade – one of the manufacturer’s few good news stories for the new model. Despite being a consistent top eight contender podiums have come at a premium in 2017 with three third place finishes (two at Snetterton) which leaves the Australian trailing badly on the Podium Points tally.

Focusing on making the all-important top six, a 20-point lead on Dixon coupled with his consistency could be enough to see the Honda rider make it into the Showdown but one untimely slip could prove detrimental to those plans due to the three-race programme at Silverstone.

 

Josh Brookes, Anvil Hire Yamaha

Championship position: 5th, 167 points

Podium Points: 14 points (1 win, 3 seconds)

The 2015 BSB champion has returned to the series without too many hitches and looks back to his former self on the Yamaha YZF-R1 with standout performances at Donington Park, Snetterton and Thruxton.

But falls from promising positions (from second place in race two at Brands Hatch GP and leading in race two at Thruxton) means his route to the Showdown would have been much smoother. Coupled with underwhelming results at Cadwell Park, Brookes heads into Silverstone with an 11-point cushion over nearest challenger Dixon which the Australian isn’t planning on leaning on to secure a top six spot.

The combination of Brookes, Yamaha and Silverstone was untouchable in 2015 when he stormed to a dominant double victory and if he can rediscover the sweet spot with Anvil Hire Yamaha his position will look increasingly comfortable.

 

Luke Mossey, JG Speedfit Kawasaki

Championship position: 6th, 161 points

Podium Points: 17 points (2 wins, 2 seconds, 1 third)

A near-flawless start to the campaign saw Mossey as the surprise early championship leader after Oulton Park having grabbed his maiden BSB wins at Brands Hatch Indy but a combination of mechanical issues, injury and misfortune have derailed his charge – taking just 20 points in the past eight races.

While a brake gremlin undid his hard work at Snetterton, problems continued to plague him at Brands Hatch GP, and a nasty FP3 fall at Thruxton saw him sustain a fractured vertebrae and forced to miss the past four races.

In his absence, the JG Speedfit Kawasaki rider has dropped into the danger zone with a slender five-point margin on Jake Dixon and eight points on Christian Iddon. Mossey will need to rediscover that early season form while fighting off those around him, and that recent vertebrae injury, to keep his plans of a second consecutive Showdown appearance on track.

 

Jake Dixon, RAF Reserves Kawasaki

Championship position: 7th, 156 points

Podium Points: 17 points (2 wins, 2 seconds, 1 third)

When Dixon has been on song with the RAF Reserves Kawasaki he hasn’t missed a beat, typified by his shock maiden double BSB win at Knockhill, while similar performances have been produced at Thruxton (third and second) plus Cadwell Park’s race one with second place.

Dixon crashed out of the battle for the lead in race two at Cadwell Park, points which could have seen him as high as fourth place heading into Silverstone, but the young challenger will have no fear at the Northamptonshire circuit – having recently raced there in a maiden Moto2 outing – with nothing to lose as a surprise contender for a Showdown spot.

 

Christian Iddon, Tyco BMW

Championship position: 8th, 153 points

Podium Points: 6 points (1 second, three thirds)

A nasty arm injury badly hurt Iddon’s top six momentum as he was forced out of the Knockhill and Snetterton rounds having made an impressive start to 2017 with three rostrums from the opening four races for Tyco BMW.

Battling through the injury Iddon’s consistency has kept him within touching distance of a maiden BSB Showdown place, eight points off of Mossey heading into Silverstone, and at a circuit he’s performed strongly at in the past the three-race format will give him enough opportunities to overturn the deficit or profit from any mistakes from those ahead of him.

 

James Ellison, McAMS Yamaha

Championship position: 9th, 119 points

Podium Points: 11 points (1 win, 2 seconds)

A season of what ifs could still turn into a campaign of what did after the huge boost of a win in race two at Cadwell Park. James Ellison has featured at the front at almost every round but struggled to convert it into results on too many occasions leaving him 100 points behind leader Byrne.

But in the McAMS Yamaha rider’s nine points finishes so far in 2017 seven of them have been P6 or higher, including a win and two second places, which means if Ellison can carry his momentum from the win in Cadwell Park the 42-point deficit to Mossey doesn’t look impossible to turnaround in three races at Silverstone for the experienced Showdown campaigner.