WSBK » Maxime Berger
While his three seasons at Superstock 1000 level didn’t quite yield a title victory, Maxime Berger made his World Superbike debut in 2011 and will continue in 2012 after a switch to Effenbert-Liberty.
A perennial front runner in the series since triumphing in the 600cc series in 2006, Superstock racing has formed the vast majority of Berger’s burgeoning career to date.
Rising through the French national ranks, three consecutive titles in the domestic ‘Conti Cup’, the 50cc series and the 125cc championship between 2002 and 2004 enabled Berger to step up to the European stage in 2005 as part of the inaugural Superstock 600 Championship.
Joining the MBE Honda team, Berger established himself as an instant frontrunner, scoring a podium finish in only his second race at Monza. Further rostrum visits at Silverstone and Brands Hatch would go on to prove a prelude to a maiden victory at Lausitz.
Podiums at Vallelunga and Magny-Cours brought his tally to six in ten races, though it still left him comfortably behind Claudio Corti and Yoann Tiberio in the overall standings, Berger ending his first year in the category an otherwise impressive third.
Catching the attention of Kawasaki, Berger stepped up to the World Supersport Championship in 2006 with French operation Gil Motorsport, but it proved to be a tough baptism of fire for him.
With the ZX-6R struggling for competitiveness next to its Honda and Yamaha rivals, Berger failed to crack the top ten, while five retirements from eleven races saw him exit the team before the final round of the season.
Rejoining the Superstock 600 series, Berger paired with Trasimeno Yamaha for the 2007 season. Winning the opening round at Donington Park, Berger headed off an early challenge from Antonio Antonelli to romp to the title by 42 points, taking five wins along the way.
An increase in power beckoned for 2008 as Berger stepped up to the Superstock 1000 series under the reputed Ten Kate Honda banner. Embroiled in one of the fiercest title fights in the series’ history, Berger was one of five riders capable of clinching the title at the Portimao season finale.
As it happens, having entered the final round chasing Xavier Simeon in second place, Berger would emerge in exactly the same place, albeit behind Brendan Roberts. Despite missing out on the title in his first year, Berger had still marked his arrival with wins at Assen, Brno and Brands Hatch.
Staying put for a second season with the same team, Berger rightly assumed the status of title favourite, but while he was often the fastest on track, three retirements negated his three race wins.
By contrast, runaway title winner Simeon finished inside the top two at every race, putting 87 points between himself and Berger, who in turn would finish third overall behind Corti as well.
A third and final chance for Berger to seal the Superstock 1000 title followed in 2010, but his Honda didn’t have the pace to match the utterly dominant BMW of Ayrton Badovini. Though he was the closest thing Badovini had to a rival in 2010, Berger was comfortably out-performed by his Italian rival, though he did have the pleasure of being the only rider to beat the title-winner all season, on home soil at Magny-Cours.
Despite never quite sealing that elusive title win, Berger’s three seasons and seven wins in the category was enough to earn a chance on the top Superbike stage as part of the Supersonic Ducati team.
An interesting choice for the sophomore outfit after a promising first year in the category with Luca Scassa, Berger began the season with a two-year contract as the team affirmed its commitment to promoting young talent.
As the smallest of the Ducati teams – and indeed arguably the smallest outfit on the entire grid -, Supersonic didn’t give Berger a convincing base to progress beyond the mid-field, but after been blighted by technical issues in the opening races, he cracked the top ten at Misano before bettering that with an eighth place finish at Silverstone.
Berger would eventually end the season with a best result of seventh at the Portimao finale, a fitting result following Supersonic’s declaration that it was withdrawing from World Superbikes (thus negating Berger’s contract).
Fortunately for Berger, a chance test with Effenbert-Liberty at the end of the season would be enough convince the Czech-based team to sign him as its third rider for 2012. With a better-sorted Ducati beneath him, Berger now has a fine opportunity to measure himself against Jakub Smrz and countryman Sylvain Guintoli, both podium winners in 2011. Career Highlights: 2012:
Left without a ride when Supersonic withdraws, only to be picked up by Effenbert-Liberty Ducati 2011:
World Superbike Championship, Supersonic Ducati, 16th 2010:
FIM Superstock 1000 Championship, Ten Kate Honda Jnr, 2nd (1 win) 2009:
FIM Superstock 1000 Championship, Ten Kate Honda, 3rd (3 wins) 2008:
FIM Superstock 1000 Championship, IDS Ten Kate Honda, 2nd (3 wins) 2007:
European Superstock 600 Championship, Trasimeno Yamaha, 1st (5 wins) 2006:
World Supersport Championship, Gil Motorsport Kawasaki, 24th 2005:
European Superstock Championship, MBE Honda, 3rd (1 win) 2004:
French 125cc, 1st 2003:
French 50cc Official Bidalot, 1st 2002:
French Conti Cup, 1st