Five things we learned from round one of the 2022 BSB championship

From Ducati’s surprising struggles to an unlikely treble for Honda’s Glenn Irwin, here are five things we learned for the 2022 BSB season opener at Silverstone.
Josh Brookes, Ducati British Superbike Silverstone
Josh Brookes, Ducati British Superbike Silverstone

If the opening round of the BSB championship was anything to go by, then the 2022 campaign could be the best one yet.

5 - BSB is at an all-time high!

We start off this list with perhaps the biggest appeal of British Superbike racing, its competitiveness! 

Round one saw three different sessions including qualifying where 23 riders or more were separated by less than a second, making it one of the closest-fought series’ around. 

And although the Silverstone (National) circuit is less than a minute long in lap time, it once again highlighted how different machinery and rider styles were able to challenge one-another. 

Although gaps did grow throughout the races, this was mostly down to tyre degradation and four riders in particular laying down qualifying pace for 30 laps.  

Longer circuits will truly determine whether we continue to see 20-plus riders all within a second, but what we can say is British Superbike in 2022 looks to be a fascinating watch, and one where many riders can stake their claim as a potential race winner. 

4 - Tom Sykes and Leon Haslam struggle on their return

Going into the season opener all eyes were on two riders, 2018 series champion Leon Haslam and 2013 WorldSBK champion Tom Sykes. 

Both riders showed good pace in testing with Sykes being part of a six-rider group to go underneath the official lap record at Snetterton, however, once racing commenced both struggled. 

Tom Sykes Ducati British Superbike Silverstone
Tom Sykes Ducati British Superbike Silverstone

Haslam qualified fifth for race one which was an impressive effort, but after sliding back to tenth during the early stages, the Kawasaki rider then failed to finish because of a technical issue. 

Haslam then took four points from the next two races, a tally that matched what Sykes achieved in race one - turned out to be his only points after crashing in race two and finishing 16th in Sunday’s final race. 

3 - Ducati’s woes at Silverstone continue

Continuing on with Sykes and Ducati, Silverstone was a shocker for all the Panigale V4 R riders. 

Tommy Bridewell led the way in all three races, however, the Oxford Products Racing man could only manage two sevenths and an eighth. 

Struggling the most was Josh Brookes, who after a disastrous title defence in 2021, is quickly becoming a rider under pressure. 

Like Sykes, Brookes appeared to carry his late season form into testing, but the Australian was absolutely nowhere when it came to both race days. 

“We came here with high expectations particularly as we took two podiums last year and whilst we’ve been able to match our times from 2021, the pace has obviously moved on,” said Brookes. 

“We had a few issues in the last race so I can’t really use that as a reference but we need to try a few things at the Oulton Park test next week to try and improve both the grip and the lap times. We tried a few settings this weekend and did make progress but not enough clearly, so we’ve got work to do. 

“The test obviously has more importance now but it’s a circuit I like and suits the Ducati, so we’ll be working hard to get back to where we need to be.”

The last Ducati rider to win at Silverstone was Irwin in 2017. 

Better tracks lie ahead for Ducati but with a lot expected from all three riders in 2022, Silverstone can only be described as a big disappointment. 

2 - Young guns have arrived?

Bradley Ray, Kyle Ryde British Superbike Yamaha
Bradley Ray, Kyle Ryde British Superbike Yamaha

Although Bradley Ray and Kyle Ryde have spent several seasons in BSB and both have wins to their names, the two Rich Energy OMG Racing Yamaha men seemed to take huge steps back in the right direction at Silverstone. 

After a tough 2021 season aboard the BMW M 1000 RR, Ray and Ryde have gelled perfectly with the R1, which was highlighted in their two podiums each. 

Ray could have won race two after pulling clear of Ryde and Irwin, but just as he looked to have things under control, the former Suzuki rider lost the front at Luffield.

On the other hand, Ryde came very close to winning that same race after a late effort to dethrone Irwin culminated in minimal contact at Luffield once more. 

Another young rider who’s seemingly taking a step forward compared to his rookie season was FS-3 Kawasaki rider Rory Skinner. 

No lower than fourth in any race, Skinner might have cemented himself as a title challenger for 2022. A first race win is surely right around the corner. 

1 - Glenn Irwin sets himself up for a title challenge following unlikely treble

One of the biggest surprises from the weekend was not only Irwin winning after the Honda rider suffered several big injuries just a few weeks ago, but also because such pace wasn’t demonstrated at any time during pre-season or practice. 

But when it mattered most Irwin was sensational!

The Northern Irishman had the pace to rival anyone as he showed particularly in race three - climbed his way to the front before putting a near two second lead into second place.

Irwin also showcased great examples of defensive riding in races one and two as he gave Ryde, who clearly had more corner speed, no real opportunity to make a pass, or at least make a ‘clean’ overtake.

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