FOR many years, BSB’s National Superstock 1000 category has been called one of the most exciting on a weekend’s programme.
This past year didn’t disappoint – while Taylor Mackenzie eventually took the title, the season wasn’t short of sparks, with defending champ Josh Elliott, supermoto ace Keith Farmer, old guard Michael Rutter, and TT sensation Ian Hutchinson all having their crack at the top step.
In 2017, several major shakeups have been confirmed that could send some of the support class’s grid marching toward the clubs.
Rules have been amended to provision 17 races throughout the season instead of the usual 12, and some weekends look to deliver a handful more than 100 miles of racing per event.
However, the flip side of the coin is that some big names will be taking the sidestep to stockers from the blue riband paddock, namely 2011 champion Richard Cooper, 2014 champion Danny Buchan, and former Supersport rostrum lad James Rispoli.
In addition, entry fees have gone up approximately £1000 this year, most likely to reflect the lengthened race distances, and with the extension of track time the tyre and fuel bills will undoubtedly follow an upward trend.
We have yet to even mention the kit ECU allowance that was extended to stockers for 2017…
Long story short, it’s going to cost more to be competitive at the National Superstock 1000 level than it ever has… it may be six and two threes to some, but to others it could cause a rethink of the top level’s appeal.
Will this pot-stirring set of alterations flood club grids across the country with ‘expats’?
After Superstock’s dissolution from the series at the end of 2015, Thundersport’s GP1 class now caters to all open machinery – and while not specifically tailored to showroom transplants, a large majority of recent frontrunners are said to be equipped with little more than ‘slicks and a tune’.
No Limits Racing runs the Pirelli Super Series and Cup championships, both for big bikes, and again while rules are a bit more flexible than MSVR’s for Superstock machines, both classes have recently seen national-level regulars visit club events and take victory.
If you feel up to fitting a number plate and horn back onto your steed, as well as making sure it has at least a ‘daylight’ MOT, NG’s Streetstock category has a place for otherwise bog-standard motorcycles.
Bemsee also run the MRO Powerbikes (technically an open category), but again the class regularly sees National Superstock 1000 participants run near enough to the sharp end to justify stock specs.
In fact, most clubs just leave their ‘senior’ formulae open, with the thought that one can spend as much or as little as desired.
Realistically, very few competitors at the club level are putting enough cash into their machines to justify any advantage they might gain from power, weight, or the like.
During ThundersportGB’s eighth round of 2015 at Donington Park, the Superstock-class machinery of Joe Burns, Josh Day, Billy Mellor and Craig Neve ran no more than half a second off the pace of GP1 leaders John Ingram, Curtis Wright, and Michael Neeves, with the showroom-spec lads locking two thirds of the podium in every race that weekend.
In other words, yes the stock formulae of old is fewer and further between these days, but the racers who actually take advantage of open rules are about as few and far between.
Will the rule changes in the national circuit be reflected, for better or worse, at the regional level?
We can only hope that this year’s club racing boom will continue its strong momentum for many to come, and that the starting spot sellout of ’16 reaches more than a few organisations in 2017.
*Main image: Alex James Photography
*Side image: Colin Port Images