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Opening might | 5 Classic BSB season openers that got the year off to a memorable start

If you’re not excited for the opening round of the 2024 Bennetts British Superbike Championship then take five, go and have a word with yourself and come back when you’re buzzing…

There, done…? Good. Point is, it is that time of year for the UK to once again prove why it builds some of the best racers in the world with another season brimming with enough adrenaline-fuelled action to wear out the edge of your seat.

But before we live in the moment, we’re casting our mind back to some classic curtain raisers of years gone by that started seasons as they were meant to go on… 


Turns out there is no bigger rivalry than a sibling one...

2020 Donington Park - Brothers in an arms race

The winter off-season already feels like a long old time as it is, so when COVID led to a global lockdown that put all sporting events on hold in 2020, fans were about fit to bursting when BSB eventually got underway in August.

Though consigned to enjoying it from home, the opening round at a spectator-less Donington Park was at least worth the wait as Glenn and Andrew Irwin put brotherly love aside in favour of some hard-edged family feuding on track instead.

Team-mates at Honda though they might have been too, the Irwins weren’t shy in taking up arms against one another in the name of racing for a vigorous victory battle that would only be decided - twice - in the final moments in Andrew’s favour. So tense was their showdown, the rest of the Irwin family haven’t been able to unclench ever since…

"Now go out there and play nice..."

2019 Silverstone - OMG, McAMS Yamaha duo take each other out 

Motorsport rule number one… don’t take out your team-mate! 

Far be it from us to suggest Tarran Mackenzie ‘don’t follow no rules’ but we can imagine this riot act was printed out and stuck onto the inside of his visor in the immediate aftermath of his collision with McAMS Yamaha team-mate Jason O’Halloran at Silverstone in 2019.


Engaged in a bristling fight for top honours on the first day back at school, it was evident this would be a tussle destined to be decided in the very final moments… and it did, albeit with O’Halloran skidding through the gravel trap as Mackenzie sprinted to the flag for must have been a complicated emotional mix of joy and despair for the team.

Ultimately, it would end up proving more of the latter when Mackenzie was subsequently penalised for butting the Australian out of the race, though it did pave the way for Josh Elliot to take a shock maiden victory for both himself and OMG Racing as a consequence. So, all’s well that ends well then…

The next generation cometh...


2018 Donington Park - Brad Ray shows his rising star

After making a fine impression during his rookie BSB season in 2017, Brad Ray came out of the starting blocks firing on all (four) cylinders aboard the new factory-supported Hawk Suzuki GSX-R1000 with a double victory at Donington Park.

An eye-catching, and somewhat unexpected, show of speed from the youngster, they were successes to launch a run at the Title Showdown for the first time and ultimately set him on course for the title-winning glory he’d go on to achieve later down the line in 2022.

Sylvain Guintoli brought gallic flair and MotoGP quality to BSB in 2009

2009 Brands Hatch - Who needs MotoGP when you have BSB?

BSB has attracted its fair share of high-profile names to give racing in the UK a go over the years… and by racing in the UK, we mean no holds barred, elbows-out racing Blighty style!

However, Sylvain Guintoli’s arrival directly from MotoGP was big news back in 2009, representing a major coup for BSB and the Worx Crescent Racing team. Aboard the factory-supported Suzuki GSX-R1000, Guintoli immediately proved a shrewd-signing by making a race-winning first impression during the opening round at Brands Hatch.

Alas, it was to be the one and only time ‘La Marseillaise’ would ring through the circuit PA system in 2009 after a leg break next time out at Donington Park prompted a lengthy spell out of action for much of the year.

Stay off the white lines, as they say...

2008 Brands Hatch - Snow way!

We all know the British weather can be unpredictable - which in a way is handy, how else would a British person begin a conversation? - but snow… in April? What’s that all about, Mother Nature?

Indeed, to the disappointment of fans preparing to strip down and pick up a luminous scorched pink skin tone to accompany the on-track entertainment, it was flurries of snow instead of flurries of racing action that defined the 2008 BSB season-opener at Brands Hatch

As entertaining as it might have been to watch riders back-it-in Torvill and Dean-style down Paddock Hill Bend, sense ultimately prevailed and the event was postponed. On the plus side, it gave everyone the weekend off to build some Easter Snow-bunnies

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