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Up the underdogs: Who are the unsung stars of the 2023 BSB season so far?

Tim Keeton/Impact Images
Charlie Nesbitt, MasterMac Honda, Hawk Racing, Honda CBR1000RR-R, 2023 BSB, action [credit - Tim Keeton/Impact Images]

The 2023 British Superbike Championship [BSB] is in full swing now with four rounds down and seven more to go before a new champion is crowned.

If you’re a betting person, then chances are you're feeling satisfied to see the likes of Glenn Irwin, Tommy Bridewell, Kyle Ryde and Josh Brookes riding high in the upper portion of the standings to date.

BSB isn’t always about the winning though. Then again, it isn’t simply about the taking part either… it’s about the big strides taken over the course of a year, evidence of which can be seen among some of the lesser fancied riders up and down the grid. 


But who has impressed most so far this year?

Kyle Ryde

While we wouldn’t necessarily describe Ryde as ‘unsung’ following his race-winning exploits in BSB since his debut campaign in 2020, the 2023 BSB season has seen the youngster take a noticeable leap into the sizeable shoes vacated by Bradley Ray at LAMI OMG Yamaha.

Blessed and cursed with a unique riding style, Ryde’s blisteringly quick moments had been negated by curious lulls in form during his three previous BSB seasons.

But it is a measure of Ryde’s maturity at this high level that he not only identified it, he moved to act on it. He’s worked on both his physical and mental fitness, hired 2012 BSB champ Tommy Hill as his trainer and has been diligent in lap-after-lap on the Yamaha R1 in testing.

It's hard grafting that shows too, because while Ryde has still shown the odd bout of letting his focus slip, he’s getting better and better at hauling it back on track. With four wins already this season, it’s also worth pointing out that Ryde is in a better position in the standings than Ray was at this stage in his title-winning campaign.

Storm Stacey

It’s strange to say ‘20-year old Storm Stacey is in his fourth season of BSB’ but it’s a measure of just how young the Starline Racing rider was when he made his debut in 2020. After all, with three years under belt, he’s practically a veteran now!

It’s not been the easiest three years for Stacey, whose progress - while solid - was somewhat lost in the competitive mid-field pack as he cut his teeth.

That said, flashes of brilliance - his top six at Donington Park in 2021 particularly - and wet weather prowess proved talent was very much in evidence, something we are seeing more and more of in 2023.

Having built a strong rapport with GR Motorsport (Starline Racing), Stacey is getting some good momentum going, as demonstrated by his front row at Oulton Park and top ten pace at the most recent Knockhill round. Plus he wears a top hat, what’s not to love?


Ryan Vickers

His (long awaited) first podium may have come at Donington Park, but it was Knockhill that arguably saw Ryan Vickers come of age in BSB.

A rider with undeniable speed but a concerning tendency to throw it down the road all too often, many - including Ryan himself - recognised the opportunity he needed to grasp upon landing the prized OMG Yamaha seat for 2023.

Things didn’t start well with a pre-season injury against the backdrop of team-mate Ryde setting fiery lap times, but while it would have been very easy - and understandable - for Vickers to let his head drop, instead he’s come back to action swinging and is truly earning his place among BSB’s elite.


>>> 2023 BSB Championship Standings <<<

Charlie Nesbitt

Certainly the most impressive of the rookies debuting in BSB this year, Charlie Nesbitt has emerged as an exciting talent for the future that has exceeded expectations.

Having shown hints of his potential in a handful of guest outings with Buildbase Suzuki in 2022, Hawk Racing’s switch to the faster Honda CBR1000RR-R has at times seen Nesbitt lapping as the quickest of the Fireblade contingent.

A trio of DNFs at Knockhill spoiled what was promising to be a breakthrough weekend when he qualified fifth, but a top six in the preceding Donington Park round shows what is bound to come over the remainder of the year.

Dean Harrison

A rider who made his BSB debut way back in 2017, while Dean Harrison is better known for his exploits on the roads, he now beginning to find his way on the short circuits too.

Having elected in 2021 to go full-time in BSB, Harrison is one of the few road racing stars to really throw themselves into short circuit racing. While the likes of Peter Hickman and Glenn Irwin show that there is a route to be made from track to road, going the way is a much trickier affair.

But Harrison - fresh from his personal best laps on the TT - is now a regular point-scorer, while Knockhill marked his second top ten result of the year.

Tom Neave

There was definitely a lot of pressure on Tom Neave coming into the 2023 BSB season, his third with the factory Honda Racing UK squad.

And it wasn’t unwarranted either, the 2021 National Superstock Champion having struggled to make the most of his quality factory machinery to deliver the progress dictated by his status as a Honda protege.

However, the green shoots of progress are now beginning to show with Neave making it to the flag more regularly, while a new personal best of eighth at Knockhill was a well deserved reward on a weekend he was the sole Honda Racing UK representative.

Max Cook

There is a lot of expectation riding on Max Cook’s shoulders having taken the reins of the FS-3 Kawasaki ZX-10RR from BSB star-turned-Moto2 rider Rory Skinner.

Indeed, having forged a fairly similar career route to Skinner so far and has raced against the likes of Izan Guevara and Pedro Acosta in the Junior Moto3 World Championship, it’s easy to forget Cook has made the huge leap to BSB from SSTK 600.

However, bit-by-bit Cook has emerged as a regular point-scorer and is now knocking on the door of the top ten.

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