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Lone Wolf and lighting the blue touchpaper


Could a bit of needle be creeping into the British Superbike Championship as cut-off time for the Showdown nears? And about time too did I hear you shout?

Those of you who believe racing is a sport for gentlemen - you know, stiff upper lip, good losers etc. - might find a bit of aggro between riders and teams unseemly. And the sort of spectacle that over-rated pugilists David Haye and Dereck Chisora staged the other week as downright intolerable.


But it attracted 30,000 people to West Ham football ground and got a lot more watching pay-per-view television at ten quid a time. OK, you would get more people to watch a public hanging and it was not a great advertisement for the 'noble art' but promoter Frank Warren knows a thing or two when it comes to entertainment.

So what's this to do with the price of fish? It's just that a bit of personal confrontation adds a touch of spice to what may already be a hot dish. And there is no doubt that when Tommy Hill left Brands Hatch on Sunday evening he was not a happy bunny. At the scene of his famous championship victory last year he was off the pace and lucky to get two third places, muttering his surprise at the extra pace which Shakey Byrne's Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki seemed to have found.

Well, Shakey was certainly in control but there had also been a bit of muttering in his camp when Tommy scored a hat-trick at Oulton Park two weeks earlier. It is all good stuff but race director Stuart Higgs skilfully managed to keep the lid on what could have been a sparky technical meeting of team owner/managers earlier on the week.

There is, of course, healthy rivalry between team owners Shaun Muir (Swan Yamaha) and Paul Bird (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki), one from the north-east, the other the north-west.

But that sort of edge is good for the sport which, like all professional sports, is the entertainment business. And good racing, while essential, is sometimes not enough. Meantime, Josh Brookes - never shy of a bit of controversy - could be the dark horse on Philip Neill's Tyco Suzuki.

See the latest issue of BIkesportnews for the full story on this, on sale tomorrow


We all like the idea of being able to say what we think but, of course, we can't. And sport, which has some sort of aura of freedom, probably places more restrictions on its performers than any other form of entertainment. While that ....head (there you go) Russell Brand and other so-called funny men can say more or less anything, people in sport seem to be constantly apologising for uttering a relatively harmless expletive as if little Johnny may not have heard something considerably worse in the playground. Or if a word of criticism is uttered about the referee, the sponsor the governing body they are hauled up before some committee.

One might have thought that bike racing might be a little more grown up. After all we are dealing with life or death issues and yet I can't quite understand why there hasn't been much more fuss over the issue of tyres. They have, after all, been the cause of so many problems - and not just the World Superbike fiasco at Monza where some of the wet weather tyres could barely last a lap.


Why can't someone come out and say "These tyres are crap!" Only Casey Stoner apparently and he is de-mob happy. The WSB riders at Monza were apparently threatened with the naughty step if they didn't keep their mouths shut but Wolf couldn't believe it when told the other day that riders had a clause in their contracts forbidding Pirelli criticism. It can't be true.

Of course, the single manufacturer deal has brought extra revenue to the promoters, if not the teams, so presumably they don't want some disgruntled jockey biting the hand that feeds them. But surely there's a principle here?

Well, as Groucho Marx once famously observed: "So you don't like my principles. Ok, I'll give you some others!"

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