BSBK Round 1 Kicked Off
The Bahrain Superbike Championship (BSBK) got underway this weekend at the Bahrain International Circuit. 15 riders from across the region, and as far away as the UK took to the track for the region’s first single-make superbike championship.
After an all night session setting up the track and garages it was down to business Friday morning when the riders arrived at the circuit. There to greet them was former World Superbike Champion and Ducati test-rider Carlos Checa along with the 15 gleaming new Ducati 899’s they would be riding.
Carlos’ initial advice to the riders, ‘have a fun day stay safe.’ He was there throughout the day and rode during early morning practice giving advice to the riders on the bike and the track.
A further surprise awaited the riders as they signed in for the race. Championship sponsor Seven Friday gifted a watch to each rider!
Another first for any of the regional championships was BSBK’s live streaming over their Youtube channel. This was the first time they had tried to stream such an event live and despite a few minor glitches the full qualifying session and both races went out live over the internet with live commentary.
Race day was dominated by Mishal AlNaimi from Qatar. In race one he stretched out a lead of 33 seconds ahead of Wesley Pearce (UK) in second and Ali Albidy (Bahrain) in third.
AlNaimi’s team mate Fahad AlSuwaidi (Qatar) crashed out from what would have been a podium finish for him. That was his second crash of the day having gone down in qualifying and put him to the back of the grid for the next race.
Another faller was Saleh AlKanderi (Kuwait) going into the final turn of the race one he and Surya Raja (India) came into contact and AlKanderi went down in a high-side crash that put him out of race two.
Race two got underway with AlNaimi in the lead and Pearce close behind. Limited to one set of tyres for the whole day, tyre management was going to be a critical concern. The riders did note a drop off from the tyres but with all bikes and tyres identical it was the same for all.
AlSuwaidi, starting from the back of the grid, made his way quickly through the pack and was up with the leading group after just one lap.
AlNaimi wasn’t to be disappointed today. Taking maximum points from both races we won in style even seeming to take time to slow down and assist his team mate. Pearce wasn’t having any of though. He took another second place splitting the two riders from Qatar with AlSuwaidi in third.
The day wasn’t only about the racing. The spirit in the garages and around the paddock was one of fun and friendship. Many of the bike clubs in Bahrain attended the races throughout the day with others passing by to share in the atmosphere.
Ian Charles (UK), 7th in race one, 6th in race two, commented that ‘the championship is the perfect way to go racing. I’ve done a lot of club racing in the UK but here you can just turn up and the bikes and everything are ready for you.’
With most of the riders never having ridden on the Bahrain International Circuit, and most on the Ducati for the first time, there really was a level playing field to start from. Surya Raja said ‘today was about getting used to the bike and the track. I didn’t want to push it too hard and crash as it is the first round and I want to get comfortable on the bike first.’ Surya was 3rd in qualifying, finishing race one 4th and race two 6th.
The Championship is now underway and there is still a lot more action from come in the BSBK series. With the next round in February there will be a few more surprises from the organizers as they develop the series making racing more accessible and bringing a wider audience to the region’s racing.