6 Riders we're tipping for a breakout 2021 BSB season 

The 2021 British Superbike Championship is at last upon us with new riders, new teams and new motorcycles... which should you be keeping your eye on?

Christian Iddon - PBM VisionTrack Ducati - credit Ian Hopgood Photography

It has certainly been the off-season to end all off-seasons but this weekend finally sees the British Superbike Championship belatedly flick the ‘on’ switch to herald the start of the 2021 BSB season

It’s certainly been a long old wait to get BSB 2021 underway, some eight months after the conclusion of the 2020 season but despite the late start, we still have a meaty schedule to look ahead to with 33 races across 11 triple-headers over just four months making this the biggest - and busiest - season on record 

As ever, there are plenty of new faces in new places across six manufacturers, plus the usual combination of seasoned favourites and precocious rookies. 

In all, 28 riders are set to line-up on the grid this weekend at Oulton Park in front of a limited 4,000- spectators. But of these, who will be the riders to watch in 2021…? 

Here are your starter for six that we reckon deserve your attention...

Christian Iddon - VisionTrack Ducati Panigale V4 R

One of the most experienced riders on the grid, it’s strange to think Christian Iddon could be due his breakthrough season some 11 years after his BSB debut.

But while he has been considered a front runner for several years now, only now does Iddon have the makings of a title contender for the first time ahead of the 2021 season. 

Ending the (very) long wait to step atop the podium last year after several near misses over the years, Iddon did a fine job adapting to the pressured but immensely successful surroundings of Paul Bird Motorsport, taking to Scott Redding’s vacated Ducati Panigale V4 R with aplomb.

With his first win under his belt, Iddon’s confidence soared towards the end of the year and it isn’t hard to imagine this would have multiplied further had the 2020 campaign been longer. 

However, with an extended winter of testing under his belt and arguably still the best-sorted motorcycle on the grid underneath him, Iddon should prove the match of team-mate and defending champion Josh Brookes.

Gino Rea - Buildbase Suzuki GSX-R1000R

A European Superstock 600 Champion, WorldSSP race winner and Moto2 podium sitter, Gino Rea’s transition to Superbikes may not have been quite so coveted to date but he looks well placed to come good ahead of the 2021 BSB season.

Making his debut in 2018, it has taken time for Rea to find his groove on BSB machinery but after getting a call up to replace the injured Keith Farmer at Buildbase Suzuki last year, the Londoner has gone on to grasp his renewed opportunity with both hands.

Riding the ageing but still capable Hawk Racing-prepared Suzuki GSX-R1000, Rea has been quick in testing and with almost a full season with the team under his belt already, is surely well placed to continue the bike’s race-winning form in the face of newer opposition.

Lee Jackson - FS-3 Racing Kawasaki ZX-10RR

That ‘newer opposition’ this season comes in the form of the latest generation Kawasaki ZX-10RR, which gets its BSB bow having already proven a multiple race winner in the WorldSBK Championship courtesy of that man Jonathan Rea.

Here the Kawasaki UK factory ‘Ninja’ will once more be campaigned by FS-3 Racing with Lee Jackson and Rory Skinner, fronting the ‘Team Green’ charge.

While runaway 2020 British Supersport champion Skinner is the name on many lips coming into the new year, it is Jackson who is arguably better placed to lead the Kawasaki challenge following a strong return to the series last year.

While his biggest career success has come in Superstock, Jackson’s consistency and pace came on leaps and bounds last season in BSB, forward momentum he should maintain on the new ZX-10RR with a significantly revised aero package that should deliver greater stability on the UK’s trickier circuits.

Kyle Ryde - Rich Energy OMG Racing BMW M 1000 RR

A rider few anticipated would stamp a mark on BSB in his rookie campaign with victories and podiums, Kyle Ryde was a revelation on the Buildbase Suzuki in 2020. 

Winning two races at Silverstone, Ryde might have gelled with the Gixxer but for 2021 he ventures to pastures new in the hope of finding that same feeling on the Rich Energy OMG Racing BMW M 1000 RR.

Testing suggests none of Ryde’s keen performance has been lost aboard BMW’s new more powerful successor to the S 1000 RR, with the 23-year old well placed to end a BSB victory drought for the German firm that stretches back to 2017.

Danny Kent - Buildbase Suzuki GSX-R1000R

His personal life has overshadowed his career achievements in more recent years, but 2015 Moto3 World Champion Danny Kent is - based on testing at least - in a good position to let the racing do the talking this year as he makes his full-time BSB debut.

Though not his first BSB showing having briefly campaigned a Suzuki in a one-off outing in 2018 and entered an MV Agusta F4 for two events in 2019, this will be his first superbike outing since a conviction for knife possession that same year.

Since then Kent - whose Moto3 success made him the first British rider since Barry Sheene in 1977 to win a GP World Championship - has kept his head down and rebuilt his career via Superstock, leading to this full BSB campaign with Buildbase Suzuki.

Testing has shown promise for the 27-year old relative to his new team-mate Gino Rea, earmarking him as the rookie to watch in 2021.

Xavi Fores - FHO BMW M 1000 RR

Bringing some international flavour back to the BSB grid in 2021, Xavi Fores may have found the going quite tough during his rookie campaign with Honda in 2019 but he’ll be setting his sights much higher this time around.

Two years ago the Spaniard struggled to get to grips with an ageing electronics-free Honda having campaigned a trick Ducati Panigale the previous year. Despite often a slow start to race weekends, Fores only just missed out on wins and a Title Showdown placement at his first attempt, suggesting he should be better positioned to go better in 2021.

He will attempt to do this on another BMW - one of nine on the grid this year - prepared by the ex-Smiths set up now owned by Faye Ho under the FHO Racing moniker. 

With ultra experienced Peter Hickman alongside him, Fores will be another looking to bag BMW’s first win in four years this weekend.