BSB primed for tense - and divisive - finale in Yamaha vs Ducati showdown

It's Yamaha versus Ducati as Tarran Mackenzie finds his form to lead a likely four-way fight for the 2021 British Superbike Championship title (BSB)

Tarran Mackenzie, Tommy Bridewell - [pic credit: Ian Hopgood]

The 2021 British Superbike Championship (BSB) finale heads into a potentially opinion-splitting grand finale at Brands Hatch on October 16/17 with the odds finely poised among four riders still with a good shot at walking away with the title.

Technically speaking, for the first time in 11 years of the Title Showdown format, six riders head into the last three races of a 2021 BSB season with a mathematical chance at coming away with arguably the most prestigious domestic Superbike crown in the world. 

In reality though, two of these - Danny Buchan and Peter Hickman - can probably be discounted, with myriad permutations borne from the need of rivals to DNF, on top of the races they’d still have to win, making them outside bets at best. Still if you fancy a long shot, we’ll prepare an article in honour of your jackpot the following Monday…

Yamaha vs Ducati for 2021 BSB title

This leaves four heading towards the finish line thinking they have a sprint in their armoury; Tarran Mackenzie, Jason O’Halloran, Christian Iddon and Tommy Bridewell, the quartet covered by just 21 points.

If the title race is open, then one certainty is the tension it has created. Indeed, BSB has shown on numerous occasions in the past that close competition balanced on the fine margins of the Brands Hatch Grand Prix layout isn’t conducive to what will inevitably be a nervy weekend for all four riders.

It will be a particularly anxious time for McAMS Yamaha, the team having pretty much steamrolled its way through the first phase of the series thanks to O’Halloran’s 11 wins and Mackenzie’s five successes, only for both to clip hurdles - albeit stay in front of their rivals overall - during the first two Showdown events.

However, there are some very different moods emanating from either side of the pit box. For a man whose form earlier in the year was not simply metronomic but metronomically victorious, it’s been a huge shame to see O’Halloran’s momentum checked so hard as though someone has  wedged a stick into it for good measure.

The Aussie hasn’t added to his victory tally in the Showdown and with just a single podium from six races, it is only his huge podium credit-elevated pre-Showdown points advantage that is keeping him in the hunt.

Instead, Mackenzie has hit his stride when it has mattered, the young Scot making things difficult for himself with more than one claw back through the field, but two wins have allowed him to open up a slim but confidence-building advantage over O’Halloran. 

Waiting in the wings and primed for what would by all accounts be a shock title win is Christian Iddon, who despite not grabbing any headlines at Oulton Park and Donington Park and stuck to his course of consistency to fill in the gaps left by the more rollercoaster McAMS Yamaha form. 

Iddon - who sits 15 points behind Mackeznie - hasn’t won a race since Round 3, but that did come at Brands Hatch. 

The fourth contender is Tommy Bridewell, who surged into contention with two stunning wins at Oulton Park that were somewhat undone by a mediocre Donington showing. The Oxford Racing Ducati rider has a 21 point bridge to gap but anything close to the searing pace he showed at Oulton Park would make him hard to beat.

The BSB Title Showdown Dilemma

However, while this sets the stage for what will be a tooth and nail battle that is likely to go down to the final lap of the final race, there is an uneasy dynamic to this year’s big showdown. Indeed,  fans have indicated they will be somewhat aggrieved if the title goes the way of anyone other than O’Halloran, and at a push Mackenzie too.

Indeed, with Iddon and Bridewell armed with a mere two and three wins each so far this year, even though both has the talent to bridge that modest margin, there’s no denying the prospect of a title that doesn’t go the way of one of the McAMS Yamaha pair will be tricky to justify.

And herein lies the issue for organisers MSVR…

O’Halloran’s ill-timed wobble of form, arguably the result of pressure of the huge chunk of points he lost heading into the Title Showdown because of the format, could hand the title to another rider despite scoring considerably fewer points and wins over the course of the year.

Rules are rules, of course but such was the gulf between O’Halloran and the rest at one stage, there will be a hollow ring to a different finish even if we would always applaud whichever winner because, at the end of the day, that’s how the cards fell under circumstances not of their making.

Even so, if the BSB Title Showdown is primarily so fans can stay on the edge of their seats right to the end of the season, then a fan revolt against the format could see major changes - or its axing altogether - introduced for 2022.

2022 YAMAHA R7 Review | R7 Engine Sound | We Test The Latest New-Breed Sports Bike |