It is difficult to tell, sometimes, when racers actually mean what they say. They’re very used to PR and saying what their sponsors, series organisers, their management want to hear rather than what is going through their own head. Imagine, then, the surprise when Shane Byrne pops on to the big screen in the first running of I, Superbiker - The Showdown to tell the world how shit he thinks The Showdown is. And then, later on, does it again.
Byrne is to be applauded for saying what he felt about the points system he feels robbed him of his third championship, while British Superbike series boss Stuart Higgs is worthy of equal applause for letting those comments through the edit of Mark Sloper’s second investigation into the world of BSB.
I, Superbiker 2 (for that is what we will call it) isn’t more of the same and, although sequels (save for The Godfather II and The Empire Strikes Back) are usually shadows of their originals, Sloper has made the last stages of an entire season as thrilling as they were to attend.
He faced some criticism after the first instalment as he hadn’t explained what Superbike racing was or how it worked. In this, he remedies this but does it in such a way as to explain the intricacies of qualifying that doesn’t patronise those in the know or baffle those who have never seen a race before.
Concentrating on the final part of the season, with individual explanations of how the six riders managed to get there, you see the highs and lows experienced by all of the protagonists - the latter painted by the lost Ryuichi Kiyonari who could hardly put a foot right and the almost exasperation of team boss Havier Beltran.
The contrast between Kiyo’s misery, the eventual, un-restrained joy of Tommy Hill after THAT last lap, the pain John Hopkins went through to finish in runner-up spot and all the mistakes, misdemeanours, wins, poles and trophies are captured with a great edit. Sloper spends his entire summer filming everything he can and his hard work pays off - except for one part near the end which was clearly filmed in Pork-O-Vision, but, Sloper, I know where you live…
"A must for any bike fan" is a vastly over-used expression but this really is something for even the most passing of spectators. It is on general release next month and keep an eye out on bikesportnews.com for a list of dates and venues.