After a year racing in America, twice FIM Superstock 1000 Champion Sylvain Barrier is looking forward to a new challenge for the coming season and on more familiar territory.
As he prepares to line up alongside Peter Hickman at the BMW-equipped Smiths Racing team for 2018 MCE British Superbike honours, Barrier is relishing the new season and has already had a look at one of the series’ more individual circuits on which he will compete.
“I’m really looking forward to riding in BSB next year. It is one of the most respected series, with highly competitive riders and tough circuits. I am very happy to be with such a strong team as Smiths Racing. I have spent time with Rebecca and Alan and I really love their mentality towards racing,” Barrier told bikesportnews.com.
“I also had the chance to spend the day at Cadwell Park on a BMW road bike with Peter Hickman, my teammate for next year, which was great. He is a very talented rider with lots of experience and I think together we can make a great team. I am looking forward to being in the BSB paddock, I love that it is full of people that have a pure passion for racing and I have already experienced how friendly everyone is.
“During my time in Superstock 1000 and WorldSBK, I have already raced at Donington, Brands Hatch, Silverstone and Assen but there are still a few of the circuits that I hope to spend time at before the season starts. It was great to experience Cadwell. ”
While the 29 year-old has been a staple on the World Superbike scene for much of the past decade, the Frenchman has also created a strong base for himself in England over recent years. Contesting the British championship is an obvious and natural step in Barrier’s career and he is relishing the opportunity to fight at the front in his second home.
“I spend a lot of my time in the UK as my girlfriend is from Oxfordshire, so for the past four years this has been like a second home. Even before this I was spending a lot of time here with James Toseland, who originally was my mentor and now I count him as one of my closest friends. So for me, the BSB championship feels like a great step.
“A strong support system is very important to allow me to just focus on training and the bike in order to perform at my best. I feel lucky to have good people around me, at the track and at home. I also feel very lucky to have a good family around me, especially Barrie [Baxter], my future father-in-law, because he has supported me massively this year to allow me to have this opportunity. My foundations are the strongest they have ever been and I think this will help me moving forward into next season on this new challenge.”
Initially honing his skills under the tutelage of both Endurance World Champion Steve Martin and ex-MotoGP rider and Double WorldSBK Champion James Toseland as mentors, Barrier has since worked alongside Colin Edwards as part of the Michelin development team, a responsibility he continues alongside his racing commitments for the coming year.
“I have had a long-running relationship with Michelin which is very important to me. I really enjoy working on the development of their tyres. They are continually working hard to produce the best products and I love to be a part of this.
“Developing their tyres throughout the year gives me a great chance to spend time on a bike at a range of different circuits which is brilliant for training. Most importantly, working with Michelin allows me to build on my skills for understanding the feeling and sensation between tyres and chassis.
“While each track and each condition is different, which means it is important to reset and start fresh every time you are somewhere new, having the experience of running on Michelin, Dunlop and Pirelli tyres allows me to be quicker at adapting to the new situations.”
23 podiums,14 pole positions and 10 race wins, alongside his double World Championship trophies, highlight an impressive resume to-date for the Oyonnax-born rider. Having competed strongly across multiple international paddocks, including the FIM Superstock1000, WorldSBK and Endurance World Championships, before last year’s foray across the pond to MotoAmerica running the 2016 WorldSBK-spec BMW, does he see any further opportunity to wildcard on the world stage?
“It would be great to look at all the opportunities if they arise, but my main focus is to do the best I can in BSB. It is going to take a lot of training and learning to be as strong as the competitive riders at the front of the grid who have been in the British paddock for many years.”
Remaining with German manufacturer BMW - with whom he won his back-to-back titles on European soil in 2012/13 - Barrier is looking to return to winning form on the S1000RR he knows so well, as he acquaints himself with the British championship for 2018.
“I have been part of the BMW family for seven years now and I am really happy to continue working together as I have built some great relationships over that time. I won both my titles with BMW so I hope to build on this and win more in the future with them!
“I’m really looking forward to 2018, having fun on the bike, working with good people and focusing on the main goal of a competitive season.”