Oct 18, 2016

British Superbikes 2016: Martin Jessopp admits to 'hardest ever year' as Shane Byrne makes history

Martin Jessopp says that the 2016 British Superbikes Championship was the "hardest ever" as he ended the season with seven points.

The Yeovil rider struggled with a back injury throughout the year and missed several race meets as a result, admitting that the competition is just so fierce now that any loss in momentum will see you slip down the results table.

"It is hard to explain how crazy the pace is," Jessopp said.

"It is without doubt the hardest ever year. I am mixing it up with household names and when you are sat on the grid and look around you, every guy there has won something.

"There is talk of three current top ten World Superbikes riders coming to BSB, or coming back to BSB. It just shows you the level BSB is at - it's like the Premier League in football terms.

"Then there's me sat in amongst it all - a guy from Yeovil who just enjoys riding motorbikes."

Not that Jessopp has written 2016 in entirely negative terms, saying that his team have come on in leaps and bounds over the past 12 months.

"It was not one of my best years and my back injury hampered me a bit," he said. "We missed too many races and there was a lack of momentum.

"But with the pace overall I am very pleased with where we are and every track we went to we were faster than every other year."

Jessopp has admitted that riding in BSB is certainly not financially rewarding, but that the prestige of racing alongside the likes of current champion Shane 'Shakey' Byrne makes it all worthwhile.

"It is hard work and I don't earn a penny from it," he continued. "I earn a living from the road races but I am in BSB to race against the best.

"From the outside looking in people would look at my positions and think 'he's not very good' and I could drop down a level. But I don't want to do that.

"Sometimes I do sit back when I'm really struggling and think about why I'm doing it, but then I look at the names ahead of me and behind me on the grid and that's why."

And on Byrne, who set a record this year by becoming the first five-time winner of BSB, Jessopp added: "I have nothing but good things to say about Shakey and the way he acts on and off the bike.

"I've raced with him for many years now and he is a special talent. He's getting older but he only seems to be getting faster.

"Coming into this season it was a new bike to him and the team, so to win with that in the first season is awesome."

While BSB is over for another year, racing is not quite finished for Jessopp in 2016 as he prepares for the RST Race of the Year at Mallory Park this weekend in preparation for the big finale - the Macau Grand Prix.

With second place his best to date in the Chinese road race, the Somerset rider says anything other than top spot is "not good enough".

Then after that he can enjoy a well-earned holiday, although not before hinting there could be a switch from his BMW Superbike for the 2017 season: "We have had talks with Ducati about a couple of things.

"But after these couple of races we will sit down properly and talk about 2017."