The British Superbike Championship (BSB) is the domestic two wheel equivalent of Formula 1 racing and is enjoyed by a huge number of spectators every season both live and on TV. In writer, producer and director Mark Sloper’s new documentary the 2012 season are showcased and the race to crown the latest champion chronicled.
Having secured Murray Walker as narrator and with full access to the riders and pit crews there is no shortage of footage available from the high octane racing to the behind the scenes happenings and the teams themselves. Despite this I, Superbiker somehow manages to fall short of providing BSB with a showreel to excite potential new fans and inspire people to switch their TV channel of a weekend.
The formula should be simple – introduce the sport to the uninitiated, highlight the main players, throw in the already brimming with excitement racing action and add some drama which the season will organically bring. With something like bike racing most of that is already available by just pointing a camera and hitting record and yet some major elements are absent.
For one there is little in the way of coherent introduction, rather we are thrust into the world of bike racing with no pre-amble and with scant introduction as to who we should be cheering for and why. Whilst the racing action is undeniably exciting these scenes are too widely spaced throughout the 99min run time and although there is an attempt at drama, the execution is all wrong. Without giving away the ending too obviously, the 2012 season culminated in less than dramatic fashion despite Sloper’s best efforts to make it seem that way.
And herein lies the biggest problem – the footage badly needs a re-edit to shorten some sequences and lengthen others. After a fairly underwhelming opening 40 minutes there is then a section that drags on and on attempting to build to an exciting crescendo for the culmination of the season. In a wonderful slice of irony towards the end of this segment one of the top riders describing the season says something to the effect of “It’s dragged on a little too long now. I just want to get out there and into the action”. Never has a summary been so delivered so perfectly and yet so unknowingly.
To be fair to Sloper existing fans of BSB will probably like his work and the content is certainly comprehensive but to those new to bike racing this is unlikely to create converts. This feels like a very impressive extra that could be packaged with the latest Road Racing World magazine rather than something for general consumption and when you consider that in reality it rivals the likes of Senna or TT:3D for a place in the annals of recent motor sport documentaries it is unfortunately just not up to par.