Maxime Berger, a Champion taken too soon

Wednesday, 4 October 2017 12:52 GMT

European Champion Superstock 600 dies at the age of 28 at the CHU Dijon.

It is with deep regret that we report the loss of Maxime Berger in his hometown of Dijon on Monday October 2nd. He was 28 years old.

Maxime Berger took his first steps in the WorldSBK paddock in 2005 in the European Superstock 600 category. With six podium finishes - including a Honda win - the young rookie at just 16 years old, faced rivals such as Xavier Simeon, Claudio Corti, Niccolò Canepa and compatriot Yoann Tiberio. Securing third position in the standings overall, Maxime Berger took on the challenge of WorldSSP the following year, riding for Kawasaki.

At the end of a tough season, he decided to return to STK600 in 2007 with Team Trasimeno on a Yamaha. Finishing in fifth on his return, he soon secured success with pole position in the next race in Valencia, taking the victory in the wet, nearly ten seconds ahead of his closest rival. Berger then went on to take seven podiums, including four victories which led to an overwhelming season which saw him take the European Superstock 600 title, beating the late Andrea Antonelli, Michele Magnoni and Gregg Black.

Following this achievement, he joined Ronald Ten Kate's Dutch STK1000 team in 2008, and was able to take a top seven finish in the opening race at Valencia. Berger then went on to win the second race, ahead of Michele Pirro. Faced with some strong rivals in the category, whose names are still racing today such as Sylvain Barrier or Davide Giugliano, the rider from Dijon ended the season as the runner up, seven points behind Australian Brendan Roberts.

The 2009 season was tougher for Maxime Berger who, despite three victories, ended the season behind two of his former opponents, Claudio Corti and Xavier Simeon. Continuing to ride under the Ten Kate colours in 2010, the Frenchman rode a stunning season with seven tops three finishes in ten races. But this was not enough to prevent the dominance of Ayrton Badovini in the fight for the FIM Superstock 1000 Cup.

In 2011, he made the big step up to the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship with the Supersonic Team on board a Ducati 1098 R. Victim of a noticeable bike issue at Donington which saw him lose the rear wheel of his Ducati; he completed his rookie year in 16th position overall.

In his last season on the WorldSBK stage, he raced in the Team Effenbert Liberty Racing colours on a Ducati, before parting ways with the team after the race at the Nürburgring, which was the penultimate round on the calendar. Riding for the Red Devils Roma team around his home circuit of Magny-Cours for the final round of the season, he was able to secure a top four finish in a wet race one, behind 2013 WorldSBK Champion Tom Sykes.

Ranked 11th in the second race, this marked the end to a remarkable career. He will be deeply missed by all his rivals and everyone who knew him. We extend our deepest condolences to his family, friends and all those who knew him.