Gordon Ritchie has covered World Superbikes for over a quarter of a century, and is widely regarded as the world's leading journalist on the series. MotoMatters.com is delighted to be hosting a monthly blog by Ritchie. The full blog will be available each month for MotoMatters.com subscribers. You can find out more about subscribing to MotoMatters.com here.
No sooner had the idea of a full World Championship for so-called production machinery been agreed in 1988 than half the manufacturers had already created homologation special road bikes which then dominated most of the early results. But that was only part of the story, then and now.
WorldSBK has never been a true production racing series, whether you started in year dot with a super-special 851 Ducati or a humble Kawasaki GPX750. Chassis or engine; you could legally muck about with them.
Really, quite a lot.
WorldSBK racing has always been a production-derived championship. Real road bike models, but with lots of modifications for racing.
I say this as a polite reminder to all, because the MotoGP world is massing on the borders of WorldSBK’s tech regs minefield yet again, poking around with what seem to be very sharp bayonets and no clear understanding of what WorldSBK is or has always been.
The recent talk from some high-level sources is that we need to go ‘back’ to the days when the FIM Superbike World Championship featured real production bikes. Back to something that never existed.
Dorna and the FIM have made the current WorldSBK rules as closely matched between competing models as possible. Given the breadth of ideas of what a road-going Superbike is, from manufacturer to manufacturer, they have done pretty well.
Stock parts, relatively speaking, abound. Controlled-cost racing parts are the new normal. Using exactly the same key parts as the factory bikes have is becoming more prevalent, not less. Up to and including ECUs and electronics. Tyre options? Same.
So now we have to move onto the assumed desirability of going further toward street bikes in WorldSBK. Superstock racing, we can infer, after some recent statements from the top?
Well, let’s examine that basket case of potential puff adders with some care.
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