Marco Melandri

Crunching The Numbers: Will The Ducati Panigale V4R Have Its Revs Reduced In WorldSBK?

Alvaro Bautista came to the WorldSBK championship and has been unstoppable. Since figuring out how to get the right feeling from the front end of the brand new Ducati Panigale V4R, he has won all six races held so far – four full-length races, and the two new Superpole sprint races held on Sunday. His winning margins in the four full races were 14.983, 12.195, 8.217, and 10.053 seconds. He won both sprint Superpole races by over a second as well.

Naturally, that kind of domination attracts attention. The WorldSBK series is meant to be a close battle between bikes based on road-going motorcycles, and as modification of the standard bikes is limited, there are mechanisms in the rule book for keeping the disparity between the different bikes racing to a minimum, giving any manufacturer which sells a 1000cc sports bike a chance to be competitive.

To ensure this, the rules have a section on balancing performance between the different bikes competing. The method of balancing performance has varied over the years, but the current rules use only the maximum revs to try to keep the bikes close. The maximum rev limit is set when each new model is homologated, following a formula described in the rules, and explained by WorldSBK Technical Director Scott Smart in a video on the WorldSBK website. The short version is that the bikes are limited at 1100 RPM above the point at which they make their peak horsepower.

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2019 WorldSBK Testing Round Up: Panigale A Work In Progress, Rea Dominant, Lowes One To Watch

Testing paints a picture but it’s never a complete one. It shows only what the artist wants you to see with their work in progress. The winter is a time to work through your program and do it at your own pace. This year that has been even more the case. With new bikes for Ducati and BMW there is plenty of change in the air of the World Superbike paddock, and after eight days of testing there are arguably more questions than answers.

The Ducati V4R was billed as the weapon to finally end Jonathan Rea’s dominance of WorldSBK. It was a MotoGP-derived bike that didn’t pull punches. It was one that broke cover over 12 months before its competitive debut. It was expected to be a honed creation from the outset. It was expected to be seamless. But instead, Ducati’s introduction of their new machine has run aground this winter.

Circumstances have worked against Ducati. Four days of testing in November were ruined by bad weather in Aragon, and then a bad track surface at Jerez that would need to be replaced. With a brand new surface at Jerez, it was dirty for the opening test of 2019. It took time to clean and it was almost impossible for riders to do long distance stints without excessive tire wear. Coming to Portimao it was hoped that Ducati could get some information on the new bike.

Hampering progress

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2018 Magny-Cours WorldSBK Round Up: What We Learned In France

Jonathan Rea claimed another WorldSBK double, his fourth in a row to remain unbeaten since the end of June, at the French round of the championship. With his Saturday success Rea was able to wrap up a historic fourth consecutive title and now his attention has shifted to loftier goals.

An assault on the record book

Rea's latest success has put him in a position to break the record for most points in a season, and also most wins in a year. The points record, which Rea holds from last year's campaign, is 556 points, and as a result he now needs 87 points to break that record. With 100 points available from the final two rounds of the year, including a visit to an all new circuit, it's definitely a big ask of Rea, but not one that is out of reach.

Rea is the man to beat and until his run of eight consecutive victories comes to a close, he will control his own points destiny. In addition to that he is also chasing Doug Polen's record for wins in a single season. The American's total of 17 wins in 1991 has stood the test of time, but is now seriously under threat. With Rea sitting on 14 wins thus far in 2018 he will need to win the final four races of the year to break the record. If he does, the points record is also his.

Carrasco makes history

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Pata Yamaha Extend With Lowes And Van Der Mark - WorldSBK Silly Season Set To Kick Off

The WorldSBK series may be on its summer hiatus, but there is still plenty of news going on. After the official announcement that Tom Sykes would not be back with the KRT Kawasaki team, it is the turn of the Pata Yamaha WorldSBK squad to make announcements. Today, the team issued a statement saying that current riders Michael van der Mark and Alex Lowes will remain with the team for the 2019 season.

Though the announcement did not come as a surprise, it does close the door to Tom Sykes, who had been linked to a possible ride with Pata Yamaha, had either Van der Mark or Lowes moved to the Kawasaki team to replace him. But with Leon Haslam set to take the second seat next to Jonathan Rea, Sykes will have to look elsewhere.

These are the first signs that WorldSBK's silly season is about to accelerate over the summer. There are still a lot of open questions left in the WorldSBK series, and a lot of open seats. Complicating issues is the fact that there could be an influx of riders from the MotoGP series now that rides are all tied up in that championship. 

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2018 Brno WorldSBK Preview: What To Expect At Brno

Round seven of the 2018 WorldSBK season will see the paddock head for Brno in the Czech Republic. The fast and flowing circuit is a firm favorite with MotoGP riders and fans and is sure to be well received by the Superbike riders when they return to action in the hills and valleys for the first time since 2011. That season saw Marco Melandri do the double for Yamaha but will that past form matter this weekend?

Yamaha seek to maintain momentum

Yamaha will certainly hope that their previous form, three Brno victories, is a good indicator that the Japanese firm can expect a strong showing this weekend. At Donington Park, Michael van der Mark delivered the first victories for Yamaha since their return to WorldSBK, and the Dutchman's confidence will be high this weekend. After claiming the first ever Dutch wins in WorldSBK history his stock is higher than ever, and it couldn't have come at a better time with contracts set to be signed for 2018.

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2018 Donington Park WorldSBK Notes: What We Saw At Donington

Round 6 of the 2018 Superbike World Championship saw Michael van der Mark make history and Toprak Razgatlıoglu claim a first career podium. It was the shot in the arm the series needed, and after great racing across all four classes there is a renewed optimism within the paddock.

Double Dutch

Michael van der Mark made history by becoming the first ever Dutchman to win a WorldSBK race and the Yamaha rider followed it up by doing the double. It was a stunning weekend from the 25 year old and both race victories were emphatic. On Saturday he beat Jonathan Rea in a straight fight and on Sunday he rode a calm and collected race to claim a further 25 points and move into third in the standings. The 2014 WorldSSP champion has been one of the coming men of WorldSBK in recent years, but to get over the line with such style for a first victory was hugely impressive.

Turkish Delight

The talent of Toprak Razgatlıoglu has never been in doubt and on Sunday he showed exactly why by standing on the rostrum. Turkey may have lost their racing hero when Kenan Sofuoglu retired, but they didn't need to wait long for a replacement. Razgatlıoglu was superb in chasing down Alex Lowes and Jonathan Rea in the final quarter of the race and when he made moves he made them stick. It was a smart performance from a talented rider to watch out for in the second half of the season.

What's gone wrong at Ducati?

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Two-Day Private WorldSBK Test Concludes At Brno

A few days after a couple of entertaining races at Assen, a part of the WorldSBK paddock was back in action, this time at a private two-day test at the Brno circuit, which is set to return to the World Superbike calendar after an absence of five years. The weather was not entirely cooperative - a warm Wednesday was followed by a much cooler and overcast Thursday - but the teams present all managed to get important work done. 

At the test were the factory Aruba.it Ducati team, along with Barni Racing's Xavi Fores. The official Yamaha WorldSBK and WorldSSP teams were there, as was Randy Krummenacher on the Bardahl Even Bros Yamaha R6. The official KRT Kawasakis were also present, as was Triple M Racing's PJ Jacobsen on the Honda CBR1000RR. The Red Bull Honda WorldSBK team were not in Brno, having already had two days of private testing in Assen before the Aragon round.

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2018 Assen WorldSBK Recap: It's All Double Dutch In WorldSBK

Making predictions for races in WorldSBK 2018 can be a fool's errand. The form book has been thrown out the window on a couple of occasions and that was certainly the case once again at the Assen TT Circuit.

The Magic is still there

Michael van der Mark may no longer go by the moniker of Magic Michael but there was definitely magic in the air at Assen. The Dutch star claimed a double podium at his home round and showed once again that he is a force to be reckoned with. Pressuring Jonathan Rea and beating Chaz Davies in a straight up fight in Race 1 was impressive, but his Race 2 performance shouldn't be underestimated. The pressure was on the 25 year old. A bumper crowd of over 62,000 turned up to cheer him on and VDM didn't disappoint.

His third place finish on Sunday was another example of being able to keep a cool head. Tom Sykes was clear from the field and for Van der Mark the goal became to stand on the rostrum. That meant beating the Ducatis of Xavi Fores and Chaz Davies. The Yamaha rider duly delivered and moved into fourth in the championship standings. Mission accomplished.

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Photo Gallery: Andrew Gosling Shoots The Phillip Island WorldSBK Test - Monday


Phillip Island feels like a Ducati track. Marco Melandri agreed on Monday


Leon Camier hopes to revive Honda's fortunes in WorldSBK. So far, so good


Not the best of starts to the test for Jonathan Rea. Still third fastest, despite the highside


The brains of the operation

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Crunching The Numbers: Jonathan Rea vs MotoGP vs WorldSBK - An Analysis

The start of December marks the beginning of what is rapidly becoming a tradition in the world of motorcycle racing. After the Jerez test in late November, it is now "Why Is Jonathan Rea Faster Than A MotoGP Bike" season. At Jerez, Rea pushed his Kawasaki ZX-10R WorldSBK machine – down 35+ bhp and up 10+ kg – to the fourth fastest overall time of the week, ahead of eleven MotoGP regulars (including two rookies), three MotoGP test riders and Alex Márquez, who the Marc VDS team were using to train up the new crew recruited to look after Tom Luthi's side of the garage while the Swiss rider is still injured.

How is this possible? And what does this mean? Are WorldSBK machines too close to MotoGP bikes? Why are MotoGP manufacturers spending ten times as much to be shown up at a test by Jonathan Rea? And why, for the sake of all that is holy, does Jonathan Rea not have a MotoGP ride?

The answer to all but the last of those questions is buried away in the bigger picture of the laps posted throughout the week. When you examine the numbers, the picture is a lot more complex than the headline times seem to suggest. Tires, temperature, and track all play a part. But all of that can't disguise a rather outsize dose of talent.

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