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.
I am not one who thrives on the negatives, or for whom the only good news story is a bad news story. I want every race to be a classic, every new rider a potential champion, every team a proven winner looking to expand. An impossible dream of course but it’s not naivety on my part - it's positivity. No business or sport was ever built, expanded or maintained without overarching optimism and sheer ambition at its core.
Whatever your particular field you have to aim for the moon to even have a hope of getting into the upper reaches of the earth’s atmosphere. WorldSBK was launched on ambition and optimism, survived on it for a long time, especially after some shaky early moments.
But sure enough, it was grown into the premier production-derived race series on planet earth; often by both those driving factors mentioned earlier – ambition and optimism. With MotoGP always the biggest class and firmly in existence long before WorldSBK came along, Superbike has nonetheless aimed above the GP glass ceiling just to get anywhere close to it. Or at least WorldSBK told itself to raise its own bar, and see how high it could jump.
That particular ambition to match GPs may have finally backfired, as reality and jealous rivalry often bites into our hopes, of course. But in these indolent days for real-time track life, optimism and (over) ambition are needed just as much as ever in WorldSBK. And, why not? It is already a strong product in many ways and holds the interest of almost every major factory. That said, bringing back the crowds has proved to be difficult in too many places, and for too long too.
Fans, fans, fans
If I could do one thing for WorldSBK it would be to encourage more spectators to visit a WorldSBK weekend in person. There are lots of good things going on and you can see many of them unfolding. It’s relatively immersive. It is at worst still all set up to provide a welcoming experience - right up to the Paddock Show, the back door of the garages and down pitlane at certain times.
Hold on now, why am I talking about the overall fan experience when nobody can go and physically see any racing at all right now?
Because whatever else has happened in the lockdown we have all had the chance to take a step back and think. Think what-if and why? With some glorious and happy exceptions, fans from countries that used to be enthusiastic WorldSBK watchers now too often pass up the annual chance of watching the fastest roadbikes and Superbike riders on the planet letting loose round their local circuits.
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