Latest World Superbike News

Discovering The San Juan Villicum WorldSBK Track With Eugene Laverty

The Circuit San Juan Villicum has surprised everyone in the WorldSBK paddock this weekend. With the Andes Mountain range offering one of the most picturesque backgrounds in all of racing, this brand new facility has instantly added a unique circuit to the championship.

The 4.2km circuit has received positive feedback from the riders and teams, and Milwaukee Aprilia's Eugene Laverty offered us his perspective of the track.

“I think that they've done a really nice job with this track and I've been quite impressed with it,” said the Irishman. “It took a day to rubber the track in, but in FP4 it has really started to offer more grip and we could start to push on. Over the start finish line we're able to hold fourth over the start finish straight, it's a bit too slow an exit from the final corner with low RPM to need fifth gear for us, but we're back to first for turn one.

“There's a steep descent into this corner, like at Portimao, and it's tricky going into that corner, but coming around Turn 2 it opens up and we're into second and then through the kink we'll hold second gear even though some riders are able to get into third for it. It's really nice through the faster section as you take third and fourth gear through the sweeping corners, and it's similar to Misano into Turn 6 and 7.”

Passing spot

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Perspectives On A Brand New Circuit - The Rider, The Crew Chief, And The Tire Company

A new circuit presents new challenges for everyone in the paddock. Whether its riders learning the layout, engineers understanding the compromises required of the track, or the challenges facing a tire manufacturer, a new circuit has so many variables.

This weekend in Argentina, the WorldSBK paddock will face that task. For a rider, the build up is spent trying to learn the track with videos or track maps. For an engineer, they'll use the information to hand, length of straights and corner design, to try to come up with a baseline setting for the weekend.

“Usually it's quite easy to learn a new track,” explained Pata Yamaha's Alex Lowes. “We ride at so many tracks that after a handful of laps you typically know the layout and understand where you need to be. I've always been quite good at learning new tracks; if I think back to 2014 and my rookie season in WorldSBK I was up to speed quite quickly at circuits that I hadn't ridden at before.

“There's a lot of ways that you can try to speed up the process and the easiest is to find some on-board laps from circuits or old race footage. Even from the cameras around the circuit you learn a lot about the lines and where you have to be. Obviously, for this weekend in Argentina we don't have a lot of information to use because it's brand new, but we have enough information to know what to expect.”

Grinding gears

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WorldSBK To Hold 3 Races Each Weekend In 2019 - 1 Race Saturday, 2 Races Sunday

The FIM and Dorna today announced that from 2019, the WorldSBK class will see action in three races at each event. A sprint race is to be added on Sunday morning, in addition to the two full-length races held on Saturday and Sunday. 

The addition of a sprint race will mean a revised race schedule for each WorldSBK weekend, with races moved to different time slots to make room for the races. Race 1 will be held on Saturday, as it currently is, but the start has been moved back to 2pm European time, which is the more traditional time for racing, and the slot in which MotoGP also races. On Sunday, Race 2 will be a sprint race, starting at 11am, followed by Race 3, the normal length race, at 2pm.

The realignment of the race start times will help race organizers, who felt that the racing day was too short, with many fans leaving immediately after the WorldSBK class was finished. A longer race schedule is meant to give fans more value for their ticket money. The start time shift has been made possible by the changes to the F1 schedule, which now starts their races at 3:15pm European time, opening up that 2pm slot for both WorldSBK and MotoGP.

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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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2018 Magny-Cours WorldSBK Preview - What Can We Expect In Magny-Cours?

The final European round of the WorldSBK season sees Magny-Cours play host to Jonathan Rea's first attempt to make history by winning a fourth consecutive championship. The Northern Irishman is on the cusp of history and clinched the title here 12 months ago.

Can Rea clinch it?

It would be surprise if Rea doesn't leave France with the title in the bag. Over the course of the last three rounds he has been undefeated, and even though Magny-Cours has been a happy hunting ground in the past for Chaz Davies the Welshman is up against it due to injury. The stars are aligned for Rea to make history this weekend.

Yamaha out to impress

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2018 Portimao WorldSBK: What We Learned In Portugal

Jonathan Rea may have had a third consecutive double at the Portuguese round of WorldSBK but that's not to say there wasn't plenty of action and intrigue as WorldSBK resumed following the summer break.

Rea gets creative

Jonathan Rea came away from Portimao with another 50 points and moved ever closer to a historic fourth consecutive title. The Northern Irishman has enjoyed another stellar campaign and has won 12 races already this year. He'll be out to wrap up the crown in two weeks time in France and knows that following his Portimao double, he has one hand on the crown.

“I can't quite believe what's happening right now,” said Rea afterwards. “We knew after coming to the test that we'd be strong, so we kept the bike the same as at the test. I had really good pace to catch Chaz, but he was braking like an animal and I knew that I'd have to be creative to overtake him. I made the move at Turn 10 and it stuck, after that I tried to control the race. I know that my target is to win the title in Magny-Cours because I know that at this point, it's my championship to lose.”

With 116 points in hand over Davies, the title can be secured following Race 1 in France.

Davies digs deep

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A Lap Of Portimao With Eugene Laverty

Portimao is one of the most exciting laps of the year for a WorldSBK rider. The Portuguese circuit is used extensively for winter testing. Last month's official test also offered the majority of the field fine tune their settings for their return to action.

The circuit, nestled in the hills of the Algarve, is testing for riders. There's a bit of everything here and getting your eye in and getting the most from the circuit takes time.

“Portimao is my favorite track in the world,” said an enthusiastic Eugene Laverty. “It's something unique! I’ve done so many laps around this place over the years that I know this place like the back of my hand. At some tracks you need the bike to work in a certain way to be fast because the rider is limited in what they can do - this place is the opposite! It's so up and down that you can sit forwards, backwards and ride around the bike around to find a big chunk of time here. The rider makes the difference at Portimao.

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Alex Lowes: A Racing Life Less Ordinary - From Being Electrocuted To Winning Suzuka

Alex Lowes has had a very different path to the top tables in racing but the three-time Suzuka 8 Hours winner wouldn't change a thing

Muhammad Ali said "champions aren't born. They're made by a desire deep inside them that is greater than any skill." The desire to reach the top comes from the bottom of your soul. The trappings of success make it an appealing life, but it's a life of graft that finally takes you to the top.

Far from having his career mapped out for him Alex Lowes had to spend the majority of his formative years putting racing on the backburner. School and work came first, and until his British Superbike title-winning season in 2013, he was a part-time electrician with a few hair-raising stories.

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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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Kawasaki Part Ways With Tom Sykes In WorldSBK

Tom Sykes is to part ways with Kawasaki in the WorldSBK championship. The 2013 WorldSBK champion is to leave the team and manufacturer with which he had virtually all of his success in the series. 

Sykes' departure has been coming for some time. The Yorkshireman has been increasingly unhappy in the team ever since Jonathan Rea joined Kawasaki. Since Rea arrived, development of the bike has been moving away from Sykes and towards Rea, understandably, given just how dominant Rea has been on the ZX-10R, winning three titles in a row and on his way to a fourth.

The situation has deteriorated even further throughout the 2018 season, as Sykes has struggled for results. After nine rounds and eighteen races, he still only has a single win this year, to go with five other podium finishes. Yet he is still capable of banging out a blisteringly quick lap, taking four poles from nine Superpoles, and further extending his unrivaled run of 46 poles in WorldSBK̇. He has long displaced Troy Corser as Mr. Superpole in the WorldSBK series. 

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2018 Misano WorldSBK: What We Learned At Misano

Jonathan Rea may have done the double at the Italian circuitm but WorldSBK was in rude health last weekend

New tires offer a new reference
Pirelli brought a huge tire range to Misano. The Italian manufacturer has been criticized at times but they certainly aren't resting on their laurels in 2018. At their home round there were six front tire options available to teams and a new option to complement the increased profile of the rear tire. This new front tire wasn't to every rider's liking but it is now “the reference for teams” according to numerous engineers. The tire offered stability under braking but was a handful for some riders when they released the brake and tried to enter the corner. It will take time to make it work perfectly and find the correct settings but it was very well received.

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2018 Misano WorldSBK Notes: The Magic Of Misano Strikes For WorldSBK

Five riders from four manufacturers stood on the Misano podium to show the strength and depth of WorldSBK

“This is the real Superbike racing” was how Marco Melandri assessed Sunday's racing at Misano and it was hard to argue with the Italian. Under blue skies and a burning sun the action on track was just as hot, with Jonathan Rea, Michael van der Mark and Melandri all fighting it out for the win.

With Chaz Davies keeping a watching brief following his Saturday podium and Eugene Laverty having stood on the Race 1 rostrum it was clear this was the best race weekend of the 2018 season. Five riders spraying Prosecco on the podium and four manufacturers able to see their riders on the box it was a fantastic weekend to bring a close to racing before the summer break.

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A Lap Of Misano With Leon Camier - Flat Out Through Curvone

Leon Camier has plenty of experience at Misano. The Red Bull Honda WorldSBK star has ridden at the Italian circuit in Grand Prix and also on a Superbike. He's spent time learning the nuances of the Rimini venue and over that time he's found out one thing: patience is key!

“Misano is a tricky circuit but it's got some interesting quirks,” said Camier. “The opening sector of the lap is very challenging, because if you make a mistake in Turn 1 it affects you for the whole sector. From Turn 1 to Turn 4 it's connected and your speed at the apex of the first corner is the key. You have to carry so much speed through the opening corner but that makes it very easy to run wide and lose time. You have to make sure to get the bike stopped at Turn 1 but you still need to carry massive speed through the corner while not running wide because you need to be in the right place for the entry to Turn 2.

“Carrying so much speed through that corner is exciting but it's also so easy to over cook it. You have to turn the bike on the edge of the tire after you've let off the brake so it's easy to be too hot into that corner. Having a good line through Turn 2 second gear and very important because you carry that speed all the way through to Turn 4. You take a short shift for Turn 3 and carry that speed to Turn 4.”

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2018 Laguna Seca WorldSBK Notes - The Wild, Wild West of WorldSBK

The American Frontier was about finding a way to survive. To do this, people from all over the world had to work together and find a way to coexist on the open plains and in the mountains. They did this because they knew the rewards could be massive. Unimaginable wealth lay beneath the rivers and mountains of the West Coast, and everyone believed they would find it.

Every racer in the world also believes that the trophies and points are at their fingertips once they have the tools at their disposal. Finding a way to work with a group of people from all over the world and making them believe in you is crucial. The American Dream was founded on the ideal that anything was possible and the Racer's Dream is based on the belief that you're the best in the world and any issues you're having are just a temporary delay of the inevitable.

At Laguna Seca we had proof once again that the Racer's Dream is real. Jonathan Rea was a highly regarded rider prior to moving to Kawasaki in 2015 but since then he has been all but unbeatable. On Sunday he claimed his 62nd WorldSBK and fourth victory at the American venue. The success that the Northern Irishman has enjoyed has been unprecedented but, at least for Rea, was the gold he'd been seeking in a river bed.

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2018 Laguna Seca World Superbike Notes: What We Learned At Laguna

The US Round of the 2018 WorldSBK season highlighted once again the importance of hard work in motorcycle racing. Last year it was hard to imagine Milwaukee Aprilia standing on the podium on merit; on Sunday Eugene Laverty made his long awaited return to the rostrum. We have seen in recent rounds Yamaha win three races with the R1, but last weekend's races arguably did more to prove the potential of the bike.

Aprilia back in the hunt

After a four-year wait Eugene Laverty finally managed to scratch an itch, and spray some prosecco. The Irishman has been a title contender in the past, though he has suffered from poor machinery in recent years, but the hard work of the Shaun Muir Racing outfit paid off with a superb weekend. Laverty was on the pace throughout and looked very comfortable from FP1 as he finally converted potential into points. His 2018 season will always be punctuated by his crash in Thailand, but it now appears to be a pause rather than a full stop on his aspirations.

Yamaha making strides

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