Latest World Superbike News

Teruel WorldSBK: Jonathan Rea Grinds Down The Opposition

Jonathan Rea & Michael Ruben Rinaldi at Aragon - Photo credit WorldSBK
Jonathan Rea leads Michael Ruben Rinaldi into Turn 1 at Aragon - Photo WorldSBK

Jonathan Rea just keeps ticking boxes in his title defence. Another weekend and another victory, but crucially also another three podium finishes. Consistency wins championships, and in the history of the Superbike World Championship he has no equal in this regard.

Motorland Aragon was a case in point. With back-to-back rounds at the Spanish circuit, this was a prime opportunity for his rivals to take points away from him. Instead Rea extended his title lead to 34 points by a mixture of risk-taking on track and conservative strategy in the garage.

Aragon is historically Ducati territory. The long straight clearly plays to the strength of the Panigale V4R, its horsepowers. When riding on board with Rea throughout the race weekend we could see where his bike excels: through Turn 10 on the edge of the tyre with the throttle pinned and the rear sliding but still able to find drive grip. There’s more than one way to skin a cat, but giving up so much acceleration on the straights meant the Kawasaki rider had to push incredibly hard everywhere else.

Lessons learned

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WorldSBK Rider Coach Nicolo Canepa - Unleashing Riders' Full Potential

In racing no stone is left unturned. The bikes are tuned to perfection. Development takes place for months behind closed doors. Wind tunnels, fluid dynamic testing, analysis of data, and tyre modelling are all key components in getting the most out of the motorcycle. It’s a never-ending cycle of constant improvement with the goal of going ever faster.

The process of fine tuning the machine mechanically was always in stark contrast to that of the rider. For much of the sports history the partnership of man and machine has been talked about but while the bike is fine tuned the rider has largely been left to their own devices.

Training, nutrition, and mental preparation have been areas focused on by all teams for years but now they are starting to open their eyes to rider coaching. Over the last five years we have seen this area become increasingly important. When Valentino Rossi and Jonathan Rea both employ a coach it’s clear that even multiple World Champions can enjoy the benefits of another pair of eyes.

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Estoril Replaces Misano On 2020 WorldSBK Calendar

The 2020 WorldSBK calendar has been given another reshuffle. After the Argentina round was dropped for 2020 last week, this week, the race at Misano has been removed from the calendar, to be replaced by a race at the Estoril circuit in Portugal.

With the removal of Argentina, it made no sense to hold the Misano round on its originally scheduled date in November, but it seems that other factors, such as money and the danger of another flare up of the coronavirus, may have played a roll. Instead, the Estoril circuit, near the Portuguese capital Lisbon, has been placed on the calendar, with a round to be held from 16th-18th of October.

Estoril has previously featured on both the WorldSBK and MotoGP calendars, with MotoGP last visiting in 2012. Since then, no world championship motorcycle series has visited the track, though reports from other series suggest the track is in need of resurfacing, with low grip and a lot of bumps.

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WorldSBK Jerez Preview: Too Hot To Handle?

Lord Almighty,
I feel my temperature rising

Higher higher
It's burning through to my soul

Elvis wasn’t singing about WorldSBK racing at Jerez this weekend when he covered Burning Love almost 50 years ago, but he might as well have been. During the course of this weekend’s races the rider’s will face an incredible challenge due to the conditions.

With air temperatures hovering close to 40°C in recent weeks the difficultly is in keeping a cool head and avoiding your core temperature be rising at an alarming degree. The moment that the body temperature starts to rise, even for an elite athlete, they are running on borrowed time. When a critical point is reached the body transitions into survival mode, and suddenly the typically razor-sharp racing brain takes a back seat to surviving until the end of the race.

To combat this we’ll see riders keeping cool with air blown into their faces while they sit in the shade with cold towels wrapped around their necks and wearing ice jackets. The aim of the game is to get your body temperature as low as possible before going into battle and then hope that you’re body can deal with the heat when the action gets underway.

"I was cooking!"

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2020 WorldSBK Calendar Update: Assen, Donington, Qatar All Canceled

As the restart of the 2020 WorldSBK draws near, Dorna and the FIM have issued an updated calendar. In the previous version of the calendar, the British, Dutch, and Qatar rounds of the WorldSBK series were listed as to be determined. These three races, at Doningon Park, Assen, and the Losail International Circuit, have now been canceled due to the organizational headaches created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

With those three rounds dropped, eight rounds remain on the calendar. The season restarts at Jerez on August 2nd, the week after MotoGP's second race at the track. The WorldSBK paddock then heads west to the Portimao circuit in Portugal, before taking two weeks off and traveling to the Motorland Aragon circuit in Spain.

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Andrea Dovizioso And Michael van der Mark: Different Series, Similar Story?

Andrea Dovizioso on the podium at the 2019 round of MotoGP at Spielberg, Austria - Photo Cormac Ryan Meenan

A strange week in the rider market took another turn with the threat from Simone Battistella, manager of Andrea Dovizioso, claiming that his rider would sit out 2021 in search of the right opportunity the following year.

It’s a brave gamble to take, but with Dovi set to be 36 years old by the time the season starts in 2022, it looks like a hollow threat. If Dovi sits out a year at this stage of his career, he would find it very difficult to get back on a competitive bike in the MotoGP field.

As things stand who has more leverage? Ducati, with Jack Miller under contract - not to mention having Johann Zarco, Pecco Bagnaia and a host of other riders waiting in the wings - or a 34-year-old veteran threatening to call time on his MotoGP career?

Youth vs experience

The answer seems pretty much self-evident. Speak to MotoGP managers about riders, and they will tell you that age is a big factor, preferring youthful potential over age and experience. This is one reason managers give when you ask them about signing riders from the WorldSBK paddock: they are too old, is the general consensus, with teams preferring to take a risk on a young rider from Moto2.

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Reigning WorldSSP Champion Randy Krummenacher Splits With MV Agusta

In a surprise move, reigning WorldSSP champion Randy Krummenacher has announced that he is splitting with the MV Agusta Reparto Corse team with immediate effect.

The Swiss rider gave only vague reasons for the split. In a press release, he blamed "serious breaches on the part of the company that compromise both the rider's performance as well as his professionalism, reputation, and personal integrity." Serious claims, but then splitting right before the season restarts at Jerez on the weekend of August 2nd is a big move to make.

Krummenacher won the WorldSSP championship in 2019, riding for the Evan Bros Yamaha squad, clinching the title by just 6 points from his teammate Federico Caricasulo.

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The Whys And Wherefores Of Van der Mark's Decision To Leave Yamaha

Michael van der Mark at the 2019 WorldSBK round at Assen - Photo by Tony Goldsmith

The WorldSBK rumour mill spun into action by the news that Michael van der Mark would leave Yamaha at the end of this season. The Dutchman has enjoyed a very successful three seasons with the Crescent Racing-run operation, and there’s little to suggest that he won’t be winning races this year.

The news was first broken by Speedweek, with Ivo Schutzbach reporting that Van der Mark would switch to BMW. The website has always had their finger on the pulse of what’s happening at BMW, so it would be little surprise if this rumour turns into fact very soon. The news, though, is still a surprise.

How did it all come to this?

Van der Mark and Yamaha had seemed like a perfect match for much of their time together. The 2014 Supersport World Champion arrived and formed one of the strongest line-ups in WorldSBK when he was paired with Alex Lowes. There was little friction between the two, and their relationship grew into one of great respect and, as much as is possible in racing, friendship.

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Michael van der Mark To Leave Yamaha WorldSBK Team At The End Of 2020

Yamaha have announced that Michael van der Mark will be leaving their WorldSBK team at the end of the 2020 WorldSBK season. After what will be four seasons with the Pata Yamaha squad, the 27-year-old Dutchman has decided to leave for pastures new.

There is as yet no confirmation of where Van der Mark is heading, but reports on Speedweek suggest his destination is likely to be BMW. With Kawasaki already having signed Alex Lowes and Jonathan Rea, and little interest from either Ducati or Honda, BMW is the obvious choice.

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Misano Private Test: Oliveira Fastest After Two Days, Aprilia And Ducati Test New Aero

It has been a busy couple of days at Misano, with the KTM and Aprilia MotoGP teams, and test teams from Suzuki and Ducati, joined by WorldSBK representatives from the KRT Kawasaki squad, and a small army of Ducati teams. The MotoGP and WorldSBK riders have been able to try out the new asphalt at Misano in the blistering heat of an Italian summer.

Miguel Oliviera is fastest after the first two days, the Red Bull Tech3 rider just a couple of tenths faster on Wednesday than Pol Espargaro had been on Tuesday. Oliveira's best time of 1'32.9 is two thirds of a second off Maverick Viñales' pole time set last September, two tenths off the outright race lap record set by Andrea Dovizioso in 2018, and 1.3 seconds slower than Jorge Lorenzo's pole record from the same year.

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MotoGP And WorldSBK Back On Track: Three Days Of Testing At Misano

World championship motorcycle racing takes another step back to the season returning at Misano. The next three days sees both MotoGP and WorldSBK teams testing at the Italian circuit, preparing for the resumption of hostilities at Jerez in July and August.

Present are the MotoGP teams of KTM and Aprilia, allowed extra testing due to their status as concessions teams. Aleix Espargaro and Bradley Smith are riding for Aprilia, the second test for the Italian factory. Espargaro was forced to miss the first test, unable to travel to Misano, and so waited for this test to get back on track, as he explained to Tammy Gorali in an interview a week ago. He joins Bradley Smith, promoted from test rider to permanent rider for 2020, to replace Andrea Iannone, still suspended after a positive doping test.

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Jonathan Rea at Kawasaki: Why would he leave? Why should he leave?

Jonathan Rea on the Kawasaki ZX-10RR at the 2020 Phillip Island WorldSBK round - photo by Steve English

The news that Jonathan Rea had re-signed with Kawasaki was met with almost universal ambivalence. There are lots of pros and cons to Rea staying put. From a racing perspective, why would he leave? He has a team centred around him with a proven track record of success. What could motivate him to move? A new challenge is the reason most cited.

In 2014 there was a general feeling in the WorldSBK paddock that Rea was a rider waiting for the right opportunity to show his true ability. Years on a Honda had seen him at the sharp end of the field, despite racing with a blunt weapon. Switching to the all-conquering Kawasaki gave him the opportunity he had been waiting for.

Five world titles, 74 race wins, and 128 podiums later, and Rea is regarded as the greatest Superbike rider of all-time. There’s nothing left for Rea to prove in WorldSBK so why would he leave? A loyal team, a good bike, a hefty pay cheque and an ambassadorial role with the manufacturer when he retires would certainly make it very difficult to walk away from Team Green.

Dalliances

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Updated 2020 WorldSBK Calendar Released: WorldSBK To Stage Between 6 and 11 Rounds, Extra Races For WorldSSP And WorldSSP300

After last week's MotoGP calendar, this week sees the release of another schedule. Today, the FIM published the provisional calendar for the WorldSBK series for the rest of this year, and also announced some big changes to the schedule of the weekend.

It is a very provisional calendar. Six rounds are confirmed - insofar as anything can be confirmed during the pandemic, as they are subject to cancellation or change should governments impose new restrictions - with four rounds in Spain, one in Portugal, and one in France. Two rounds are still subject to confirmation, at San Juan Villicum in Argentina, and at Misano in Italy.

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Jonathan Rea Signs 'Multi-Year' Contract Extension With Kawasaki

The Kawasaki WorldSBK team has its line up set for the 2021 season. After signing 2020 championship leader Alex Lowes to another year back in May, Kawasaki signed a new multi-year deal with reigning champion Jonathan Rea.

The press release is short on detail as to how many years the contract is valid for, and as such, for how long Rea intends to continue racing. But it seems unlikely that Rea will in the next couple of years. The contract could also cover the period past the end of his racing career: as the most successful WorldSBK rider in history, Jonathan Rea will be a valuable marketing asset for Kawasaki for many years to come. Some form of ambassadorship will likely have been agreed between Kawasaki and Rea.

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