Latest World Superbike News
Donington Park has become the personal playground of 2013 WorldSBK champion Tom Sykes. Sykes has now claimed an incredible eight wins in a row at his home circuit, and after Sunday's races he explained how much it meant and also what it means going forward. Marcel Duinker offers his insight into whether Sykes has an advantage at Donington Park due to his riding style.
For the majority of last year PJ Jacobsen was the sole American riding in the WorldSBK paddock but last weekend the numbers swelled to three with Cameron Beaubier joining series rookie Nicky Hayden on the Superbike starting grid. The MotoAmerica champion aquitted himself well and we will assess what it means for the domestic championship.
As the world of motorcycle racing has gone made with speculation over who is to replace Jorge Lorenzo at Yamaha, and by extension, either Maverick Viñales at Suzuki or Dani Pedrosa at Honda, focus has also turned on the World Superbike paddock. There has been much talk of which riders could make the transition to MotoGP, and in turn, which MotoGP riders could try the switch to World Superbikes.
The one name that was consistently raised was reigning World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea. Given Rea's previous experience standing in for an injured Casey Stoner in 2012, there had been much speculation that Rea had both the ability and the interest in making the switch to MotoGP.
Today, Rea put an end to any such speculation. The man from Larne extended his contract with Kawasaki to remain in World Superbikes for another two years. Rea will now be racing for Kawasaki until at least the end of 2018.
It seemed like a foregone conclusion. Since Austin, when it became apparent (if not official) that Jorge Lorenzo was off to Ducati, the idea that Maverick Viñales would take his place went from being likely to seeming almost inevitable. After all, Yamaha already have a seasoned veteran in Valentino Rossi, and as 2015 showed, a rider capable of winning a MotoGP championship when the circumstances are right. What they need is someone who can make an immediate impact, a rider who can perhaps win races, and who they can develop into a world champion. That description has Maverick Viñales all over it.
Until today, that is. On Tuesday, UK publication Motorcycle News reported that the Viñales deal could be called off entirely, after a failure to agree financial terms. Instead, in a shock revelation should it turn out to be correct, MCN is linking Dani Pedrosa to the empty seat at Yamaha, with Viñales remaining at Yamaha.
How much credence should we place in the MCN story? Journalist Simon Patterson is sure of his sources, and the details are in line with what I have heard when speaking to Yamaha sources about Viñales. Paddock gossip suggest that Yamaha offered Viñales €4 million to make the switch to the Movistar Yamaha team, but that the Hamamatsu factory upped their offer to €5 million to keep the rider they regard as their future at Suzuki. Paying over that amount for a rider who is yet to score a single podium in MotoGP may have been a little too much for Yamaha.
The 2016 World Superbike calendar will have just thirteen rounds. Attempts at finding a replacement for the canceled Monza round have failed, causing the calendar to definitively lose a round.
Dorna had been in talks with several other circuits to replace the races at Monza, with the Estoril circuit being the most popular candidate. However, no agreement could be reached with any of the replacement candidates, and Dorna had no choice but to cancel.
Four rounds into the WorldSBK season we have seen three different race winners, two manufacturers vie for the title but unfortunately one man proving the dominant force.
After eight races it’s hard to imagine Jonathan Rea’s title defence having gotten off to a better start, but it’s happened despite his lack of comfort with the new Kawasaki ZX10-R Ninja. The Northern Irishman has not been comfortable with his new mount. The much discussed “low inertia” engine has clearly taken some of the edge off Rea’s confidence in the bike. With a different engine braking characteristic it has forced him to adjust his riding style to get the most from the bike.
Rea has a very natural style on the bike that has been similar on everything he has ever ridden. Whether it’s a Supersport, Superbike or even a MotoGP machine Rea has been able to ride in the same way. He’ll continue to adapt to the new bike and mould it to allow his style to flourish.
The long-term future of MotoGP and World Superbikes in Australia has been secured. Earlier this week, Dorna signed an agreement with the Victorian government and the Phillip Island circuit which will see both world championship motorcycle racing series remain at the circuit for the next ten years, until 2027.
The agreement is great news for motorcycle racing fans and riders, as the Phillip Island circuit is almost universally regarded as one of the best two or three circuits in the world. Riders praise its fast, flowing layout - it is the fastest track on the calendar, with an average speed of well over 181 km/h - and its location, perched atop a cliff overlooking the Bass Strait which separates mainland Australia from Tasmania, makes for a spectacular setting and dramatic TV images. The flowing layout always provides fantastic racing, as the 2015 MotoGP race proved.
Davies Doubles down and ups the ante on Kawasaki
It’s very easy to jump to quick conclusions during the early stages of a season. Momentum swings from one bike to another and while some riders are ascending others are having an off weekend.
However, the third round of the Superbike World Championship has definitely shown that Chaz Davies and Ducati are the form package at the moment. The Welshman and the Italian bike claimed their first wins of 2016 in Aragon but having been in the thick of the fight for five wins in the opening six races their pace has not been in question.
What had been in question was top speed. While the Ducati MotoGP bike is a verified rocket the WorldSBK specification Panigale R has traditionally struggled to keep pace with the Kawasaki on straights. In the opening rounds we saw this when Davies was easily overtaken by Rea in both Australia and Thailand. Last weekend the tables were sensationally turned.
The Monza round of World Superbikes has been canceled. The rumors that Monza would be taken off the calendar have been circulating since early February, but the cancellation was only officially confirmed today. Unofficially, the circuit has known longer: last week, the circuit replied to an email from a MotoMatters.com reader that the race would not be going ahead, and he would not be able to purchase tickets for the event on 22nd-24th July.
Good clean racing or overstepping the mark? That was the question being asked on Sunday night in Thailand after a thrilling race long duel between Tom Sykes and Jonathan Rea.
For many the sight of Sykes fighting tooth and nail and refusing to cede the win to his teammate was something that was hoped for but not expected this year. The Kawasaki teammates fought a war of words over the winter but after Rea's dominant title victory last year, many expected something similar this year.
The second round of the World Superbike Championship will take place this weekend in Thailand, and while Jonathan Rea has started the year in terrific form there's plenty of reason for optimism along the pit lane. Thailand will offer a true indication of what to expect this year in WorldSBK, and while it's unlikely we'll see the same number of bikes fighting for the win, it's likely that the scrap at the front will be just as competitive.
Rea still the man to beat in WorldSBK
We are racing at last. The first round of World Superbikes at Phillip Island means we can all breathe a sigh of relief. The long, dark winter is over, and motorcycles are circulating in earnest once again.
What to make of the first weekend of World Superbikes in the new format? Those who worried that spreading the racing over two days would hurt attendance and ruin the series have not seen their fears realized. Attendance at Phillip Island was around 75% of the MotoGP attendance there, really strong figures for the track.
The World Superbike championship is to undergo a radical shake up. Today, the Superbike Commission, WSBK's rule-making body, announced two major changes aimed at improving the health of the series.
The first change is the most noticeable. As predicted when the 2016 WSBK Calendar was published, World Superbike races are to be held on both Saturdays and Sundays, with Race 1 being held on Saturday, Race 2 on Sunday. This means that Superpole has now been moved to Saturday morning, rather than the afternoon.
The World Superbike championship promises to bring new excitement for 2016. New bikes, and above all, new riders are adding an international flavor and much more interest to the series. WSBK had already gained a top-flight American rider, with Nicky Hayden joining the Ten Kate Honda team, but now they have a top Australian rider as well.