Latest World Superbike News

2019 WorldSBK Provisional Calendar Announced: 12 Confirmed Rounds, 1 TBA

The FIM has announced the provisional WorldSBK calendar for the 2019 season. The calendar as it stands has 13 rounds, 12 of which have been confirmed. Brno and Laguna Seca are out, while Jerez makes a comeback, with a midsummer round still to be announced. That round could be Kyalami.

The season starts out in a similar vein to previous years, kicking off proceedings at Phillip Island on 24th February, before heading to Buriram in Thailand three weeks later. Three weeks after that, the series lands in Europe, racing first at Aragon in Spain, where WorldSBK and WorldSSP are joined by the WorldSSP300 class, before heading north to Assen for the Dutch round. Four weeks after Assen, the WorldSBK paddock heads south to Italy for the round at Imola.

There has been a fair shake up of the middle of the season, with various rounds reshuffled. From Imola, the paddock heads west again to Spain, this time to Jerez, then drives all the way back again to Misano. From Misano, WorldSBK heads to the UK, for the British round at Donington Park. 

After Donington, an additional round has been scheduled, though it is not yet clear where that is. It is widely expected to be Kyalami, though details remain to be finalized. After this round, WorldSBK  heads into its long summer break, with no racing through the month of August.

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All Change In WorldSBK: BMW, Honda, Yamaha Announce New Teams And New Bikes At EICMA

While the line up for the 2019 MotoGP season was settled surprisingly early in the year, the opposite has been the case for WorldSBK. With just two weeks to go to the first full test of 2019, there are still a whole range of seats open, and questions going unanswered.

One of the reasons for the delay became clear at the EICMA show in Milan last week. While the manufacturers were presenting their newest bikes, including some of the key machines which will star in World Superbikes next year, a couple of manufacturers also presented their racing programs for 2019.

Perhaps the biggest story came from Honda, where HRC presented Althea and Moriwaki as their new partners in running their WorldSBK program. After a partnership of three years, and a relationship going back nearly two decades, Ten Kate are out, with the Italians and Japanese taking over.

It wasn't just Ten Kate: title sponsor Red Bull were also out. The energy drink firm had signed up when Nicky Hayden was with the team, a big name draw for sponsors, and a rider with a long connection to Red Bull. It was Red Bull who brought in Jake Gagne, the American who never really found his feet in the WorldSBK championship. After two years of poor results, Red Bull withdrew.

HRC + WorldSBK

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Eugene Laverty: Politics Trumps Results, Or How Beating Your Teammate Is No Longer Enough

"'I’ll do my talking on the track,' are no longer words to live by"

Musical chairs is a children's game, but in the grown-up business of the paddock it is still just as relevant as if you were at a birthday party. When the music stops, you need to be sure you have grabbed a seat. Unfortunately for Eugene Laverty he's been left as one of the last riders chasing a seat for 2019, and with Marco Melandri, Loris Baz, Jordi Torres and Xavi Fores all also running in circles, the clock is ticking until the music stops for good.

Having thought that he’d be sticking with Shaun Muir Racing for next year as the team switch to BMW, the Irishman now finds himself on the outside looking in. From feeling secure that he would have a good ride for 2019, he suddenly finds himself staring at limited opportunities.

It's not the first time that Laverty has found himself in a predicament like this. In the autumn of 2013 he missed out on staying with Aprilia and had to search for a ride, which led him from being a WorldSBK title contender to riding an uncompetitive Suzuki, and from this he began a two-year stint in MotoGP. From that he made a return to WorldSBK, which yielded solid progress in his second year with the Milwaukee Aprilia squad. But this was not enough to keep his ride, with Tom Sykes expected to be announced as the rider to replace him.

Public audition

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Wind And Rain Cause Delay For WorldSBK In Qatar

A huge storm, and the threat of more bad weather, has forced Dorna to delay action on the final day of the WorldSBK season in Qatar. Torrential rain has flooded the track, and garages, and strong winds have caused damage around the circuit, including to the podium area. Various videos and photos posted on social media showed the severity of the storm. 

For the moment, all action has been postponed, awaiting inspections of the track and the floodlights. Initially, racing had been canceled, but the organizers revised the decision and will look at various options to ensure that racing does happen. Although the WorldSBK title is settled, the WorldSSP title is still wide open, with just 5 points separating Sandro Cortese and Jules Cluzel.

There are a number of options for the organizers. They can either wait and hope the weather will clear, and run the races under the floodlights, or they can postpone the racing until Sunday. Both those options would cause a problem for the teams, many of whom are booked onto flights back to Europe tonight. That would also involve considerable cost, and an argument over who would bear it. Alternatively, Dorna could call off the final day of action altogether. 

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Lucas Mahias' Appeal Against Portimao Disqualification Upheld

Lucas Mahias has been reinstated as the winner of the WorldSSP race at Portimao. The Frenchman and the GRT Yamaha team had appealed to the Court of Arbitration For Sport after being disqualified for riding his bike back to the pits after the race had been red flagged following a crash.

Mahias had been deemed to cut the track, but the CAS upheld the appeal. The rules on how a rider must return to the pits after a red flag were sufficiently unclear that the penalty imposed was too severe. The CAS struck down the disqualification, and replaced the punishment with a fine.

Revoking the disqualification for Mahias also restores him as the winner of the Portimao round of WorldSSP. The Frenchman moves back up to third in the championship. But it also cuts into championship leader Sandro Cortese's lead, as he was demoted to sixth place in the results. Cortese leads Jules Cluzel by just 5 points in the championship. Cluzel can now win the championship by scoring 5 points over Cortese, as Cluzel has more wins during the season.

Below are press releases from the WorldSBK organizers and the FIM:


Mahias reinstated as winner in Portugal

Frenchman gets 25 points following appeal

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2018 San Juan Villicum Round Up: What We Learned In Argentina

WorldSBK's South American adventure saw the history books once again rewritten by Jonathan Rea, with the Northern Irishman claiming a tenth consecutive victory. The world champion claimed a comfortable win on Saturday, the series' first ever race in Argentina, but after a weekend of cleaning a dirty and dusty track, it was the temperature that caused problems on Sunday.

With over 43°C temperatures on the asphalt, it was as slick a surface as many riders could remember, with overnight rain also washing away any rubber that had been put down on the surface. It was easy to make a mistake, and coming from the third row of the grid Rea certainly made his fair share in the early laps. Once on clear track, however, he was imperious and comfortably the fastest man on track. He used this advantage to charge down Xavi Fores and claim a historic double that broke the long-standing record of Colin Edwards (2002) and Neil Hodgson (2003) for most consecutive victories in WorldSBK.

Digging Deep

Rea had to earn the win though. The Kawasaki rider spent Saturday night in the throes of a stomach virus, and by race day morning he was weak and tired. Spending the afternoon hydrating and trying to stay as relaxed as possible, he was likely glad of the later race start time and the extra time to be ready for action.

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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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