Latest World Superbike News

World Superbike Track Guide: Laguna Seca

There are not many circuits in the world like the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The Californian circuit offers a unique challenge in WorldSBK.

Led Zeppelin sang about Going to California and said, “I'll meet you up there where the path runs high. Standing on a hill in my mountain of dreams, telling myself it's not as hard, hard, hard as it seems.” Unfortunately for the riders in WorldSBK when you stand at the top of the mountain at Laguna Seca the challenge facing riders who dream of a win truly is as hard as it seems. This highly technical race track demands precision, consistency, imagination and above all else experience.

Coming across the line riders will take a variety of lines and gears that are defined by their bike setup. In WorldSBK gear ratios are fixed for the season and as a result we see a lot of variety at Laguna Seca. Some riders will be forced to use six gears, whereas others will use only five around the 3.6km track. With the track snaking it's way throughout the Monterey hills around a lake, it offers a little bit of everything.

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Pirelli To Bring Stiffer Rear Tire To Laguna Seca To Stem Tire Issues

The Misano round of WorldSBK was dominated by talk of tires. As such, following a weekend fraught with failures, Pirelli will revert to an older specification of tire for the Laguna Seca round. The move sees Pirelli at a crossroads, after a series of high profile incidents during the scorching weekend in Italy.

This includes Michael van der Mark's crash from the lead of Saturday's race, after a tire failure saw the Dutch rider robbed of his chance to claim his first podium for Yamaha. One has to remember too, Jonathan Rea also crashed out of the lead at the previous round in Donington Park, as it was a shock to see the previously robust Pirelli fail once again.

"Johnny was using the V0602 tire, which is a development SC0, but Van der Mark was a standard SC0 tire," said Pirelli's Communication Manager, Matteo Giusti.

"The standard has been available for more than one year and has been used many times. They were two different tires and two different problems with different damage to them.Johnny had a tear in his tire that was about 10cm along the side of the tire whereas Michael had a small hole in the surface. With Mickey's tire you can put your finger through the tire but we are not sure what happened to cause this on the tire."

Pirelli separates its tires by their family of compound. In the case of the tires that suffered the issues, they were the SC0 compound. Within those tires, things get divided further, as there are 'standard' and 'development' tires within the family.

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Pirelli On Van der Mark's Tire: "We Have Not Had This Issue Before"

Michael van der Mark suffered a rear tire failures during the closing stages of Race 1 of the Misano WorldSBK round. The Dutch rider was leading the race at the time and had a firm chance to claim a first career victory in the class when his rear tire suddenly failed and pitched him off the bike through the series of fast right handers at the end of the lap.

For Pirelli it is the second round in a row where they have seen a tire failure affect the outcome of a race after Jonathan Rea suffered the same fate at Donington Park. Three weeks ago Rea was using a development SC0 compound tire when he suffered an instantaneous drop in pressure after the tire came off the rim and caused him to crash at the Old Hairpin. In Rea's case the damage was different to Van der Mark's as explained by Pirelli's Communication Manager, Matteo Giusti:

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World Superbike Considering Switch To Spec ECU

With part of the WorldSBK paddock present in Barcelona for the MotoGP race last weekend, the Superbike Commission, the series' rulemaking body, met at Montmelo to discuss changes to the WorldSBK rules. Though much of what was agreed in the meeting amounted to a tidying up of the starting procedure, a big talking point was the introduction of a single ECU.

The various members of the Superbike Commission discussed whether a spec ECU should be introduced for the 2018 season. They did not reach an agreement on the subject at Barcelona, but, according to the press release issued by the FIM, they do expect the matter to be settled within the next few weeks. 

This suggests that the introduction of a spec ECU is inevitable. Dorna and the FIM will be pushing hard for this, as the spec ECU is perceived to have been a success in MotoGP, leveling the playing field between the different factories. Whether it will be such a success in WorldSBK remains to be proven, as there are many more factors involved in the series, most particularly the fact that the bikes are based on production vehicles, limiting the base from where development begins. Whether that will be addressed at a later date remains to be seen.

The press release issued by the FIM containing the minutes of the Superbike commission are shown below:

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2017 Donington Park WorldSBK Round Up: Kawasaki's 100th, A Streak Broken, And Silly Season Stirs

The WorldSBK paddock and the racing community came together at Donington Park to pay tribute to Nicky Hayden but after two great races in the Superbike class, a Supersport race that saw great battles and a Supersport 300 race that saw a three rider scrap for the win, it was the racing that paid the biggest tribute to The Kentucky Kid.

The weekend started and ended on an emotional note but it was Kawasaki that took the spoils with a dominant weekend that saw the Japanese marque claim Superbike, Superstock and Supersport honors. With victories for Tom Sykes and Jonathan Rea the manufacturer also clocked up their 100th victory in WorldSBK.

In parc ferme after the race the release of emotion was clear to see with both riders enjoying the moment with the team. The celebratory mood started with Rea giving his son, Jake, a lift into the closed area on the tank of his ZX10-RR and from that point onwards it was clear how much the win meant for the world champion.

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A Tribute To Nicky Hayden, By Steve English

As a tribute to Nicky Hayden, who tragically died last week, succumbing to the injuries sustained in a cycling accident, we will be running a series of three articles over the next couple of days, by WorldSBK commentator and Paddock Pass Podcast member Steve English.

The first piece is Steve's moving tribute and memories of Hayden from working with him in both the MotoGP and WorldSBK paddocks.

I've always been a fan of racing and from my earliest memories all I can remember is watching racing and loving it. From when I started watching motorcycle racing, I was drawn towards Flat Track racers from the United States. Perhaps it was because the risks they take are so similar to Road Racing in Ireland, or just their style on a bike. There was always an attraction for me towards Flat Trackers and as a child the riders I admired were Americans who grew up on the dirt. Whether it was hearing stories of Kenny Roberts and Freddie Spencer or watching Wayne Rainey and Kevin Schwantz, the Americans held a certain mystique for me.

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2017 Donington Park WorldSBK Race 1 Notes: Weird Crashes And Tough Performances

Notes and quotes on the first WorldSBK race from our man on the ground at Donington Park:

On a day when Nicky Hayden wasn't far from anyone's minds the WorldSBK paddock paid tribute to The Kentucky Kid. With a minute's silence, tribute videos and the Stars and Stripes fluttering in the breeze as fans lined Donington Park the American flag it was the racing that truly honored Hayden.

Tom Sykes was able to take his ninth consecutive victory at Donington Park, a series record at a single circuit, but the Englishman had to work hard to claim it. Having taken his first pole position of the season Sykes was outmuscled by Chaz Davies and Jonathan Rea on the opening laps and forced to overcome a two second gap to his Kawasaki teammate Rea after a crash from Davies.

In the early stages of the race Sykes was having to fight his Kawasaki more than his rivals with the 2013 WorldSBK champion having to deal with the bike sliding underneath him. The track conditions were difficult with a high wind and lower track temperatures wreaking havoc. Sykes was able to make his tires last and get back to the front but his teammate Rea wasn't so lucky.

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Nicky Hayden Hospitalized After Cycling Crash In Italy - UPDATE

Nicky Hayden has been hospitalized after a collision with a car while training on his bicycle near Riccione in Italy. According to reports from local newspaper Rimini Today, Hayden was out cycling on Wednesday afternoon when at around 2pm, he was hit by a car. The causes of the accident are as yet uncertain.

Hayden was treated for his injuries by the emergency services, and then taken to the emergency department of Rimini Hospital. He was assessed there, and was transferred to the Bufalini Hospital in Cesena, 40km away. According to reports from Italy, he is being treated in the trauma center of that hospital.

The precise extent of Hayden's injuries is as yet unknown. As soon as we have more confirmed details, we will let you know.

UPDATE: 22:14 CEST

According to GPOne.com, the press chief of the Bufalini hospital issued a statement on Nicky Hayden, saying that Hayden was in a "very serious" condition and that he has been moved to the intensive care unit. Hayden is in a coma for the time being, and will be assessed again on Thursday.

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Concessions and control ECU on the cards for WorldSBK?

Momentum for a technical shake-up in WorldSBK has increased but the manner to instigate that change is a big question

The Imola paddock was full of rumor and discussion about changes to the technical regulations for 2018. With Kawasaki and Ducati having shared all but four wins since the start of the 2015 season there have been calls to grant other manufacturers some avenues with which to improve performance. Discussions between the manufacturers took place once again in Italy to lay down a framework for the future.

No answers were forthcoming but with Yamaha and Honda having brought all-new Superbikes to the series in the last year and struggled to compete with the front runners it is clear that the winds of change may be in the air. For 2017 Aprilia increased their involvement with the Milwaukee Aprilia bikes built and prepared in Italy. The former title winning marque has thus far failed live up to preseason expectations.

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WorldSBK: Clock Is Ticking As Hayden And Honda Search For Solutions

Assen had been earmarked as a key round for Honda in their search for competitiveness in WorldSBK. It passed with more confirmation that the team's struggles will continue

Nine points were all that Nicky Hayden had to show for himself at the end of a trying weekend at the TT Circuit of Assen. The Honda rider was able to show some signs of improved competitiveness at times during the weekend but overall the same flaws of the Honda Fireblade have been exposed once again.

Reliability and inability to bring competitive upgrades to the table cost Hayden dearly at Assen. The week before the Dutch round the team tested a new engine specification in Portimao and the American came away disappointed with a lack of progress.

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