World Superbike Championship

From Formula Rejects Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search
FIM World Superbike Championship
Category Superbike
Country/Region Worldwide
Founder(s) FIM, FG Sport
Inaugural Season 1988
Tyre supplier(s) Michelin
Team's Champion Template:Bimota Lucky Strike Fior
Records WSBK Records
Motorsport current event.svg.png Current season

The FIM World Superbike Championship is the premier class of highly modified production motorcycle racing sanctioned by the FIM. Whereas MotoGP, with its purpose-built prototypes, would be described as the Formula 1 of Motorcycle racing, WSBK is more like touring car or Grand Touring racing, with the bikes being tuned versions of road going motorcycles.


Before WSBK: A brief history of Superbike racing

The origins of Superbike racing can be traced back to the mid-70s, where a pair of Australian mechanics, brothers Ross and Ralph Hannan, built a highly-tuned Kawasaki H2 for use in both the Australian National Series and endurance races such as the Suzuka 8hours and the Bol D'Or. Featuring Australian Motorcycle hall of famer Graeme Crosby among its rider line-up, the Hannan brothers's newest contraption beacme hugely successful, to the point where their "Superbike" model became the basis for the new premier class in the Australian National Series, which would later become Australian SBK.

Soon, the "Superbike" ruleset began spreading across the world, with the American Motorcycle Association also creating a new Superbike category for its National Road Racing series, becoming extremely influential in the world of Motorcycle racing and producing stars such as Freddie Spencer, Kenny Roberts, Kevin Schwantz, Eddie Lawson, Fred Merkel and Wayne Rainey, among others.

In Europe, however, Superbikes were met with fierce competion from both the national 500cc seires and the Formula TT ruleset, which was the predominant formula for production Motorcycles at the time. However, rising costs and safety issues, particularly at events such as the Isle of Man TT and the Ulster GP allowed many local series to use the Superbije formula, including the Italian Championship, which grew enormously under the leadership of FG group, who quickly looked to bring the Superbike model to a truly global scale.


FG group's founder and CEO, former Formula 1 driver Maurizio Flammini, consulted with the prominent national superbikes series in order to fill out a satisfactory rule set for A world superbike championship. Once he came up with the new ruleset, he applied it to the FIM, who accepted the proposal. Thus, the World Superbike Championship is formed, using an engine formula that welcomes both 750cc four-stroke machines with 1000cc V-twin engines as popularised by Ducati and their new 851 Strada bike.

Along with Ducati, The big 4 Japanese Manufacturers (Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki and Kawasaki) joined the frey, with Formula TT Champions Bimota also entering the new series, using their Yamaha-powered YB4 Motorcycle that won the TT title and the Italian SBK championship. Flammini also poached events from the Formula TT series schedule, such as Donington, Hockenheim, Hungaroring and Sugo, to fill out the inaugural season's schedule.

Many of superbikes's top National series teams from across the world competed in the first season, such as Italy's Ferracci Ducati, Bimota Corse and Rumi RCM Honda squads, Hideo "Pops" Yoshimura's AMA Suzuki outfit and Aussie SBK title-winning team owner Jeff Hardwick's team. The first ever winner in WSBK history was 3-time AMA Champion Fred Merkel on the Rumi RCM Honda at the round of Donington. In total, there were 6 different winners, including Merkel, Italian Davide Tardozzi, former French Grand Prix Rider Raymond Roche on the Ferracci Ducati and Australian Mick Doohan, who surprised everyone on the grid with his stellar performances onboard a private Bimota.

The title race would end up being a duel between Merkel and Doohan, and it would be decided at the final round in Orna Park, Australia, where, despite Merkel's 9 wins throughout the season (more than anyone else on the grid), Doohan was more consistent, and he would be crowned the first ever World Superbike Champion in front of his own crowd. A few weeks later, He would depart from the series to ride for the Honda factory team for the 1989 500cc Grand Prix season.

1989 Season

The 1989 season ended up being a season-long duel for the title between Merkel, still with Rumi RCM Honda, and Raymond Roche on the Ducati 851 Strada of Fast by Ferracci. The duo would end up winning all but four races throughout the season. While Roche initially appeared as the favorite due to better consistency, A strong second half of the season by Merkel and some crucial retirements from the Frenchman meant that the American secured the title at the last round at Oran Park by finishing 2nd behind Roche in both races.

1990 Season

The 1990 season was the season where WSBK started becoming a really good championship, with the arrival fo former 500cc world champion Freddie Spencer to the Team Rumi Honda squad and Some great, competitive racing. The Rob Muzzy Kawasaki squad rose to prominence that season, with Doug Cahndler and Carl Fogarty bringing home Kawasaki's forst manufacturer's title. On the riders front, the season ended up being a year-lomg battle between the Kawasakis and Raymond Roche of Ducati, with 1989 champion Merkel and Spencer getting wins as well. A disqualification by Roche at the round of France seemd to have shifted the momentum towards Chandler and Kawasaki, but the frenchman would finish the season in style to grab his and France's first ever top flight motorcycle racing crown after his win at race 1 of the round of Malaysia.