The World Superbike needs a stimulus – and even its most fervent of fans would struggle to deny it.
In the vast majority of races, there are only three riders with a real chance at victory. Jonathan Rea, Tom Sykes and Chaz Davies monopolise the WSBK championship, with the occasional appearance from Marco Melandri. Without undermining the riders skill and ability, it’s seems indisputable that their Kawasaki ZX-10R’s and Ducati Panigale R’s have helped them storm the championship, as the other teams struggle to keep up.
It is true that brands like Honda, BMW and even Aprilia could redouble their investment in WSBK racing– but, the reality is that they choose to focus on MotoGP. Of course, it’s not quite to cut and dried – as Yamaha looks strong this season, with factory machines and two excellent riders in Alex Lowes and Michael van der Mark. In fact, Lowes is the only rider in 2017 who has made it onto the podium without a Kawasaki or a Ducati..
As the Superbike World Championship looks for solutions, it’s the British Superbike Championship that might have the answers.
Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne – the champion of the British Superbike and current leader – recently suggested that all the major championships that use the Superbike denomination, namely the Superbike World Championship, the British Superbike , The All-Japan Road Race Championship, MotoAmerica and the German IDM Superbike, should use the same technical regulations.
But, which one should we choose? In the Japanese Championship, Yamaha dominates. In Germany, BMW dominates. In MotoAmerica, Suzuki has toppled Yamaha from the top of the pile – and in the World Championship, it’s Kawasaki and Ducati who share the spoils. However, in the last four seasons of BSB, the winners of the British Superbike have been aboard four different bikes – a Honda, Ducati, Yamaha and a Kawasaki.
Just looking at the 2017 overall rankings of the Superbike World Championship and the British Superbike, it’s evident which championship is more evenly matched and therefore more competitive. The WSBK top four is monopolized by Kawasaki and Ducati, and the top seven features Yamaha too. Meanwhile, in the BSB, up to six brands are represented in the top seven positions.
So, while fans suggest that the Superbike World Championship has lost its way, maybe it’s time to look to the British Superbike Championship, and its common electronics and lack of traction control for inspiration.