Superbike racing is a category
of motorcycle racing that employs modified production motorcycles.
Many countries such
as Australia, Canada, Japan, New
Kingdom, and the United
States operate national superbike championships, and a World Superbike
(WSB) championship has run since 1988.
As a production racing competition, WSB has a series of regulations
laid down by the FIM managing
can be briefly summarised as follows:
- Production Motorcycles - defined as 150 models of the
entered machine, with 75 available for inspection by 31
January in the year of entry and the remainder by 30
- Capacity - which depended on the number of cylinders. 2cylinders
up to 1000cc, 3cylinders up to 900cc, and 4cylinders up to 750cc
Pre-2004, winning in the series swung between the Honda 750s (RC30,
RC45 4-cylinders), and the Ducati
916 and its derivatives (2-cylinders). After three years of Ducati
winning with Carl
Fogarty, Honda introduced the 2-cylinder VTR-1000
SP1/RC51 and won in 2000 with Colin
Edwards. Ducati then won the crown back with Troy
Bayliss on the Ducati
998, while Edwards regained the crown in 2002
All the development of new machines required money, and while WSB
was a Ducati racing focus, and Honda had the money, other motorcycle
companies didn't. As other manufacturers dropped their support of
"official factory" to support "privateer" teams, the FIM realised they needed
to change the series or watch it end.
As a result, in 2002 the
FIM started discussions on a new series of regulations that would
allow wider manufacturer support. The first change was consistent
capacity--1000cc for all entrant machines irrespective of the number
of cylinders. This was a 'standard' production engine size sold worldwide,
allowing manufacturers to absorb racing costs into production- machine
development, and market these developments. However, as this would
result in an unfair power advantage for four-cylinder machines, air-restrictors
were introduced - one restrictor plate per intake port, with sizes
of 50mm for twins and 32.5mm for fours.
The second regulation change was the use of a "control" or "spec"
tyre, to be supplied to all competitors. The bid process was won
who supply between five and seven different compounds per race.
Though top and cornering speeds have fallen, the racing has become
closer and safer.
The third change was increased minimum weight for all machines, with
165 kg (363.8 lb) pre-race, and 163.5 kg (360.5 lb) post race.
The Superbike versions of the Honda CBR 1000RR, Suzuki GSX-R1000
K5, and Yamaha YZF-R1 are all capable of generating more than 200
horsepower (150 kW). The Ducati 999 F05 can generate 194 horsepower
There were two major consequences of the regulation changes in 2004.
Firstly, Honda reduced its investment as a result of the use of
"control tyres", while other manufacturers excluding Ducati increased theirs.
As a result, Suzuki won their first championship with Troy
Corser in 2005.
While WSB has a control Pirelli tyre, national championships do not,
which means that only riders who regularly run Pirellis in their domestic
series can reaslistically enter WSB rounds. Hence, although the WSB
series tours the world, the number of wildcard national entries has
reduced from around 20% of the entries at each race to almost none
outside Italy (although England's Tommy
Hill took a pole position in 2006).
Riders also find it hard to move between WSB and national series
for single race entries, due to the use of restrictors, so that in
combination with use of control tyres their bike doesn't race or feel
like it does for the rest of the year.
As a result of Ducati developing the 1098,
the 999 machine
they are racing in the 2007
World Superbike season is effectively a non-production bike --
Ducati produced only 150 limited edition 999s in 2007 to satisfy homologation requirements.
Ducati have requested a rule change for the 2008 series,
allowing twin cylinder bikes to race at a capacity of 1200cc, thus
allowing them to race the 1098. Ducati race team manager Davide
Tardozzi has argued that the twin cylinder machine produces less
power, and therefore needs a capacity advantage over the four cylinder
The rest of the factory teams, whom having all re-entered the championship
as a result of the previous 1000cc four cylinder regulation change
and won one of the past five years championships as a result, are
reluctant to provide Ducati with what they see as a proposed advantage.
Alstare Suzuki have gone as far as to say that if the rule change
is allowed, they will enter the rival MotoGP series
with rider Max
April Ducati racing chief Claudio
Domenicali in interview with Motorcycle
News and Gazzetta
dello Sport explained that unless Ducati was allowed to race
with an 1198cc race version of the V-twin 1098 road bike, it will
quit all superbike racing at the end of the 2007s season,
including the domestic series it supports. Domenicali outlined Ducati’s
willingness to submit the bike to restriction and midseason re-assessment
of its competitiveness in 2008.
The FIM, in their recently announced rule changes for 2008, have
increased the displacement limit for a 2 cylinder engine to 1200cc,
thus allowing Ducati to race a homolgated version of their 1098 in
Although World Superbike is regulated by the FIM, the race series
is managed and promoted by Octagon Sports, based in Milan, Italy.
Octagon run the series under a company called SBK International,
whose president is Paolo Flammini
During the early 1990s World
Superbike racing was generally regarded by the public in general as
a poor cousin to the more glamorous MotoGP championship,
and to the strongest domestic motorcycle championships such as the
All-Japan series and America's AMA series - riders from these championships
often won WSB races in their homelands as one-off entrants. On the
other hand, its followers frequently enjoyed it more than GP-bike
racing because in Superbike the racing for the lead was frequently
very close, and also because spectators had easy access to both the
paddocks and to the racers themselves.
Since the mid-late 1990's,
World Superbike racing's profile has improved considerably, withstanding
considerable changes to the format, and challenging the long-time
domination of the event by Ducati, ridden by the most accomplished
World Superbike racer Carl
Fogarty, who won four championships in the 1990s.
At first, with the introduction of the control tyre in 2004 the
lap times slowed, but the quality of racing has improved and the viewership
has increased. For a brief period in the early 2000's,
the majority of Japanese official factory teams had pulled out of
the World Superbike Championship. But as of 2005,
official or quasi-official factory teams from all of the major Japanese manufacturers
(Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha)
re-entered the World Superbike Championship, once again lining up
against the long-standing factory teams from Ducati,
as well as the Petronas team.
Well-known riders of this period include 2004 champion James
Muggeridge, 1996 and 2005 champion Troy
Corser and his team-mate Yukio
Kagayama, fan favourites Noriyuki
Haga and (41-year old) Pierfrancesco
Chili, ex-GP riders Alex
McCoy, promising youngsters such as Chris
Vermeulen (who moved to MotoGP in 2006), returning World Superbike
Bayliss, and many more with devoted fans both world-wide and
in their respective countries.
National Superbike series vary greatly in challenge and popularity,
the most popular being in Britain and North America. Most European
riders graduate to MotoGP via
national 125 and 250cc series. Both Japan and Australia have well
supported national superbikes series, though they only run for short,
This series is controlled by Dorna
Sports, the promoter of MotoGP,
is considered the premier national superbike series. This is due
to the variation in the circuits used in the series, which tests
the rider technically. Ducati, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha have
all consistently ran factory teams, with Honda upping
its involvement in 2004 (winning the 2006 title with Ryuichi
Kiyonari). Riders such as Carl
Walker and James
Ellison all built their reputations through this series.
Superbike (United States)
The American series is the longest running superbike championship
starting in 1976.
The series runs from late spring to late summer. Not as well supported,
the tracks used are wider but less well used and maintained, resulting
in less technical but more difficult racing conditions. To create
greater public support, AMA allows for substantial modification of
the machine, including modifying elements of the engine block. Except
when American Nicky
Hayden was crowned champion, Mat
Mladin of Australia has dominated the AMA Superbike championship
since 1999 but
in 2006 he came in second in the championships, giving way to a new
champion, the Texan Ben
Spies, riding for the same Yoshimura Suzuki team. Ducati have
supported it strongly, but pulled their factory support at the end
Japan Superbike Championship
The Parts Canada Superbike Championship is the Canadian national
Superbike series. The series runs from May to September and consists
of six to eight rounds per season. Riders from the Canadian series
often compete in the AMA circuit during the Canadian off-season. Frequently,
certain tracks are often duplicated as a "double-round" and count
as two rounds of the Championship. Current circuits visited include
Mont-Tremblant, Mosport, Shannonville,
Calgary Race City, and Atlantic
Motorsport Park. The 2006 Champion was Jordan
A list of World Superbike champions
of World Superbike riders