It’s fair to say the World Superbike Championship has been a bit flat this year. The racing hasn’t been that great and the Kawasakis have just dominated, despite an improved showing by Ducati in the second half of the season.
There used to be so many strong characters in WSB, like Carl Forgarty, Scott Russel and Noriyuki Haga, who certainly weren’t as politically correct as the current riders. It’s weird to say this, but there are almost too many British riders in the WSB -British Superbike has a more international grid than WSB these days!
The new two-day format just doesn’t seem to be working either and Dorna are being very cagey about it. We know about motor sport reporters trying to interview one of the top men at Dorna about crowd figures and TV audiences but they seemed to take offense, and made it clear it was a question they didn’t want to talk about.
A WSB meeting loses a lot of its impact having the races spread over two days, and if the racing on the Saturday isn’t great then I think a lot of people don’t bother coming back on Sunday. Dorna said the move was made to create more interest and spread the racing over a full weekend but there aren’t enough strong support classes in WSB to make that work. Look at BSB – you get around 12 races in a single day.
The big selling point of WSB was always that the fans got to see two Superbike races in a single day. I wish the organizers would be big enough to admit that the experiment hasn’t worked and just change it back to its original format. And we need the return of wild card riders too. It used to be great to see American, Australian, Japanese, British and heck any other nationality riders all having a go at their home rounds, and being truly competitive too. But WSB rules are different to most domestic championships now, so that no longer happens.
Having said all that, some of the rider and team changes might shake things up a bit next year. Michael van de Mark moving to Yamaha is an interesting one, as is Stefan Bradl moving from MotoGP to join Nicky Hayden on the new Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade. Sean Muir’s team will be running Aprillias next year with Eugene Laverty and Marco Melandri may take Davide Giuliano’s ride at Ducati, so there’s lots of changes happening. Let’s hope’s it’s enough to give WSB the kick up the behind that it needs and deserves.