Gordon Ritchie WorldSBK Blog: Premature Participation

Gordon Ritchie has covered World Superbikes for over a quarter of a century, and is widely regarded as the world's leading journalist on the series. MotoMatters.com is delighted to be hosting a monthly blog by Ritchie. The full blog will be available each month for MotoMatters.com subscribers.

For many years now, WorldSBK bods of all kinds have asked themselves the same question as they wake up in strange beds in Australia, at a reliably horrible 3.30am for the first few days.

Jet lag does, at least, give you time to think of an answer to it.

That question is, ‘does WorldSBK start too early in the year?’

The answer is of course a firm yes, it does.

It’s mid-February, fergoonessakes… There is maybe still a stray Amazon Christmas gift voucher from Auntie Maud sitting unopened on the side table at home at this time of year.

And yet, just as surely, the opposite reality about WorldSBK’s February start is also true.

It is never too early in the year to get wellied right in there with points at stake before MotoGP has properly got going and gobbled up all the bandwidth of fan and media attention.

WorldSBK has not always had such early starts to the year, nor have they started off as far away from the usual Euro ‘home’ base of operations as the southern tip of mainland Australia.

The first WorldSBK season started in early April 1988, and that was in the UK, at Donington Park. Good luck trying any kind of racing tomfoolery in central England as early as mid February, then or now.

With British and Spanish starts for the next few years, all firmly inside the spring period, we even had the 1995 tour start off in early May, at Hockenheim. Early May? Even Knockhill has thawed out from a Scottish winter by early May.

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My main gripe with the WSBK calendar is that it starts with the world's best motorcycle track (in my opinion). This is a real shame for a number of reasons; it's downhill in track quality from here, as it's the first round there's little tension and the fixture has far less importance. The best track should get the best calendar slot, say 1 or 2 rounds from the end when everything is on the line. Of course there's just one problem, that's exactly when MotoGP show up!

Those who have to travel from Europe do have a tough time. They have my sympathy.

We love it. All day on the bike, three days riding for the Queenslander.  Long off season until now & at last the day has arrived, Yipee!

The worst of times, the best of times. Wisdom and foolishness on the pilgrimage to Phillip island. Thirty years since my first visit to P.I.

Hi funsize.