World Superbike is back and it gave us an exciting opening race. The season normally starts in Australia before taking a long break, giving us a strange pre-season race, but with the pandemic curbing the usual scheme of things, the opening round at Aragon had a lot to live up to, and it delivered.
World Supersport Superpole qualifying opened under excellent weather, giving the rider the best chance to set their best laps. With no qualifying tyres available, times set in the first half of the session may be the qualifying times.
Nikki Tuuli continued his pace, albeit slower than this morning, with the quickest time in both sessions. Steven Odendaal was second quickest again, ahead of Jules Cluzel and Randy Krummenacher who finally set a lap time, fourth quickest this session and eighth overall.
World Supersport standings after the first race at Aragon:
Nikki Tuuli, the lone MV Agusta on the grid, set the quickest time ahead of the Yahama of Steven Odendaal and the Kawasaki of Philipp Oettl. Jules Cluzel was fourth quickest, ahead of five other Yamahas. With the MV Agusta the only triple-cylinder machine on the grid, until the proposed changes next year bring Triumph triples and Ducati twins to the battle, this might be its last year to leave its mark on the championship.
The 2021 WorldSBK calendar has been updated once again in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. After delaying the Australian round provisionally until the end of the season, the Phillip Island event has now been postponed until 2022. And a race in the Czech Republic, in Most, has been added in the middle of the calendar.
The Australian round has always been the most precarious date on the calendar. Australia continues to impose very strict rules on entry into the country, with restrictions making inbound and outbound travel almost impossible. Rather than wait out the uncertainty of whether a race might take place in 2021, Dorna and the organizers decided to move the race back a few months to its previous place as the opening round of the 2022 season.
After the previous revision to the 2021 WorldSBK calendar, where the Estoril round was postponed, Dorna, the FIM and the Circuito Estoril have found a new date for the Portuguese round of the World Superbike Championship. The Estoril round is to be held the week after the opening round at Aragon, from May 28th to May 30th.
The season will start at the Motorland Aragon circuit near Alcañiz on May 21st, before heading to Estoril. The tail end of the season is still to be settled, with the controversial Mandalika circuit in Indonesia set for November, and a date for the Australian round to be announced for the end of the year.
The revised calendar appears below:
2021 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship
provisional calendar update
The Circuito Estoril will host the second Round of the 2021 season with WorldSBK and WorldSSP classes taking to the Portuguese venue.
The Covid-19 pandemic has pushed back the start of the WorldSBK season even further. After the Assen SBK round, which had been due to kick off the 2021 WorldSBK season, was postponed until July, Estoril had taken over as season opener. Now, however, the number of Covid-19 cases and the prevalence of the Brazilian variant in Portugal has meant that travel restrictions imposed to combat the virus make holding the Estoril round on the proposed dates extremely uncertain.
As a result, the Estoril round has also been postponed until later in the year. At the current point in time, a new date for the Portuguese round has not been set, but the most likely timing for the race is around July or August. That is when both the weather conditions are favorable and there are the biggest gaps in the schedule.
The second biggest category within the second biggest global bike racing series has always been something of a halfway house in terms of its public profile. The FIM Supersport World Championship’s overall reputation, relative status and true importance is therefore always a good topic for bar room discussion. If only we were allowed to go to the bar, of course.
Featuring riders on the way up, riders on the way back down, and some riders simply finding their personal ceiling or a natural specialisation in 600cc racing, WorldSSP has often been the best class to watch.
WorldSSP has always waxed and waned in how far it ever emerges from behind the more puffed-up and attention-grabbing WorldSBK class. Since MotoGP has propelled itself into a nearly global motorsport must-see, at the expense of the WorldSBK paddock in general, WorldSSP has arguably been even more hidden from view than at any time in its turbulent life.
The start of the 2021 WorldSBK season will have to wait for another two weeks. The Dutch round of WorldSBK, scheduled to take place at the TT Circuit Assen from 23-25th April, has been pushed back to 23-25th of July due to Covid-19 restrictions. The season will now start at Estoril, on the weekend of May 9th.
The postponement of the WorldSBK race to the end of July is a result of local restrictions put in place by the mayors of the largest municipalities in the Dutch province of Drenthe, where the TT Circuit Assen is located. The mayors have agreed to ban large-scale events until June 1st 2021, which rules out holding World Superbikes on the originally scheduled weekend.