Latest World Superbike News

FIM & Dorna Address Safety Concerns By Raising Minimum Ages And Working On Rider Equipment And Communication

The Permanent Bureau, the joint body comprising the FIM and Dorna, who run short circuit motorcycle racing, have announced major steps to improve rider safety in all championships run or backed by Dorna. Ages are to be raised, grid sizes are to be limited, and work will continue to improve rider safety equipment and rider communication.

It is worth reading the press release in full for the complete details, but here is a summary of the key points:

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Jerez WorldSBK Action Canceled On Saturday After Dean Berta Viñales Dies In WorldSSP300 Crash

The Saturday afternoon races in the WorldSBK championship have been canceled after a fatal accident in the WorldSSP300 class. Dean Berta Viñales, riding for the Viñales Racing Team, fell at Turn 2 on lap 10, in the middle of a group of riders, and was struck by another bike. The Spaniard suffered severe chest and head injuries, and died as a result of the injuries sustained.

The WorldSSP300 race was immediately red-flagged, and Viñales was treated at trackside, before being taken by helicopter to a nearby hospital, but his injuries were too severe to be survivable. Dean Berta Viñales is the cousin of Aprilia MotoGP rider Maverick, and rode in the team run by Maverick Viñales' father Angel. Dean Berta Viñales was 15 years and 4 months old.

All action was stopped for the remainder of the day. The World Superbike and World Supersport races were both canceled. Jeffrey Buis was declared the winner of the WorldSSP300 race, ahead of Iñigo Iglesias and Bahattin Sofuoglu.

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Toprak Razgatlioglu Signs On For Two More Years In WorldSBK With Yamaha

Toprak Razgatlioglu is to remain in WorldSBK for two more seasons. The Turkish rider agreed a deal with Yamaha which will see him continue with the factory World Superbike squad through the 2023 season.

The deal was something of a surprise, as Razgatlioglu had been heavily linked with the empty seat (or more likely, seats) in Yamaha's MotoGP teams. At 24, and showing a lot of potential, Razgatlioglu seemed ripe for a switch to the MotoGP paddock. However, he has chosen to remain in WorldSBK and pursue the goal of becoming the first Turkish rider to win a World Superbike title.

Razgatlioglu's manager, former World Supersport champion Kenan Sofuoglu, is believed to have a hand in Razgatlioglu's decision. Sofuoglu is a strong supporter of the WorldSBK series, in part because of his own successes in the championship, and in part because of his own bad experiences when he switched to Moto2.

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Steve English Superbike Snippets - Round 2, Estoril: Rea's Risk Averseness, A Deep Field, And Gerloff's Pitlane Penalty

Back to back rounds kicked off the WorldSBK season and after six races, Jonathan Rea has opened a commanding 35-point lead. Estoril showed that the field is competitive but that Rea and Kawasaki still have the edge thanks to their experience and consistency. Over the course of a full season he’s very hard to beat, but over a race weekend it can be a very different story. Here’s some of the biggest stories from the paddock in Portugal.

Jonathan Rea is the margin for error

I said it on commentary this weekend, Rea is your margin for error. Whatever the circumstances in WorldSBK the Northern Irishman can make the most of the situation. He doesn’t make many mistakes and he’s always ready to capitalise on those of his rivals. On Sunday it was Scott Redding’s mistake when he tried to retake the lead that Rea took advantage of.

The Kawasaki rider has claimed over 100 victories by, amazingly, being more risk averse than his rivals. It’s very rare that Team 65 go to the grid with question marks. Rea and his crew chief, Pere Riba, generally use tried and tested settings rather than looking for a magic bullet on their tough weekends.

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Steve English Superbike Snippets - Round 1, Aragon: Kawasaki's Lost Revs, Intermediates vs Slicks, Toprak's Work Ethic, And BMW Rising

The opening round of the 2021 Superbike World Championship is in the books and after three intriguing races there’s a lot to dissect ahead of this weekend’s round at Estoril.

New Kawasaki

The “new” Kawasaki ZX10-RR certainly looks different. With aerodynamic upgrades it has a very different profile, but this is very much a facelift rather than a new model. Engine upgrades were quite limited but with some new parts they had found a not insignificant 500rpm. During the winter Jonathan Rea and Alex Lowes both commented that the bike was now much better as they wound on the power.

With a much fuller power curve the big advantage is found mid-range rather than in outright power. The Kawasaki doesn’t make its power at maximum revs. “We’ve been filling in the gaps of the power curve” was how Rea explained the improvements. That didn’t mean the team weren’t frustrated to lose the extra revs though.

Clearly annoyed at finding improvements and not being able to use them will always leave a team feeling exposed but in Aragon they found a way to make it work. The Kawasaki came away with podiums in all three races and leading the standings. It was a fantastic weekend for Team Green and gives them a lot to build on.

Rea’s performances will never surprise. Winning his 100th WorldSBK race on Saturday got a monkey off his back but as he was always going to win races this year, it was a question of when, not if.

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Troy Bayliss Suffers Neck Injury In Bicycle Accident

WorldSBK legend Troy Bayliss has fractured his neck in an accident on a bicycle. The Australian, always a keen cyclist, fractured his C4 vertebra when he crashed into another bicycle while out riding.

In a press release issued by Ducati, with whom Bayliss retains a close relationship, Bayliss announced he had suffered some nerve damage as well as fracturing the bone, that has left him with limited motion. The prognosis for recovery is good, according to Bayliss and his doctors, but that puts him out of action for a long time.

We wish Bayliss a full and speedy recovery.

The Ducati press release appears below:


Troy Bayliss confirms injuries after bicycle crash

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2021 WorldSBK Season Preview - A New Era Beckons

There are few things better than the off-season for teams and riders in any championship. The winter is spent fine tuning. The big questions get answered and teams are filled with optimism. During testing teams run through their programmes without pressure. There are eight hours of running each day. There is always tomorrow.

But now, tomorrow has arrived. The new WorldSBK season kicks off in Aragon this week, and suddenly the pressure cooker environment of a race weekend is back. A qualifying tyre at the end of a test day papers over the cracks and shows a competitive time, but with everyone working to different programmes a clear picture never fully emerges.

That changes on the opening day of the season when suddenly the evidence is available on the timing screens. Are you fast enough? Can you make the tyre last? Is this the year that it all falls into place? Is this the year that it all falls apart? The winter war is over but now the ground battles are gearing up. The timing screens hold the truth and they don’t lie.

Potential

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2021 WorldSBK Calendar Updated Again - Phillip Island Dropped, Czech Round In Most Added

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.

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2021 WorldSBK Calendar Updated - Estoril To Be Second Race Of The 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.

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2021 WorldSBK Calendar Updated - Estoril Postponed, Navarra Joins The Calendar

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.

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2021 WorldSBK Calendar Update - Assen Round Postponed To July, Season Starts In Estoril

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.

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Jerez WorldSBK Wash Out After Rain Stops Play

Rain forced the WorldSBK teams assembled at Jerez to abandon the test planned for the past two days. Though the weather was better on Thursday than it had been on Wednesday, the track took a long time to dry out, and with only 8 days of testing for the season, the teams decided to call off the test instead.

Honda and Kawasaki will return to Jerez next week, with Honda testing for two days, on January 27th and 28th, and Kawasaki to test on 28th. The forecast for that period is currently for good weather, which promises a dry track.

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Rain Means Track Is Mostly Silent At Jerez WorldSBK Test

Heavy rain throughout the day meant no action for most of the WorldSBK grid at Jerez for the first test of the year. Nothing was to be learned in the wet, and so the day was spent sitting in garages hoping for better weather. Maverick Viñales, who had been intending to test on a Yamaha R1 production bike, decided to abandon the test altogether.

No such luxury for HRC MotoGP test rider Stefan Bradl, who put in a total of 20 laps on the RC213V, as he worked his way through a list of test items for the 2021 Honda MotoGP machine. Bradl was joined on track by Leonardo Taccini, Orelac World Supersport rider, making his debut on the ZX-6RR.

All hope is now on better weather tomorrow, though the forecast is not positive. Light rain is forecast for most of the day.

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Bikes Back On Track As WorldSBK Testing Resumes At Jerez

Despite the best efforts of the coronavirus, the winter break is nearly over, for the WorldSBK series at least. On Wednesday, half of the WorldSBK grid take to the track at Jerez for the first major test of the 2021 season. They will be working on their preparations for the season opener, not at Phillip Island, due to the travel restrictions still in place for Australia due to the pandemic, but at the Assen circuit in The Netherlands on April 23rd.

The weather does not look like playing ball for the first full test of the season. The forecast is currently for rain on both days of the test, heaviest on Wednesday but easing off on Thursday. Wednesday may see a dry spell in the afternoon, but whether that means the track will dry enough to produce usable data is open to question.

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What Will The 2021 WorldSBK Grid Look Like?

Same old, same old in WorldSBK season. Jonathan Rea walking away with his sixth consecutive title. Kawasaki doing the same with the manufacturers title. No matter what happens Rea and Kawasaki have all the answers and the title all sewn up.

That’s the narrative spun by many about WorldSBK but the reality is very different. Rea and Kawasaki might have won the titles, but this was a challenging season for both that ended with the ZX10-RR clearly outmatched at two of the last three rounds. Ducati had the bike to beat in 2020 but too many riders fighting with one another.

Yamaha are close, very close, and have a hungry rider line-up. The return of a full-blooded factory effort from Honda showed lots of encouraging signs. BMW were a write off this year but still claimed two pole positions and have an all-new bike coming for next season. The future is brighter for WorldSBK than it has been for many years.

New era?

The season began with a classic in Phillip Island. Three great races and a tenth of second the combined victory margin. It was a terrific blend of strategy and different bikes. It encapsulated why WorldSBK is looking forward rather than to the past. We don’t have to look at the “golden age of Superbikes” any longer. We’re living one. Seven different riders won races. Ten riders stood on the rostrum.

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