Latest World Superbike News

Jonathan Rea at Kawasaki: Why would he leave? Why should he leave?

Jonathan Rea on the Kawasaki ZX-10RR at the 2020 Phillip Island WorldSBK round - photo by Steve English

The news that Jonathan Rea had re-signed with Kawasaki was met with almost universal ambivalence. There are lots of pros and cons to Rea staying put. From a racing perspective, why would he leave? He has a team centred around him with a proven track record of success. What could motivate him to move? A new challenge is the reason most cited.

In 2014 there was a general feeling in the WorldSBK paddock that Rea was a rider waiting for the right opportunity to show his true ability. Years on a Honda had seen him at the sharp end of the field, despite racing with a blunt weapon. Switching to the all-conquering Kawasaki gave him the opportunity he had been waiting for.

Five world titles, 74 race wins, and 128 podiums later, and Rea is regarded as the greatest Superbike rider of all-time. There’s nothing left for Rea to prove in WorldSBK so why would he leave? A loyal team, a good bike, a hefty pay cheque and an ambassadorial role with the manufacturer when he retires would certainly make it very difficult to walk away from Team Green.

Dalliances

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Updated 2020 WorldSBK Calendar Released: WorldSBK To Stage Between 6 and 11 Rounds, Extra Races For WorldSSP And WorldSSP300

After last week's MotoGP calendar, this week sees the release of another schedule. Today, the FIM published the provisional calendar for the WorldSBK series for the rest of this year, and also announced some big changes to the schedule of the weekend.

It is a very provisional calendar. Six rounds are confirmed - insofar as anything can be confirmed during the pandemic, as they are subject to cancellation or change should governments impose new restrictions - with four rounds in Spain, one in Portugal, and one in France. Two rounds are still subject to confirmation, at San Juan Villicum in Argentina, and at Misano in Italy.

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Jonathan Rea Signs 'Multi-Year' Contract Extension With Kawasaki

The Kawasaki WorldSBK team has its line up set for the 2021 season. After signing 2020 championship leader Alex Lowes to another year back in May, Kawasaki signed a new multi-year deal with reigning champion Jonathan Rea.

The press release is short on detail as to how many years the contract is valid for, and as such, for how long Rea intends to continue racing. But it seems unlikely that Rea will in the next couple of years. The contract could also cover the period past the end of his racing career: as the most successful WorldSBK rider in history, Jonathan Rea will be a valuable marketing asset for Kawasaki for many years to come. Some form of ambassadorship will likely have been agreed between Kawasaki and Rea.

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Gossip Moves The Market: How Rider Managers Maximise Earnings

Picture the scene. The sun is setting over the hills that surround the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. The day has been fierce and the weekend is only going to get hotter. Keeping a cool head, keeping your eyes on the prize will be crucial but all you can hear is talk of chatter.

Chatter is a paddock keyword. You hear about it all the time. You hear it a lot more in June because this isn’t chatter on the bike. It’s chatter inside the paddock.

Rumours become fact very quickly in the MotoGP and WorldSBK paddocks. All it takes is a chance photograph for a story to suddenly have legs and suddenly half the paddock is running around and chasing their tails looking for quotes and concrete information.

The rider market. The silly season. The rumour mill. The fools errand. Trying to keep abreast of the market is an important part of paddock life. Rumours are currency and having good sources gives you a lot of information to trade with people. Trying to report it? If you’re hitting more than you're missing it’s a very good batting average, and people remember the wild swings more than the home runs.

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At Least Three Events Scheduled For 2020 WorldSBK Calendar, More To Follow

After the announcement that MotoGP was canceling some events with a view to moving ahead on others, today, Dorna announced a plan for the next three races on the WorldSBK calendar. Racing will resume at Jerez on the weekend after MotoGP leaves, and will then move to Portimao and Aragon.

The schedule does mean rearranging the existing plans. The Donington Park round of WorldSBK, planned for the weekend of July 5th, and the already rescheduled Assen round of WorldSBK on the weekend of August 23rd, have been postponed again. No new date has been set for the races, but the announcement says they will be reviewed as the pandemic situation develops.

Below is the press release from Dorna announcing the plans:


UPDATE: 2020 WorldSBK season situation features positive prospects

Progress is being made in order to have the World Superbike Championship restart under safe conditions this season

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Tech Briefs: Team work is the key to success in WorldSBK

Loris Baz at Philllip Island in 2020

A race team is forged on the principle of working together to find solutions. No-one can work i isolation and even though once the lights go out and a rider is out there alone the result will come on the basis of the days building up to that point. Motorcycle is a team sport. It’s the ultimate team sport. We delve into Ten Kate’s garage to see how they all work towards the ultimate goal.

How many times in all walks of life has it been said communication is key? In almost every task undertaken, having a clear plan of attack is the basis of getting the job done well. From childhood to adulthood the tasks change but the process stays the same. A checklist is key to ensuring any job is done correctly and for a race team the goal is to minimise mistakes and maximise efficiency.

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By The Numbers: Setting Up A Racing Motorcycle Using Chassis Software

Race against time

Riders and teams are in a constant battle against time at the highest levels of motorsport. And I don’t mean just the lap times: every race weekend they have just a few practice sessions to come up with the perfect setup for qualifying and the race. A setup that adapts their bike as well as possible to the nature of the track, helps it to get the best out of the tires on this type of asphalt, and gives their rider the feedback he needs to properly push the bike to its limits. This famous ‘setup’ we so often hear about is actually the combination of all the different parameters that can be adjusted on the bike. And this is where things starts to get complicated, because there are a lot of variables that can be adjusted or changed. And to make matters worse, almost all of them affect each other in some way. In this article I will explain how MotoGP teams deal with the setup.

From graph paper to spreadsheets

In the early days of motorcycle racing, bikes were a lot more basic and had only a few options to ‘tune’ the handling of the bike. Nevertheless, technicians quickly realized that they needed to keep track of some of the bike chassis parameters, such as spring rate, wheelbase, and ride height, just to name a few. With it, you could rebuild a complete bike and not accidentally change the way it handled. The resulting list became known as the setup sheet. It was still a rather short list, but it was enough to help them not to lose their way in tracking how the bike handled. With the lap times added to it later, usually alongside some remarks from the rider about the tires and the gearing, that sheet of paper was all you needed back in the old days.

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Oschersleben WorldSBK Round Officially Canceled, Jerez Rescheduled

The German round of WorldSBK at Oschersleben has now officially been canceled. With Germany still imposing restrictions due to the COVID-19 outbreak, and large-scale events being banned in the country until August 31st, it was clear that the race would have to be postponed at the very least. When postponement proved not to be possible, cancellation was the only option which remained.

In its place, Dorna is planning to hold a round of WorldSBK in Jerez. Today, Dorna, the regional government of Andalusia, and the city council of Jerez submitted a proposal to the Spanish government to stage two MotoGP races and a round of WorldSBK at the Jerez circuit, to bring a return to world championship motorcycle racing. The MotoGP races would be held on the weekends of July 19th and 26th, while the WorldSBK round would take place on the weekend of August 2nd. All races would happen with a much-reduced paddock, and without fans present.

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Another Step Closer: Dorna, Andalusia, Jerez Agree Conditions For MotoGP And WorldSBK Races At Jerez

The return of World Championship racing took a big step towards reality on Thursday morning. At a teleconference, Dorna, the regional government of Andalusia, and the city council of Jerez agreed on conditions to hold two MotoGP races and a WorldSBK round at the Jerez circuit. The conditions would included a vastly reduced paddock, and holding the races behind closed doors, with no fans present. Those conditions have been turned into a proposal and submitted to the Spanish government for consideration.

If approved, the agreement would see MotoGP race at Jerez on consecutive weekends, on the 19th and 26th of July, and WorldSBK race in Jerez a week later, on the weekend of August 2nd. Those rounds would be added to the existing and revised provisional MotoGP and WorldSBK calendars, pending the approval of the FIM. The FIM is expected to nod through those changes.

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No MotoGP In June? Germany And The Netherlands Announce Bans On Events Through End Of August

The 2020 world championship motorcycle racing calendar continues to slide due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On Tuesday evening, it became apparent that there will be no racing in either MotoGP or WorldSBK before the end of June. After last Wednesday's announcement by German Chancellor Angela Merkel that large-scale events would be banned in Germany through August 31st, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte extended the ban on large-scale events in The Netherlands to September 1st.

These two announcements have a direct bearing on the WorldSBK and MotoGP calendars. Officially, the next two MotoGP races are at the Sachsenring on June 21st, and Assen on June 28th. Those races will now have to be either postponed or rescheduled until after August 31st.

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2020 WorldSBK Calendar Updated: Aragon, Misano Postponed, Imola canceled

The next wave of rolling race postponements due to the current COVID-19 pandemic has hit. Today, the FIM announced that the next three rounds of WorldSBK, at Imola, Aragon, and Misano, have been either moved or canceled. The WorldSBK grid is now due to assemble again at the UK round of WorldSBK, at Donington Park, from 3-5 July.

That the rounds in Italy and Spain should be affected is hardly a surprise. Although recent trends in infections and deaths from the coronavirus outbreak are looking positive for both countries, they are both still a long way from a return to normality. With the Imola and Misano rounds to be held in the middle of some of the hardest hit regions in Italy, they were unlikely to go ahead as planned.

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Tech Briefs: Tyres, Or How Evolution Brings Revolution In WorldSBK

In the era of control tyres in WorldSBK Pirelli has shown that it’s no excuse to halt development

In racing, you’re always competing. You’re battling against the clock and you’re battling against your rivals. Performance and pushing the boundaries is the key to success. But what happens when you are a control supplier to a championship? For over fifteen years that’s been the conundrum for Pirelli.

It’s very easy to look at tyres in a control era and think that development has stood still. Why would a tyre company want to push to the limits when the only time they’ll be noticed is if something goes wrong? For Pirelli, the sole tyre supplier to WorldSBK since 2004, the goal is to ensure development keeps pace with the evolution of current road-going machinery.

A control tyre doesn’t have to mean a lack of development. Recent years have shown the opposite, with changes to the profiles of tyres and the introduction of a host of “development” tyres in 2019. The goal for Pirelli for these tyres is to develop them into the tyres that customers can buy in the shops for use on track days and in club races. The goal for Pirelli has always been to produce production tyres from their involvement in WorldSBK for their customers.

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Coronavirus Update: The Challenges Facing MotoGP And WorldSBK In 2020 And Beyond

No news is good news, at least as far as the current outbreak of COVID-19, or the coronavirus is concerned. And for thirteen days – nearly two whole weeks – we went without a change to the calendars of either the WorldSBK and MotoGP calendars. Given the speed at which the world has changed over the past two weeks, that is almost an eternity in normal time.

The same could not be said for other motorsport disciplines. For two weeks, we have been inundated with cancellations and postponements. The Le Mans 24 Hours Endurance motorcycle race has been postponed until August. The Daytona 200 and Daytona TT flat track races were postponed until October. The Merzouga Rally has been canceled, the route of the Silk Way Rally changed. The Isle of Man TT was canceled, Supercross and MXGP had rounds canceled and postponed.

The TT wasn't the only iconic event to be canceled. F1 canceled Monaco, probably the most prestigious race on its calendar, and postponed the races at Zandvoort and Barcelona, joining the Bahrain, Vietnam and China races in being pushed back to the second half of the year. The Le Mans 24 Hours car race was put back until September.

Changing day by day

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Assen WorldSBK Round Postponed To August - Further Changes On The Horizon

The COVID-19 outbreak has caused further delay in the WorldSBK calendar. Today, it was announced that the Dutch round of WorldSBK, due to be held at Assen on the weekend of April 19th, has been postponed, and put back to August.

The postponement of the Assen round became inevitable on Monday night, after the Dutch government extended its ban on public events until June 1st, and tightened restrictions on travel and gatherings.

Preparations for the change had been going on for some time, as the TT Circuit in Assen has a full calendar of events, with some kind of activity taking place on most days of the year. The new spot slots the WorldSBK race in between two other major events, the Gamma Racing Day, from 7th-9th August, and the Assen DTM round, from 4th-6th September.

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Dorna Press Release: Carmelo Ezpeleta - Dorna Working To Ensure Modified Calendar Is Only Consequence Of COVID-19 Outbreak

Dorna today issued the following press release, containing a letter from CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta, concerning their ongoing plans for the 2020 season:


Letter from Dorna Sports CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta
Friday, 20 March 2020

Dear all,

Today, the OR Thailand Grand Prix was set to be getting underway in Buriram; the race weekend that was meant to be the second of the season. The entire MotoGP™ paddock and family was supposed to be doing what we love the most: racing. We would have loved to watch the riders from each category fighting it out on track and delighting us to another last corner battle like we’ve come to expect from Buriram.

We would have loved to see the many international members of the paddock back hard at work for our fans; both those who travel from all over the world to join us trackside in Thailand and those who, like they do every race weekend, follow us faithfully from every corner of the globe.

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