Fabrizio Pirovano (Yamaha FZR750) was after a certain Michael “Mick” Doohan (in the second race in Sugo/Japan, the 10th round in WSBK history) the second rider to win a round of the Superbike World Championship for Yamaha. The fast Italian won the eleventh race of the 1988 season at Le Mans (France) in the wet and finished second in WorldSBK ahead of Davide Tardozzi (on a Yamaha-powered Bimota YB4EI) in that first year. Even then, with Sugo (JAP), Oran Park (AUS) and Manfeild (NZL), 3 of 9 rounds took place outside of Europe (© WorldSBK).

Suboptimal planning from WorldSBK’s FIM and Dorna

For the 36th year of the near-series world championship, the season will start very early next year. The first two rounds also take place in exactly the opposite order to last year. While the Phillip Island (Australia) event forms the final after the Indonesian weekend on the island of Lombok (Indonesia) in 2022, the season Down Under begins a year later. At first glance, the still provisional calendar, which according to FIM and Dorna is incomplete for the time being, seems halfway balanced. Above all, the season starts like 2020, when after the season opener in Australia the Covid-19 pandemic caused chaos, very early on the last weekend of February. Estoril (Portugal) is no longer on the calendar for the time being, but this does not necessarily mean that this round, which was held in May in 2022, will be completely cancelled.

The provisional calendar for the 2023 WorldSBK season, with one round remaining according to the FIM and Dorna. Slated to take place between spring and fall, San Juan, Argentina will mark the finale of what is expected to be a 12-round season. There were no surprises like in MotoGP – with the new events in Kazakhstan and India – apart from a few redistributions this time. In any case, the fans at Motorland Aragon should be less cold than in previous years. On the other hand, action is already announced at the beginning of May on the Circuito de Cataluña in Montmeló near Barcelona and not only in the second half of September.
From our 2020 trip to Phillip Island (Australia) on a tour of the route – with Bass Strait in the background. Together with Donington Park one of the most beautiful circuits ever, but of course almost inaccessible for most European fans. Unfortunately, the food and hotel on our trip were expensive and very bad. The same was true for Alcaniz at Motorland Aragon, where it looks absolutely the worst in terms of accommodation compared to other events.

Very long break and many clashes

At second glance, and that is why we have also put together the combined calendar with MotoGP below (still without the 12th round of WorldSBK, as this has not yet been decided), there is no positive picture of the planning on the part of those responsible. No less than 4 rounds collide in the calendar, which is a big problem especially for September 9th and 10th. With the WorldSBK round at Magny-Cours near Nevers in Burgundy and the Grand Prix of San Marino, there are even two European rounds taking place on the same weekend. Thus, once again, FIM and Dorna failed to put together a balanced calendar for the two series. This is once again very annoying for reporters, fans and of course WorldSBK most of all.

The combined WorldSBK and MotoGP (in light blue) Road Championship calendar for 2023, with a great deal of overlap in the second half of the season for the two series. This has many disadvantages, especially for teams, drivers and sponsors, since the more popular prototype world championship cannibalizes the near-series world championship. Absolutely nothing new on the part of FIM and Dorna, the protagonists and fans have been used to this for a long time. It’s a shame though.

The most recommended World SBK events

Despite another early date in the second half of April, Assen in particular, as one of the absolute classics, should be one of the most attractive weekends for Europeans. In the Netherlands, everything is usually just right for the fans. In contrast to Barcelona (in 2022 there was only one stand at the main entrance, the only one with only one open gate, which provoked hours of queues, especially on Sundays) and the atmosphere in the “Cathedral of Speed” is excellent. hard to beat. The classic Donington in England (the first race in WorldSBK history in 1988) and Most with its many natural grandstands can definitely be recommended. In addition, of course, the France round in Magny-Cours, on a very special course. The Autodromo do Algarve in Portugal, on the other hand, only to a limited extent for reasons similar to those in Barcelona.

Our view of the only open aid stand inside Portimão’s main grandstand during one of the race breaks speaks volumes. As in Barcelona in September 2022, all other sales stands were closed for reasons of economy and the fans had to queue endlessly. Like the Circuito de Cataluña in Catalonia, the Autodromo do Algarve is a beautiful track to visit, but there is simply not enough being done for the fans.
Our snap from the Catalan WorldSBK race with a totally undiscovered WSBK icon in his black t-shirt watching the paddock show – Troy Bayliss watched the WSSP race where his son sadly crashed out. On the Australian weekend of 2020 we had photographed him as a guest commentator.

How is the sport going?

A questionable interpretation of the technical regulations by the FIM gave Ducati a clear advantage over the competition. Even if practically all media and commentators are constantly fooling their readers and listeners, the competition has been completely distorted since 2019. And the fairy tale of “Ducati Power” has exactly one single background in WorldSBK, and unfortunately, from the point of view of many fans, it is worthless from a sporting point of view. You can see it with the naked eye when you see Alvaro Bautista literally fly past all opponents on the long straights. Significantly more speed of its Panigale V4 compared to all competitors in combination with its flyweight works wonders. On the other hand, record world champion Johnny Rea was completely braked on his Kawasaki ZX-10RR, which has been completely renewed since 2021, and his engine was literally castrated. Because of this, and because Bautista went almost flawless in contrast to 2019, the 2022 season was one of the most boring in history. This is unlikely to change much in the coming year.

The artificial castration of the world champion make from 2015 to 2020 is highlighted in yellow – despite the completely new model, Kawasaki was robbed of practically all chances of winning a new title just a few days before the start of the 2021 season. Completely insidious by the FIM, all pre-season tests of the Greens became almost worthless because the gear ratios no longer fit due to the speed reduction. The result was countless falls by the reigning world champion Jonathan Rea and also in 2022 an absolute lack of a chance on fast routes compared to the competition. As early as the late 1960s, the FIM had alienated the Japanese brands in Grand Prix racing. The next coup followed half a century later.
A look at the 5-cylinder 125 cc GP Honda from 1966 – a technical marvel and even superior to the Japanese competition at the time. The Swiss racing midget Luigi Taveri clearly won this year’s World Championship ahead of the tiny Bill Ivy (England) on a Yamaha, who won the title the following year. Honda, on the other hand, concentrated only on the middle and larger classes from 1967 onwards. With success, as proved by Mike “the Bike” Hailwood’s world title in the 250 cc class on the 6-cylinder four-stroke Honda. Before the 1968 season, when the FIM decided to make a drastic change in regulations to eliminate Japanese dominance, Honda and Suzuki decided to withdraw from the world championship, causing a sporting scandal. The supreme motor sport authority never did anything against the dominance of MV Agusta in the premier class, although their drivers sometimes won race after race with a minute advantage.