Embarrassing statistics fraud damages former WSBK icons
A lot of nonsense has been said recently about the supposed record numbers of current WSBK riders like Alvaro Bautista (Ducati) or Yamaha’s figurehead (from 2020 to 2023) Toprak Razgatlioglu. Various journalists deliberately compared apples with pears. Above all, everyone generally makes the mistake of counting victories in sprint races as full-fledged race victories, which is of course completely nonsensical and would never occur to anyone in MotoGP. This is for the simple reason that races over the full distance are referred to as Grand Prix victories and this cannot be mixed with the Sprint Race, which has also been introduced there since 2023. Actually absolutely logical, because both there and in WorldSBK only the first 9 in the rankings receive points, instead of 15 like over the full distance. In addition, the winner of the Tissot sprint race only receives 12 points, instead of 25 for real race victories. This makes it clear that sprint race successes should only be counted statistically at most or not at all. Also very important: If you compare today with the past, when there were no sprint races, it becomes unfair. This is exactly what Dorna, like countless other writers, doesn’t care about.
Lack of respect for the achievements of heroes of previous years
When comparing today’s riders like Alvaro Bautista with former WorldSBK icons, one should be particularly careful. There are several reasons for this. One of them is the fact that the Spanish midget was virtually unsuccessful in the Superbike World Championship in his two years for the Honda factory team. With only two third podium finishes and 9th and 10th place in the World Championship, the Spaniard is definitely a dwarf compared to Johnny Rea and Carl Fogarty during their time for Honda. In addition, the little man from Talavera de la Reina (southwest of Spain’s capital Madrid) hardly had to take any risks and fight for most of his victories on the Ducati Panigale V4R. He could rely on the blatant superiority in acceleration and a top speed that was around 15 to 25 km/h higher than the competition. “King” Carl Fogarty won at least 4 races on a Honda in 1996, as the reigning world champion, who had won 13 of 24 races for Ducati the previous year. In his year for the Japanese factory there were 6 different race winners and 5 of them won at least two races. Foggy, like Colin Edwards or Noriyuki “Nitro Nori” Haga, had a charisma as a pilot that a Bautista and many of today’s top MotoGP riders can only dream of. This is not the only reason why we are calling for more fairness when comparing today’s performances with those of riders from the golden years of WorldSBK.
Base motives as the cause of distortion of facts
Because the majority of journalists are driven by sensationalism and headline madness, most of them rarely take the truth seriously. Of course, this creates a lot of lies and half-truths, which unfortunately also affects motorsport. It was recently claimed, for example, that the only MotoGP rookie Augusto Fernandez was losing his permanent place in the Tech 3 team on a KTM that was used as “GasGas” in the premier class. A little later it became clear that this was a false report and Pol Espargaró was demoted by the Orange from Austria from regular to replacement driver for the coming year. As a rule, base motives cause journalists to distort the facts, see also the sensationalist press and so-called tabloid journalism. Many a writer would sell his mother or grandmother for an effective headline. That’s why it doesn’t hurt such people to ruthlessly trash the achievements of former sports greats or at least label them as outdated. But they can’t change the fact that today’s top drivers seem like well-behaved monastery students compared to previous racing personalities.
Correct behavior and honest presentation are necessary
Alvaro Bautista is a very good driver, hopefully no one doubts that. But when, as in the last race in Portimão, he is masterfully thwarted by Toprak in the winding part of the Autodromo do Algarve time after time and thus literally humiliated, his victorious smile after a triumph that was only achieved thanks to the horsepower and acceleration advantage seems irritating to many. We therefore took the trouble to take a closer look at his supposed record numbers and try to present it more honestly than Dorna on the official WSBK website and many journalists unfortunately usually do. This is not about diminishing his or Ducati’s successes, but correct comparisons are more necessary than ever in the face of frightening tendencies to distort facts. First of all, here’s a little numbers game and some aspects that make you think about things compared to previous years:
- Of the 27 race victories in 2023, 7 would have to be deducted because they were only achieved in the sprint race.
- Minus 2 each in Phillip Island, Barcelona and Portimão, as well as one in Aragon (because of the top speed advantage).
- Of the remaining 13, race 2 in Jerez should be withdrawn because he only finished second (FIM intervention).
- Of Bautista’s total of 59 victories, 16 would have to be deducted because they were only achieved in the sprint race.
- The same applies of course to Jonathan Rea, with 13 of his 119 victories since 2019 in the sprint.
- Toprak’s record in particular has deteriorated dramatically with 49 race victories, 15 of which were in sprints.
- In 2022 there were only 3 different race winners, in 2023 there were 4, while in 2021 there were 5 and in 2020 there were even 7.
Unless otherwise stated, this applies to all images (© WorldSBK).