Chaotic WSBK round 8 in Most followed by monotony
The fact that Kawasaki icon Jonathan Rea took overall victory for the first time in the 2023 season in Most (Brüx in German) was not only the big highlight in the Czech Republic for him, but also for his team and his still numerous fans. For World Championship leader Alvaro Bautista (Ducati) and Toprak Razgatlioglu (Yamaha), however, the weekend in the industrial city in the north-west of Prague was much more mixed, despite one win each. We had a similar experience when we visited the eighth round of what was by far the most boring WorldSBK season since the Supberbike World Championship was held in 1988. In any case, our experiences in the Czech Republic make it easy for us to be happy to visit this event in the future, which is completely overpriced compared to the standard of living there waive. For example, the police near the route simply wanted to prevent visitors from parking. There was a complete lack of information or even signage as to where there were free parking spaces. Immediately afterwards we decided not to report on events at the WSBK and MotoGP.
No longer a fair sport in WorldSBK
Since the introduction of the Ducati Panigale V4R in the Superbike World Championship for the 2019 season, the Red factory team has been favored by FIM and Dorna over the competition. For example, we were eyewitnesses on site in BuriRam (Thailand) and a little later in Motorland Aragon (Spain) when Johnny Rea was easily overtaken by Alvaro Bautista on the straight and left standing. For many it looked as if the Kawasaki rider was on a super sports machine, he was so inferior in acceleration and top speed to the small and light Spaniard. Only his many crashes during his first season on the Ducati gave the superior Rea the chance to win his fifth world championship title in a row. Bautista switched to the Honda factory team in 2020 and in two years on the not at all slow CBR-1000RR-R only achieved a third place per season as his best result. In the World Championship, the Spaniard only managed 9th and 10th place. But then he returned to Ducati and the madness started all over again.
Manufacturers’ revolt and threatened exit from the WSBK
After the feather-light Spaniard often no longer had to fight for his victories from 2022, the voices became louder calling for the introduction of a minimum weight, as in WorldSSP. There was even a resolution by the manufacturers’ association, which was immediately rejected due to a highly questionable veto by Dorna CEO Ezpeleta and FIM President Jorge Viegas. But their preference for Ducati was not only transparent to every observer in the WSBK, but also in the former WSSP 600, a factory Ducati Panigale V2 with Nicolo Bulega as the pilot drove around the rest of the field almost at will. Just like with Bautista, the Italian was able to win almost all of the races in 2023 and a real fight and the world championship title no longer took place in the first year under the new regulations from the middle of the season at the latest.
The consequence of the monotony prescribed by FIM and Dorna
For this reason, bitter irony was now spreading in the paddock. One of the most common sayings in the paddock was that the management of Dorna and FIM apparently had shares in Ducati. Hence the annoyingly unfair favoritism given to Francesco Bagnaias in MotoGP. Despite the track limit violation being watched by millions of viewers, he was not punished at all in contrast to his competitors. Even worse, however, was the incident at Le Mans in the spring of 2023, after he and Maverick Viñales took themselves out of the race in an absolutely senseless collision. The reigning world champion then behaved like a hooligan in the gravel trap and even beat the Catalan, who was completely innocent of their shared fall. The red card is not only given in football, but scandalously the Italian went unpunished by the FIM stewards. However, some manufacturers in the WorldSBK competition had finally had enough of the unsportsmanlike behavior of FIM and Dorna. This led to their threat to say goodbye to the world championship shortly unless a minimum weight for driver and machine is introduced in the WSBK.
Our preliminary conclusions – no reports on results
Since the introduction of the track limits, which are very controversial among many pilots and fans, we have also been more skeptics of this questionable regulation. The main reason for this is the fact, as feared in advance, that this opened the door to the arbitrariness of FIM commissioners. The number of wrong decisions made by these officials at MotoGP and WorldSBK since 2019 is astronomically high. The resulting manipulation of results led to favoritism for certain drivers such as “Pecco” Bagnaia, who should have been banned for at least one or two races just for his faux pas in Le Mans 2023. We are therefore waiting to see how the situation will develop, especially in the WSBK, and have been refraining from reporting and results, including from MotoGP, since the summer of this year until further notice. If at some point the idea of sport comes to the fore again, we will carry on as before.
Unless otherwise stated, this applies to all images (© WorldSBK).