Leandro Mercado (MIE Honda) ahead of Scott Redding (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) and Florian Alt (Holzhauer Racing Promotion Honda) – the Argentine rode as a reserve rider for the Honda private team at the season finale. In this respect, it was a small compensation for him that the season finale took place in Andalusia instead of in his home country and at least with his participation (© MIE Honda).

Unsportsmanlike questionable final for WorldSBK and WSSP

After Leandro “Tati” Mercado could no longer find a place in the Superbike World Championship this season and therefore competed in the International German Championship (IDM) in 2023, the last pilot from South America lost his regular place in the WSBK. The fact that the Argentine was at least able to contest the finale in Jerez de la Frontera at MIE Honda as a replacement driver for the injured Brazilian Eric Granado was one of the few highlights at the end of the season this year. Otherwise, the weekend in Andalusia, which was added to the calendar as a replacement for the canceled event in San Juan in Argentina, had little to offer in terms of sport. The two Aruba.it Ducati factory pilots Bautista and Bulega won their races in both categories on Saturday without any danger and without having to take any major risks. This ended an extremely embarrassing and tragic motorsport year due to the machinations of FIM and Dorna with another farce.

Garrett Gerloff (Bonovo Action BMW) – the Texan was often the best rider for the blue-whites in the second half of the season on Toprak’s future work machine. Despite the one-sided course of the superbike World Championship, drivers like US Boy at least brought some spice to what was, from a sporting perspective, an extremely disappointing 2023 season.

No comparison with the golden years of the Superbike World Championship

The bad planning by FIM and Dorna completely destroyed WorldSBK in terms of sport. Exciting races in the fight for victory became an absolute rarity from 2022 onwards, just as they did at the beginning of 2019 after the introduction of Ducati’s MotoGP Replica. Above all, Alvaro Bautista, the series winner, hardly had to take any risks in the majority of his runs thanks to the increased power of his Ducati Panigale V4R compared to the competition. If you compare these years with the times of “King” Carl Fogarty, Troy Bayliss, Colin Edwards, Troy Corser, “Nitro” Nori Haga, Pierfrancesco “Frankie” Chili and whatever they were called, the true fan will cry. While the aforementioned heroes from the golden years of the Superbike World Championship, like record world champion Jonathan Rea, always won with a lot of fight and driving skills, Alvaro Bautista, without having to take any great risks, owed the majority of his victories to the superiority of his machine and its power-to-weight ratio over the competition.

Start of the last round of the 2023 WorldSBK season with a podium result dictated by the FIM commissioners that was suspiciously similar to the MotoGP race in BuriRam (Thailand) on the same day. In both cases, a Ducati factory rider benefited from a competitor who actually arrived at the finish ahead of him being pushed back. Alvaro Bautista was even given the win and Francesco Bagnaia 5 points. A truly pathetic end to a less than glorious World Cup season for the WSBK.

The hope for the coming season for fans and the Ducati competition

One can therefore only hope that the introduction of a minimum weight, which was decided far too late (as has long been a matter of course in the other classes of the series-based world championship), will put an end to this questionable game from 2024. After all, it should also be borne in mind that the questionable and one-sided handling of the previous regulations by FIM and Dorna made their own series virtually worthless in terms of sport for years as far as the title fight was concerned. In addition, the lack of opportunities for the Ducati competition was also damaging to business, which is why some factories threatened to withdraw from the Superbike World Championship without drastic corrections until FIM and Dorna finally gave in. Our site deliberately refrains from including the WSBK from 2021 to 2023 in our richly illustrated history of the Superbike World Championship.

Remy Gardner (GYTR Yamaha) – the Australian developed into a solid top ten pilot in his WorldSBK rookie season, especially in the second half of the season. The 2021 Moto2 World Champion (on Ajo Kalex) and former Grand Prix rider is definitely one of the biggest hopes for the near future in the premier class of the series-based world championship.

The inglorious story began 4 years ago

The 2019 season was already threatening to become a sporting joke and only thanks to Bautista’s orgy of mistakes and an incredibly strong Jonathan Rea was the Kawasaki icon able to secure his fifth title in a row. But former 2011 vice world champion Marco “Macio” Melandri had already warned this year that Ducati was destroying the spirit of the WSBK with the introduction of its MotoGP replica. In fact, from a sporting perspective, the approach the Italian brand took at the time was highly questionable. It was of course promising to compete with a machine that was designed purely for racetrack use instead of for the sports driver on the road and was technically directly based on the machine that came from the prototype World Cup. In conjunction with the weight advantage of the Spanish tiny Bautista, this combination became almost unbeatable on fast routes. For examples, see our reports on this page in the WSBK History 2019.

Alvaro Bautista (Ducati) in front of Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki) and Alex Lowes (Yamaha) photographed by us in BuriRam (Thailand in the finish curve) in 2019. Even on the relatively short start-finish straight of the “Destination of Speed”, as the course in the northeast of the Asian country is also called, the small and light Spaniard’s competition lost around 20 to 30 meters each time. As a result, Jonathan Rea had to settle for second place in each of the first 11 races of the season. It was only on the drivers’ track in Imola, only around 50 km from the Ducati factory, that the Northern Irishman achieved his first win of the season in May.

Series bikes are getting less and less of a chance every year

As we have seen in recent years, the brand from Borgo Panigale, a suburb of Bologna, has been able to continuously transfer the progress in the premier MotoGP class to the Panigale V4R superbike model. As a result, the competition’s series bikes became less and less likely from year to year. Even the new edition of the Kawasaki ZX-10RR for the 2021 season did not bring the hoped-for success. However, the FIM’s one-sided interpretation of the regulations also played a highly inglorious role and only BMW was allowed higher maximum speeds with its new BMW M-1000RR than the previous model. Frustrated by this experience, the Japanese brand became more and more conservative and cautious with their further developments, which meant they lost their flagship Rea to Yamaha for 2024. The record world champion had long since observed how the brand with the tuning fork in its logo constantly brought new parts and improvements for his competitor Toprak Razgatlioglu. If the adjustments to the regulations for 2024 have the desired effect, Johnny will definitely be able to fight for the title again straight away.

Jonathan Rea on Ten Kate Honda with main sponsor Pata, who will also be able to rely on the services of the best WSBK pilot of all time as title sponsor for the current Yamaha factory team from 2024. In contrast to Alvaro Bautista, who was unsuccessful on the Honda CBR-1000RR-R for two years (with only two third places), the Northern Irishman achieved at least 15 victories on the uncompetitive previous model. Anyone who thinks that Rea will have a hard time riding the Yamaha R1 next season is probably on the wrong track.

Unless otherwise stated, this applies to all images (© WorldSBK).