Our 2019 photo from the WSBK weekend, the year before the Covid-19 pandemic, with Turn 10, where Jonathan Rea crashed in the Tissot Sprint Race on Sunday morning and still finished fifth. The day before, the Northern Irishman had won the first race on his Kawasaki ZX-10RR in pouring rain.

Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli with round 4 of the WSBK

Near Rimini and just a few kilometers from the Adriatic coast, the fourth round of the WorldSBK will take place after a long break in what is expected to be perfect early summer weather. The track, which opened in 1972 near Santamonica, was named after Marco Simoncelli a year after his fatal accident in the MotoGP in Sepang (Malaysia) in 2011. The Italian grew up in Cattolica, very close to this track, and caused a sensation in the WSBK when he finished third in the second race in Imola on an Aprilia RSV4 in 2009. The series-based world championship first visited Misano in 1991, when the American Doug Polen won both races on the private “Fast by Ferracci” Ducati 888 and embarrassed his brand’s factory team with its factory riders Raymond Roche and Giancarlo Falappa by winning an incredible 17 of 26 races that season.

View of the pit area of ​​the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli on qualifying Saturday of the GP Octo di San Marino 2019 on the MotoGP weekend, photographed by us. For more about the earlier races and years of the WSBK, see our extensively illustrated history on this page.

The current drivers and their record in Misano

The most successful rider so far at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli is Jonathan Rea, who took his first win here in his debut year with race 2 on Honda in 2009. The 6-time world champion’s mark currently stands at 8 and this year Alvaro Bautista could theoretically overtake him, as the Spaniard has already won here 6 times since 2019. However, as is usual in WorldSBK, there is a clear flaw. If you only count the race wins over the full distance in the statistics, as in MotoGP, the reigning world champion has only 4 wins because he won two races in the sprint. Of the active riders, BMW newcomer Toprak Razgatlioglu and former Ducati factory rider and now Motocorsa privateer Michael Ruben Rinaldi are tied with one race win each over the full distance and one triumph each in the Tissot Sprint Race. Bautista does not only have good memories of Misano. This definitely also applies to Jonathan Rea, who suffered the first serious setback in his young WorldSBK career in a violent crash with his Ten Kate Honda CBR-1000RR during the warm-up on June 12, 2011. With a broken spoke and ligament injuries, the Northern Irishman was out for a full four laps.

Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Ducati) was photographed by us in the Parc Fermé after the 2nd race of the 2019 WSBK, when he had to be consoled by his support staff. The Spaniard was on his way to the world championship title when, after Jerez, he also crashed in Misano right at the start of the 2nd race on the second lap. In both cases he was clearly in the lead and fell over the front wheel. One lap later in Donington Park, Bautista crashed again in the 1st race in the rain, while Rea won convincingly, took the lead in the world championship and ultimately became world champion for the 5th time in a row.

Track layout since the remodeling for the 2007 season

The practically flat Misano circuit is a so-called stop-and-go track, with some very tight corners and therefore many sections where good acceleration is very important. For this reason, the MotoGP Replica Ducati Panigale V4R has had a clear advantage over the competition since 2019 due to its preference by the FIM, with a much higher maximum speed. The Curvone (turn 11) is more of a right-hand bend and the drivers in the smaller classes always drive it at full throttle. Since Misano has been driven clockwise after the reconstruction from the end of 2006, the course has had 6 left-hand and 10 right-hand bends. The longest straight is at the start-finish line at 530 meters. The grandstands offer space for around sixty thousand spectators in total, with there being many natural grandstands between turns 7 and 12, from which visitors can enjoy a very good view over large parts of the track, especially at turns 8 and 11. In contrast to the new Cremona circuit in 2024, the prices for visitors are also absolutely reasonable, although significantly more expensive than in Assen, Jerez or Barcelona, ​​for example.

Unfortunately, unlike MotoGP, the grandstands and the entire area from turns 1 to 7 in the WorldSBK are closed to visitors, as are turns 12 and 13. In this respect, it is not possible to walk around the part shown on the left in the picture, although spectacular scenes can often be seen there, which can only be seen on TV, a big screen or in the live stream.

The starting position before the fourth of 12 WSBK rounds

While Jonathan Rea is no longer in contention for the world championship title after a catastrophic start to the season on his new Yamaha R1, a three-way battle is currently emerging. In addition to favorite and defending champion Alvaro Bautista, his new Ducati factory team colleague Nicolo Bulega and, very surprisingly for most observers, BMW newcomer Toprak Razgatlioglu in 2024 are also in contention. After the first quarter of the season, the Turk is still in close touch just behind the Spaniard and the Italian rookie from Montecchio Emilia (southeast of Parma and around 220 km from the track) is only just behind. Lying in wait are Alex Lowes (Kawasaki), the two Italians Iannone (Ducati) and Locatelli (Yamaha), as well as Michael van der Mark (BMW) and Remy Gardner on the second-best Yamaha. The latter in particular is a promise for the future and, after his first podium in Assen, is certainly a contender for the top three or at least five in the coming rounds. This of course also applies to Jonathan Rea, provided he and his team finally manage to adapt the Yamaha R1 to “his motorcycle”. The record world champion should not be written off too soon.

Current interim result of the WSBK World Championship with a disastrous fifteenth place after three of 12 rounds for Jonathan Rea. We can only hope that this season will put an end to the monotony of the previous two years and that Bautista will not be able to win almost at will with calculated risks. As is often the case, Toprak is the man who probably has the best chance of challenging the Spaniard. The Turk was certainly combative before Misano and stressed that he was aiming for a one-two-three in Italy if possible.

The most successful WSBK riders in history in Misano

In total, the WSBK has been in Misano 33 times from 1991 to 2019 and 66 world championship races have been held during this time, meaning that there was not a single race cancellation until the pandemic. There was also a sprint race, thanks to the Superpole Race, which was introduced in 2019. After no races were held in Italy in 2020 as a result of Covid-19, another three rounds were added from the following year. The record for victories is held by 6-time world champion Jonathan Rea with 8, ahead of Aussie Troy Bayliss with six first places and ex-aequo Max Biaggi and Alvaro Bautista (as of 2023 and of course excluding the sprint races introduced in 2019). The most successful brand in Misano will remain Ducati for a very long time to come, with currently 30 victories (excluding Superpole Race) ahead of Kawasaki’s 12. Jonathan Rea took the first victory of his WSBK career in 2009 in his rookie year on Honda. The best WorldSBK rider of all time had to wait a full six years before the first of a total of seven for Kawasaki followed.

Jonathan Rea on his Kawasaki ZX-10RR after his 7th victory in the rain race of the 1st round in Misano, photographed by us on the way to the winner’s podium and to the Paddock Show 2019. As so often, the record world champion was in a class of his own in the rain, which he also impressively demonstrated in the following round, which we were able to witness on site in Donington.

Our reference to the statistical confusion

Because there are only half points for the sprint races, we prefer to distance ourselves from the usual counting method used almost universally for the WorldSBK and stick to the rules like in MotoGP. There, only Grand Prix successes are counted in full. Before 2018, the heroes of the time only competed in the usual two races over the full distance, and the devaluation of their performances is prevented without artificially increasing the value of the sprint successes. However, the Spanish-dominated Dorna naturally tries to give the successes of their compatriot Bautista a higher rating in their (unfortunately official) statistics than they really are. From the point of view of many long-time fans, however, the little man from Talavera de la Reina in Spain remains a dwarf compared to WSBK icons such as Carl Fogarty, Troy Corser, Colin Edwards or Troy Bayliss. Even questionable sporting results do not change this when one can see with the naked eye how the reigning double world champion does not even need a slipstream on the straights to often overtake several competitors at the same time.

WSBK 2002 with Colin Edwards on Honda ahead of Ducati icon Troy Bayliss – the two fought head to head for years on practically equal material – something that the Superbike World Championship has been light years away from since 2019. Ducati’s MotoGP replica can only be slowed down to the level of the competition by reducing the speed to the same values ​​as Kawasaki and Yamaha, for example, or by reducing the fuel supply, which will be introduced in 2025.

The sporting value of the two Ducati titles in 2022 and 2023

Anyone who doesn’t see it through (Ducati) red glasses is more skeptical of Bautista’s performance than the Dorna officials. This is mainly due to the fact that in his two years with Honda, Alvaro only managed two third places, despite having a fast machine, and modest world championship positions 9 and 10 in 2020 and 2021. His superiority in 2019, 2022 and 2023 was far too often primarily due to the horsepower superiority of his Ducati MotoGP replica. That’s why he was often able to win easily with much less risk than his strongest challengers. It’s no wonder, really, that his Panigale V4R practically always had, and still does today, a maximum speed around 1000 rpm higher than the Yamaha and Kawasaki, this corresponds to an additional power of 10 to 20 hp compared to the competition. In combination with his much lighter body weight, the advantages in acceleration and top speed were and remain dramatic. This year, the 3-4 kilograms of additional weight under the new regulations will change virtually nothing. For more information, see our history on this page, with reports on the 2019 season.

Max Biaggi (Aprilia) ahead of Jonathan Rea on Honda, the two most successful riders in the Superbike World Championship in Misano, the former together with Ducati figurehead Alvaro Bautista, if you only count the races over the full distance. However, the Spaniard has an excellent chance of achieving his fifth victory with full points this year and thus finally overtaking the Italian. Below are the WorldSBK sessions in local time.

10.20 – 11.05 – SBK Free Practice 1
15.00 – 15.45 – SBK Free Practice 2
9.00 – 9.20 – SBK Free Practice 3
11.00 – 11.15 – Superpole
14.00 – SBK Race 1
9.00 – 9.10 – SBK Warm-up
11.00 – Superpole race
14.00 – SBK Race 2

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