The first half of the 1993 season – year 6 of WorldSBK

The Superbike World Championship had become well established since its inception in 1988. Even in the USA, the near-series World Cup was noticed from the start and its popularity in Europe was set to increase even further. It was clear that there would be a new world champion after 1991 and 1992 because the American Doug Polen stayed in his home country after two titles. His predecessor Raymond Roche as world champion in 1990 resigned at the end of the 1992 season. Only Fred Merkel as double world champion in 1988 and 1989, the first two years of the WSBK, was still there. But of course there were numerous new riders who joined the paddock in the following years. With the Italian Fabrizio Pirovano and the Belgian Stéphane Mertens, there were also pilots at the start who had fought for the top position from the start.

Doug Polen (Ducat) – the 1991 and 1992 world champion stayed at home in the USA a year after his second title.
Carl Fogarty (Ducati) – after starting out on Honda, the Englishman switched to Ducati and his best result was a win in Donington and a second place in Assen (© WorldSBK).

The calendar for the 1993 season – with many new features

For the first time, 14 events were announced and again there were numerous new routes on the calendar. It started with the season opener at Brands Hatch, although Donington was also retained. After a break in 1992, Spa-Francorchamps was scheduled again, and after the Spielberg track in Austria, Brno came as a new circuit, and in Anderstorp there was a reunion after 1991. Canada and the USA were kicked out after 1991, but there were two new host countries. With the Circuito do Estoril it went to Portugal for the first time, and a particularly exotic final was planned in Mexico City. Phillip Island in Australia and Manfeild in New Zealand were no longer on the calendar. But at least the Australia Round should have a comeback one year later.

The start of the season at Brands Hatch

Starting the season in England in early April was definitely brave, but it wasn’t the first time. In contrast to some previous years of sunshine in Donington at this time of year, it was rainy this time. Of the 37 drivers who had registered, barely more than half saw the finish line in the first run. Three riders did not even make it through the first lap, including the two local heroes Carl Fogarty (Ducati) and Terry Rymer (Yamaha), who fell out of the race with a crash.

Only 19 drivers saw the checkered flag, with one far ahead of all the others having this experience. It was the Italian Giancarlo Falappa from Team Raymond Roche Ducati who crossed the finish line 36.84 seconds ahead of Scott Russell (Kawasaki). The American was followed by Brian Morrison from England, Adrien Morillas (France), Aaron Slight from New Zealand (all on Kawasaki) and Ducati rider Stéphane Mertens. 7th place went to former world champion Fred Merkel (Yamaha).

Giancarlo Falappa (Team Raymond Roche Ducati) – the overwhelming winner of the first race of the season. After a terrible crash on the Österreich-Ring (today’s Red Bull Ring, for details see our WSBK history from 1990), the doctors had predicted the end of his career after 12 days in a coma and 27 broken bones, but after several months of convalescence he came back incredibly strong (© WorldSBK).

The second race
Falappa won again with almost 20 seconds ahead of Russell, but this time veteran Fabrizio Pirovano on his Yamaha followed in third place. Mertens, Rymer, Slight and Merkel in front of the Spaniard Juan Garriga. The German Kawasaki driver Ernst Gschwender made it to 10th place with his Kawasaki and this time only 17 pilots had made it to the finish. Exactly as many drivers had retired and two more had not even started the second run, including the injured Carl Fogarty.

Scott Russell (Kawasaki) – after the Australian Rob Phillis was absent after many years, the American and Aaron Slight (New Zealand) held the flags high for Kawasaki. Russell got off to a perfect start into the 1993 season with two second places at the start of the season (© WorldSBK).

Runde 2 auf dem Hockenheimring

Available for DM 5 – the program booklet for the German Superbike World Championship run in 1993 with the Swiss Andreas Hofmann (Kawasaki ZXR750) on the front page. Back then, a large drink and a sausage sandwich cost about the same.

Great conditions with glorious May weathers in Baden-Württemberg
Compared to the first round of the World Championship at Brands Hatch in the rain, there were a manageable number of failures in Hockenheim in sunny weather. Nevertheless, there were some prominent people affected, including ex-world champion Fred Merkel, who fell in round 4 of 14, Baldassari Monti with electrical damage to his Ducati and Stéphane Mertens with a problem similar to the Italian. The victory went to a Giancarlo Falappa who was in top form ahead of Pirovano and Fogarty. Behind them with Slight, Morillas, Russell and the Swiss Andy Hofmann, four Kawasaki pilots. With the two Swiss Kellenberger (Yamaha) and Weibel (Ducati), as well as the Germans Udo Mark (Yamaha) and Bernhard Schick (Ducati), other (more or less) German-speaking pilots landed in the points of the first 15.

Stéphane Mertens (Ducati) – the unlucky person in the first run at Hockenheim, with exactly the same defect as the Italian Baldassari Monti on his private Ducati. The Belgian drove for the Ducati Grottini team, while Falappa and Fogarty competed for the Ducati works team led by Raymond Roche (© WorldSBK).

The second race at the Hockenheimring and the first victory for Scott Russell
With his first victory in the Superbike World Championship, the three-time AMA 750 Superbike Champion (1990 to 1992) and Daytona 200 Superbike winner from 1992 caused a little surprise. Behind the Kawasaki rider Scott Russell, Juan Garriga and Giancarlo Falappa (both Ducati) crossed the finish line. Behind them were Slight, Pirovano and Mertens, who at least saw the checkered flag this time. The top ten were completed by Carl Fogarty (Ducati), Adrien Morillas, Piergiorgio Bontempi (both Kawasaki) and the New Zealander Simon Crafar (Ducati). Merkel finished eleventh this time behind the Swiss Edwin Weibel.

Scott Russell (Kawasaki) – the first victory of the American in the 4th race of the season after two second and one 6th place (© WorldSBK).
Fabrizio Pirovano (here in front of his brand colleague Jamie Whitham) on his Yamaha FZR750R – one of the formative riders in the Superbike World Championship from the start. In the first season, the Italian narrowly missed the title against Fred Merkel. What was also remarkable about him was that he had remained loyal to his brand for the sixth year in a row and was therefore still very competitive (© WorldSBK).

Round 3: The only Spanish round of 1993 in Albacete

The circuit south-west of Valencia was added to the WSBK calendar as the season opener last year. Jarama was also driven in 1992, but this season Albacete was the only lap in Spain. In the fight for victory, Carl Fogarty triumphed in the end, 3.793 seconds ahead of Aaron Slight. Third place went to Piergiorgio Bontempi (Kawasaki) ahead of the long-running Yamaha Pirovano and the two Spaniards Daniel Amatriain and Juan Garriga (both Ducati). The first run was marked by numerous falls. The most prominent drivers were Mertens, Falappa, Russell and Hervé Moineau (Suzuki).

The victorious Ducati 888 from Carl Fogarty in 1993 in Albacete – since Raymond Roche’s world title in 1990, the brand from Borgo Panigale near Bologna has won three drivers and manufacturers’ championships in a row. With Foggy and Falappa, the goal was of course the continuation of this success story, but this time Kawasaki was at eye level with the two pilots Russell and Slight (© WorldSBK).

The second race
Foggy achieved the first double victory of his career in Albacete. The Briton was able to improve the lap record of the Spaniard Daniel Amatriain from 1992 with 1: 36.440 by more than two seconds to 1:34.094 on the 3.539 km short course. This time, however, with Scott Russell and Aaron Slight, the two drivers from Team Muzzy Kawasaki stood on the podium. While the American lost less than 3 seconds to winner Fogarty, the Kiwi already lost 25,686. Mertens followed in fourth place ahead of Garriga, Bontempi, Pirovano and Crafar. Local hero Amatriain crashed on lap 9 of 27 and Falappa, like before at Hockenheim, caught fellow brand Mertens with an electrical fault. After 3 of 14 rounds, Russell led the intermediate championship ranking with 81 points ahead of team-mate Slight (79), Falappa (75), Pirovano (65) and Fogarty (64).

Carl Fogarty (Ducati) studying his competition – in Spain the Englishman achieved the first double victory of his career on a Ducati. However, this should only be the beginning of an incredibly successful period in the near-series World Championship (© WorldSBK).

World Championship round 4 in Misano

The first run on the Autodromo di Santamonica
After Marco Simoncelli’s tragic accident on October 23, 2011, in Sepang (Malaysia), the course on the Adriatic was renamed in his name. In 1993, it was still driven counter-clockwise. The superbike raced here on June 27th in wonderful weather. A little over 2 months later, Wayne Rainey had a tragic accident on this track in the 500 cm³ race and his career suddenly came to an end with a paraplegia. For the numerous Tifosi, the first Superbike run turned into a real folk festival. Giancarlo Falappa won ahead of Mauro Lucchiari (both Ducati) and Fabrizio Pirovano. Russel took 4th place ahead of Fogarty, Slight and Garriga. The top ten were completed by Baldassare Monti, Terry Rymer (both Yamaha) and Fred Merkel, this time on Ducati. The American had changed brands from Misano and instead of Yamaha finished the season on a Ducati.

Juan Garriga (left in the picture, often given the first name Joan) was not a child of sadness. After this scene, the second of the second Hockenheim run would have been punished with a hefty fine by the race management according to today’s criteria. After his racing career, the Spaniard slipped into drugs and died at the early age of 52.

The second run of Misano
The second race brought an extremely close decision for victory. Once again, Falappa was ahead by a nose and Scott Russell crossed the finish line by just 0.843 seconds behind the Ducati driver. Behind the Kawasaki ace were Carl Fogarty, Mauro Lucchiari, Juan Garriga (all Ducati) and Aaron Slight on the second best Muzzy Kawasaki. The top ten were completed by Piergiorgio Bontempi (Kawasaki), Baldassare Monti, Terry Rymer (both Yamaha) and Stéphane Mertens on his private Ducati. Before moving on to Styria, Falappa led the World Championships with 115 points, ahead of Russell (111), Slight (99), Fogarty (90) and Pirovano with 85. The Italian World Championship leader had a double victory at the Österreich-Ring last year . This of all things on the course on which his terrible fall 3 years ago almost ended his career.

Giancarlo Falappa (Team Raymond Roche Ducati) – the Italian was a daredevil beyond compare. His compatriots often called him the Lion of Jesi, the place where he came from (© WorldSBK).

The 5th round of the Superbike World Championship in Spielberg

To everyone’s surprise and, of course, to the delight of all local visitors, a local hero made it onto the top podium at the Österreichring in the first run. Andy Meklau made himself immortal for his compatriots, and he still plays an important role in today’s Red Bull Ring. For the second time this season, Aaron Slight crossed the finish line ahead of his Kawasaki team-mate Scott Russell and finished second behind the Austrian. The American completed the podium with third place in front of Carl Fogarty, Piergiorgio Bontempi and Giancarlo Falappa. The race was driven in sunny weather on a damp and slowly drying track. The first ten were supplemented by the Dutchman Jeffry de Vries (Yamaha), the German Ernst Gschwender (Kawasaki), Stéphane Mertens (Ducati) and Fabrizio Furlan (Kawasaki).

Fabrizio Pirovano (Yamaha FZR750R) experienced a pitch-black weekend in Austria. The Italian, who competed at the top of the World Superbike World Championship from 1988 onwards, had to retire in the first race after just 3 laps due to an ignition defect. In the second run he dropped out shortly before the race was stopped and was therefore no longer counted (© WorldSBK).

The second race – canceled due to heavy rain
Instead of the planned 18 laps, the second run only lasted 12, as heavy rain would have made it too dangerous to continue driving. A number of drivers had already crashed by then, including Terry Rymer, Aaron Slight and Stéphane Mertens. At the time of the interruption, the warhorse Falappa was already 26.603 seconds ahead of ex-world champion Fred Merkel, who was finally back on the podium for a long time. The local hero Meklau was on the bottom podium this time, but that made him the overall winner of the 5th World Championship round in Styria.

Giancarlo Falappa (Team Raymond Roche Ducati) – the dominant man of the first 5 World Cup rounds traveled as World Championship leader to Brno, where it was only a week after Spielberg (© WorldSBK).

Championship round 6 – for the first time in the Czech Republic

For the sake of simplicity, the program booklet for the first Superbike World Championship run in the Czech Republic apparently had the same cover photo as the German edition in Hockenheim from May 1993. At that time, it cost 35 Czech crowns. At that time, a dinner in Ceske Budejovice for two cost the author about the same.

Run 1 of the first WSBK race in the Czech Republic
Carl Fogarty achieved his third triumph of the season after his one-two in Albacete in the first race in Brno. Last year’s World Cup ninth made more and more ground to the leaders in the World Cup and meanwhile, despite his zero at Brands Hatch, he had to be taken seriously as one of the favorites in the World Cup. Russell finished 2nd ahead of Slight, Pirovanno, Falappa and Lucchiari. Behind them followed the Swiss Edwin Weibel (Ducati), Terry Rymer and Stéphane Mertens. Behind the Belgian, the second Swiss Andreas Hofmann was ranked 11th, the man who, after Hockenheim, also graced the program in Brno.

Scott Russell (Kawasaki ZXR750) – at the end of the day, the second of the first race, tied with Carl Fogarty (Ducati), took overall victory in the first World Superbike race on Czech soil (© WorldSBK).

The second run in the Czech Republic
This time the American struck back and distanced the winner of the first race by 7.07 seconds. Behind Fogarty this time Mertens took 3rd place and Slight had said goodbye in the 6th lap with a fall. The second run also ended with a crash for Falappa, Lucchiari and Baldassare Monti. The Swiss Edwin Weibel, on the other hand, dropped out with a defective cylinder head gasket. Behind the podium, Pirovano was fourth in front of Merkel, Bontempi and the Swede Christer Lindholm (Yamaha). Andreas Hofmann took P10 this time behind Jeffry de Vries (Yamaha) and Aldeo Presciutti (Ducati).

The podium in Brno after the 2nd run, Foggy with the champagne bottle in the back left hopping off the podium, in the middle winner Russell and next to him Stéphane Mertens. The Belgian stood on the podium for the first time in the 1993 season (© WorldSBK).

The 7th round – the return to Anderstorp

Even if the pit area in Sweden looked very improvised and the track was definitely not one of the most modern, the race in Anderstorp definitely had its own charm. This was due in particular to the visitors and because the Nordic compatriots showed an enthusiasm that only southerners would have been expected to have. Two years ago, Doug Polen was the great Dominator at the premiere on the private Fast by Ferracci Ducati. At that time, Carl Fogarty was still able to impress with two fourth places on a Honda. This time, however, the Englishman was on top of the podium after the first run. Giancarlo Falappa on the second best Ducati took second place very thinly in front of his compatriot Fabrizio Pirovano (Yamaha). As the best Kawasaki rider, Russell had to be content with P4 ahead of Jamie Whitham (Yamaha) and Mertens. Below is the list of results from the 1st race.

The second race
Carl Fogarty was in top form and also doubled in the second run, this time followed by Scott Russell. The American was just 2.47 seconds behind the finish line, while third-placed Falappa had already lost almost 10 seconds to his Ducati team-mate. Pirovano, Bontempi, Slight and local hero Anders Sturesson (Yamaha) missed the last point by one place. His compatriot Christer Lindholm on a Yamaha, better known in the rest of Europe, unfortunately retired 4 laps before the end after he had achieved a top ten result in the first race with P9.

Scott Russell (Muzzy Kawasaki ZXR750) – the American was a model of consistency in the 1993 season and only had a zero by the middle of the season. Therefore, after the 7th round of the World Cup in Anderstorp, he was in the lead, despite only 2 wins, ahead of Fogarty with their 5 and Falappa as even 6-fold wins (© WorldSBK).

The situation at the halfway point of the season

Giancarlo Falappa had the most wins with their 6 ahead of Fogarty (5) and Russell (2). But the Italian had won a run with only half points after the second race in Austria and was canceled three times. Foggy twice and Russell only once, but most consistently of the three drivers collected podium places. Therefore, with him, the most consistent pilot was in the lead in the World Championship interim rankings. His Kawasaki team-mate Aaron Slight, Yamaha ace Fabrizio Pirovano and Stéphane Mertens (Ducati) also had a chance of winning the title.

Part 12: