Final WorldSBK race at Imola on July 16, 2023 with Alvaro Bautista ( Ducati) falling in the first chicane after the start of Race 2. Instead of having a 100-point lead over Razgatlioglu in the intermediate classification, the small Spaniard travels to the eighth round in the Czech Republic with only a 70-point cushion over the Turks.

Hope for the turnaround before the summer break

Before the eighth round of the Superbike World Championship, many fans of Toprak and also of the Superbike World Championship are hoping for a turning point. However, following Bautista’s capital error on lap one of the last race at Imola, the little Spaniard still has a whopping seventy-point cushion over Razgatlioglu as the closest pursuer. But even if the number 54 man on his Yamaha wins all the remaining 10 races and 5 sprints, if Bautista always finishes second, he can only make up 65 points at most. In addition, Alvaro is as good as unbeatable in the last three laps on his Ducati Panigale V4R, which is vastly superior to the competition in terms of acceleration and top speed. This is not primarily due to the long straights in Aragon, Portimão and San Juan, but to the preference given to Ducati by FIM and Dorna. By 2023 at the latest, it was clear to any neutral observer that those in charge of the WSBK wanted to use every means at their disposal to end Jonathan Rea’s dominance on his Kawasaki ZX-10RR.

Start of the first race of WorldSBK on August 7, 2021 with the premiere for the series-based world championship in Most. From right Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki), Alvaro Bautista (Honda) and with the #54, eventual winner Toprak Razgatlioglu. The Turk was the overall winner both at the first edition in the Czech Republic and the year after. Incidentally, when this photo was taken, Bautista made it into the top ten in all three races, but with a total of just 16 points, he only got 7 less than Rea, who fell in the first run.
What Ducati couldn’t do at first, Yamaha did with Toprak

What failed miserably with Bautista in 2019 on Ducati’s MotoGP replica finally came true after his time at Honda in the two following years on 2022. However, only after Razgatlioglu won the title for Yamaha in 2021. However, the FIM provided protection shortly before the start of the season, when their commissioners literally castrated the Kawasaki ZX-10RR, which was completely redesigned at the time together with the BMW M-1000RR, only a few days before the start of the season by setting a ridiculously low maximum speed limit. All tests of the Greens from the previous season became completely worthless in one fell swoop. Due to the different engine characteristics as a result of the unexpected throttling, almost nothing fit for the ZX-10RR and in terms of translation and gearbox tuning had to be improvised, which often went wrong. Six-time World Champion Jonathan Rea has had to take an unusual amount of risk to keep up with the competition, and the result has been a record number of crashes in his previous Kawasaki years. Ducati brought some MotoGP proven improvements to the 2023 season, and since then neither Toprak nor the rest of their contenders have stood a serious chance against Bautista.

Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki ZX-10RR) at the Most circuit, newly introduced since the outbreak of the pandemic, on which the Northern Irishman has never won before. The chances are hardly any better for this year, at least as long as it doesn’t rain. Even the Ducati private pilots are currently driving away from the record world champion at top speed and acceleration.

The course with the most turns on the calendar

The track, which is also popular for test drives in the automotive industry, offers a total of 21 curves near the industrial town of Most, north of the capital Prague. The circuit with the most corners on the calendar offers twelve right-hand and 9 left-hand corners and a length of 4,212 kilometers. Opened in 1983, this race track has only one longer straight, where the start and finish line, as well as the boxes, are of course located. With a length of almost 800 meters, the Ducati pilots from the relatively narrow turn 21 have a clear advantage over the competition. But at least it’s only here and out of Turn 10 that their superiority in acceleration and top speed should be of real use to them. The fastest lap in Superpole in 2022 was Johnny Rea on the Kawasaki ZX-10RR with 1:30.947. With two exceptions, the Northern Irishman finished in the top three in all races, while in the first race in 2022 it was only enough for P3 and in the premiere in 2021 he even crashed in the first race.

What can fans expect in Most?

Unfortunately, the few hotels in the vicinity are already fully booked, and even at the campsite along the route there should hardly be any free places. The few that are still available can no longer be reserved, as they will be given to the guests who arrive first. As for ticket prices, we have similarly bad news. For a visit on Saturday or Sunday, including paddock access, the organizer charges more than 60 euros for just one day. That is almost 50 percent more than a grandstand ticket for three days at Motorland Aragon for the tenth round of the WSBK! Of course, most locals won’t be able to afford those horror prices, so we’re uncomfortably reminded of Brno in MotoGP 15–20 years ago. Back then, countless Czechs could be seen behind the barriers, who couldn’t afford the tickets and still came to see something at least from afar. From a sporting point of view, at least for the eighth WorldSBK round of Most, there may be a chance to see halfway real races in which Bautista is not a pilot who drives away from the rest of the field as before.

Our shot before the start of the last WorldSBK event in Brno in 2018, taken from the roof of the pits. Many fans find it a pity that no more MotoGP and WSBK races are held at the Masaryk Ring. Organizers and track owners are to blame for this, which unfortunately refused some time ago. To repave the track as required by the FIM and Dorna. In the Czech Republic, which is eaten up like Hungary by corruption, fraud and mismanagement (according to a good friend from this country), mafia-like conditions unfortunately prevail.

Intermediate standings in the Superbike World Championship

As long as Alvaro Bautista doesn’t make as many mistakes as in his first WSBK season for Ducati in 2019, he and his Ducati team can sit back and relax. With Aragon, Portimão and San Juan, the last three laps of the calendar are made for his Ducati Panigale V4R with its current superiority in acceleration and top speed. A look at his results in the previous year is enough to confirm this. In the 2022 season, the Spaniard narrowly missed the maximum points on each of these 3 racetracks. This even on the previous year’s model of his Panigale V4R, which was drastically improved again this season with MotoGP technology. Even if Bautista only finished second in each heat from now on, he would still be 5 points ahead of Toprak should he win each of the remaining races. After Alvaro has won every race in 2023 with one exception in which he saw the chequered flag, one unfortunately has to speak of the most one-sided Superbike season in all history since 1988.

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