Interesting numbers after 869 WorldSBK races
If you leaf through our richly illustrated history of the earlier years of the Superbike World Championship, you can get a good picture of the history of the near-series World Championship. In the second year of the corona pandemic, the 34th edition came to an end, and it brought many changes. In addition to the termination of a unique series of world championship titles for the best driver of all time, there were a lot of surprises, both positive and negative. Many commentators were certainly pleased that Jonathan Rea and Kawasaki were replaced after six dominant years at the top. On the other hand, there was some background noise which, according to many observers, caused enormous damage to the sport. First and foremost, the castration of the most successful bike in recent years should be mentioned. Not only Kawasaki fans were disconcerted with what they considered to be the completely unfair treatment of the Greens, also because BMW was treated unequally by the FIM, and it can be said that it was given preferential treatment.
Dramas and different background noises
WorldSBK experienced its absolute low point with the fatal accident in the junior class race on Sunday in Jerez de la Frontera. In his Spanish homeland, of all places, MotoGP star Maverick Viñales’ cousin was killed in a tragic accident. Against the background of this tragedy, many pilots found the extremely risky driving style of Toprak Razgatlioglu to be inconsiderate and a bad example for the young participants. Anyone who, like the Turk, is simultaneously criticized by Scott Redding and Johnny Rea for his tough maneuvers is definitely not beyond all doubt. It doesn’t matter how you look at it from the outside and what journalists and commentators, who are watching from a safe place, think about it. But this was by no means the only evil in the noise and drama season of 2021.
The calendar lottery and stupid new regulations
When the annual planning of FIM and Dorna for MotoGP and WSBK was published at the end of 2020, many could hardly believe their eyes. As if there had been no pandemic and Covid virus mutations, some ignoramuses cheerfully planned what was going on. The result is known, and they embarrassed themselves to the bone because changes and shifts were necessary. The situation is similar with the newly introduced “Track Limits” which, in the opinion of many former and active drivers, are absolute nonsense. These regulations caused a lot of unnecessary trouble and, in addition to the WSBK, also led to several blatant mistakes by the race management in MotoGP. In Misano, Fabio Quartararo and WSSP pilot Steven Odendaal were completely unfair. The latter was even denied the victory because he overlooked the display for a “Long Lap Penalty” in the fight with the Swiss Aegerter or even ignored it from the FIM’s point of view. A similar “offense” by Toprak was overlooked by the stewards at the same point at the start of the second run and remained unpunished. In Mugello, Johann Zarco lost a podium place for lack of punishment from Oliveira and Mir, it was simply a shame.
The giant and the many dwarfs
If you look at the numbers of his previous successes, you can only take your hat off to Jonathan Rea and congratulate him for what he sees as the worst season since 2015. The Northern Irishman screwed the number of his victories in the past year to the almost unbelievable mark of 112. Although he won seven races in 2021, Scott Redding is currently exactly a hundred triumphs for the current brand of the Kawasaki driver. With 13 wins, Toprak was on top of the podium as often as the six-time world champion last year. The Turk stands at 18 and overtakes Alvaro Bautista, who has won 16 times so far, but this in 2019 and in a single season. Nevertheless, it was only enough for the fast Spaniard to win the runner-up title against an incredible racing giant in the person of Johnny Rea.
Numbers can only be compared with reservations – but Rea will forever remain the greatest of all time
The thirty-fifth edition of the Superbike World Championship will show whether he can show it again to his opponents with the number 65 on his Kawasaki ZX-10RR Ninja, who still look like dwarfs compared to his successes. In this respect, it can hardly be doubted that the Northern Irishman will probably remain the best rider in history in the Superbike World Championship for all time. Incidentally, the number of race wins should only be viewed with reservations compared to the years before 2019, because there were only 3 runs per weekend from then on. In this respect, the introduction of the Superpole Race was pure horror for statisticians. That is why pilots like Bautista, Redding or Toprak manage to overtake some heroes of earlier years in a fast train. They also drove both runs on Sunday until 2015, which meant that in the event of a serious crash, the second run was often enough sealed. Therefore, some men currently endangered by the new regulations with 3 races with the number of their victories.
Marco Melandri – 22
Max Biaggi – 21
Pierfrancesco Chili – 17
Giancarlo Falappa – 16
Neil Hodgson – 16
James Toseland – 16
Brand names not entirely representative either
You should also take into account the number of laps driven per season, as well as the points system and, in general, the regulations that are valid for a particular year. In this respect, the high number of world championship titles from Ducati in the first 17 years since the WSBK was introduced in 1988 has a slight aftertaste. Brands like Suzuki and partly also Yamaha and Honda did only half-heartedly or not at all at the factory during this time. Their four-cylinder 750 cc bikes at the time were often lost to the Italians’ 2-cylinder engines, which is why Honda even sent a “Ducati killer” into the race with the legendary VTR-1000SP. With this, the Texan Colin Edwards won the titles of 2000 and 2002. For the 2019 season, Ducati went the opposite way and used a MotoGP replica with the Ducati Panigale V4R, which was criticized by drivers like Marco Melandri as a break with the tradition of the SBK. In principle, the little Italian was not completely wrong because, unlike all competitors, it was only a small series for the racetrack. In this respect, some WorldSBK brand names are not entirely representative either.
Some numbers for the statistics
With his 3 victories last year, Jonathan Rea is now the sole record holder in Assen, ahead of Carl Fogarty. The Northern Irishman won a total of 15 out of 59 races in the “Cathedral of Speed” in the Netherlands, and thus more than a quarter of all previous events. Also in Aragon, the 6-time world champion took over from Chaz Davies as a seven-time winner in 2021 with a new total of 8 triumphs in Motorland near the small town of Alcaniz. The WorldSBK circuits, on which the best driver of all time does not yet hold the record of victories, are now very few and far between. In addition to Donington Park with Tom Sykes at the helm, Jerez de la Frontera is currently one of them, where he and Chaz Davies are the best riders with 3 triumphs each. Below is the incredibly long list of the other routes (with the number of wins) on which the Kawasaki Ace is currently the record winner.
Autodromo Dino e Enzo Ferrari, Imola 9 (of 33 races held so far)
Autodromo do Algarve, Portimão – 13 (Total 29)
Circuito de Cataluña-Barcelona – 2 (Total 6)
Autodromo Sic58 Misano – 8 (Total 58)
Laguna Seca Racetrack – 6 (Total 36)
Losail International Circuit, Qatar – 6 (Total 22)
Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours – 9 (Total 43)
Mandalica Circuit, Lombok – 2 (Total 2)
Circuito de San Juan – 4 (Total 8)
In Phillip Island, the Northern Irishman as a 6-time winner together with Troy Bayliss would probably already have In Phillip Island, the Northern Irishman as a 6-time winner together with Troy Bayliss would probably already have overtaken the current leading local hero Troy Corser with 7 wins if it weren’t the pandemic and Tom Sykes. The latter, however, knocked Jonathan Rea off the track on the first lap in 2020, after which a fall in his race to catch up brought the ultimate end.
The winners’ statistics before the introduction of the Superpole Race
Since the introduction of this sprint race, the statistics from the introduction of the Superbike World Championship to 2018 should only be compared with reservations. Initially there were fewer laps per season and by 2015 both races took place on Sunday. In the first year, FIM also introduced a completely unfamiliar format. Anyone who won the first race and then did not see the checkered flag was deprived of their victory and also got no points. For this reason, Davide Tardozzi (Bimota YB4EI) was the winner of the first run in Donington Park on April 3, 1988, without counting because he did not finish in the second race. Otherwise, according to the statistics, he would have won more than just 5 runs. Out of respect for the drivers of the first decades, we decided to only compile the following statistics until before the introduction of the Superpole Race. You shouldn’t forget that only half points are awarded for this sprint race, which lasts only 10 laps.
The winners’ statistics up to the 2021 season
For the reasons mentioned above, the picture is falsified, as the figures from Alvaro Bautista, Toprak Razgatlioglu and Scott Redding impressively demonstrate. In just one season, the former was able to catapult himself into the top 20 because he was able to contest 37 races and win 16 of them. In the same season, Johnny Rea equalized his record of 17 victories from the previous year, which he shared with Doug Poland, although only two of the first 14 races won. In 2018 there were still 12 races fewer than in the season after the introduction of the Superpole Race, where it would have been 39 without the cancellation of one run each in Assen and Imola. Most impressive in the following statistics over the entire WorldSBK period is certainly the fact where Toprak, Alvaro and Scotty would be in the sprint race without their successes. Only Johnny Rea would still be lonely at the top, even without the unbelievable number of 17 sprint wins.
What does the third Corona year bring?
In the meantime, even the last optimists have understood that the pandemic will cast its shadow over many events well into next year. Of course, this also includes sporting events such as the Superbike World Championship. As in the previous year, it will be extremely important for drivers and teams whether a reasonable test program will be possible despite Covid-19. This time, Kawasaki cannot be caught on the wrong foot with the introduction of the rev limit, as it did last year. This makes the Greens extremely dangerous again for 2022, also because they will understand the new ZX-10RR Ninja and its peculiarities much better in the second year. There is a question mark behind Scott Redding after his move to BMW, while Toprak will definitely be expected again.
The many other podium candidates for the 2022 season
Should BMW take another step with the M-1000RR, Michael van der Mark and his new colleague at the top will be involved. Many expect this from Alvaro Bautista after his return to Ducati. His teammate Michael Ruben Rinaldi and the two Yamaha aces Garret Gerloff and Andrea Locatelli should be just as good for podium positions as Axel Bassani and Loris Baz as newcomers to the BMW customer team Bonovo Action. Rea’s team-mate Alex Lowes must also be taken into account if his shoulder injury has been cured by the start of the season. The two Spaniards Iker Lecuona and Xavi Vierge are also considered secret favorites as newcomers to HRC Honda.
Result of the 34th WorldSBK season, 2021
Unless otherwise stated, this applies to all images (© WorldSBK).