RAC­ING

World’s premier pro­duc­tion-based race class? You’d be hard pressed to tell...

BIKE (UK) - - CONTENTS - with James Hay­don

World not-so-su­per­bike and the new 300s. It's not like it was in Foggy's day.

IT’S FAIR TO say the World Su­per­bike Cham­pi­onship has been a bit flat this year. The rac­ing hasn’t been that great and the Kawasakis have just dom­i­nated, de­spite an im­proved show­ing by Du­cati in the se­cond half of the sea­son. There used to be so many strong char­ac­ters in WSB, like Carl Fog­a­rty, Scott Rus­sell and Noriyuki Haga, who cer­tainly weren’t as po­lit­i­cally cor­rect as the cur­rent riders. It’s weird to say this be­cause it’s great to see them there, but there are al­most too many Brits in the cham­pi­onship – Bri­tish Su­per­bike has a more in­ter­na­tional grid than WSB these days! The new two-day for­mat just doesn’t seem to be work­ing ei­ther and Dorna are be­ing very cagey about it. One of our Eurosport team tried to in­ter­view one of the top men at Dorna about crowd fig­ures and TV au­di­ences but he seemed to take of­fence, and made it clear it was a ques­tion he didn’t want to an­swer. A WSB meet­ing loses a lot of its im­pact hav­ing the races spread over two days, and if the rac­ing on the Satur­day isn’t great then I think a lot of peo­ple don’t bother com­ing back on Sun­day. Dorna said the move was made to cre­ate more in­ter­est and spread the rac­ing over a full week­end but there aren’t enough strong sup­port classes in WSB to make that work. Look at BSB – you get around 12 races in a sin­gle day. The big sell­ing point of WSB was al­ways that the fans got to see two Su­per­bike races in a sin­gle day. I wish the or­gan­is­ers would be big enough to ad­mit that the ex­per­i­ment hasn’t worked and just change it back to its orig­i­nal for­mat. And we need the re­turn of wild card riders too. It used to be great to see Amer­i­can, Aus­tralian, Ja­panese and Bri­tish riders all hav­ing a go at their home rounds, and be­ing truly com­pet­i­tive too. But WSB rules are dif­fer­ent to most do­mes­tic cham­pi­onships now, so that no longer hap­pens. Hav­ing said all that, some of the rider and team changes might shake things up a bit next year. Michael van der Mark mov­ing to Yamaha is an in­ter­est­ing one, as is Ste­fan Bradl mov­ing from Mo­togp to join Nicky Hay­den on the new Honda Fireblade. Sean Muir’s team will be run­ning April­ias next year with Eu­gene Laverty and Marco Me­landri may take Da­vide Gi­u­liano’s ride at Du­cati, so there’s lots of changes hap­pen­ing. Let’s hope it’s enough to give WSB the kick up the ass that it needs and de­serves.

Amaz­ing bikes, top-class pi­lots, sparse crowd. Let’s hope 2017 sees WSB re­turn to for­mer glory

WSB has the fastest pro­duc­tion race bikes, pi­loted by top-class riders (many whom are Brits) at the world’s finest cir­cuits. It’s sad to see this once-great se­ries a shadow of its for­mer self. Let’s hope they can sort it out.

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