THE START OF IT ALL

April 3, 1988, Don­ing­ton Park, Le­ices­ter­shire, UK – and the first ever World Su­per­bike race blasts into ac­tion

Classic Bike (UK) - - CONTENTS - WORDS: MIKE AR­MITAGE. PHO­TOG­RA­PHY: BAUER ARCHIVE

The very mo­ment the world’s great­est pro­duc­tion-based race se­ries started

This is the mo­ment World Su­per­bike kicked off. And kicked off in style. With a packed grid, six man­u­fac­tur­ers, four tyre brands and shoe­string pri­va­teers clash­ing with he­roes on works bikes, the new se­ries was an in­stant hit with com­peti­tors and spec­ta­tors alike.

The pro­duc­tion-based class put four-cylin­der bikes up to 750cc against twins up to 1000cc, with two races both on the Sun­day of a race week­end. A show­case for the bikes in deal­ers, it also promised to make rac­ing eas­ier to un­der­stand – af­ter the mud­dle of TT For­mula One, MCN Su­per­bike, ITV World of Sport Su­per­bike plus umpteen other ACU and club cham­pi­onships, the idea of a one-size-fits-all class seemed en­tirely log­i­cal.

WSB was an in­stant hit. With 65 en­tries for the first round, 45 riders at­tempted to qual­ify for a 40-bike grid – with big names Dar­ren Dixon, Vir­ginio Fer­rari and Doug Polen fail­ing to get in. This very first race saw bat­tles, crashes, re­tire­ments (seven of the ten Bi­mo­tas stopped with in­jec­tion is­sues) and five dif­fer­ent makes in the top seven places. With in­spired ac­tion through­out the field (Fin­land’s Jari Suho­nen shot from 27th on the grid to sev­enth place), this se­ries very clearly worked.

Do­mes­tic cham­pi­onships around the world grad­u­ally adopted the same reg­u­la­tions, and World Su­per­bike be­came the must-watch se­ries for the next 20 years.

‘THE FIRST RACE SAW CRASHES, BAT­TLES AND FIVE MAKES IN THE TOP SEVEN PLACES. IT WORKED’

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