When World Su­per­bikes were bril­liant!


Check this out… it’s a pic­ture from the first lap of a 1994 World Su­per­bike race. If you fol­low the cur­rent cham­pi­onship the dif­fer­ence is strik­ing: an ar­ray of dif­fer­ent man­u­fac­tur­ers and top rid­ers bat­tling it out for the lead. We can see James Whitham on his Moto Cinelli Du­cati, Doug Polen and Aaron Slight on their then-new Honda RC45S, reign­ing champ Scott Rus­sell on his Kawasaki ZXR750 (along with a raft of other Kwak mounted pri­va­teers). And then there’s Brian Mor­ri­son on the Rumi RC45, An­dreas Meklau on a pri­va­teer Du­cati as well as Paolo Ca­soli on the Bel­garda Yamaha YZF750. The 1990s was THE time for World Su­per­bikes, es­pe­cially here in the UK. With fall­ing in­ter­est in 500cc GPS and the amaz­ing Mick Doohan run­ning away with five con­sec­u­tive ti­tles a cer­tain Carl Fog­a­rty win­ning his four ti­tles cer­tainly helped, but there was much more to it than that. The rac­ing was close, and while 500 GPS had their mo­ments, the depth of tal­ent on a mid-90s WSB grid meant that it more than had the edge over the two-strokes ex­cite­ment-wise. And then there were the bikes. While the orig­i­nal rules saw the (up-to) 1000cc V-twins have a clear ad­van­tage over the 750cc four-cylin­der ma­chines, pri­va­teers could still win races. Not so in 500cc GPS. Thir­teen-times race win­ner and two-times se­ries run­ner-up Aaron Slight sums it up: “It was def­i­nitely the best time to race in World Su­per­bikes. It was more raw back then and we had tyre man­u­fac­tur­ers bat­tling it out there too. It’s a shame the fac­to­ries don’t sup­port it like they used to ei­ther. I’m also not such a fan of all the rider aids like trac­tion con­trol and anti-wheelie in rac­ing. I some­times wish you had all the modern slo-mo cam­eras and ul­tra-high­def­i­ni­tion cam­eras at a 1990s WSB race: you’d see more ac­tion than now. You’d see the sheer throt­tle con­trol, the chat­ter­ing rear-end (no slip­per clutches) and then watch as the tyres got smoked. To­day the rider opens the throt­tle to the stop and the bike hardly moves. They’re tun­ing it to a stand­still.” For more on the hey­day of World Su­per­bikes: check out our Aaron Slight in­ter­view on pages 26-29.

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