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.