A look back to 1988 when WorldSBK raced at Oran Park

WorldSBK at Oran Park in 1988

With Phil Aynsley


A bit of a look back at the first year of World Super Bike – 1988. The Oran Park round. I’ve recently been informed about a lot of the behind the scenes machinations by a very well placed, on the spot scrutineer at the event which makes for some interesting background!

F to R: Stéphane Mertens (Bimota YB4R), Fred Merkel (Honda RC30), Fabrizio Pirovano (Yamaha FZ750).

The Marlboro Team bikes of Doohan and Dowson were actually FZR750R ‘U’ models of which five had been sent from the US to Australia. These used an alloy frame as opposed to Pirovano’s steel framed FZ750, with its handlebars mounted above the fork yokes as per homologation and all 200 FZR ‘U’s made were homologated for AMA racing in the US, which is where they all had been sent.

Mick Doohan (Yamaha FZR750 ‘U’)

As a result these bikes were not homologated for WSBK as Yamaha had not made the necessary 1000! This put the FIM technical steward Hans Von Der Marwitz and the rest of the officials in a rather difficult position if they were to avoid a riot in the pits by excluding the team’s bikes.

While they were contemplating their response “information” came to hand that Yamaha had not yet supplied Bimota with 200 engines for their YB4! So how could the FIM allow the Bimota team to continue racing with what in effect were un-homologated bikes, in the championship that Davide Tardozzi was leading at that point (it seems that the FIM inspectors had been shown the same 25 bikes numerous times in-between coffee breaks with the build plates being changed while they were relaxing)…

Stéphane Mertens (Bimota YB4R)

In a case of “two wrongs making a right” both teams were allowed to race with Mick Doohan and Micheal Dowson finishing 1-2 in both legs and the lap record being broken 21 times over the weekend…


Rob Phillis (Kawasaki GPX750), Michael Dowson (Yamaha FZR750R ‘U’)
Malcolm Campbell (Honda RC30) leading Gary Goodfellow (Honda RC30)
Terry Rymer (Honda RC30) comes to grief in Race 2
Terry Rymer (Honda RC30) comes to grief in Race 2
Rob Phillis (Kawasaki GPX750)

Fred Merkel (Honda RC30) leads Fabrizio Pirovano (Yamaha FZ750)
Rob Phillis (Kawasaki GPX750)
Stéphane Mertens (Bimota YB4R) leads Malcolm Campbell (Honda RC30)
Rob Phillis (Kawasaki GPX750)
Micheal Dowson (Yamaha FZR750 ‘U’)
Davide Tardozzi (Bimota YB4R), Sean Gallagher (Honda RC30)
Fred Merkel (Honda RC30)
Davide Tardozzi (Bimota YB4R)
Fabrizio Pirovano (Yamaha FZ750)
Frederico Martini timing Stéphane Mertens (Bimota YB4R)
Front row for Race 2 – L to R: Fabrizio Pirovano (Yamaha FZ750), Gary Goodfellow (Honda RC30), Fred Merkel (Honda RC30)
Frederico Martini (Bimota designer) and Davide Tardozzi
Davide Tardozzi (Bimota YB4R) on the grid for Race 2
Davide Tardozzi
In the Bimota pit
In the Bimota pit
In the Bimota pit
In the Bimota pit
Robert Slaytor (Ducati 750F1)
Mick Doohan (Yamaha FZR750 ‘U’)
Davide Tardozzi (Bimota YB4R)
Davide Tardozzi (Bimota YB4R)
Malcolm Campbell (Honda RC30) leading Gary Goodfellow (Honda RC30)
Davide Tardozzi (Bimota YB4R)
Micheal Dowson (Yamaha FZR750 ‘U’)
Davide Tardozzi (Bimota YB4R)
Rob Phillis (Kawasaki GPX750)
Stéphane Mertens (Bimota YB4R)
Stéphane Mertens (Bimota YB4R)
Robert Slaytor (Ducati 750F1)
Micheal Dowson (Yamaha FZR750 ‘U’)
Gary Goodfellow (Honda RC30)
Malcolm Campbell (Honda RC30)
Robert Dunlop (Honda RC30)
Fred Merkel (Honda RC30)
Stéphane Mertens (Bimota YB4R)
Davide Tardozzi (Bimota YB4R)
F to R: Stéphane Mertens (Bimota YB4R), Fred Merkel (Honda RC30), Fabrizio Pirovano (Yamaha FZ750)

Source: MCNews.com.au

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