MAKING THE RIGHT CALL: crucial tyre decisions that led to WorldSBK glory

The MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship has seen plenty of drama over the years, some of which has come down to choosing the right tyre at the right time. Sometimes it’s starting on a completely different type of tyre – a wet-weather one instead of a dry, perhaps – or choosing a softer compound, but every decision matters and can prove crucial in races. Let’s look back at some of the biggest tyre choices and how they led to success…

NICHOLAS SPINELLI, ASSEN RACE 1, 2024: the intermediate call

Starting with the most recent, if you look up “super sub” in the dictionary now, you’ll see “Nicholas Spinelli (Barni Spark Racing Team)”. Epitomising the phrase, Spinelli replaced the injured Danilo Petrucci at Assen and found himself on the top step of the rostrum. He went for an intermediate front and rear tyre on a wet track, while everyone else went for slicks with the rain stopping and track drying. A well-timed red flag – for Spinelli and the team anyway – meant he held on for victory in his first race, after his lead of almost 26 seconds was cut to two at the time of the stoppage, with a third of the race remaining.

JONATHAN REA, MOST RACE 1, 2023: a first, and only, win of the year

Jonathan Rea’s (Pata Prometeon Yamaha) final season with the Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK outfit was difficult, with only one win to his name. That came at the Autodrom Most, when he opted to use intermediate tyres while his rivals went for full wets. Losing ground in the opening laps, he stormed his way to P1 when the track dried out, taking advantage of not quite dry conditions and his opponents switching tyres for a last win with KRT.


With that year’s title won, Alvaro Bautista ( Racing – Ducati) had nothing to lose in the Tissot Superpole Race, and he opted for slicks on a damp-but-drying track. He lost ground at the start of the 10-lap race, dropping to 14th at the end of Lap 1 from pole position, but was soon into his grove and fought his way into the lead, before claiming victory by just over three seconds. You can watch his epic comeback from his onboard camera right HERE.

SCOTT REDDING, ARAGON RACE 2, 2021: slicks on a drying track

When racing for the Racing – Ducati team, Scott Redding (Bonovo Action BMW) took a big risk at MotorLand Aragon. A pre-race shower had dampened the track but the #45 opted to go for slick tyres and it looked like it wouldn’t pay off for the Brit, initially dropping down to fifth. However, with the track constantly drying, he took the lead on Lap 6 and didn’t look back, going on to claim his first victory of the year by almost 10 seconds.

CHAZ DAVIES, MAGNY-COURS RACE 1, 2016: intermediates as others go for full wets

The Magny-Cours circuit was wet but with the sun shining, Chaz Davies was able to make the intermediate tyre work during Race 1 in France on his Ducati. He started from third and was able to stay in that group throughout the race but lost time in the opening stages, before fighting his way to the front as others opted to make pit stops and change from their full wet tyres. He took the lead ahead of Tom Sykes on Lap 17 of 21 and didn’t look back for the first of his two wins that weekend.

PIERFRANCESCO CHILI, MISANO RACE 2, 2004: a fierce fightback

After dropping to 11th in the opening part of the race, Pierfrancesco Chili, using intermediate tyres with the threat of rain looming, to full advantage on home soil. With 10 laps to go, the Italian was trailing race leader Regis Laconi by 10 seconds, but the pace Chili had in the closing stages meant that gap came down before a stunning last-lap pass meant Chili claimed his last WorldSBK win.

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