Tag Archives: world ssp

“I’d be surprised if he wasn’t doing lap records in the second test” – Gerloff on Toprak at BMW

All eyes are going to be glued to websites and social media the world over this weekend as a MASSIVE test debut awaits Toprak Razgatlioglu and the BMW M 1000 RR. Joining the ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team for 2024, the 2021 World Champion and flamboyant WorldSBK star will get his first taste of track action at the rollercoaster of Portimao. However, top BMW overall in 2023 was Garrett Gerloff and we briefly caught up with the American, who is already warning Toprak’s rivals of some fierce competition in 2024.


Starting with the wider changes within BMW for 2024, the Magny-Cours polesitter explained that it’s a good time to be part of an ‘exciting’ BMW group: “It’s really cool to see BMW’s effort into the whole programme; I know with Toprak coming and all the riders that are already here, we can move the programme forwards quite a bit. I think it’s going to be an exciting year for that.”

CHANGE IS HAPPENING ALREADY: WorldSBK success at the forefront of BMW’s thoughts

Within BMW’s 2024 WorldSBK commitment, there have been structural and operational changes. On the face of it, although Jurgen Roder and Michael Galinski’s Bonovo Action BMW were already closely tied to the factory team, they’ll now become a second factory team, receiving new material as the same time as the Shaun Muir-run squad and the same support. Within the teams already, a personnel change as Scott Redding moves to the Bonovo squad, taking with him electronics engineer Niklas Winkler. With Toprak, Phil Marron will follow as crew chief, having gone with the Turk when he originally joined Yamaha.

BEHIND THE SCENES: huge changes and commitment

In terms of wider personnel, Marc Bongers remains as BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director, although the roles of technical director and head of customer racing are created directly under him. The technical director will be Christian Gonschor whereas Uwe Geyer is the head of customer racing as well as head of marketing.

In terms of development, there will be a new test team too, with anticipation building as to who will be part of that team. The development facilities in both Munich and Berlin are likewise being expanded, with “synergies” between BMW Motorrad Motorsport and production development of the M 1000 RR enhanced, as BMW Motorrad Motorsport is on the same premises as the production development of the racing motorcycle.

Under Gonschor’s leadership, specialised teams have been created for the test team, chassis, engine, electronics and aerodynamics areas. These teams are primarily based in Munich, with specific workshops, test and development motorcycles, testbeds and wind tunnels at their disposal, ensuring optimal conditions for developing and testing the BMW M 1000 RR and new racing components. Engine development takes place at the BMW Motorrad plant in Berlin


Specifically referring to what Razgatlioglu can expect to feel, the 28-year-old Texan doesn’t think ‘El Turco’ will have any qualms: “I think he’s going to like it! The steps that we’ve made with braking, I don’t think he’s going to feel too far away from where he was. Honestly, I don’t see him struggling at all; I see him being exactly the same, going just as fast or more than likely faster. I think he’ll gel with it really good and I’d be surprised if he wasn’t doing lap records in the second test.”

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Source: WorldSBK.com

PREVIEW: Razgatlioglu set for BMW debut with Portimao and Jerez tests

One of the big moves for the 2024 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship was Toprak Razgatlioglu’s move from the Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK team to the ROKiT BMW Motorrad Motorsport WorldSBK Team for next season. The #54 has had to wait for his debut on the M1000RR machine but that wait finally comes to an end in early December as he gets his first two tests on his new bike at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve and the Circuito de Jerez – Angel Nieto.

THE FIRST TEST: a trip to Portimao

The first outing for the 2021 World Champion on the BMW machine will come at the ‘rollercoaster’ Portimao circuit, a venue where Razgatlioglu battled hard with Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) this year when on his Yamaha YZF-R1 machine. This takes place on Monday, December 4th for a one-day test alongside teammate Michael van der Mark with the pair reunited after spending two seasons at Pata Yamaha together.

PORTUGAL TO SPAIN: two days at Jerez await

On December 5th and 6th, the factory BMW outfit head to southern Spain and the historic Jerez venue for two more days of testing, with the action coming thick and fast for both team and riders. The short trip from Portugal will give the Turk another two days on the M1000RR as he continues to adapt to his new bike, with his first two outings coming at very familiar circuits to everyone as he looks to get in the best possible shape for his new challenge.

WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR: big aero changes for Razgatlioglu…

Portimao and Jerez are venues the #54 likes, having enjoyed so much success there or putting up fierce fights against his rivals so having his first outings on the M1000RR machine at these circuits makes sense. The first big change for the Turk will be the aero changes, going from a Yamaha that doesn’t feature prominent aerodynamics to a BMW bike that has big winglets on the fairing. Then, of course, there’s adapting to a new bike in general that will have a different feel compared to what he’s ridden for the last four years. However, the 2021 Champion will be aided by long-term crew chief Phil Marron, who follows him to BMW and returns to Shaun Muir Racing.

IS ANYONE ELSE TESTING? HRC in Portugal, first taste of WorldSBK for Sam Lowes

Alongside the factory BMW team at Portimao, Team HRC will be there with regular riders Iker Lecuona and Xavi Vierge, as the new-for-2024 Fireblade gets its second outing. There will also be a debut for Sam Lowes and the Marc VDS Ducati team, who get their first taste of WorldSBK action at Jerez during the same week. With the MotoGP™ campaign not finishing until the final weekend of November, the Brit has yet to get his hands on the Panigale V4 R and this changes at Jerez as he prepares for a maiden WorldSBK campaign.

Reference lap times:

Portimao pole/all-time lap record – 1’39.610s (Jonathan Rea, Kawasaki, 2022)

Portimao race lap record – 1’39.826s (Toprak Razgatlioglu, Yamaha, 2023)

BMW fastest Superpole time 2023 – 1’40.171s (Michael van der Mark, ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team)

BMW fastest race time 2023 –1’40.358s (Garrett Gerloff, Bonovo Action BMW)

Jerez pole/all-time lap record – 1’38.247s (Jonathan Rea, Kawasaki, 2019)

Jerez race lap record – 1’39.004s (Alvaro Bautista, Ducati, 2019)

BMW fastest Superpole time 2023 – 1’39.164s (Scott Redding, ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team)

BMW fastest race time 2023 – 1’40.429s (Scott Redding, ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team)

Read BMW stablemate Gerloff’s preview of Razgatlioglu’s test HERE and follow all the WorldSBK off-season news in style using the comprehensive WorldSBK VideoPass!

Source: WorldSBK.com

NUMBERS GAME: the key figures from this year’s WorldSSP and WorldSSP300 campaigns

The 2023 FIM Supersport World Championship is in the history books, as is the FIM Supersport 300 World Championship. Nicolo Bulega and Jeffrey Buis won the respective Championships in stunning fashion, and both made history in their own right. However, there were other key numbers that came out from the season.

A NEW POINTS BARRIER MARKED: Bulega creates history

503 – Nicolo Bulega scored a record 503 points, the only rider in WorldSSP history to break the 500-point barrier

21 – Bulega’s tally of 21 podiums in a season is a record, beating Dominique Aegerter’s 2022 total by two

20.96 – The #11’s points per race average of 20.96 was the third-highest in WorldSSP history. Kenan Sofuoglu’s 21.23 from 2007 and Andrea Locatelli’s 22.20 from 2020 are the only records that better Bulega’s

19 – WorldSSP’s Turkish contingent slotted into fourth and fifth in the youngest riders to win list. Can Oncu’s win at Mandalika came when he was 19 years, 7 months, and 10 days old. Bahattin Sofuoglu won in Barcelona when he was 19 years, 8 months, and 19 days old

16/17 – Nicolo Bulega took 16 wins in 2023, only one shy of Dominique Aegerter’s record of 17

14 ­– There were 14 different riders on the podium in 2023. This is the joint-most in a season, tying with 1999

10 – Bulega’s 10 poles for the season equalled Cal Crutchlow and Sebastien Charpentier’s record from 2009 and 2005 respectively

10 – Bulega and Manzi finished 1-2 on 10 occasions in 2023, a new record; the previous was eight with Kenan Sofuoglu-Jules Cluzel and Aegerter-Lorenzo Baldassarri

6 – all six full-time manufacturers recorded at least one podium

5 – five different manufacturers stood on the top step in 2023: Ducati (17 wins), Yamaha (4), Honda, Kawasaki and MV Agusta (all with 1)

0.084 – the closest finish of the year, when Stefano Manzi (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) beat Bulega in an epic last-lap scrap at Portimao in Race 2

DOUBLE CHAMPION: unprecedented success for Buis

627 – Jeffrey Buis became the second rider to pass 500 career points in WorldSSP300; he now has 627, the most in WorldSSP300 history

226.7 – Dirk Geiger set a new top speed record on his KTM, hitting 226.7km/h at Portimao during Race 2

50 – Loris Veneman’s Aragon win meant he became the 50th rider to stand on the WorldSSP300 rostrum

20 – Champion Buis matched the all-time record for WorldSSP300 podiums at 20, tying with compatriot Scott Deroue

17 –Veneman became the fourth-youngest winner when he won at Aragon in Race 1, at 17 years, 0 months and 14 days old. Aldi Mahendra (17 years, 1 month, 3 days) and Lennox Lehmann (17 years, 8 months, 1 day) also went into the top ten of youngest riders

16 – 16 different riders stood on the podium in 2023, only one behind the all-time record of 17 set in 2021

11 – The #6 broke the record for wins, with the Dutchman now on 11 in WorldSSP300. The next highest competitors are Ana Carrasco and Marc Garcia, with seven

9/3 – there were nine different race winners in 2023. Buis, Mirko Gennai, Bruno Ieraci, Petr Svoboda, Dirk Geiger, Lennox Lehmann, Mahendra, Matteo Vannucci and Veneman all claimed victory (the record is 10, in 2020). Three of these were wildcards – Ieraci’s double at Misano and Mahendra’s Most shock

5 – Kawasaki hit the milestone of five Riders’ Championships in WorldSSP300   

4 – Perez Gonzalez’s four podiums without a win puts him level with Inigo Iglesias and Humberto Maier

2 – Buis became the first rider to win two Riders’ Championships in WorldSSP300, backing up his 2020 success

0.049 – the closest podium of the year, coming at Aragon in Race 1 as Loris Veneman (MTM Kawasaki) beat teammate Jeffrey Buis and Daniel Moegda (Kawasaki GP Project). Three of the top-ten closest podiums came in 2023: Aragon Race 1 (0.049s), Aragon Race 2 (0.097s) and Barcelona Race 1 (0.098s)

Catch up on the best bits from WorldSSP and WorldSSP300 in 2023 using the WorldSBK VideoPass!

Source: WorldSBK.com

FEATURE: the back-to-back Champions in WorldSBK and Bautista’s record-setting titles

“Winning a title is difficult but to defend it is even harder” were the wise, winning, World Champion words from Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) as he addressed an enormous Jerez crowd from the Paddock Show on the Saturday of the Prometeon Spanish Round. The Circuito de Jerez – Angel Nieto hosted an epic final weekend of racing for the 2023 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship to go into the off-season in style. However, Bautista’s achievement of successfully defending the crown is not uncommon, although it’s not exactly regular either. So, which exclusive club does he join and who already holds membership?

THE FIRST ONE: Fred Merkel brings false illusions as WorldSBK ignites in 1988

Fred Merkel was the first-ever World Superbike Champion; the American rode for Honda and snatched the title away from Davide Tardozzi and Bimota in New Zealand, 1988, during the final race day of the season. Whilst he’d eventually finish 5.5 points clear of runner-up Fabrizio Pirovano, he’d repeat his success in 1989, again grabbing the Championship lead after Race 1 of the final round, again in New Zealand, this time beating Belgian rider Stephane Mertens and Ducati. Straight off the bat with two titles, this wasn’t a trend that’d continue.

DOUG POLEN’S DOUBLE: 1991 and 1992 for Ducati

Alvaro Bautista is one of just three riders who have won the WorldSBK title in back-to-back seasons for Ducati. Britain’s Carl Fogarty did it twice: the first in 1994 and 1995 before doing it again in 1998 and 1999. However, the first rider to achieve it was American Doug Polen in 1991 and 1992. He absolutely smashed the opposition in 1991, beating outgoing Champion Raymond Roche by 150 points and setting a new record for number of wins in a single season at 17 – only to be beaten by Bautista in 2023 – whilst in 1992, he beat Roche again but only by 35 points this time. Polen was a rarity in the list of Ducati’s back-to-back World Champions; he dominated both seasons and whilst ’92 mathematically went to the last round, it was unlikely he would be beaten. Sound familiar?

KING CARL: two separate occasions cemented history

After his first race win in 1992, Carl ‘Foggy’ Fogarty moved to Ducati in 1993, narrowly missing out on the title to arch-rival Scott Russell. However, 1994 wasn’t going to be a repeat and he wrapped it up at Phillip Island in Australia after Russell seemingly conceded in the final race of the year. With the #1 proudly displayed, ‘Foggy’ romped clear in 1995 with a certain invincibility about him. Crowned Champion in Race 2 at Sugo, Japan, with three rounds to go, he was in a class of his own.

However, breaking up a winning combination is something the Brit has spoken negatively of since, having learnt from a torrid 1996 campaign where he took just four wins and finished fourth overall in the Championship. 1997 was spent getting back up to speed with Ducati before a wide-open 1998 season saw him take just three race wins but surrounded by huge inconsistencies by his rivals. As low as sixth in the standings at one point, Fogarty pulled together after tough love from team boss Davide Tardozzi to take the title in the final race of the season, again at Sugo, becoming the first triple Champion in WorldSBK. In 1999, it was reminiscent of his 1995 campaign as he smoked the opposition, being crowned Champion at Hockenheim, taking his last race win. Four titles in groups of two, ‘Foggy’ would remain the last to do that for a long time.

REA ENDS THE WAIT FOR #1 TO STAY: a new era sweeps in to master the art of defence

Between Fogarty and 2015, four riders took multiple titles: Colin Edwards (2000 and 2002), Troy Bayliss (2001, 2006 and 2008), James Toseland (2004 and 2007) and Max Biaggi (2010 and 2012). Troy Corser also added to his 1996 crown with a title in 2005; the one common them? None could defend it the second season. So, in 2015, when Jonathan Rea signed for Kawasaki – at the time, the best package on the grid – it was hardly surprising that after the first title, he’d defend it successfully; 2016 was tight in the end at Lusail but he got the job done. However, to go on and win the next four season was something quite remarkable. In that time, he’d become the rider with the most wins in all of WorldSBK, win 84 races in his title-winning years alone and achieve 143 podiums in the same period. All with the #1 too; a rare sight to dominate year on year, let alone do it with the pride and confidence of a #1 slapped on the front of the bike. Even though the stats continued climbing from 2021 to 2023 – years he wasn’t Champion – the golden era in green is one of WorldSBK’s most iconic.

THE HISTORY BAUTISTA CAN MAKE IN 2024: could it be a third of many firsts?

So, after #TheReturn in 2022 and #TheDefence in 2023, what could 2024’s theme be? Well, whilst we wait for whatever concept it is, the 39-year-old stares down the barrel of making history. No Ducati rider has ever won three World Championships in consecutive years. In fact, the last time they won three titles in a row was in 1994, 1995 and 1996 but that was with two riders: Carl Fogarty and Troy Corser. As for Champions who have won three straight titles, Jonathan Rea is the only one – and he won six consecutively, which is a long way away from being beaten, of course all with the #1 too. Bautista became the first Spaniard to defend the title, thus eyes up history to become the first rider to make it three on the bounce. So, whether he becomes #TheMagician, #TheHeavyweight or the obscurely named #TheGrandfa from his MotoGP™ wildcard at Sepang, if he goes on to make it three on the spin, his place in history is secured.

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Source: WorldSBK.com

WorldSBK’s 2023 IN NUMBERS: jaw-dropping records smashed throughout the season

In the record books, the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship celebrated 35 wonderful years of racing in style as records were smashed round upon round. Whilst Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) may have headlined throughout, plenty more were headlining as WorldSBK’s numbers were overhauled throughout the season. We put the biggest landmarks below.

6000 – After a third place in Race 2 at Imola, Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) became the first rider ever to rack-up 6000 points in his WorldSBK career. His total amount at the end of the season was 6172.5, of which 4593 were achieved with Kawasaki.

400 – Ducati took a 400th WorldSBK win at Assen in Race 2 with Alvaro Bautista; their tally at the end of 2023 was 420.

100 – With second in Race 1 at Imola, Toprak Razgatlioglu took his 100th WorldSBK podium. He goes into 2024 with 115 to his name

59 – Alvaro Bautista finished the season by taking a 59th career win, all of which are with Ducati. This means he was won more races for Ducati than anybody else – including in the MotoGP™ paddock.

27 – A new record for wins in one season for Bautista, with 27. A total of 31 podiums means that he only stood on the podium four other times if he didn’t win.

27 – 27 laps led in his WorldSBK career for Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) but still no win. 13 of those laps were led in 2023, the most he’s led in a season. The record for laps led without a win is 45, held by Davide Giugliano.

23/9 – Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) took a ninth podium of 2023 at Portimao in Race 2 with P3, the most he’s had in a single season. It was his 23rd, equalling Akira Yanagawa.

20 – Like Bautista with wins, Razgatlioglu set a new record for P2s in a single season: 20.

19 – Leon Haslam (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) was a substitute rider in the factory BMW team at Imola and scored points in Race 1, giving him the biggest interval from his first points-scoring race in WorldSBK to his most recent: 19 years, 11 months and 18 days from Brands Hatch Race 2, 2003 and Imola Race 1 2023.

17 – 17 riders achieved a top six finish in 2023, surpassing 2019’s tally by one and thus setting a new record of top six finishers since the three-race format was introduced. This was last achieved in 2016, whilst the outright record for top six finishers in a single season is 1991 with 31.

16 – 16 riders were covered by less than a second in Superpole on two occasions in 2023, a joint-record. Assen saw the top 16 covered by 0.946s and Portimao welcomed the top 16 covered by 0.974s. 2023 is the only season where 16 riders were covered by less than a second in Superpole on two occasions, a new record in WorldSBK.

15 – 15 crashes for Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) in 2023, more than anyone else in WorldSBK.

14 – Jonathan Rea’s winning career extended this year to 14 years, one month and eight days, the longest of all-time in WorldSBK. A win at Donington Park or later in 2024 will see him become the first rider in WorldSBK to have a winning career of over 15 years in World Superbike.

12 – After a 12-year wait, America returned to pole position at Magny-Cours, courtesy of Garrett Gerloff (Bonovo Action BMW), who took his and the team’s first pole. The last occasion before Gerloff was John Hopkins in 2011 at Silverstone. Gerloff would go on to finish top BMW in his debut season with the manufacturer.

12 – Another 12-year Superpole stat: for the first time in over 12 years, when Troy Corser was fourth at Monza in 2011, an Australian was on the front row after Superpole with Remy Gardner (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) taking P2 at Most.

8 – Eight podiums for Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) in 2023, four-times his tally from 2022 and double his 2021 rookie season tally. Scoring 327 points and finishing fourth, it was his best WorldSBK season to-date.

7 – Seven wins across his last two years for Kawasaki, Rea’s win tally in 2022 and 2023 is just fractionally better than his last two years with Honda, with five in total in 2013 and 2014. For the last quarter of 2013, he was out injured.

3 – Three new podium finishers in WorldSBK in 2023: Xavi Vierge (Team HRC) with P3 at Mandalika in Race 2, Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team) with P3 in Donington Park’s Race 2 and Dominique Aegerter (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) with P2 in the Superpole Race at Jerez. Aegerter became the 130th in WorldSBK history and after Race 2, the 105th to achieve more than one.

2 – For just the second season in his full-time WorldSBK career, Jonathan Rea won just one race. The other season was in 2013. His sole win then came at Silverstone, this year it was at Most; both served as his first wins at each track.

1 – Aegerter’s two podiums on the final race day of 2023 at Jerez saw him become the first Swiss rider to achieve a podium in WorldSBK.

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Source: WorldSBK.com

GET INVOLVED: your chance to design a WorldSBK Official Programme cover!

There is your chance to get involved with the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship and have your own artwork potentially feature on the cover of the Official Programmes throughout the 2024 season. In partnership with Artaporter, a call for digital artists and illustrators has been launched under the “WE MAKE EXCITEMENT” tagline to allow followers of WorldSBK to get involved in the Championship and create work that could be seen online and around the world next year.

The covers will have to follow themes for inspiration such as energy, racing, street, passion, speed and excitement and the chosen design will feature on the front of each programme, becoming the first thing fans see when they get their hands on them. Social media will also play a role, too, with the final three selected covers going to a vote to decide which one will feature on each programme.

This is a chance for fans to be involved in WorldSBK and have their create artwork and abilities showcased in a World Championship, while also providing a challenge to those who wish to take part as well as creating even more engagement for WorldSBK’s fans around the world. The call for artists will run from the November 28th 2023 until the August 27th 2024, with each round’s programme having deadlines within that time frame.

For more information and to get involved, click HERE!

Source: WorldSBK.com

PEDROSA ON 2024’s WorldSBK HOT TOPICS: “Jonny has a chance to fight for the Championship”

After a tantalising close to the 2023 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship season, three-time World Champion, three-time MotoGP™ runner-up and MotoGP™ Legend Dani Pedrosa spoke about an array of things related to WorldSBK and the myriad of changes to come. From riders changing teams, new regulations, a familiar face returning and the overall spectacle of the World Superbike show, the 38-year-old Spaniard shared his views.

ON REA’S SWITCH TO YAMAHA: “It’s a change that will motivate him to restart and try and go head-to-head with Bautista”

Six-time World Champion Jonathan Rea moves to Yamaha in 2024 – for those of you that have been living under a rock for the last few months – and Pedrosa is keen to see how it will go: “It’s going to be a very interesting start of the year for WorldSBK next season, particularly after Jonny changed after so much winning with Kawasaki. I think now it’s a change that will motivate him to restart and try and go head-to-head with Bautista. So far, Toprak’s been very strong on that bike, so now, Jonny has a chance again to fight for the Championship. We’ll see how determined he is this winter to prepare for the fight.”

TOPRAK GOES TO BMW: “He’s spectacular… we’ll see if he can handle the BMW the same as the Yamaha”

With Rea replacing Razgatlioglu, the 2021 World Champion heads to BMW, although Pedrosa isn’t as optimistic with Turk’s switch as he is with regards to Rea’s move: “Toprak with BMW is going to be interesting too; at the beginning, it could be difficult for him as it’s not as good at the moment. I think he’ll struggle a bit at the beginning but he’ll have to find his way to see how he can make the difference up. Toprak is always very nice to watch! He’s spectacular and he has some really aggressive moves into the turns! We’ll see how he can handle the BMW the same as the Yamaha.”

BAUTISTA’S ADDED WEIGHT: “It’ll play a big part”

A hot topic coming into 2024 is the rider reference weight of 80kg, which will mean those under it will need to add weight to the combined package of rider and bike. This means Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) will have a heavier bike than before: “We must add to this that there’s the rule change. For Alvaro, he’ll need to ride with a heavier bike than usual. Let’s see how that plays out on track. I think the engine is strong but at the same time, when you change the rules so drastically with added weight, it’ll play a big part. Let’s see how the Ducati guys handle this, to try and make the bike work in the same way as before.”

IANNONE IS BACK IN WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP: “He has the capabilities and the speed to be up front, fighting for victory”

Pedrosa battled with Andrea Iannone from 2013 to 2018 in MotoGP™ and is a rival the Spaniard knows well, tipping him to be in victory contention in 2024 as ‘The Maniac’ gears up for a return with WorldSBK being his new home: “We’ll see how he goes! Racing with Ducati, he will have a good chance to race at the front and race for victories. However, long-term, I don’t know if can be ready to fight for the Championship because he’s been away for a long time. I think he has the capabilities and the speed to be up front, fighting for victory.”

OFF THE SCALE RACING: ““I hope to see more like the last round!”

The closing topic is the general spectacle of WorldSBK, which has enjoyed an 11% growth in fans in 2023 as well as some of the fiercest racing in the Championship’s 35-year history: “I hope to see more like the last round at Jerez! Bautista vs Razgatlioglu, fighting corner-by-corner for first position. I think this kind of racing creates to a lot of fans and it’s exactly what we want to see. I always love watching the racing and it’s always been a fantastic show.”

Get your essential, must-have tool for all things WorldSBK related with the WorldSBK VideoPass!

Source: WorldSBK.com

ROOKIE REVIEW: how did the six rookies fare in 2023?

Six high-profile rookies took to the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship grid in 2023, with multiple world and domestic titles between them to create arguably one of the strongest rookie line-ups ever. Now, with 2023 in the history books, it’s time to look at how the group fared during their first full seasons in WorldSBK. From podiums to a point-less season, there were celebrations and despair in a mixed campaign for our rookies.

PETRUCCI ON THE PODIUM: difficult start, strong end

Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team) was one of the highest-profile rookies to make the move to WorldSBK after a season in the USA. It was a challenging start to the Italian’s season as he struggled to make the top ten, leaving him questioning whether it was the right move. However, a breakthrough on home soil at Misano allowed ‘Petrux’ to fight for the podium even if results didn’t come that weekend. They soon did though, with third at Donington Park followed by a double podium at the Autodrom Most. The #9 finished the season seventh in the standings, the top rookie in 2023.

MAKING HISTORY: Aegerter secures Switzerland’s first podiums

Dominique Aegerter (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) rider spent two seasons in WorldSSP, winning the title in both 2021 and 2022, before graduating to WorldSBK with Yamaha. He narrowly missed out on a debut pole position in Australia as he threatened the top five positions immediately, before crashes and an injury disrupted his season. He ended the year strongly with a double podium at Jerez in the Tissot Superpole Race and Race 2 to just pip teammate Remy Gardner to top spot in the GRT Yamaha pecking order.

GARDNER CLOSES IN ON A ROSTRUM: a best of fourth builds nicely into 2024

Like teammate Aegerter, Gardner ended the season strongly with a whole host of top-six finishes in the final five rounds. A mid-season lull where he struggled to crack the top ten until WorldSBK hit the Autodrom Most, where two top-six finishes kickstarted a run of form that lifted him into the top ten in the Championship standings. Fourth was the #87’s best result, coming at Jerez in Race 2, as he took ninth in the standings – only one place behind his teammate.

A CHALLENGING YEAR: Baldassarri misses out on a top ten

Lorenzo Baldassarri (GMT94 Yamaha) finished as runner-up to Aegerter in the 2022 WorldSSP season and followed him into WorldSBK for 2023, linking up with the GMT94 Yamaha squad who returned to WorldSBK. It proved to be a challenging year for both team and rider, with ‘Balda’ securing a best result of 12th on three occasions – on home soil at Misano and to end the season strongly at Jerez. However, the #34 is currently searching for a seat for 2024 with the team drafting in Philipp Oettl for next year.

RAY INTO THE TOP SIX: potential on show

Bradley Ray (Yamaha Motoxracing WorldSBK Team) made his WorldSBK debut in 2018 but returned in 2023 for a full-time campaign with Yamaha for 2023. He secured one top-six finish this year, at Imola, as he scored 19 points in his rookie season, finishing one point and one place behind Baldassarri. The Brit missed one round through injury at the Autodrom Most, and also only competed in the European rounds, but returns for the same team next year with a full-season campaign planned.

DIFFICULTIES FOR GRANADO: injuries impact rookie season

After a one-off appearance in WorldSBK in 2020, Brazilian star Eric Granado returned in 2023 for a full season with the PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda Team. It was a difficult year for the Brazilian as he missed several rounds through injury, and the #51 did not score points during his first full campaign, while teammate Hafizh Syahrin did. His best result was 17th on two occasions, in Race 2 at Assen and in the Superpole Race at Most.

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Source: WorldSBK.com

2017 Champion Mahias secures full-time WorldSSP return with GMT94 Yamaha for 2024

A Champion will return to the FIM Supersport World Championship grid in 2024, with Lucas Mahias linking up with GMT94 Yamaha for next season. Mahias won the 2017 title on the Yamaha YZF-R6 machine when running with GRT Yamaha and will hope his return to Yamaha can provide some of the success he experienced before, while GMT94 Yamaha will hope Mahias’ arrival can return the French outfit to winning ways.

Mahias made his WorldSSP debut in 2014, completing two races and finish fourth in Qatar. That earned him a full-time seat for 2015 with a hit-and-miss year; taking one podium and three top-four finishes but only finishing four races. Nevertheless, his potential was on display and, after a few races in STK1000 and WorldSBK in 2016, he returned in 2017 for his second full campaign. It would prove to be his title-winning year after a stunning season.

Eight podiums in 12 races, including two wins, propelled him to the top of the standings ahead, 29 points clear of Kenan Sofuoglu. He returned in 2018, again with the GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team, and almost defended his title as he was defeated by Sandro Cortese. He finished fourth in 2019 and was second in 2020, both with the Kawasaki Puccetti Racing outfit, before graduating to WorldSBK with the same team.

Two seasons with the Independent Kawasaki outfit gave a best result of seventh in the Tissot Superpole Race at Donington Park in 2021, before losing his full-time ride with the team and switching to the Endurance World Championship. However, he remained in the paddock in 2023 with Kawasaki Puccetti Racing, competing 10 races in WorldSSP as Can Oncu missed out through injury and also three in WorldSBK as he stood in for Tito Rabat.

For 2024, the Frenchman will return to the class where he’s enjoyed so much success. 29 podiums, including nine wins, have come for Mahias in WorldSSP since his debut while he’s also taken eight pole positions. He will be hoping his return to Yamaha machinery allows him to add to these stats in 2024, while GMT94 Yamaha will hope the 34-year-old can gave the team their first win since Jules Cluzel won at Mandalika in Race 2 in 2021.

Discussing his return to WorldSSP, Mahias said: “I am extremely happy to join GMT94 for 2024. It’s a team that I know well having raced with them several times in endurance and scored some points which helped to clinch the title in 2016. I also won with them in the French Supersport Championship. I want to thank Christophe and all his partners for believing in my potential as much as I believe in them. We have all the cards in hand to have a great season.”

GMT94 Yamaha Team Manager Christophe Guyot added: “We are delighted to welcome Lucas Mahias. After the podiums scored with Corentin Perolari in Australia, Valentin Debise (twice in France) and by Jules Cluzel (23 podiums and 7 wins) with GMT94, we are consolidating our commitment to take national categories to the top of the World Supersport. Lucas will rely on a team that will be able to bring together the skills of members and riders from different backgrounds to win and share. Lucas’ talent, energy and ambition are the assets that will motivate an entire team and raise the hopes of the young French generation.”

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Source: WorldSBK.com

Mackenzie, Norrodin reflect on Jerez test, new CBR1000RR-R coming soon for MIE Honda?

The PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda Team completed their first off-season test with both riders at the Circuito de Jerez – Angel Nieto on Wednesday and Thursday, with Tarran Mackenzie joined by Adam Norrodin for the first time on WorldSBK spec machinery. The duo, who were with the same team in WorldSSP, were running the old Honda machine during the test and both reviewed the test at the end of day two, with Mackenzie detailing where he was looking for improvements and Norrodin providing a fitness update.

MACKENZIE RETURNS TO SUPERBIKE MACHINERY: “There still some things I need to learn”

The Brit has plenty of experience of Superbike machinery, having raced in the British Superbike championship and won the title before joining the WorldSBK paddock, with the MIE Honda team in WorldSSP last year. He’s also tested their CBR1000RR-R on a few occasions throughout 2023 and he spoke about where he would like to improve on the Fireblade over the next tests, ahead of a maiden WorldSBK campaign, while also revealing his hopes to have the new machine at their next test.

Looking back on the test, Mackenzie said: “Day 2 was good; the conditions were a little bit better. It helped me a lot, I improved a little bit and had some more understanding. There are still some things I need to learn but we are on the old bike; hopefully, for the next test, we have the new bike which will change some things. I haven’t had so much time on a Superbike with traction control, only really at the Suzuka 8 Hours, so it was nice just to understand that side of it. I still need to understand and learn a lot, but the lap time was a little bit better. It was the last test of the year, but hopefully at the Portimao test in January we can make a step.”

DEBUT FOR NORRODIN: still searching for fitness

Malaysian star Norrodin missed the last couple of rounds after being injured in a crash at Magny-Cours, with the test also his first time on the CBR1000RR-R as he prepares for a maiden campaign in WorldSBK. While he admitted he still wasn’t at full fitness for the test, he outlined what his target was for the test and also explained how he’ll be working over the winter to get back to 100% fitness ahead of the team’s next test.

Explaining his two-day test, Norrodin said: “Unfortunately, I am still not 100% fit and so I wasn’t totally comfortable with my shoulder while riding. The target for the test was to build feeling with the bike, which we did, but my physical condition limited how many laps we could complete as I have little power in my arm and get fatigued after only a short run. I’m continuing with physio and rehab, but it’s going to be a long process, so now I want to visit my doctors back in Malaysia to see what else we can do to speed up the recovery process. A big thank you to the team anyway, as they’ve worked really hard this week. My focus over the next weeks is my physical recovery – I want to do all I can to better prepared for our next test in January.”

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Source: WorldSBK.com