WHAT WE LEARNT: Rea’s Yamaha progress, Iannone’s real level and 2023 comparisons…

The 2024 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship is well underway, with three rounds and nine races already in the history books and a lot becoming an instant classic. From last-lap deciders, final corner showdowns and incredible tyre gambles, the first quarter of 2024 has had everything. Now it’s time to dissect what we’ve been able to learn from the first three rounds with a stunning season in store.

BMW IN CONTENTION AT EVERY TRACK: wins in Barcelona and at Assen for the first time…

BMW’s step forward in 2024 was clear but now it’s safe to say they’re in contention at most, if not every, circuit. At the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, neither BMW nor Toprak Razgatlioglu (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) had won before. Until this year. A strategic masterclass followed up by an unforgettable final-corner showdown changed their record, and it was similar at Assen too. Neither rider nor manufacturer had tasted victory but the #54 changed that. The good thing for BMW is it’s not just Razgatlioglu at the front, with teammate Michael van der Mark close to the front in 2024.

ALEX LOWES’ BIG STEP FORWARD: eight top-six finishes in nine races

With Jonathan Rea (Pata Prometeon Yamaha) leaving KRT for this season, Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) became the de facto team leader and he’s embraced that role. He’s now working with Pere Riba and has spoken about what they’re working on including managing situations better, with the team getting results. Two wins, three podiums and every race bar one in the top six show the Brit’s progress in 2024.

A THREE-WAY TITLE FIGHT? Bautista, Bulega and Razgatlioglu to battle it out?

The top three in the Championship are just starting to break away from the rest of the pack, potentially setting up a three-rider title fight. Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) claimed the standings lead at Assen and he’s six points ahead of Razgatlioglu in second, while Nicolo Bulega (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) is third on 109 points and eight behind the #54. It’s early days, there’s plenty of twists to come, but will WorldSBK in 2024 be a three-way title fight?

IANNONE’S LEVEL IS REAL: no pre-round testing, still towards the front

Both the Australia and Catalunya Rounds featured a pre-round test in the lead up to the weekend, but the Dutch Round didn’t have this. It perhaps added an extra challenge for Andrea Iannone (Team GoEleven), but he proved he was rapid without testing beforehand, fighting towards the front and in the podium places more often than not at Assen. Of course, it’s a circuit he knows well from his MotoGP™ days, but it had still been four years without riding there competitively.

REA FINDING HIS FEET AT YAMAHA: a pole position and closer to the front

Jonathan Rea’s (Pata Prometeon Yamaha) move to Yamaha hasn’t gone quite as he’d expected just yet, but there were signs in the Netherlands that he’s adapting to the R1 machine. He took pole in mixed conditions and was closer to the front than he’d been before – 5.376s from victory in Race 1, compared to 16.963s in Barcelona Race 2 (he didn’t finish Race 1) and 38 seconds in Australia Race 1 (he didn’t finish Race 2, so no comparison can be made) – before being caught up in Lowes’ Turn 1 accident in Race 2 at Assen. The first blue podium remains elusive and maybe conditions helped a bit, but Rea and Yamaha will be happy to see him closer to the front with more to come.

MAKING PROGESS: compared to 2023…

After three rounds, it’s possible to make comparisons with to 2023. The big one is that BMW have scored 80 more points this year compared to last season (126 in 2024 vs 46 last season), with Kawasaki also up by seven points. Yamaha have lost the most in a year-on-year comparison, down 42 points, with Honda 33 points lower and Ducati 17 down in a year-on-year comparison. In terms of riders, Alex Lowes and van der Mark are the big winners, up 49 and 39 points respectively. Riders who have switched teams are generally down year-on-year; Rea’s down 50 points and Axel Bassani (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) is 55 points worse off. Razgatlioglu is also down, but only by a point and, of course, he had a technical problem fighting for the podium in Race 2 in Australia. Although he didn’t switch teams, Bautista is worse off compared to 2023 to the tune of 51 points.

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Source: WorldSBK.com

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