Fear not, the Superbike World Championship will rise again. Here’s how…

Fear not, the Superbike World Championship will rise again. Here’s how…

To revive the championship, we need the courage to change things and bring along a few famous names. Like Marco Simoncelli at Imola in 2009 or Valentino Rossi at Monza ten years before

di Gianluca Montiron
Superbike World Championship

The negative economic trend has had strong repercussions in motorsport on teams and organizers. For example, Sport Production 125 cc and the European championship, two successful formulae and breeding grounds for numerous talented champions who started their careers here before arriving on the world stage, have both disappeared. It was a logical progression that rewarded talented riders of the calibre of Cadalora, Romboni, Biaggi, Capirossi and many others.

IT TAKES TIME – There has been a natural selection which has seen a subdivision of the roles and tasks and in all this the international federation has been totally absent. A youngster in Spain starts to race in circuits at the age of 10, without even mentioning the cost of tracks, another factor that has an impact on access to sporting disciplines. Dorna has tended to monopolize bike racing over the years, but not everything was immediately successful. The MotoGP class had a ten-year gestation period before all the manufacturers became involved, while Moto2 is a one-make class that has seen the teams survive and champions emerge in the difficult years.

WAGER ON SBK – After racing with my team in MotoGP and Moto2 I would now bet on the success of SBK, which was the first category to understand that four-strokes would play a key role in modern times. Dorna’s young management team has invented its first ‘in-house’ product with the creation of the World Supersport 300 Championship. This has seen the introduction of technical regulations that allow different engine sizes to race fairly in the same class. It is the first courageous and successful attempt to interpret what exactly the sport needs: competitive formulae with one eye on costs. The national championships are also adapting themselves to a successful formula. Dorna is carrying out technical tests of various models to guarantee equilibrium amongst bikes from different manufacturers. Yamaha Motor Europe put its weight behind the formula right from the start and with the bLU cRU programme it has already prepared more than 150 models this year, including ready-to-race R3 and R125. KTM will be racing in at least eight international championships this year with the RC390!

SPONSORS – Careful observation will show that Superbike involves companies such as Pirelli, present in F1 and MXGP and a world leader in the tyre sector who play a key role in the championship. There are also several important sponsors like Motul, Aruba, Prosecco DOC and Acerbis. Italia 1 broadcasts the races on free-to-air TV, and this is an added value for the growth of bike racing and for the visibility of stakeholders. All the ingredients are there, now let’s see if the new rules will be enough to limit the costs and favour the show. The SBK riders are all top-level, but the European subsidiaries of the Japanese manufacturers need to be involved to revitalize the system.

VIP GUESTS – One potentially successful idea would be to get a few MotoGP riders to take part in wild-card appearances for the rebirth of a championship that must have the courage to change the rules of the game. Remember Imola in 2009? Then, a young Marco Simoncelli provided some incredible excitement in his first race with four-strokes. The man behind this miraculous idea was Luigi Dall’Igna, so Gigi …give it a thought please. My idea is that Ducati and Aprilia must continue to play a key role in Superbike!

AMARCORD – In the 1990s I was working in Aprilia and for the Monza World Superbike round I brought along Valentino Rossi, Tetsuya Harada and Loris Capirossi for some demo laps with the RSV street-bike. The fans showed a lot of appreciation for this, and all that was necessary was a phone call to thank the owner Ivano Beggio. Wouldn’t it be fantastic to see some of the top MotoGP riders make wild-card appearances at Imola and Misano, starting with rapidly-emerging stars like Zarco, Morbidelli, Miller and Redding? Sometimes things happen for a reason, all you need is the will to make them happen. Next week I’ll have a chat with a couple of friends, so stay tuned!

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