Round One of the World Superbike Championship, like all major sporting events, is a giant production. There might be a few dozen top level competitors getting all the media attention, but the event couldn't happen at all without the expertise and energy of hundreds and hundreds of support staff, volunteers and of course, the fans that are the lifeblood of any sport. So with Mike Hanlon and Fabian Fitzgerald busy checking out the latest in motorcycle technology
, I thought I'd turn my back to the track and speak to a few of the lesser known characters that add life to the World Superbike paddock – and as it turned out, I met a few doozies. Here's their WSBK experiences in their own words.
The first round of the World Superbike Championships was held at Phillip Island on the weekend with strong indications that the 2014 championship will be won on one of five bikes: an Aprilia RSV4 1000, a Kawasaki ZX-10R, a Ducati Panigale, a Suzuki GSX-R1000 or a Honda CBR1000RR.
plays a critical role in motor racing. It seems an obvious point to make, but events at this weekend's opening round of the 2013 Supersport season hammer home just how important – and how challenging – it is to get the rubber right.
Australia’s motorsport mecca is in the midst of its first major facelift in 14 years, with the Island’s hallowed race circuit being treated this week to a $3 million resurface to create the smoothest, fastest race track in the world. The huge undertaking will see
5,000 tonnes of specially blended asphalt mix laid at a temperature of ~160ºF in a process that shows it's not just high-tech bikes that make the world of international motorcycle racing tick.
Motor racing in the premier categories has always attracted not only the bravest and most skilled performers in the physical sense, but also the best and brightest thinkers – engineers and technicians who are responsible for what those elite athletes are riding on, in every sense of the term. Pirelli's job as the chosen control tire manufacturer for WSBK is one of finding a motorcycle racing tire that will perform in a far broader range of conditions, and one that any sportsbike owner can then buy off the shelf. We recently spoke to Pirelli Moto Racing Director Giorgio Barbier and racing compound development engineer, Fabio Meni, about how the company meets this formidable challenge.
Here it is – the new ZX-10R. The bike that lured MotoGP race-winner Chris Vermeulen into the worst team in the WSBK paddock; the bike that both Vermeulen and Kawasaki believe will put Kawasaki back at the front of the Superbike grid. All we have at this stage is a few photos of the race Superbike version and a teaser video, but expectation has been building that the new Ninja could be the first Japanese bike to take it to the amazing new BMW S1000RR. Numbers like 200 brake horsepower and a wet weight under 200kg have been floating around for the streetbike version. We know that there's going to be some form of traction control, which puts the Kwaka into a small but growing class of sports machines, and most interestingly, patents have been spotted that indicate that Kawasaki is thinking about running a proper long-bang style engine configuration, complete with an additional electric motor to keep the crank spinning in between pulses at lower speeds. Certainly, upon its release this will be Kawasaki's most significant motorcycle in many years.
The 2009 World Superbikes season is off to a cracking start, with an action-packed qualifying stage and Superpole now decided. Boasting a huge grid of superstar riders, some ominous new faces, a raft of new bikes and brand new teams from BMW and Aprilia, we've tipped WSBK 2009 as the one to watch over MotoGP in our detailed season preview
a few weeks ago. And what a start! Texan Ben Spies has taken an astonishing Superpole victory on his international debut for Yamaha, ahead of veteran Max Biaggi on the brand new Aprilia RSV4
and newcomer Jonny Rea on his Hannspree Honda CBR1000RR. The new Superpole format has proven itself to be pure cut-throat desperation and a great spectacle - and the races tomorrow should be absolutely stunning. Check TheBikerGene
for full coverage of Round 1 of the 2009 World Superbike Championship.