After watching the WSBK Thailand Race 1 & 2, the first thought that comes into your head is “Why the hell is Kawasaki not in MotoGP?” The dominance of Kawas in World Superbikes is simply astounding, especially considering the fact that their own factory riders claim the bike is still at some 85% of its potential.
Watching a factory machine stay seconds ahead of everyone else kinda reminds me of the boring world of F1, where every year it seems the championship is decided from the start, based on who was the most clever in exploiting the rules in their favor. In WSBK however, things are a bit more exciting.
First off, WSBK seems more like a intra-team race rather than an inter-team one. Yamahas, which have dominated the MotoGP paddock for a while, are nowhere even close to the top, and end up with just the teammates fighting against themselves. At the front it’s always Rea and Sykes exchanging paint between their green Ninjas. But it’s the Ducatis that seem to have the biggest rivalry festering in its backyard.
Davies and Giugliano seem to hate each other’s guts, and never give up on any opportunity to push each other off the track. The only dampner in the festivities is the fact that Davies is faster, so he mostly ends up crashing on his own.
Van Der Mark was pretty impressive as well, the Honda rider starting from pole and ending up 3rd in Race 1 and 4th in Race 2. He doesn’t seem to be the best guy off the line, but does inch away towards the top as the race progresses, only to hit his limit while chasing the Kawas and then making a mistake.
Hayden finished 5th in Race 2 after a disappointing Race 1 that saw him retire with some technical glitch after 11 laps. Looks like WSBK isn’t going any better than MotoGP was for him.
Here’s the championship standings after Thailand
[table id=11 /]
But the reason I enjoy WSBK the most is because it’s a very different kind of racing to MotoGP, mainly in 2 respects.
While the entire MotoGP ecosystem seems to revolve around tires, their life, compounds and how they taste like if eaten with a side of bacon, WSBK doesn’t give much of a shit about them. There are a few compounds, and different riders experiment with them at different times, but of the 4 races in 2016 WSBK season so far I haven’t seen a single one decided by tires, or the lack of them by the end.
This means that riders are able to push, till the very end. It’s not like the razor’s edge type of racing that you see in MotoGP, where if you go too quick in the beginning, you crash out in the end, so you need to always stay at the limit, while nursing your tire enough to make it get back home.
If MotoGP is like a heavyweight boxing championship, WSBK is a like a street brawl.
Because tires are of significantly less significance to the race results, there’s no calm before the storm that you see towards the middle of a MotoGP race. Every lap of a WSBK race is full on charge, there’s no waiting.
Since mathematics tells us 2>1, hence proved that a WSBK race weekend is twice the fun of a MotoGP one. I like the concept of 2 races because it gives the riders a chance to really prove their worth. It’s easier to win one race, it’s much harder to win 2 back to back, and that gives a wide variety of riders a chance to try different things, that makes Race 2 very very interesting.
Race 1 is like the trailer before the real movie begins.
In that respect, I believe WSBK gives a much bigger margin for error. If you do bad in one race, you always have the next one to make it up in, at least some of it. You do bad in MotoGP, and off you to go the next round.
All in all, I’m having great fun watching WSBK, and writing about it forces me to research and learn a bit more about the sport and the people behind it. I’ll try and do separate articles about some of the interesting personalities in WSBK, and I think that’s the only thing it’s missing at this moment.
Most people watch MotoGP not for the racing, but for the people. We know who they are, we know their struggle, we hate them, we love them. With WSBK, it’s like trying to watch a new TV Series, you have no idea who’s the good guy or the bad one. Needless to say, the riders in WSBK are every bit as interesting as those in MotoGP, and I’d love to know more about them.
Hopefully, you will too. In any case, it’s not about you.
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