Mid Season has passed for WSBK and w e enter into the long summer break. With no races for the next 9 weeks we have time to reflect on the first part of the year. As you know already this blog is not just a summary page. You can get a summary anywhere, who did what and what happened. We want to take a deeper look and stress our opinions more than just plain reporting of the facts.
The downright dirty shames:
- Sylvain Guintoli is out of the season, even if he comes back late he is not going to offer anything to the championship. Alex Lowes has totally stepped up to fill the needs of PATA as a rider and a advertising tool, but the bike is letting him down. We had a chance to meet him and some of the mechanics over the weekend at Laguna Seca and they really are a bunch of professional guys.. we know they are capable of so much more. Niccolo Canepa is a great rider but the development of the bike would have been much better if the team had a consistent champion like Guintoli helping with development.
- Chaz Davies has pushed the Ducati to the limit and the Ducati is letting him down. Not just him but Davide as well. In my opinion Chaz has the best chance to challenge the Kawasaki’s in 2016. Unfortunately he has just went down far too many time this season. The reason? The front end of the Ducati is in need of suspension redesign. Again and again the riders loose the front, both Chaz and Davide have the same problem and we know from years of MotoGP and WSBK racing the Ducati suffers from inbred design, Ducati needs to go outside Italy for aftermarket parts. They have perfected power, but just like the top end cars, Italy has a problem with handling.
- Honda needs to update the CBR. Honda has announced they will stop selling the 600 series of the CBR in the UK, and we know that people are turned off by the long term lack of upgrades. The R6, R1 have had upgrades, Kawasaki a ton of upgrades, but Honda and Suzuki have lagged. Who is it hurting now? Hayden and van der Mark. Nicky and Michael vdM clearly have the skill and motivation to win races but the equipment is failing them as well.
When week after week you have the same team winning, with little challenge from anyone else it is clearly evidence that the bikes themselves are the primary factor in the wins. Kawasaki, Ducati, Honda, Yamaha.. week after week. Who is to blame? It is hard to lay blame on any one entity or group. History has shown us that one manufacturer has often dominated championships, and one team mate often over another. Each team has had periods when they completely dominated, so perhaps it’s just cyclic and a matter of time before a change occurs.
I want to blame Dorna and the FIM but their work in WSBK has actually improved competitiveness unlike in MotoGP where it has hampered the sport. The fault therefore lays with …. wait for it.. American fans. … YES.. that is right … and here is why. Manufacturers have little reason to work on development when American consumers are clueless to the racing world.. the US has fans many loyal fans.. but most are ignorant and clueless.. and buy bikes based on taste.. why would major bike builders care about race results if they don’t increase bike sales? They wouldn’t. Racing is paid for by advertising and sales, when fans do not buy products sponsors sell then the sport suffers. period. The US is the largest consumer of sport bikes on the planet, with the UK second and the rest of the world trailing behind. Yet Americans continue to lack interest in sport bike racing.. the reasons are many, lack of education about the sport, immense competition from other sports, lack of media attention ect ect. Will it change.. not anytime soon.
Where it’s going right!
- The riders themselves are some of the greatest, most friendly and outgoing personalities in the sport racing history. The UK riders especially are fan focused people who appreciate the fan base. They make an effort to reach out to fans in person, in social media as well as in the traditional sense of the media. The top ten riders themselves are a rare breed of goodness, it’s really nearly impossible to say anything negative about them, something that cannot be said about MotoGP.
- Sportsmanship among the riders is very high. The professional level of participation is great. Team competitions between riders must have difficulty, yet they keep in out of the fans view. On track and on camera they show sportsmanship shaking hands and chatting about the action. Again not something you can say about MotoGP.
- Rider accessibility. If you have the opportunity to visit a WSBK event you will find that you can meet the riders, get autographs and shake hands. The riders so not think themselves above the normal person. They are approachable and friendly and will take time out just to say hello or take a picture with you or your kids. I’m my book that makes time at a WSBK event priceless.
In Summary I think it safe to say that WSBK is clearly the better of the two championships yet again.. It was true during the prime Rossi years, and its true today.