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Seeking champions: SBK asks MotoGP for help

...But the move by Hayden, Bradl, E. Laverty and Melandri to the production-derived series is not enough without better organisation

Seeking champions: SBK asks MotoGP for help

The 'optimistic' figures circulated at the Misano race are not fooling anybody unfortunately. Superbike is experiencing a massive crisis this year in terms of audience, even the UK event at Donington, won by a Brit no less, had less spectators than British Superbike.

It is probably for this reason that, since last year, we're experiencing the greatest migration in the opposite direction, from MotoGP to Superbike, that the series has seen: in 2015 both Alex De Angelis and Nicky Hayden arrived on the SBK scene. And while the San Marino rider has struggled on the Aprilia of privateer team Ioda, the Kentucky Kid, in contrast, has reached the highest step of the podium.

"We've had riders from MotoGP in the past- stated Ten Kate - but with Nicky it was different. There was enormous interest".

It's probably not just a question of category, as Hayden is a true professional and a much loved rider.

Something for those teams in the production-derived series that are not exactly doing all they could in terms of communications, a vital part of the current motorsport world, should reflect on.
Hayden's success has nevertheless caused others to follow his example, Stefan Bradl for example, who will be his team-mate in 2017.

"I'm not interested in making up numbers in MotoGP anymore - the German comments after his experience with the Aprilia RS-GP - next year, with the arrival of the new Honda, we should have better chances. For now, I'm not considering a return to MotoGP, I want to focus on the new championship".

As well as one new face, there are two returning riders in the shape of Eugene Laverty, who has probably come to the same conclusion as Bradl, leaving a satellite Ducati for the Aprilia of team Milwaukee, and Marco Melandri, coming into the factory Ducati team in place of Davide Giugliano.

Another sign that Superbike is in need of heroes. But will these new/returning faces be enough to increase the audience in a championship where the races can be interesting but are, currently at least, dominated by the Kawasakis with the Ducati (unfortunately) in a supporting actor role?

It's difficult to say... actually no, it won't be enough if the championship organisers don't improve things on all levels, starting with the calendar that, this year, is truly awful, with the series resuming on 18 September at the Lausitzring in Germany after a break of almost three months, a break that began on 10 July at Laguna Seca!

The move by certain riders who are still competitive from MotoGP to Superbike doesn't fool us though.
The youngsters in SBK still dream of the reigning class, such as Michael Van Der Mark
, who is moving to Yamaha from Honda in the hope of future promotion.
Promotion that, in the recent past, hasn't proved to be very successful for most, if we consider that the only two to win a Grand Prix, if we exclude the 'I came, I saw, I conquered' of Troy Bayliss on the Ducati at Valencia in 2006, have been Ben Spies (Assen, 2011, with the factory Yamaha) and Cal Crutchlow last week (Honda LCR, Brno 2016), while riders moving in the other direction, such as John Kocinski, Carlos Checa and Max Biaggi, have started over and won numerous titles.

Anyway, anyone who thinks that it will be easy to beat Jonathan Rea next year has another think coming.... Just consider how, in 2012, when he was called upon to replace Casey Stoner, the Kawasaki champ was able to pilot the factory Honda RC213-V into 8th and 7th place respectively in the Misano and Aragon races.
And to think there are people who believe Superbike riders are not champions.

 

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