Posted: 04 Dec 2013
When DORNA took over the organisation of the World Superbike Championship earlier this year it was a clear sign that change was coming and let’s face it, it really needs to. World Superbikes has seen declining attendance figures over the past few years, take Silverstone for example: When the series first went to Silverstone in 2010 it attracted a crowd of over sixty thousand. This year, even though there were two British riders mounting clear challenges for both the Superbike and Supersport titles, Silverstone saw a crowd of just twenty-eight thousand.
Hopefully a Brit running the number one plate will reignite some British interest in the series as it’s definitely there in other countries. Magny-Cours saw an attendance of over seventy-thousand and the series’ long-awaited return to Laguna Seca and first ever visit to Istanbul brought in crowds of forty-one thousand and fifty-thousand respectively. OK, these aren’t quite MotoGP figures but they’re better than what we saw in the UK.
Having only just released the provisional calendar certainly won’t be helping the series, nor does it containing one round “TBC” and a press release the other day stated the return to South Africa is still very provisional as the circuit needs to pass FIM homologation. Releasing the calendar this late can cause all sorts of problems for riders and teams looking for sponsorship. There are still a number of teams to announce rider line ups for 2014, including Alstare, Althea and Red Devils who were all prominent in 2013 in some form or another.
What World Superbike does have on the other hand is a goldmine of talented riders on fairly equal machinery – the exact recipe for decent racing and a good few of this pack are British. Tom Sykes will be returning to defend his championship and with some pundits suggesting he could be the next Fogarty, could the Yorkshireman regenerate British interest in the series? Crescent Suzuki’s signing of Eugene Laverty and Alex Lowes could also turn into an interesting development; both riders have an insane amount of raw talent so if Paul Denning can put a competitive bike underneath them don’t be surprised to see them at the front. Ducati will also be looking to make their way back to the front, again with a British rider – Chaz Davies – and have been looking fairly impressive in testing. It’s the same story for the British Honda duo of Rea and Haslam and despite struggling a bit in testing the team is committed to being competitive.
World Superbikes could probably do with a whole host of changes in the long run but for now, in Britain at least, people just need to give it a chance. The racing is good, there are Brits at the sharp end and while it’s still a little pricey, it’s much cheaper than MotoGP.