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World Superbike Season Preview 2013

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


With the 2013 World Superbike season opener at Phillip Island just days away, motorcycle road racing fans the world over are gearing up for a championship that promises to be as enthralling and competitive as any in recent memory. There have been some dramatic shifts since the end of 2012 including roster changes, administrative shake-ups, and the inclusion of a stop in India, a first for the country and the series. Familiar faces will return, including Tom Sykes, Marco Melandri and Carlos Checa alongside a group of premier-class rookies looking to prove their skill in the big show.

Administrative and Regulation Changes

One of the most notable changes since 2012 is the fact that World Superbike is now under the auspices of Dorna, rights holder of MotoGP. One of the most conspicuous results of this union is the introduction of a number of regulations in WorldSBK to increase its standing as a “production” race series. For 2013, teams are required to add true-to-life headlight decals for their particular models in order to better represent the bikes as they might be seen on showroom floors. Another change is the move from 16.5-inch tires to 17-inch, again, in an effort to give additional credence to WorldSBK's “production” series claims.

Pirelli developed new Diablo tires for World Superbike in 2013, which have been part of the testing program for many teams during off-season testing. They’re claimed to “ensure a reduction in movement and (offer) improved stability and handling in turns, as well as the ability to maintain performance throughout the race.” Pirelli goes on to state that “the compound range was also redesigned from scratch based on the new structure of the 17-inch tires and now the new blends are softer, more versatile and higher performance.”



Some of the changes have moved the two race series closer together though, such as the switch to a GP-like three-rider echelon grid rather than the four riders per row traditionally used in SBK. The weight limit of twin-cylinder bikes has been reduced as well, equalling the minimum weights of its four-cylinder rivals, an issue that may help Ducati return to the top step in 2013.

After rounds like Monza in 2012, where changing conditions mid-race forced officials to stop competition, a rule has been passed that says if weather conditions suddenly take a turn for the worse during a race, officials will no longer suspend competition to allow riders to change tires. Riders now must enter the pits as the race continues and change tires mid-competition. Should a rider need to change tires mid-race, they must stop in front of their garage, turn the engine off and dismount the bike entirely. They’re strictly forbidden any refueling during pit stops.

WorldSBK in India

In addition to a return to Moscow Raceway, which WorldSBK first visited in 2012, Round 2 of 2013 takes the series to the newly built Buddh Circuit in India. Located near Delhi, Buddh was designed by Hermann Tilke (the German engineer and racer who also designed Sepang, the Valencia Street Circuit and the new Circuit of the Americas, just to list a few) and is slated to host WorldSBK through 2016. India becomes the 27th country in WorldSBK’s 26-year history to host an event.



Roster Changes

Another big change is Max Biaggi, who won’t be around to defend his 2012 championship title. The Roman stepped down after racing competitively for over 20 years, earning two SBK titles and a swath of GP titles during that time.

Among those new to the premier class are Jules Cluzel and Vittorio Iannuzzo, both having moved up from World Supersport following the 2012 season. Cluzel joins Leon Camier on the FIXI Crescent Suzuki squad, while Iannuzzo will pilot a BMW S1000RR for the Grillini Dentalmatic SBK Team.

Others, such as Chaz Davies and Sylvain Guintoli, made the move from satellite teams to full factory-backed crews. Davies is now part of the BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK effort, while Guintoli steps into Biaggi’s previous post alongside Eugene Laverty on the Aprilia Racing Team. Loris Baz, who rode as replacement for Joan Lascorz with Kawasaki Racing in 2012, returns to contest a full premier-class season aboard the ZX-10R beside teammate, Tom Sykes.



Davide Giugliano remains with Althea Racing as a stand-alone rider, but is now pilot of an Aprilia RSV4 rather than the Ducati 1098R used in 2012. His former teammate, Checa, holds steady with Ducati but is now with Team Alstare and will work the 1199 Panigale through its inaugural season along with Ayrton Badovini. The Alstare name has a long history in World Superbike, putting in 14 years with Suzuki, but in 2012 took a break from racing after failing to reach a deal with the brand. Francis Batta remains at the helm of Team Alstare and aims to give the 1199 a memorable first-season in WorldSBK.

Former BMW Motorrad rider Leon Haslam joins Jonathan Rea on the Honda Factory effort, which has a new title sponsor in Pata, an Italian snack manufacturer. Ronald ten Kate continues to manage the squad and is excited about the team’s chances at scoring some big results in 2013. Hiroshi Aoyama, Rea’s teammate in 2012, opted to return to MotoGP and will contest the prototype series with the Avintia Blusens CRT effort.

Official testing has already been underway, with two official days at Phillip Island in the books ahead of the season opener which runs February 22-24. Some riders have already encountered trouble, with Sykes now riding with a cracked bone in his left hand, Melandri suffering from persistent shoulder pain and a number of others hit the pavement during the proceedings, forcing them to seek medical attention. There’s no telling what the 2013 season will bring, but there’s no doubt that it will be exciting.

The following pages go into further detail on the different manufacturers fielding WorldSBK entires in 2013.

Want to get in on the 2013 World Superbike action? Play Motorcycle USA’s Fantasy Superbike for a chance to win prizes like a VIP trip to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and $50 gift cards from Motorcycle-Superstore.com. Get in on the action before it’s too late. Round 1 at Phillip Island is set for February 24th!

Fantasy World Superbike
Don't just follow along with the Superbike races; play along with Superbike Fantasy Racing.
2013 World Superbike Season Gallery
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World Superbike Racer Bios
Tom Sykes
Tom Sykes earned his first World Superbike championship title in 2013 and he returns with Kawasaki in 2014 to try for the top-spot once again. Read more on the Tom Sykes bio page.
Leon Haslam
Son of the legendary Ron Haslam, Leon Haslam is poised to make his own mark on motorcycle racing history as a leading contender for the World Superbike Championship. Read more on the Leon Haslam bio page for career highlights, pictures, and news.
Eugene Laverty
Following a successful stint in World Supersport which included back-to-back runner-up finishes, Eugene Laverty is quickly building a reputation in the premier world championship. Learn more about the Irishman on the Eugene Laverty bio page.

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Comments
iowaboynca   February 24, 2013 07:57 AM
Was able to watch on Comcast..so for mixed reviews: BAD- A LOT of soccer coverage in between races. Not a bad thing if you like soccer but... Also, no HD... GOOD- ALL 3 races in their entirety! With no commercial interruptions! So we'll see how this goes, but wow the RSV4s look tough..
Erik   February 21, 2013 08:42 AM
Anyone have a link for the WSBK stream on BeIN sport? I looked for quite a while and couldn't find anything but soccer and a little rugby on that website.
bikerrandy   February 20, 2013 08:29 PM
If Dish TV doesn't show the 1st WSBK race live, maybe they'll show it a few days later, I hope. Ch. 408 ;^ )
carol90vfr   February 20, 2013 12:02 PM
You can find in on BeIN Sport. But they may not televise the first race. What a bummer. They "may" stream it live online at 8:00 Eastern on Saturday.
jet057   February 20, 2013 11:59 AM
Carlos Checa is all ready checking out at the island w/ some amazing top speed's on the new turf,season hasn't started yet but for Checa and the Awesome Ducati it is on boyz.....love it
Prey   February 20, 2013 10:48 AM
Was SOOO looking forward to the season opener at Philip Island, but just learned Speed TV isn't carrying World Superbike anymore! Seriously??? Has anyone heard of an alternative broadcast?