WSBK – Super again

This weekend saw the start of the 2010 World Superbike Championship, hosted at Phillip Island, Australia. This year the entry list reads like a who’s who of motorcycle racers. The grid is littered with ex and current, national and international champions as well as few ex MotoGP riders thrown in for good measure.  It is the epitome of strength in depth, and a field that the organisers should rightly be proud of. 2010 promises to be a very closely fought and exciting season.

To describe the WSBK championship as being in the doldrums for the past few years would be overstating things. That said, it had lost some of it’s lustre since the heady days of the early 2000’s (the 2002 championship in particular was a classic). Manufacturers and teams have now returned to provide the variety and colour that a championship of this nature needs. Ducati, Suzuki, Yamaha, Honda, Kawaski, Aprillia and BMW all field bikes. All I’m missing personally is the odd idiosyncratic entry from the likes of MV Agusta (mainly because they build such an achingly pretty motorcycle).

This weekend provided two classic superbike races. Packs of between 4 and 6 riders knocking lumps out of each other for pretty much the entire duration of both 22 lap battles. Phillip Island can be a difficult track to overtake on, as through the fast sweepers there’s really only one quick line. It takes an inventive and brave mind to find a way past, fortunately there’s plenty of them about this season.

Long time campaigner (but still surprisingly young) Brit Leon Haslam got his maiden WSBK win in dramatic style in Race 1 by just 0.004s (see photo below). Race 2 went to ex MotoGP ace Carlos Checa, who at age 37 very much proved that there’s life in the old dog yet, beating Leon by just shy of half a second.

On to Portamao in Portugal for round 2 on the 28th March, welcome back World Superbikes, we’ve missed you.

Photo source – http://www.worldsbk.com/en/home.html

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