Motorsport Thoughts

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

When Are Brits Gonna Lose the Fixation With Superbikes?

The question was asked as above...

I want to pick up on this for various reasons.As far as I'm concerned, MotoGP and Superbikes can exist very nicely in harmony. There's no Champ Car/IRL rivalry, simply because they are not competing directly against each other - MotoGP is prototypes and Superbikes is production based, obviously. Sure, things developed on prototypes get passed down to road bikes in the same way that the odd trick on F1 cars eventually get down to road cars (although with bike racing the relationship is rather closer), but they don't occupy each other's space in the market.

So far as comparing the machinery goes, MotoGP is ahead for the clear reason that it has to be (if your production machinery is better than your prototypes, you're producing some crappy prototypes ). But the gap isn't much - at Donington for instance, for a time the lap record was by Steve Hislop in BSB, faster than Rossi for a while.

In terms of riders crossing over, there's fairly good parity too. Nicky won the GP title from a Superbike background, although the likes of Colin and Neil Hodgson didn't do so well with their opportunities. Chris Vermeulen on the other hand is doing rather well. And GP winners like Garry McCoy, Regis Laconi, Norick Abe, Alex Barros and of course Max Biaggi certainly haven't had things their own way when they went over to WSB.

True, many riders want to get into GPs, JT included. But there's no shame at all in wanting a Superbike career if you can do well there (interesting one - who do you rate as better - Troy Bayliss or Marco Melandri?). We all know that there's a finite number of seats in GPs and indeed in 250s/125s, and for the GP route there's nothing outside of that.

Carl Fogarty did nothing in GPs but is a household name and with good reason from his time in WSB. If you go to Brands Hatch or see it on TV on Sunday, you'll see 80,000+ fans who don't think Superbikes is too bad, ditto the 60k at Silverstone and similar at Donington for WSB. If you tune into BSB on ITV1, the 30,000-odd people present at each round quite like it too. Over in Japan too, Superbikes is very important to the manufacturers ('Win on Sunday, sell on Monday' as it was once put), as you can see from the Suzuka 8-hour race. The AMA has a lot of money in it over in the States. If you're an Aussie, since Mick retired you've had rather more to cheer about in WSB than in GPs too. All the road races are obviously production-based too.

WSB has rather less tradition than MotoGP having only began in 1988 and taken a few years to get mainstream recognition, but it's the same for GPs. Until 2000 the British MotoGP only got about 20,000 fans on race day - once Channel 5 got the coverage and a Mr Rossi started becoming a superstar things improved but it's had lean times in Britain.

If you're a Brit or any other nationality, there's a good career with plenty of opportunity in Superbikes. The fans love it too, so where's the problem?


Post a Comment

<< Home