Superbike: what is it, where to watch it, schedule

Tight curves, straight stretches to accelerate to the maximum, thrilling overtakes: the Superbike World Championship is one of the most famous and fascinating motorsports worldwide. The Superbike World Championship, often abbreviated as SBK, is the world championship for superbike-class motorcycles, which are series-production motorcycles for unrestricted use, just like those available at dealerships.

What is the Superbike World Championship?

Superbike World Championship is often considered a younger sibling of MotoGP, but it is equally spectacular and especially a prestigious trophy for motorcycle manufacturers. In England, they say: "Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday," symbolizing how Superbike victories can impact the sales of two-wheeled brands.

Origins of Superbike Racing

Superbike is a model of professional racing motorcycle that, initially, are street-legal vehicles available in the common two-wheeler market. To compete, at professional levels, some parts of the motorcycle can be modified to improve its performance and make it more suitable for racing, such as the ECU, engine, exhaust, brakes, suspension, or gear ratio.

But who came up with the idea of putting modified street motorcycles on the track? The inventor of the Superbike World Championship is the American rider, Steve McLaughlin. He was the one who conceived this new competition, which debuted in 1973 at the Laguna Seca circuit in Monterey with a representative race. The first official SBK World Championship took place in 1988 and was won by Fred Merkel, riding a Honda RC30.

What is the difference between MotoGP and Superbike?

There are five substantial differences between MotoGP and Superbike. We are talking about two different motorsports, each with its rules and different functioning.

  1. Motorcycle Model: Superbike motorcycles are widely available racing models in the open market, accessible to the public. MotoGP bikes are unique prototypes, not available for purchase.
  2. Categories: MotoGP has multiple categories, such as Moto2 and Moto3, divided based on the maximum engine displacement allowed, 250cc for Moto2 and 125cc for Moto3. Superbike has a single class, though there are national championships like Ama Superbike for the USA, the British Superbike Championship for the UK, and the CIV, Campionato Italiano Velocità (Italian Speed Championship).
  3. Engine Power of the Moto: Superbikes can have 1000cc four-cylinder or 1200cc twin-cylinder engines, while MotoGP bikes have 1000cc engines with up to four cylinders. MotoGP motorcycles reach around 250 horsepower, while Superbikes range from 200 to 230 horsepower. Consequently, with different top speeds: a MotoGP bike can approach 360 km/h, while a Superbike can reach up to 320 km/h.
  4. Qualifying: MotoGP riders have multiple qualifying sessions to set the fastest time, determining their starting position on the grid. Superbike qualifying takes place in a 25-minute session known as Superpole.
  5. Races and Points: In MotoGP: you gain points in a single race. Superbike: you have three opportunities to score points: Race 1, Race 2, and the Superpole Race.

So, in a hypothetical Superbike vs. MotoGP challenge, who would win? It's a biased comparison because they are two different motorsports, and there is no definitive answer to which is better or worse. It is clear that MotoGP motorcycles are more powerful and faster, but Superbike remains an extraordinarily competitive and fascinating motorsport.

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Superbike Regulations: Organization, Scoring, and Requirements

The 2023 Superbike World Championship is organized into 12 stages held at some of the most exciting international circuits in the world. In this competition, five motorcycle brands participate Ducati, Yamaha, BMW, Honda, and Kawasaki. There are independent teams using motorcycles from one of the five involved brands. During a race weekend, apart from test drives and qualifying sessions, the riders compete in three distinct races: Race 1, Race 2, and the Superpole Race.

Which motorcycles race in Superbike?

The Superbike World Championships regulation has been updated in 2023, but the basic requirements for Superbike motorcycles remain unchanged. To be eligible to compete, the Superbikes must have specific characteristics:

  • Engine Displacement is a requirement for Superbikes to race: Superbikes with engine displacements of either 1000cc with four cylinders or 1200cc with twin cylinders are allowed.
  • The minimum weight for Superbike motorcycles to participate in the races must be 168kg.
  • The manufacturers must produce at least 500 units of the motorcycle they intend to homologate for the SBK World Championship.
  • The maximum cost of production for each motorcycle, known as the price cap, must be at most 44,000 euros.

How is scoring assigned in Superbike?

In the Superbike World Championship, riders have three opportunities to score points: Race 1, the Superpole Race, and Race 2. In Race 1 and Race 2, points are awarded to the top fifteen riders in the standings. Here is the scoring breakdown in Superbike:

  • 25 points for the first position
  • 20 points for the second position
  • 16 points for the third position
  • 13 points for the fourth position
  • 11 points for the fifth position
  • 10 points for the sixth position
  • 9 points for the seventh position
  • 8 points for the eighth position
  • 7 points for the ninth position
  • 6 points for the tenth position
  • 5 points for the eleventh position
  • 4 points for the twelfth position
  • 3 points for the thirteenth position
  • 2 points for the fourteenth position
  • 1 point for the fifteenth position

In the Superpole Race, the points are effectively halved and awarded only up to the ninth position:

  • 12 points for the first position
  • 9 points for the second position
  • 7 points for the third position
  • 6 points for the fourth position
  • 5 points for the fifth position
  • 4 points for the sixth position
  • 3 points for the seventh position
  • 2 points for the eighth position
  • 1 point for the ninth position

The Superbike World Championship Race Weekend

The race weekend of the Superbike World Championship spans three days, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, consisting of four distinct phases: free practice sessions, the qualifying Superpole, the Superpole Race, Race 1, and Race 2.

The typical schedule for each Superbike race, with adjustments for time zones, is as follows:

Friday: Free Practice 1 (morning), Free Practice 2 (afternoon)

Saturday: Free Practice 3 (morning), Superpole (morning), Race 1 (afternoon)

Sunday: Superpole Race (morning), Race 2 (morning)

Superbike Free Practice Sessions

There are three free practice sessions in Superbike. The first two happen on Friday morning and afternoon, where riders have complete freedom to test and familiarize themselves with the track. The third free practice session takes place on Saturday morning. During these sessions, riders test tires, engines, and especially the racing lines.

Superpole: How does it work?

The Superpole is the feature that adds excitement to Superbike racing. It is the centerpiece of Superbike qualifying, where riders must push their limits to secure a prominent position on the starting grid for Race 1 and the Superpole Race. The Superpole for qualifying is a single, intense session of 25 minutes. But what about Race 2? That's where the Superpole Race comes in.

SBK Superpole Race, the wildcard of the race

The Superpole Race is a race within a race and is one of the explosive differences between MotoGP and SBK. It takes place on Sunday and consists of only ten laps, but it awards points to the top nine finishers and determines the starting positions for Race 2. This race can shake up the standings and change the dynamics of Race 2.

Race 1 and Race 2

Race 1 occurs on Saturday after the Superpole qualifying session. Race 2 takes place on Sunday and is the final session following the Superpole Race. The starting grid for Race 1 is determined by the best times from the Superpole, and the results of the Superpole Race determine the starting positions for Race 2.

World Superbike 2023: schedule, riders, and standings

World Superbike 2023 is even more exciting and competitive. The defending champion, Spanish Alvaro Bautista, will find tough competition: Yamaha's Toprak Razgatliogu wants to get back to winning, and Yamaha's Andrea Locatelli is eager to emerge, and there is a lot of buzz within the Ducati team itself, with Michael Ruben Rinaldi improving race after race. Never consider the multiple champions record-holder Jonathan Rea out of the picture.

Superbike 2023, participating riders

23 riders are competing to become the World Superbike champion in 2023:






Alvaro Bautista

Ducati Panigale V4R

Aruba. It Racing - Ducati


Michael Ruben Rinaldi

Ducati Panigale V4R

Aruba. It Racing - Ducati


Toprak Razgatlioglu

Yamaha YZF R1

Pata Yamaha


Andrea Locatelli

Yamaha YZF R1

Pata Yamaha


Alex Lowes

Kawasaki ZX-10RR

Kawasaki Racing Team


Jonathan Rea

Kawasaki ZX-10RR

Kawasaki Racing Team


Iker Lecuona

Honda CBR1000 RR-R

Team HRC


Xavi Vierge

Honda CBR1000 RR-R

Team HRC


Scott Redding


BMW Motorrad


Michael Van der Mark


BMW Motorrad


Axel Bassani

Ducati Panigale V4R

Motocorsa Racing


Garrett Gerloff

BMW M 1000 RR

Bonovo Action BMW


Loris Baz

BMW M 1000 RR

Bonovo Action BMW


Dominique Aegerter

Yamaha YZF R1 GYTR

Yamaha WorldSBK Team


Remy Gardner

Yamaha YZF R1 GYTR

Yamaha WorldSBK Team


Philipp Oettl

Ducati Panigale V4R

Team GoEleven


Tom Sykes

Kawasaki ZX-10RR

Kawasaki Puccetti Racing


Danilo Petrucci

Ducati Panigale V4R

Barni Spark Racing Team


Bradley Ray

Yamaha YZF R1

Yamaha Motoxracing Team


Hafizh Syarhin

Honda CBR1000 RR-R MIE

Racing Honda Team


Eric Granado

Honda CBR1000 RR-R MIE

Racing Honda Team


Oliver Konig

Kawasaki ZX-10RR

Orelac Racing MOVISIO


Lorenzo Baldassarri

Yamaha YZF R1

GMT94 Yamaha

2023 Superbike Calendar

The World Superbike 2023 calendar consists of twelve stages touching four continents, Europe, America, Asia, and Oceania.

  1. Grand Ridge Brewery Australian, Phillip Island, Australia - Feb. 24/26
  2. Motul Indonesian Round, Mandalika Circuit, Indonesia - March 3/5
  3. Pirelli Dutch Round, TT Assen, Netherlands - April 21/23
  4. Catalunya Round, Barcelona, Spain - May 5/7
  5. Pirelli Emilia-Romagna Round, Misano Adriatico circuit "Marco Simoncelli" - June 2/4
  6. Prosecco DOC Round, Donington, United Kingdom - June 30/July 2
  7. Prometeon Italian Round, Imola, Italy -14/16 July
  8. Acerbis Czech Round, Brno, Czech Rep. - July 28/30
  9. Pirelli French Round, Magny-Cours, France - Sept. 8/10
  10. Tissot Aragon Round, Motorland Aragon, Alcaniz, Spain - Sept. 22/24
  11. Pirelli Portuguese Round, Autodromo Internacional do Algarve, Portimão, Portugal - Sept. 29/Oct. 1
  12. Prometeon Argentina Round, San Juan Circuito, Argentina, October 13/15

Where to watch the World Superbike Championship on TV?

Those who love motorsports can’t miss the live TV coverage of Superbike. If you are wondering where to watch Superbike in Italy, you can watch it on SkySport or TV8, checking the dates and time zones depending on which international circuit will host the race. Check the official WorldSBK website for the times to watch Superbike on TV.

World Superbike 2023, the standings

Currently confirmed at the top of the Superbike standings is Spanish Alvaro Bautista of Team Ducati, already the winner of World Superbike 2022.

  1. Alvaro Bautista 112 points Ducati
  2. Toprak Razgatlioglu 75 points Yamaha
  3. Andrea Locatelli 70 points Yamaha
  4. Alex Bassani 51 points Ducati
  5. Michael Rinaldi 47 points Ducati
  6. Jonathan Rea 44 points Kawasaki
  7. Xavi Vierge 43 points Honda
  8. Danilo Petrucci 36 points Ducati
  9. Iker Lecuona 33 points Honda
  10. Dominique Aegerter 24 points Yamaha
  11. Philipp Oettl 23 points Ducati
  12. Alex Lowes 22 points Kawasaki
  13. Remy Gardner 19 points Yamaha
  14. Scott Redding 17 points Bmw BMW
  15. Michael Van Der Mark 16 points Bmw
  16. Garrett Gerloff 15 points Bmw
  17. Loris Baz 6 points Bmw
  18. Lorenzo Baldassarri 3 points Yamaha
  19. Hafizh Syahrin 2 points Honda

World Superbike World Championship Roll of Honor

It has been almost forty years since the Superbike World Championship started: the first race was in 1988 at Donington, and the bulletin of that historic day speaks Italian. In fact, Davide Tardozzi won in Race 1 and Marco Lucchinelli in Race 2. The winner of the first Superbike World Championship in 1988 was American Fred Merkel.

  • 1988 Fred Merkel (Honda RC30)
  • 1989 Fred Merkel (Honda RC30)
  • 1990 Raymond Roche (Ducati 851)
  • 1991 Doug Polen (Ducati 888)
  • 1992 Doug Polen (Ducati 888)
  • 1993 Scott Russell (Kawasaki ZXR750)
  • 1994 Carl Fogarty (Ducati 916)
  • 1995 Carl Fogarty (Ducati 916)
  • 1996 Troy Corser (Ducati 916)
  • 1997 John Kocinski (Honda RC45)
  • 1998 Carl Fogarty (Ducati 996)
  • 1999 Carl Fogarty (Ducati 996)
  • 2000 Colin Edwards (Honda VTR 1000 SP)
  • 2001 Troy Bayliss (Ducati 996 R)
  • 2002 Colin Edwards (Honda VTR 1000 SP2)
  • 2003 Neil Hodgson (Ducati 996 F03)
  • 2004 James Toseland (Ducati 996 F04)
  • 2005 Troy Corser (Suzuki GSXR1000 K5)
  • 2006 Troy Bayliss (Ducati 996 F06)
  • 2007 James Toseland (Honda CBR1000RR)
  • 2008 Troy Bayliss (Ducati 996 F08)
  • 2009 Ben Spies (Yamaha YZF-R1)
  • 2010 Max Biaggi (Aprilia RSV4 Factory)
  • 2011 Carlos Checa (Ducati 1098 R)
  • 2012 Max Biaggi (Aprilia RSV4 Factory)
  • 2013 Tom Sykes (Kawasaki ZX-10R)
  • 2014 Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia RSV4 Factory)
  • 2015 Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki ZX-10R)
  • 2016 Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki ZX-10R)
  • 2017 Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki ZX-10R)
  • 2018 Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki ZX-10R)
  • 2019 Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki ZX-10R)
  • 2020 Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki ZX-10R)
  • 2021 Toprak Razgatlioglu (Yamaha YZF-R1)
  • 2022 Alvaro Bautista (Ducati Panigale V4-R)

Who are the most successful riders in World Superbike?

For years, the king of the category was Britain's Carl Fogarty, with four victories, until the arrival of compatriot Jonathan Rea, who won six Superbike world championships in-a-row, from 2015 to 2020. For Italians, the best record is Max Biaggi, who boasts a palmarès of two SBK world titles.

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