Early tomorrow morning the good people of Delhi will stretch lazily to welcome yet another weekend. But there will be some homes that will be alive, abuzz with the sounds of roaring superbikes. Racing season is back and the World Superbike Championship is kicking it off at the fantastic, scenic, terribly challenging and seagull-infested circuit of Phillip Island.
So let’s just assume that you have lived in complete isolation ever since the last motorcycle race in 2015. Let’s just assume that you are still trying to figure out whether WSBK is worth the early morning tête-à-tête with pesky birds and too-fresh air. Then, just allow this article to brainwash you.
The Great Kawasaki Battle
Everyone loves a bit of rivalry, especially if it is intra-team. The Great Kawasaki Game will begin on Saturday with the Superpole shoot-out between reigning world champion Jonathan Rea and former world champion Tom Sykes.
Last year Rea won 14 races to Sykes’ 4. But never underestimate the 30-year-old Yorkshireman. He won’t be pulling any stops this time. His pace during pre-season testing is just one such indicator.
As an aside, and no, this is not a plug because I love the Kawasaki: If you do get the urge to experience the stunning 2016 machines, check out the KRT Edition and the Winter Edition. The former borrows some paintwork from Rea and Sykes’ 2016 machines, while the latter is based on the Winter Test machine from November 2015. And the technology has had help from the Kawasaki Racing Team.
The Kentucky Kid
Let’s not forget the absolutely divine Nicky Hayden. The Kentucky Kid will make his SBK debut this year, looking to shake off the bad juju that has haunted his footsteps for a very long time.
Hayden will be pairing the young and superbly talented Michael van der Mark, and will be racing the stunning Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP. This former MotoGP world champion will be seeking redemption, and there will be fireworks!
The Other Warriors
Who said 2016 will be easy? The competition will be intense. Giving Rea, Sykes and Hayden a hard time will be 2014 world champion Sylvain Guintoli racing the Yamaha YZF R1. He’s already staked his claim during Friday’s practice session.
Let’s not forget Chaz Davies and Davide Giuliano on the Ducatis and Leon Camier with the MV Agusta. I am not even listing the young blood who are always raring to go, seeking to unseat the masters.
There is also much excitement on the other side of the fence. It will be interesting to see if Kenan Sofuoğlu takes his fifth championship crown and cements his complete dominance over the world of World Supersport championship. The Kawasaki rider is hated as much as he is loved, but there is no denying his sheer aggressive talent. He always makes for a fantastic race. Especially when he is trying to outride and outpace his bitter rival Jules Cluzel, riding the absolutely gorgeous MV Agusta F3 675. (I think I just drooled all over my keyboard!). The WSS edition is going to be stuff of bitten nails and sore throats. Mark my words!
“WSBK Year Zero”
Well, that’s what the folks over at Dorna and WSBK are calling it. Year Zero. It does have a ring to it. Essentially what it means is that the schedule has been overhauled… completely! To start off, the Friday practice sessions you missed? Well, they set the tone for the weekend. The Superbike Race 1 will be on Saturday, after two Superpoles for WSBK and two for WSS. Yes, you did read that right. Sunday will see the WSS race followed by SBK Race 2.
That’s a lot of racing! And that’s exactly what we wanted. You can now stop complaining about the early morning.