Take a trip down memory lane and see who came to blows
Heading into a historic 30th season, the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship has been a series famed for its close and edge of your seat racing, which attracts fans from around the world.
Ahead of the Yamaha Finance Australian season opener for the 2017 WorldSBK season, which gets underway at Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit from 24th-26th February - worldsbk.com takes a look back at the historic battles that have treated fans in the past.
Italian Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) makes his return to the WorldSBK this season, and he is certainly one rider who provided plenty of battles on track throughout his four seasons in the class. One notable long running encounter was with Eugene Laverty, who is now also making his return with Milwaukee Aprilia. 2013 saw the pair clash on seven occasions for spots on the podium – most memorably in Jerez Race 1 of which the Irish rider come out on top. Paint was swapped between the pair, and the closest finish came at the Italian circuit of Monza, as Melandri was unable to make the pass over Laverty. With both riders on their return to the series, will this spark be reignited this season?
Delving further back into the history books, one great rivalry between Troy Bayliss and Colin Edwards can’t be forgotten. Three-time World Champion Bayliss was defending his world title back in 2002, with his biggest threat American Colin Edwards putting up a good fight. Despite a strong start to the season for Bayliss, Edwards was on the charge and the duo came to blows 21 times on the podium over the season. 2002 ended with Edwards taking the title by just 11 points, after a stunning season finale at Imola - making it one of the closest finishes the championship had seen in many seasons. A season long battle to the end will go down in history.
Max Biaggi and Tom Sykes’ fight for the championship back in 2012 was the closest finish to a season the Championship has ever seen, as Biaggi narrowly took the title by just half a point. Italian Biaggi made his debut in the World Superbike Championship in 2007, and quickly made a name for himself as a strong competitor in the series. Tom Sykes, who is still racing for the Kawasaki Racing Team in the series, had his first chance to take the title back in 2012 with tough competition from the famous Italian. The fight wasn’t just between the pair this season however, as nine different riders took to the top step of the podium, but ultimately it came down to the pair. The fight was decided in the final round at Magny-Cours, but Sykes was unable to bring the gap down to below half a point – which was taken from the Italian round in Monza with conditions deemed unsafe to race. Sykes was able to claw back the lead Biaggi had across the season, but despite the Brits best efforts he was unable to get that all important point back.
Anticipation builds for the opening round of 2017 which kicks off next week, from 24th – 26th February in the Yamaha Finance Australian Round, as fans look forward to seeing history being made over the 13 WorldSBK rounds ahead of them.