WorldSBK Wildcards: The Wild Additions

Thursday, 16 March 2017 10:24 GMT

We take a look back at a wildcards who have impressed over the years

As always the MOTUL Thai Round provided fans with some stunning racing action, and the World Supersport series was no exception. The ever competitive series welcomed three local wildcard riders into the series, and they didn’t disappoint.

Following the action shown from Decha Kraisart (Yamaha Thailand Racing Team) and Chalermpol Polamai (Yamaha Thailand Racing Team), as well as replacement rider Thitipong Warokorn (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing), reviews some of the successful wildcard appearances the series has seen in the past.

It was the rise of the British wildcards at in the 2000 British Round at Donington Park, as the top six riders from the domestic championship made a one event appearance at the Leicestershire circuit. Neil Hodgson took the victory in race two in front of his home fans aboard a Ducati, which following some years struggling in the world series was a stunning result for the Brit; he repeated this feat later that season at Brands Hatch. Hodgson went on to win the title in 2003, so perhaps his wildcard paved the way for success.

Marco Simoncelli took to the WorldSBK stage in 2009, as he rode for Aprilia at Imola in 2009 as as usual the Italian brought drama to the track. Ending in a final lap battle at the tight and twisty track, he was able to beat one-event team-mate Max Biaggi to the third step of the podium in front of their home fans. Unable to make another appearance in the series, Simoncelli certainly provided fans with some stunning on-track action.  

Australian Anthony West has impressed in front of his home fans across the last two seasons in World Supersport, with the Australian taking two podium finishes from two appearances at the opening round of the season. West is not short of experience in the class, and building on this he was able to put in a strong performance this season at Phillip Island in a crash-ridden test.

Keiichi Kitagawa is one of 10 Japanese riders to take a victory in the WorldSBK series, and secured his one trophy at Sportsland Sugo in Japan, back in 1998. Putting on a show for his home fans, the Suzuki rider took his one and only victory, by just 0.307s from compatriot Akira Ryo.

British rider Shane Byrne had a strong wildcard appearance at his home circuit Brands Hatch in 2003, as he secured the double victory ahead of his rivals in the UK. Despite making appearances in the series in the past, Byrne took two dominating victories with the support of his home fans behind him. Securing both victories by over five seconds, fans were treated to two all-British podiums in what were following the glory years of Carl Fogarty’s reign.

These wildcard appearances aren’t the only ones to stand out however, it is worth noting there have been hundreds of appearances which have added extra drama and thrill to the already exhilarating WorldSBK and WorldSSP series.