Spain and SBK®: a look back on their achievements

Wednesday, 22 August 2018 18:07 GMT

Following the announcement Bautista is moving to WorldSBK we take a look at his predecessors

Spain is well known for creating world champions in racing, dominating in MotoGP™ in the past, but they have also made their mark in the World Superbike Championship. With it being notoriously difficult to make the switch from prototype to production based bikes, history has offered us some riders proving it is possible to succeeded in both series.

Some of the most high profile cases have been Spanish riders, able to impress in both the WorldSBK and GP paddocks, and taste the victory. Proving it is possible to be competitive in both classes, have read over some of the heroes we’ve seen over the seasons.

Perhaps the most successful WorldSBK and MotoGP™ rider is Carlos Checa, who secured the WorldSBK title in 2011, and has four premier class victories to his name. A veteran in every sense of the word, he will forever go down in the history books for his feats. Beginning his career in the 125cc and 250cc World Championships back in 1993, he swiftly moved through the series to make his 500cc GP debut in 1995 with Honda. He spent 13 seasons in the premier class, and saw the class through into the ‘MotoGP’ era, with many successes for Yamaha and Honda. Making the step into WorldSBK in 2008 was a strong choice for the Barcelona rider – finishing in fourth overall on his debut season. Making a switch to Ducati in 2010 proved an even better decision, and he took the title the following year. With 24 wins, 49 podiums and 10 pole positions, Checa retired from WorldSBK as the most successful Spanish rider of the series.

Barcelona born Ruben Xaus made his world stage debut in 1995 in the 250cc World Championship, but his full time opportunity came in World Supersport two years later. Spending time building up his experience in the class, he finished in fifth overall in 1999 – taking one win at Misano. A move up to WorldSBK swiftly followed in 2001, and he spent three seasons battling for podiums and victories. Runner up with Ducati Fila in 2003, he then moved over to MotoGP™ the following year, where he was able to secure one podium finish. Returning to the SBK® paddock in 2006, Xaus spent the final four seasons of his career in the paddock, taking four more podiums and is the second most successful Spanish rider in WorldSBK history.

35 year old Toni Elias has made waves in both the MotoGP™ and WorldSBK paddocks throught his career, which spanned over 17 seasons. Starting out in the 125cc World Championship, Elias took the usual route to end up in the premier class by 2005, moving up with his Fortuna Yamaha team that saw him take a victory in the 250cc World Championship. Taking his debut victory in stunning style in 2006 at Estoril, he was then able to prove his 600cc talents in Moto2™’s debut season, taking the title in 2010. 2013 welcomed his WorldSBK debut with the Red Devils Roma squad, and he secured his best result of fourth position overall. Competing in over 30 races in the SBK® championship, Elias was unable to make the step to the podium, but was a competitive fighter in the series.

Ducati’s Xavi Fores currently races for Barni Racing Team in WorldSBK, but the rider from Lombai has been racing on the world stage for over 15 years. Racing in a variety of classes from WorldSSP to 125cc to Moto2™ Fores has competed in more than most, and had a tough weekend in his MotoGP™ debut as he was forced to retire from the San Marino round when he was a replacement rider. But in WorldSBK he has been shining on the Ducati Panigale R in 2018, taking podium finishes and battling for the victory on more than one occasion.

Fonsi Nieto descends from a prestigious racing family and has proven his worth on more than one occasion throughout the seasons. With 112 starts in the WorldSBK class, he has one victory, five podiums and a top six championship finish to his name as he fought in some hotly contested battles on-board Suzuki’s, Kawasaki’s and Ducati’s.  Nephew of the late, great Angel Neito, the 39 year old was able to make his debut in the 250cc World Championship back in 1999, a series in which he secured five victories and 18 podiums overall. Making his mark in both paddocks, the rider from Madrid is the third most successful Spanish rider in WorldSBK history.

Keep up with the latest news and progress of Alvaro Bautista as he prepares to take on a new challenge next season, all with the WorldSBK VideoPass.