Battle of the manufacturers: Kawasaki vs Ducati as Estoril returns

Wednesday, 14 October 2020 08:59 GMT

The Manufacturers’ Championship is up for grabs in Portugal but who has the historical advantage?

The 2020 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship will reach its conclusion at the Pirelli Estoril Round and after a season of great racing and fairing-to-fairing scrapping, it all comes down to the final round. The Manufacturers’ Championship is still up for grabs this year with just 26 points between them coming into the final round – Kawasaki just on top. However, Estoril is a level playing field for everyone, so let’s take a look at what we can expect from each manufacturer this weekend.

Leading the charge is Kawasaki, who took a first Riders’ Championship unexpectedly at Estoril in 1993, after the final round of the year in Mexico was called-off. It was Scott Russell then and now; it is Jonathan Rea who hopes to give Kawasaki an eight Riders’ title. Despite never winning at Estoril, Aaron Slight took Kawasaki to pole in 1993, with fellow Kawasaki riders Russell and Brian Morrison joining him on the front row – the only three front row places Kawasaki’s achieved at Estoril. On the podium in both races with a best result of second by Piergiorgio Bontempi in Race 1 and Scott Russell in Race 2, can Kawasaki pick up from where it left off? A rare Kawasaki front row lock-out would bring them to 290 front row places whilst a podium place over the weekend takes them to 455. Two races on the rostrum and they can be on 345 overall and if they are wins, it’s 160 victories. Race 1 will be the 830th race start for Kawasaki in WorldSBK, never missing a race start.

Ducati has one win to its name at Estoril, courtesy of Carl Fogarty in Race 2, 1993, from second on the grid – one of just three front row places the manufacturer has enjoyed at the Portuguese venue. Besides Fogarty’s win, the only other podium place for Ducati is from 1988 and Marco Lucchinelli. Three fastest laps for Ducati in four races, the Bologna manufacturer hopes to be in the thick of the action this weekend. A front row for Ducati would make it 350 in WorldSBK and 650th front row place, whilst a podium will sit them pretty at 630. If they manage three podium places across the weekend, it could be 950 come the close of the season.

Yamaha have a good history at Estoril, with the late, great Fabrizio Pirovano winning Race 1 there in 1993 and taking a third in Race 2 that same year. However, the only front row that the Japanese manufacturer has is from Terry Rymer in 1993, who qualified third and finished fifth. However, Yamaha engines were used in the 1988 season for Bimota, and the Italian manufacturer is one of the most successful at Estoril. A race in the points at Estoril will be Yamaha’s 85th on the bounce whilst a front place will be the 190th. The Tissot Superpole Race will also be the Japanese manufacturer’s 700th race in WorldSBK.

Honda have never won, took pole or set the fastest lap of the race at Estoril. However, as it prepares for an 825th race, they have one podium, courtesy of Terry Rymer in 1988 when he qualified second and took third – the first podium for him and just the second for the UK after Roger Burnett in the first ever WorldSBK round at Donington Park. Rymer is the only rider in WorldSBK to have qualified on the front row for two different manufacturers at Estoril and that’s a record bound to stay.

BMW has never raced at Estoril and will hope to make some history. In the last Superpole session, the qualified 1-2 for the first time in history and should it take pole again, it’d be the first ever back-to-back poles for the German manufacturer. A race led would be the 40th they’ve managed whilst a first podium of the year would be the brand’s 40th too. With BMW, Kawasaki and Honda previously taking victory at Portimao, can they join Ducati and Yamaha in taking victories at both Portuguese venues used by WorldSBK.

Enjoy all the action from the final showdown at the Pirelli Estoril Round on the WorldSBK VideoPass!