Fighting to the end: when three manufacturers stand on one podium

Tuesday, 10 March 2020 11:36 GMT

WorldSBK shows how competitive it is after Phillip Island produced the 304th podium with three different manufacturers on, making for an ultra-competitive 2020 season

Three different manufacturers stood on the podium in two of the three Yamaha Finance Australian Round races. It’s not uncommon for this to happen in MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship races and has occurred on 304 occasions throughout the Championship’s history, including in the very first race at Donington Park in 1988. Bimota, Ducati and Honda stood on the podium then, while Ducati stood on the most recent podium to have three different manufacturers, alongside Yamaha and Kawasaki.

It's a feat that has occurred in every WorldSBK season since the Championship started in 1988, except for 2003 and 2004. The two seasons were dominated by Ducati where the Italian manufacturer claimed all but four of the available 20 top ten Championship places across both seasons.

Despite recent domination by Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK), having three different manufacturers on the podium has happened 46 times since 2015 – the year when Rea won his first title. It does show that when a rider is dominant, it doesn’t necessarily mean the bikes they are riding are too. There have been 146 scheduled races since the start of the 2015 season, including Phillip Island 2020, with almost a third of the podiums being shared by three manufacturers.

Rea’s dominant years have had three manufacturers celebrate the same podium 46 times with the best season for this coming in 2019 – with 14 podiums featuring three manufacturers. There is a caveat to this with the introduction of the Tissot Superpole Race adding another 13 races to the calendar, but it is still more than seasons gone by.

Perhaps the most interesting season to look at for when different manufacturers stood on the podium is the 2000 World Superbike season. In terms of the Riders’ Championship, Colin Edwards (Honda) won the title with a relatively healthy margin of 65 points over Noriyuki Haga (Yamaha).

Look deeper at the Riders’ Championship and it shows how competitive it was between the manufacturers. The top six in the Championship all rode different bikes with Honda, Yamaha, Aprilia, Suzuki, Kawasaki and Ducati completing the top half-dozen. It showed the competitive nature of the Championship and was also one season where the vast majority of races had three different manufacturers on the podium. In fact, only seven of the 26 races did not have three manufacturers on the podium. Four of these occurred at British racetracks: Donington Park (Race 2), Brands Hatch (Race 1) and the second round at Brands Hatch (Races 1 and 2); the Kent circuit hosting two rounds of WorldSBK action.

The competitive nature of manufacturers is shown by having only 60 ‘lockout’ podiums; where all the spots on the rostrum are taken by one manufacturer – and almost half of these (27) occurred during the Ducati domination of 2003 and 2004. Having 33 podiums across all seasons since 1988 (excluding 2003 and 2004) ‘locked out’ by one manufacturer shows how rare this is, and how competitive the Championship is as manufacturers aim for the ultimate prize of winning the World Championship. The last time it happened was with Kawasaki, at Donington Park in the Tissot Superpole Race.

Manufacturers being competitive isn’t a new phenomenon and they will continue to be that way. There were two manufacturers on the top step of the podium in Phillip Island (Yamaha and Kawasaki), a third on the podium (Ducati) while BMW took pole position for Race 1. Honda’s return as a factory outfit ended with a double top six position in the opening race; all five manufacturers in the 2020 season with something to smile about and to build on as the season continues.

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