The battle for independence: satellite success stories in WorldSBK

Monday, 7 September 2020 08:04 GMT

Following on from Michael Ruben Rinaldi’s phenomenal victory on Saturday, it’s time to glance back in history at some of the most memorable Independent team victories – and there’s some moments!

Just in case the 2020 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship hadn’t given us enough to chew over, Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Team GOELEVEN) added his name to the list of riders to win in World Superbike. However, for the second season in succession, the Championship has seen an Independent team take victory. The very ethos of WorldSBK’s roots is to allow private teams to compete at a high level but with many now enjoying huge factory involvement, it’s rare to get a true satellite win. We cast our minds back to some of the very best wins from Independent teams.

Where else could we start but with the Ten Kate Racing squad. Dutch-run and helping to shape a historic period in WorldSBK, the team were the Honda force from 2004 to 2018. Chris Vermeulen took them to a first win at Silverstone in Race 2, 2004, before finishing second in the title a year later. James Toseland took his second WorldSBK title for them in 2007 whilst Carlos Checa, Ryuichi Kiyonari and Jonathan Rea all took their first ever wins in WorldSBK under the Ten Kate banner. Their most recent win came from the late Nicky Hayden at Sepang in 2016’s Race 2 and now with Loris Baz and a switch to Yamaha, there’s sure to be plenty more to celebrate in the future.

Often in years gone by, it’s been wildcard riders and teams who managed to take it to the full-time factory set-ups. One of the most memorable is Neil Hodgson’s first victory, coming at Donington Park’s Race 2 in 2000 for the GSE Racing HM Plant Ducati team, run by Colin Wright. Hodgson and fellow Independent wildcard Chris Walker beat Pierfrancesco Chili’s factory Alstare Suzuki on the last lap in one of the most incredible WorldSBK moments. The success was so good that it convinced team boss Wright to join WorldSBK full-time from 2001 – 2003, with James Toseland also taking a first win in the team. Another Independent shock that came in 2000 was John Reynolds at Brands Hatch for Ben Atkins’ Reve Red Bull Ducati squad. This is as well as Shane Byrne’s phenomenal wildcard double at Brands Hatch in 2003 for Monstermob Ducati.

Ducati’s most recent World Superbike title came in an Independent team with the Althea Racing squad and Carlos Checa storming to victory in 2011. 19 wins together across 2011 and 2012, they weren’t the only Ducati team to take a victory for the satellites – Sylvain Guintoli took victory for two Independent Ducati teams in the same year; his first career win at Assen for the Effenbert Liberty Racing Team and then for the Pata Ducati team at Magny-Cours in Race 1. The Magny-Cours triumph was the most recent for an Independent Ducati team until Rinaldi this past weekend. Other notable Ducati wins in privateer teams come from Pierfrancesco Chili at Misano in 2004 for the PSG1-Corse team and for the R.G. Team in 2008 at Valencia, with Lorenzo Lanzi.

Besides the aforementioned occasions, you can’t forget to mention Alex Barros’ Imola victory in Race 1 of 2006 aboard the Brazilian-flagged Klaffi Honda – still, the only South American win in WorldSBK. As well as that, the Puccetti Kawasaki team’s long-awaited glory from Toprak Razgatlioglu in 2019 at Magny-Cours, coming from 16th on the grid in both Race 1 and the Tissot Superpole Race to defeat Jonathan Rea in two final lap showdowns.

Can any other teams be added to this list? The GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Junior Team of Garrett Gerloff and Federico Caricasulo are improving each and every round, whilst the Barni Racing Team have Marco Melandri at the helm, with the team themselves having plenty of front-running experience. After Team GOELEVEN’s success, it goes to show that any team in WorldSBK can succeed.

Make sure to follow all of the 2020 season with the comprehensive WorldSBK VideoPass!