THE GOLDEN ERA CONTINUES: the WorldSSP superstars aiming to make an impact on WorldSBK

Friday, 10 February 2023 10:14 GMT

Both Dominique Aegerter and Lorenzo Baldassarri are coming up from WorldSSP to WorldSBK for 2023 after finishing 1-2 in the 2022 title fight

The MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship in 2023 welcomes to the grid two of last year’s WorldSSP superstars for their rookie campaigns. Two-time Champion Dominique Aegerter (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) and Lorenzo Baldassarri (GMT94 Yamaha) will both make the step into WorldSBK on the Yamaha YZF R1 machine, continuing a rival that blossomed throughout 2022 and ignited several times last season.

THE BATTLES: a title fight in WorldSSP

Both Aegerter and Baldassarri were involved in last season’s title fight and, while Aegerter came out on top, the racing between the pair was incredible. Who could forget Race 2 at MotorLand Aragon to start the 2022 season, where the pair came together but both finished at the final corner? There was also Race 1 at Misano which, while decided after the flag, was a thrilling battle between the pair and Nicolo Bulega (Aruba Racing WorldSSP Team). Plus, when the Championship hit Magny-Cours, there was even more drama in Race 2 as the pair were fighting for victory at a crucial stage in the title fight.

STEPPING UP: different scenarios for Aegerter and Baldassarri and their goals

Both riders competed on the Yamaha YZF R6 machine in 2022 and both will be on the R1 in WorldSBK for their rookie campaign. Aegerter is stepping up with the GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team for his rookie campaign, while Baldassarri will be with the GMT94 Yamaha team. GMT94 Yamaha have enjoyed success in WorldSSP but are now stepping up to WorldSBK with Baldassarri, with both team and rider looking for success in 2023.

With winter testing now done and dusted, both riders have been able to discuss their goals for the upcoming campaign. Aegerter is aiming for the top ten in the early stages of his maiden campaign but, as he gains more experience throughout the year, to be best rookie and maybe the bet Yamaha rider on a few occasions. Baldassarri hopes to be able to fight for the top ten during his rookie campaign as well as improving step by step.

THEIR THOUGHTS: Aegerter and Baldassarri discuss their rivalry…

During testing recently, both Aegerter and Baldassarri were asked about resuming their rivalry in WorldSBK after the epic battles of last year. While both have their own personal ambitions for 2023 in their rookie campaign, Aegerter and Baldassarri were both looking forward to fighting each other once again. Double WorldSSP Champion Aegerter said: “Baldassarri is a great rider and we had some great battles last year in WorldSSP. Now we are both on the Yamaha bike in WorldSBK. I hope we can fight together again but I hope we have great results on our own.”

Baldassarri, who won four races in 2022 as Aegerter won the title, added: “For sure, it could be a good fight and a good target to be the best rookie and to be better than him at adapting to WorldSBK. Let’s see what happens but I’m very confident.”

FOLLOWING IN THE FOOTSTEPS: other WorldSSP stars who did well in WorldSBK

Plenty of riders in recent years have enjoyed WorldSSP success and then gone on to have more in WorldSBK. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) finished second in his one WorldSSP campaign, winning three races, before going on to become the most successful WorldSBK rider of all time. British rider Cal Crutchlow was the 2009 Champion and he enjoyed a stellar debut WorldSBK campaign, finishing fifth in the standings with three wins and 10 podiums. Since then, he has made a name for himself in MotoGP™, winning three races and currently serves as Yamaha’s test rider.

Chaz Davies took the 2011 WorldSSP title before winning 32 WorldSBK races and standing on the podium 99 times, while Michael van der Mark (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) was the 2014 Champion and has won five WorldSBK races since then. The recently-retired Eugene Laverty was twice runner-up in WorldSSP, in 2009 and 2010, before he enjoyed success in WorldSBK: 13 wins and 35 podiums, including finishing second in the 2013 Championship. Laverty is now co-owner of Bonovo Action BMW and rider coach for the team’s riders.

More recently, Sandro Cortese and Lucas Mahias won the 2017 and 2018 titles in WorldSSP and progressed to WorldSBK, while Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) has enjoyed lots of success after taking the 2020 title. He was propelled straight into the factory Yamaha squad and has taken six podiums in his two seasons so far, although he is still searching for that first win.

Watch WorldSBK in 2023 as the golden era continues using the WorldSBK VideoPass!