Superbike World Championship (also known as SBK, World Superbike, WSB, or WSBK) is the worldwide Superbike racing championship. The championship was founded in 1988. The Superbike World Championship consists of a series of rounds held on permanent racing facilities. Each round has two races and the results of each race are combined to determine two annual World Championships, one for riders and one for manufacturers.
The motorcycles that race in the championship are tuned versions of motorcycles available for sale to the public, by contrast with MotoGP where purpose built machines are used. MotoGP is the motorcycle world's equivalent of Formula One, whereas Superbike racing is similar to touring car racing.
Europe is Superbike World Championship's traditional centre and leading market.However, rounds have been held in the United States, Malaysia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, Australia, Russia, Qatar, Thailand, and South Africa and the series plans on keeping extra-European circuits in rotation. An Indonesian race was also proposed for the 2008 season, but this was later canceled by the FIM.
The championship is regulated by the FIM, the international governing body of motorcycle racing. As of 2013 the championship is organised by Dorna
The Superbike World Championship began in 1988, being open to modified versions of road bike models available to the public. For many years, the formula allowed for machines with 1,000 cc V-twin engines (principally Ducati, but later Aprilia and Honda) to go up against the 750 cc four-cylinder engines (Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki and Suzuki). For the first few seasons Honda won with the RC30, but gradually the twins got the upper hand. Using 1,000 cc V-twin engines benefited Ducati and it was able to dominate the championship for many years, but the 750 cc was second or third each year between 1994 and 1999.
Held under the FIM, the Formula TT from 1977 to 1989 once constituted the official motorcycle World Cup. Having proven itself both popular and commercially viable, it was decided by the end of the 1990 season to end the Formula TT and the Superbike World Championship would succeed it.
Carl Fogarty has won the Superbike World Championship a record four times with Ducati.
From 1993 to 1999 Carl Fogarty and Ducati dominated, Fogarty won the title a record four times and finished as runner-up twice on factory Ducatis. Troy Corser also won the 1996 title and finished as runner-up in 1995, both times on a Ducati.
Realizing that 1,000 cc V-twin engines suited the superbike racing formula more, Honda introduced its own V-Twin powered motorcycle the VTR1000 SPW in 2000. The result was clear right away as Colin Edwards won the championship in the bike's first year of competition. Ducati regained the title in 2001 with Troy Bayliss. Colin Edwards again reclaimed the title in 2002 on the same VTR1000 SPW bike.
Main article: 2002 Superbike World Championship
Colin Edwards won his second championship in what was arguably the most impressive comeback in the history of motorcycle racing. The season started with Troy Bayliss winning the first 6 races and by the end of race 1 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca he had 14 wins and was leading the championship by 58 points. Race 2 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca was the start of Colin Edwards' comeback, he went on to win all 9 remaining races and (aided by a race 2 crash for Bayliss at Assen) Edwards won the championship at the final race of the season at Imola. The final race of the season saw both riders fighting wheel to wheel for the entire race. The race is known by fans as the "Showdown at Imola".
The manufacturer's championship was won by Ducati. During these years the Superbike World Championship reached the zenith of its popularity, with global fan and full factory support.
Main article: 2003 Superbike World Championship
In 2003 the FIM changed the rules to allow 1,000 cc machines (twins, triples or four-cylinder) to race. Rule changes in MotoGP to allow four-stroke engines meant that the Japanese manufacturers focused their resources there, leaving the Superbike World Championship with limited factory involvement (only Ducati and Suzuki).
also saw the entry of Carl Fogarty’s Foggy Petronas FP1. The bike was developed under the previous regulations and was powered by a three cylinder 900 cc engine. With most of the field running Ducati motorcycles, the championship received the derogatory title "the Ducati Cup".The factory Ducati Team entered the only two Ducati 999s in the field, taking 20 wins from 24 races in a season where all races were won by Ducati. Neil Hodgson won the title on a factory Ducati.
Main article: 2004 Superbike World Championship
In an effort to create a more competitive field in 2004 organizers announced a series of changes to the championship. The most significant was that from 2004 the teams have had to run on Pirelli control or 'spec' tyres. The decision to award the control tyre to Pirelli was controversial. The Pirelli tyres were considered to be below the standard of Dunlop and Michelin that most of the teams had been using. Dunlop looked to take legal action against the decision