Superbike world championship
Production based machines
Created in the United States, the Superbike world championship uses 4-stroke production-based machines. Eddie Lawson, Wayne Rainey and Kevin Schwantz all learned their craft in this class in the 80s before going on to become 500 world champions. In 1988, encouraged by the manufacturers, who quickly realised its effectiveness in promoting their production models, the Superbike series acquired world championship status. It was the American Fred Merkel who was the first to be crowned world champion. In over twenty years the discipline has produced a number of stars: Carl Fogarty, Scott Russell, John Kocinski, Colin Edwards, Troy Bayliss, Ben Spies and most recently Jonathan Rea, six times world champion with Kawasaki. With the disappearance of the 500 category, Superbikes has become, over the years, the major category in many national championships. The highest-level national championship today is the British series - BSB for the initiated. Carl Fogarty is in large part responsible for the popularity of the discipline in the UK. Neil Hodgson, James Toseland and today Cal Crutchlow all enjoyed success in Superbikes before moving to MotoGP. For the manufacturers, this world championship allows them to showcase their production bikes at a reasonable cost with a good chance of being competitive. The 2021 Superbike world championship counts twelve rounds. Each round is run over two races of approximately 100 kilometres, at the end of which the first 15 mark points towards the championship rankings. A third, shorter race, called a Sprint, is run on the Sunday morning between the two ‘classic’ races, held on Saturday afternoon and Sunday afternoon. Only the first ten on the Sprint score points, half of what is distributed during the other two races. As for Moto2 in Grands Prix, the Supersport world championship plays the role of the support class for World Superbikes. This race series uses 600 cc machines that are also derived from production models. Unlike in Superbikes, each round is made up of just one race. Since 2018, 300 Supersport has been added to the programme. This new class is designed for young riders and is run only at European rounds.
Elf and Superbike
It is now more than twenty years that TotalEnergies Group engineers have been working hand in hand with the Kawasaki factory engine engineers to develop specific fuels and lubricants. This collaboration started in MotoGP before moving into World Superbike when the Japanese manufacturer decided to review its competition strategy. Partner of the KRT team, the Elf brand benefits from a field of experimentation that is different from that of MotoGP. As technical and multi-energy manager of the TotalEnergies’ competition department points out, “Firstly, the regulations are more restrictive, and we can’t make changes to the fuel during the season. In addition, in Superbike, with a fuel tank limited to twenty-four litres and shorter races, we are much less limited in terms of consumption. We can therefore make maximising performance a priority.” Elf and Kawasaki also offer extremely technical products for clients of the Japanese brand. Since the end of the 2000s, a green coloured lubricant associated with Kawasaki’s branding has been specially developed. A new range of ‘lubricants’ has also been brought out. In addition to their fluorescent ‘lime green’ colour, these products use synthetic technology to meet the most demanding homologation criteria. The Elf Vent Vert range of products is today proving popular with new markets, such as Thailand, where certain Kawasaki models are assembled.
Nothing seems to be able to stop Jonathan Rea. Six times world champion, the Kawasaki rider starts a new year with the same will to win and the same energy that has already made him one of the all-time greats of Superbike world championship history. For Guim Roda, KRT team manager, Jonathan Rea is more than ever favourite to take championship honours. “We have a rider that still hasn’t had his fill and again this year, we’ve worked hard to maintain our place at the top of the pile. Our bike has improved, especially the electronics, and I am certain that it will be competitive at all tracks used in the championship.” Alongside Jonathan Rea since last season, Alex Lowes will be keen to take advantage of the experience he acquired in 2020, despite a championship seriously disrupted by the Covid-19 epidemic.