Redux: AMA Superbike vs. World Superbike at MMP

05/28/2012 @ 10:14 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

Last year we combined the QP2 times from World Superbike with the Qualifying times from AMA Superbike, to see how America’s finest motorcycle racers stack up on against the international championship of a similar name. Of course there are different regulations in each series (not to mention a variety of other factors), which vary a bit on how teams are allowed to modify their race bikes, so there isn’t an exact comparison between the two series, but it makes for something interesting to mull over with your morning coffee, and the results this year may surprise you.

Before we dive into it, there are some notes on the table below, namely the use of WSBK’s QP2 times instead of those from Superpole. The biggest reasons for this is because the two sessions were on the same day, and roughly during the same time period, which with Miller’s variable weather this year was important to give a more accurate representation of things (we used the same sessions in last year’s article as well).

Looking at the results from last year, what is immediately obvious is that World Superbike is actually lapping a fraction slower than last year’s pace at the American round (a couple tenths of a second difference). Meanwhile, the pace in AMA Superbike is notably faster, which is evident by the number of AMA riders mixed in with the WSBK competitors. This contrasts nicely to last year’s results where, sans a few outliers, the mixed times could easily be drawn into two groups, on a purely series-related basis.

Once again, Josh Hayes is the fastest AMA rider in our analysis, but this time Josh slots in 12th with the WSBK pack, whereas last year he was 19th. Also showing the heightened pace in AMA Superbike, Blake Young makes a modest step up, but the inclusion of riders like Geoff May, Danny Eslick, and Roger Lee Hayden in the higher spots of the mixed grid show that its not just one or two riders stepping up the pace, but the AMA’s top teams overall.

With a couple AMA regulars wildcarding in the WSBK race (Jake Holden & Shane Turpin), some calibration can be made on our understanding of the differences between racing in the AMA and racing in World Superbike. We will let you argue that in the comments, but of note, only four of the AMA Superbike riders would have been cut by the FIM’s 107% qualification rule, meaning all the riders here are pretty damn fast.

Combined Results from AMA Superbike’s Qualifying Session and World Superbike’s Qualifying Practice 2 – Sunday May 27th, 2012

Pos. Rider Team Bike Time Diff.
1 Jakub Smrz Liberty Racing Team Effenbert Ducati 1098R 1’48.517
2 Carlos Checa Althea Racing Ducati 1098R 1’48.789 0.272
3 Marco Melandri BMW Motorrad Motorsport BMW S1000 RR 1’49.009 0.492
4 Sylvain Guintoli Team Effenbert Liberty Racing Ducati 1098R 1’49.079 0.562
5 Eugene Laverty Aprilia Racing Team Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1’49.175 0.658
6 Jonathan Rea Honda World Superbike Team Honda CBR1000RR 1’49.243 0.726
7 John Hopkins FIXI Crescent Suzuki Suzuki GSX-R1000 1’49.531 1.014
8 Max Biaggi Aprilia Racing Team Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1’49.584 1.067
9 Leon Haslam BMW Motorrad Motorsport BMW S1000 RR 1’49.634 1.117
10 Tom Sykes Kawasaki Racing Team Kawasaki ZX-10R 1’49.636 1.119
11 Michel Fabrizio BMW Motorrad Italia GoldBet BMW S1000 RR 1’49.654 1.137
12 Josh Hayes Monster Energy Graves Yamaha Yamaha R1 1’49.729 1.212
13 Chaz Davies ParkinGO MTC Racing Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1’49.968 1.451
14 Maxime Berger Team Effenbert Liberty Racing Ducati 1098R 1’49.980 1.463
15 Lorenzo Zanetti PATA Racing Team Ducati 1098R 1’50.014 1.497
16 Niccoló Canepa Red Devils Roma Ducati 1098R 1’50.031 1.514
17 Blake Young Yoshimura Racing Suzuki GSX-R1000 1’50.141 1.624
18 Geoff May Team Amsoil/Hero EBR 1190RS 1’50.219 1.702
19 Davide Giugliano Althea Racing Ducati 1098R 1’50.280 1.763
20 Danny Eslick Team Hero EBR 1190RS 1’50.355 1.838
21 Roger Hayden National Guard Jordan Suzuki Suzuki GSX-R1000 1’50.358 1.841
22 Loris Baz Kawasaki Racing Team Kawasaki ZX-10R 1’50.424 1.907
23 Ayrton Badovini BMW Motorrad Italia GoldBet BMW S1000 RR 1’50.427 1.910
24 David Salom Team Pedercini Kawasaki ZX-10R 1’50.504 1.987
25 Ben Bostrom Jordan Suzuki Suzuki GSX-R1000 1’50.511 1.994
26 Leon Camier FIXI Crescent Suzuki Suzuki GSX-R1000 1’50.520 2.003
27 Josh Herrin Monster Energy Graves Yamaha Yamaha R1 1’50.676 2.159
28 Hiroshi Aoyama Honda World Superbike Team Honda CBR1000RR 1’50.963 2.446
29 Chris Clark Yoshimura Racing Suzuki GSX-R1000 1’51.177 2.660
30 Larry Pegram Foremost Insurance/Pegram Racing BMW S1000RR 1’51.547 3.030
31 Steve Rapp Attack Performance Kawasaki ZX-10 1’51.796 3.279
32 Leandro Mercado Team Pedercini Kawasaki ZX-10R 1’51.843 3.326
33 David Anthony Suzuki GSX-R1000 1’51.996 3.479
34 Jake Holden Grillini Progea Superbike Team BMW S1000 RR 1’52.108 3.591
35 Robertino Pietri Team Venezuela Suzuki GSX-R1000 1’52.290 3.773
36 Taylor Knapp BMW BMW S1000RR 1’52.565 4.048
37 Chris Fillmore KTM/HMC Racing KTM RC8R 1’52.587 4.070
38 Chris Ulrich M4 Lucas Oil Suzuki Suzuki GSX-R1000 1’53.397 4.880
39 Shane Turpin Boulder Motor Sports Ducati 1098R 1’54.399 5.882
40 Jordan Burgess Suzuki GSX-R1000 1’55.174 6.657
World Superbike 107% Qualifying Cut Off
41 Reno Karimian Team Air Kawasaki ZX-10 1’56.743 8.226
42 Trent Gibson Seven Sports Suzuki GSX-R1000 1’57.116 8.599
43 Chris Siglin FastLine… BMW S1000RR 1’57.421 8.904
44 Tony Porter EDR Kawasaki ZX-10 2’00.372 11.855

Source: AMA Pro Racing & WSBK; Photo: © 2012 Rick Grayston – All Rights Reserved

  • Aaron Mezger

    Oh, how I miss the days when the WSBK regulars dreaded the US rounds because they knew they weren’t going to get full points. Watching Chandler, Mladin, Duhamel, the Bostroms et al flat school everybody was a proud time.

  • Sloan

    Aren’t the WSBK machines modified and upgraded more than the AMA machines? I seem to remember seeing a comparison of Ben Spies’s AMA ride and later WSBK machine and the upgrades and mods to the WSBK didn’t leave much of the original motorcycle there other than block and frame whereas the AMA was really just more like added high-end parts.

  • 2ndclass

    Wow, great to see the Buell’s that far up!

  • Aaron Mezger

    @Sloan- if memory serves, it used to be somewhat the opposite. AMA teams had to put together special bikes than ran a slightly lower spec than the WSBK bikes. There was a time when AMA bikes were getting pretty nutso with skunk works type development. DMG effectively put an end to that in an effort to level the playing field.

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  • Aaron Mezger

    I misspoke slightly. I meant that the AMA teams had to build bikes to a lower spec than they normally ran.

  • Aaron Mezger

    I misspoke slightly. I meant that the AMA teams had to build bikes to a lower spec than they normally ran.

  • I guess this comparison was intended to make US feel good about the level of our racing. The truth of the matter is that the people who control, or have controlled US road racing, starting with the AMA, have mismanaged it so badly, it is lucky to be alive. The series has turned into an “amateur hour”, and I am not talking about the riders. Is there a retired CEO out there, who loves motorcycle racing, and has the foresight and experience to help USRR flourish? It probably doesn’t matter, even if there was, he or she wouldn’t be able to get control from the monkeys. Kevin Schwantz, if you are out there, I would be more than glad to help.

  • FLABueller

    Take the electric nanny controls like traction and wheelie control off the Graves, Yosh and Jordan bikes and you’d have much different results.

  • Mike G

    One word… tires. Hard to get a true comparison when both series run on different tires. Let’s assume the Dunlop is a lot better than the Pirelli, then it will make the American riders/bikes look faster than they would be against WSBK; however, the oppposite is also true, if Pirelli’s are better than the Dunlops, the American riders/bikes could possibly be higher up if they were Pirelli mounted.

    I know some U.S. riders rode in the WSBK races. Wouldn’t a better comparison be looking at the laps times of these riders in both AMA and WSBK sessions. However, that is assuming they were running their AMA spec bike, which I doubt they were.

    I love comparisons, but just not really possible to get a true apples to apples comparison.

  • Lefty

    Mike G
    The riders in question only leave us with another apples/oranges type comparison. Jake Holden is currently 15th in the ASB standings and Shane Turpin is a Club racer/instructor these days.
    Hayes was running mid 149s to low 150s during the ASB race with Herrin, Young et al turning laps in the 150.xx range if memory serves.
    In other words, the top 5 or 6 AMA riders were running times comparable or very close to the WSBK guys

    Would love to see Hayes get a WSBK wildcard ride or two

  • Mike G


    Exactly. I don’t think a true comparison is possible from this race.

    After what Spies did, you would think WSBK would take a chance on the likes of Hayes or Young, especially Hayes with his pedigree and recent domination in AMA. I can only think that his age is his limiting factor. If Young can continue to develop, I see him being the next AMA rider to make the leap across the pond.

  • There’s only a one second difference between the top ten fastest riders. Only two second difference between the top 26 fastest riders. Damn, talk about competitive.

  • Halfie 30

    @FLABueller, if you take electronic packages of the AMA bikes you would have to take them off the WSBK bikes as well. I don’t see your point…

  • G

    In what universe is John Hopkins faster then Josh Hayes? Put them all on WSBK specs machines and then compare times.

  • lefty

    FWIW: A quick look at AMA Superbike trap-speeds shows the leaders were running 181-183 mph with Herrin being the standout, recording 186 on one lap.
    WSBK trap-speeds varied much more, ranging from 185 mph (Checa’s Ducati) to 199 mph (BMW,Aprila)