It is a race unlike any other, and it has a circuit unlike any other to match. The Suzuka 8-Hours is the biggest race of the year for Japanese manufacturers, and it is held on one of the longest laps of the year.
With lap times of over two minutes, it is very easy for time to burn during a session, and it is very easy to left rueing any mistakes you make.
The Japanese venue is one of the most technical on the planet. It is a lap of contrasts, with the sweeping corners of the opening half, followed by a hairpin and chicanes in the second half of the lap.
Getting it right takes time and any mistake is heavily punished on the stop watch.
Can you tell the difference between heaven and hell? Suzuka reveals the soul of a rider by breaking them down through each stint.
Your lungs are burning, the skin is falling off your hands because, even bandaged tightly, the extreme conditions will get the better of them, the dehydration is setting in, and your mind is foggy and far from clear.
Once you’re off the bike, and sitting in your chair, the realization slowly sets in that you still have to get back on the bike.
You look around and see the faces of your engineers, and they know what needs to be done, but the only thought running through your head is that fucking bike and the pain it’s been putting you through.
Suzuka is one of the most spectacular challenges on the planet for rider and machine. It flows around the hills and winds its way on top of itself.
Fast and slow corners. Sweeping bends that lead into each other and tight chicanes. There’s high speeds and heavy braking. Suzuka has it all and when you add in the heat and humidity of the final Sunday of July it becomes on of the biggest tests of character and will that any rider will go through.
This is heaven, this is hell. Which is which? Who can tell? The contrast between the feeling you get from riding a Superbike on the limit at Suzuka and the after effect is massive.
How do you deal with the physicality of racing in heat? Combat the mental strain of getting back on the bike? How do you deal with the sense pressure of expectancy? Jonathan Rea, Leon Camier, and Alex Lowes give us their thoughts on these three phases of the Suzuka 8-Hours.
Jonathan Rea may have done the double at the Italian circuit, but WorldSBK was in rude health last weekend. Continue reading for Asphalt & Rubber’s World Superbike debrief, from Misano Italy.
Leon Camier has plenty of experience at Misano. The Red Bull Honda WorldSBK star has ridden at the Italian circuit in Grand Prix and also on a Superbike.
He’s spent time learning the nuances of the Rimini venue, and over that time he’s found out one thing: patience is key.
“Misano is a tricky circuit, but it’s got some interesting quirks,” Leon Camier told us. “The opening sector of the lap is very challenging because if you make a mistake in Turn 1, it affects you for the whole sector.”
Round 6 of the 2018 WorldSBK Championship sees the paddock head for the home of Superbikes: Donington Park. The British circuit hosted the first ever round of the championship in 1988, and since then the affinity for superbike racing in the UK has only continued to grow.
The spectacular, flowing track has been the canvas for some of the most incredible moments in the history of the class, but will this weekend be remembered in the same light?
Following his double victory at Imola, Jonathan Rea has laid the foundation for his fourth consecutive WorldSBK title.
Jonathan Rea’s 59th WorldSBK victory saw the Northern Irishman join Carl Fogarty as the most successful rider in WorldSBK history. The triple champion was however quick to point out that winning races is good, but winning championships is better.
Still trailing Foggy by one title there is now a sense of inevitability that Rea will add to his title haul. The previous two years had seen Chaz Davies do the double at Imola, but he had no answers for Rea over the weekend.
The Kawasakis were the class of the field, but it was Rea who came out on top following a tough weekend for the Ducati rider, and with a 47-point advantage the title race is now firmly in Rea’s hands.
The Italian round of the WorldSBK season marks the end of the opening third of the season, but it’s hard to see how it marks the end of Chaz Davies’ dominance at the Imola circuit.
The Welshman has been a wizard around the technical circuit in recent years, and been unbeatable. Having fallen 30 points adrift of Jonathan Rea in the standings, he will know that this weekend it is crucial to chip into the Northern Irishman’s title lead.
The first European round of the WorldSBK season always brings excitement.
With trucks and hospitality units back on site, the paddock starts to feel more familiar; and with the opening round of the Supersport 300 and STK1000 series, there’s certainly a lot more track action.
The action on track so far in 2018 has seen the series receive a much-needed shot in the arm, and the new regulations have certainly helped to produce more competitive racing.
If the second round of the 2018 WorldSBK season is anything to go by the regulation shake-up could see an absolutely compelling season. Buriram gave plenty to talk about!
The opening round of 2018 saw the field closely packed, with thrilling racing and numerous bikes at the front. It is too early to project the effect of the new regulations, but it is clear that Australia delivered on their promise.
Phillip Island is never the best place to gauge the competitiveness of a field. The Australian circuit is one of the best in the world because it is fast, flowing nature produces close racing.
With only a handful of slow corners during the lap, we regularly see bikes and riders clustered together. That being said the opening round of the 2018 WorldSBK season did produce some notable talking points for the new regulations.
We saw five manufacturers lead a lap, four different manufactures in the top four during Superpole and two exceptional races.
It was a great foundation for the season ahead, but it is important not to get too far ahead of ourselves and think that 2018 will rewrite the form book.