With four rounds and eight races still to go in the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship and everything still there to fight for, is easy to lose sight of the mark this season is leaving on the WorldSBK history books. Ten, fifteen and even twenty-year-strong records are finally being beaten, with certain riders reaching heights never seen before in WorldSBK.
First, what we’ve already seen – and we begin with ‘Superpoleman’ himself, Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK). The man from Yorkshire barely waited for the season to start for his record: a lightning qualifying lap at Phillip Island put him on par with Troy Corser for most pole positions at 43. He has dropped three more since, making him the undisputed king of qualifying.
His teammate has barely been keeping quiet either: Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) has had both eyes set on one of his icons all year. Before 2018, Carl Fogarty was the absolute WorldSBK record-holder for most wins (59) and most championships (four). Rea swept past the first hurdle with ease, setting the new bar at 64 race wins with four more rounds to go – but will he also make it four titles in a row?
Rea’s record-tying Race Two win in Italy also handed him his seventeenth double, pushing him ahead of Fogarty and Troy Bayliss on the all-time list. He has since extended that record to nineteen.
Now, what’s left for the season end, aside from Rea’s coveted fourth championship? Incredibly, the numbers game doesn’t end there for the Northern Irishman. The KRT rider is three podiums away from Troy Corser’s leading mark of 130. With eight starts left – and considering that Rea has only been off the rostrum in eleven of the last 96 races – it’s another record that will all but certainly fall his way.
Doug Polen’s record for the most wins in a season is also technically beatable. The American’s ludicrous 17 wins in 24 races in 1991 has thus far stood the test of time, and probably will for another year unless Rea can pull off an equally incredible run. With ten P1s so far, he would need to win every race left in 2018 to beat Polen, or all but one to tie him. Something unthinkable – yet not impossible, considering Rea’s history.
There is a final record to be beaten this year in WorldSBK and Rea is not alone to challenge for it. Noriyuki Haga amazingly led at least one lap in 100 different races throughout a career spanning three decades, four more than Rea (96) but just three more than Sykes (97). Which of the green machines will be first to join the one hundred club?
History isn’t just being made in the World Superbike championship, however. The history of the FIM Supersport 300 World Championship may not be quite as long, but one rider has been making waves beyond the limits of the championship itself. Back in Imola, Ana Carrasco (DS Junior Team) became the first female rider to lead the standings of a world championship, after already becoming the first to win a world championship race in 2017. One more barrier remains: to become the first-ever female World Champion – and it could happen as early as in two weeks’ time at Portimao.