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Since WorldSBK began in 1988, there has been plenty shared between that paddock and that of MotoGP™. Do you know, for example, who won the first ever race in World Superbike at Donington Park? It was none other than Davide Tardozzi, once a WorldSBK title contender and now the Team Manager for the Ducati Team in MotoGP™. Grand Prix legend Mick Doohan did four WorldSBK races in 1988 – and he won three of them. The links between the two paddocks haven’t stopped there.
Since, riders like Colin Edwards, Chris Vermeulen, Ben Spies and Troy Bayliss, flew the flag when they moved from WorldSBK to MotoGP™, and riders like four-time 250 World Champion Max Biaggi have moved to World Superbike and taken Championships – in that case, in 2010 and 2012. Now-reigning WorldSBK Champion Jonathan Rea was, when a Honda rider, given the call up to replace the injured Casey Stoner in 2012 at Repsol Honda, and even just last season, Yamaha’s Michael van der Mark was the man chosen to race in place of Valentino Rossi if the legendary Italian was unfit to ride at the Aragon GP as the recurring pattern continued. At Silverstone, it was WorldSBK race winner Loris Baz – also a former MotoGP™ rider – who got the call up to replace Pol Espargaro at Red Bull KTM Factory Racing.
Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) is the biggest current name with serious ties to SBK®, going from 2009 World Supersport Champion to three-time MotoGP™ winner via WorldSBK race wins. Team Suzuki Ecstar’s test rider, Sylvain Guintoli, is the 2014 World Superbike Champion…a serious asset to have on the books. Ducati Team test rider Michele Pirro is also a link between two paddocks, having been riding the new V4 Panigale of late, ahead of its WorldSBK debut in 2019 in the hands of two more familiar names: Chaz Davies and Alvaro Bautista. Bautista replaces former MotoGP™ paddock stalwart Marco Melandri.
It’s not just the riders, however. Headlines were made only a few Grands Prix ago when Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team’s Michele Gadda was on hand to lend his expertise to the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team, collaborating on electronics. Now, Pietro Caprara is another recent name to move, although this time on a more permanent basis. The Technical Director for Aprilia Racing Team in the European Superstock 1000 Championship has been confirmed as Aleix Espargaro’s Crew Chief from Misano on.
Two paddocks and a lot in common - not least of all some top racing still to come this season. Head over to WorldSBK.com to see more from them!
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