WorldSBK 2023: Everything you need to know for the 2023 season

Visordown looks ahead to the 2023 WorldSBK championship, focusing on the riders, rounds, and classes from the top of production derivative racing.

WorldSBK start, Toprak Razgatlioglu

Testing for the 2023 WorldSBK season is already underway, and the first race of the year is less than one month in the distance. 

The final test in preparation for the 2023 season is scheduled to take place in Phillip Island the week before the opening race of the year, which itself will run on 24-26 February. 

What lies ahead is a curious season with the likes of six-times Superbike World Champion Jonathan Rea and 2021 World Champion Toprak Razgatlioglu both looking to get back on top and overcome defending champion Alvaro Bautista. 

Additionally, manufacturers like Honda and BMW will be looking to make progress and compete with Kawasaki, Yamaha and Ducati who between the three of them have won each of the last eight titles. 

In this article we’ll be looking at the 2023 WorldSBK season in detail, outlining the classes partaking, the countries and circuits they will be racing at, and the riders and teams that will be fighting it out in the hopes of claiming the 2023 Superbike World Championship title. If further information is required, we’ll link to where you can read more, and you can use the navigation below to quickly skip to the section you’re looking for.

The story of the 2022 WorldSBK season

WorldSBK 2022 was thought, going in, to be a combination of 2019 and 2021. Those two years saw dramatic title fights that played out almost entirely differently.

2019 saw Alvaro Bautista dominate the first races of the season before a poor turn of form and a fall-out with Ducati management saw him sign for Honda and lose any hopes of winning his first WorldSBK crown, which in the end was won by Jonathan Rea.

Rea won again in 2020, but by the middle of 2021 he faced new competition. Bautista’s time at Honda was not yielding much success, and so it was Toprak Razgatlioglu and Yamaha who stepped up to challenge Rea. Some epic fighting made 2021 one of the defining seasons of the championship’s history.

In actuality, 2022 turned into the season where Rea’s rivals of 2019 and 2021 became superior - not all by themselves, but in combination with their motorcycles. Rea finished third in the championship, his lowest finish since 2014 before he joined Kawasaki, while Bautista dominated the second half of the season to clinch the title he and Ducati should really have won in 2019. As for Razgatlioglu, a combination of a slow start to the season as he and the Pata Yamaha team got to grips with the updates to the Yamaha R1 for 2022 and some of his own errors in the second half of the season meant he was good enough to beat Rea for the second year in succession, but not to hold onto the #1 plate he gained in 2021.

2023 is generally expected to be more of the same, with Bautista, Razgatlioglu and Rea remaining the dominant trio at the front, all with evolutions rather than revolutions in terms of equipment. For the rest to take the challenge to WorldSBK’s three kings, they need to find the performance within themselves.

WorldSBK 2023 Classes

WorldSBK’s format has been simplified in recent years. In the past, there were two classes for 1000cc (as a generalisation) bikes - Superstock 1000 and Superbike - and two for 600cc machines - Superstock 600 and Supersport. 

Since 2017, however, that has changed, and Superbike (SBK) is now the only 1000cc category, and the other two classes build up to that. The first of those classes is Supersport 300 (SSP300), for 300cc-class machines, and the second is Supersport (SSP), for a range of bikes from 600cc to 950cc.

WorldSBK Class

Until seven years ago, when aerodynamics became a major and fundamental part of Grand Prix motorcycle design - when motorcycles began to be designed with downforce as a core aspect rather than an add-on - it could look from the outside, from the perspective of a new or casual fan, that Superbikes were indistinguishable from MotoGP bikes. It is certainly to the benefit of the identification of the two series that one has all of its bikes covered with aero’ appendages, and the other has only a wing here, a wing there. 

Generally speaking, however, the fundamental difference between Superbikes and MotoGP bikes is that the former are derived from production bikes - those found in the showroom - while the latter are purely designed for racing. This means that Superbikes can be more accessible race bikes than Grand Prix bikes, because they are derived from road bikes designed to be ridden by any road rider with the right licence; whereas a MotoGP bike is designed to be ridden by only a select few people.

Superbike regulations have in the past allowed for different motorcycle configurations to be present on the grid. The past has seen V4, inline-four, and V-twin engines, with conventional and unconventional firing orders, and bikes with aluminium and steel frames. By now, there is a degree of homogeneity, with all bikes in WorldSBK using four-cylinder engines and aluminium frames. 

However, there are differences in how those are configured. Ducati introduced its Panigale V4 R in 2019, with a - as suggested by the name - V4 engine. 
In comparison, every other manufacturer - Kawasaki, Yamaha, Honda and BMW - in WorldSBK uses an inline-four configuration.

Each rider gets 21 tyres per weekend, with 10 fronts and 11 rears to choose from. The sole tyre supplier, Pirelli, makes available three different rear tyre compounds - SC0, SCX, SCQ, where ‘0’ is the hardest and ‘Q’ is the softest - and two front tyre compounds - SC1 and SC0, where ‘1’ is the hardest and ‘0’ is the softest. Pirelli will also bring ‘development’ versions of any number of the available compounds to the races. These ‘development’ tyres are indistinguishable from the standard tyres from the outside, but may feature a slightly different construction and/or profile to the standard version of a particular tyre compound.

Additionally, the SCQ tyre is available to use only in the Superpole session and Superpole Race, but not in the two long races. 

That brings us (relatively) neatly onto the WorldSBK weekend format. For the Superbike class, there are two free practice sessions on Friday which are both 45 minutes long, and a 20-minute free practice on Saturday morning. Unlike in MotoGP - where there are two qualifying sessions and free practice times determine which riders are in which qualifying session - in WorldSBK there is only one qualifying session, a 15-minute Superpole session on Saturday morning. 

Superpole determines the grid for Race 1 and the Superpole Race. Race 1 takes place on Saturday afternoon and is full-length (between 85km and 110km), while the Superpole Race takes place on Sunday morning, after the Warm-Up session, and is 10 laps regardless of circuit length. 

The Superpole Race determines the grid for Race 2, with the top nine from the Superpole Race lining up in the order they finish the Superpole Race on the Race 2 grid. 10th-back in the Superpole Race will start in order of Superpole times.

The two full-length races both offer full points, meaning 25 points for a win down to one point for 15th; while the Superpole Race offers half points, meaning 13 points for the win down to one point for 10th. In total, 63 points are available per race weekend.

2023 WorldSBK Teams

The 2023 WorldSBK grid will feature five manufacturers supplying motorcycles to a total of 15 teams who between them have 23 riders.

The top three manufacturers from 2022 are Ducati, Yamaha, and Kawasaki, while BMW and Honda finished fourth and fifth, respectively, in the 2022 manufacturers’ standings and have ground to make up on the top three. 

Yamaha and Ducati both have bikes run by four different teams. For Yamaha, who recently launched all four of their teams together, these are the factory Pata Yamaha Prometeon team, GYRT GRT Yamaha, Motoxracing, and GMT94.

As for Ducati, they are headed by the factory Racing Ducati team, with single-rider satellite squads with Motocorsa Racing, the Barni Spark Racing Team, and Team GoEleven.

Kawasaki’s factory team - Kawasaki Racing Team - is backed up by two satellite squads: Puccetti Racing, and Orelac Racing Movisio.

As for BMW, they have acquired a new sponsor in ROKiT for 2023 which will be present on the factory bikes. Their satellite team, Bonovo Action BMW, is now part-owned by former rider Eugene Laverty and maintains close links with the factory.

Finally, Honda’s factory team, Team HRC, has only one satellite outfit beneath it, that run by Midori Moriwaki: MIE Racing Honda Team. 

‘Wildcard’ - or ‘one-off’ - rides are also possible for riders who do not compete in the championship full-time. While not as common now as they were in the past - mostly because of a divergence in technical regulations between WorldSBK and national Superbike championships - wildcard riders do tend to appear at some races through the year, particularly in Donington - where 2021 BSB champion Tarran Mackenzie wildcarded last year - and Misano, which generally sees a raft of Italian championship regulars appear.

WorldSBK rider line-up

11Alvaro BautistaESPDucati Panigale V4 Racing Ducati
221Michael Ruben RinaldiITADucati Panigale V4 Racing Ducati
354Toprak RazgatliogluTURYamaha R1Pata Yamaha Prometeon
455Andrea LocatelliITAYamaha R1Pata Yamaha Prometeon
522Alex LowesGBRKawasaki ZX-10RRKawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK
665Jonathan ReaGBRKawasaki ZX-10RRKawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK
77Iker LecuonaESPHonda CBR1000RR-RTeam HRC
897Xavi ViergeESPHonda CBR1000RR-RTeam HRC
945Scott ReddingGBRBMW M 1000RRROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team
1060Michael van der MarkNEDBMW M 1000RRROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team
1147Axel BassaniITADucati Panigale V4 RMotocorsa Racing
1231Garrett GerloffUSABMW M 1000RRBonovo Action BMW
1376Loris BazFRABMW M 1000RRBonovo Action BMW
1477Dominique AegerterSUIYamaha R1GYRT GRT Yamaha WorldSBK
1587Remy GardnerAUSYamaha R1GYRT GRT Yamaha WorldSBK
165Philipp OettlGERDucati Panigale V4 RTeam GoEleven
1766Tom SykesGBRKawasaki ZX-10RRKawasaki Puccetti Racing
189Danilo PetrucciITADucati Panigale V4 RBarni Spark Racing Team
1928Bradley RayGBRYamaha R1Yamaha Motoxracing WorldSBK Team
2035Hafizh SyahrinMALHonda CBR1000RR-RMIE Honda Racing Team
2151Eric GranadoBRAHonda CBR1000RR-RMIE Honda Racing Team
2252Oliver KonigCZEKawasaki ZX-10RROrelac Racing Movisio
2334Lorenzo BaldassarriITAYamaha R1GMT94 Yamaha

WorldSSP Class

World Supersport (or WorldSSP, WSSP, SSP) is the middleweight category in the WorldSBK paddock. Since its inception in 1997, the Supersport class was for 600cc, four-cylinder, motorcycles, generally speaking, although larger twin- and three-cylinder bikes were also allowed. 

In 2022, however, an overhaul of the rules saw much larger bikes arrive in the class, such as the 950cc, two-cylinder, Ducati Panigale V2 and 765cc, three-cylinder, Triumph Street Triple RS. MV Agusta also took advantage of the rule change to introduce its 800cc F3 800 triple, and these larger bikes go up against the ‘traditional’ Supersport machines from Yamaha and Kawasaki, with their 600cc R6 and ZX-6R, respectively. 

The larger bikes are balanced against the smaller ones by limiting the performance of the Ducati, Triumph, and MV individually based on their own performance and configuration. It almost means that each manufacturer has its own set of rules, but in 2022 it showed to be a successful category with four out of the five manufacturers - all bar Ducati - winning, and Ducati’s lack of a race win was not down to performance as much as luck and rider error.

Yamaha has dominated the World Supersport Championship in recent years. Since its latest-generation R6 was introduced in 2017, it has won every championship, but the arrival of the new, larger bikes last year certainly increased the machinery diversity at the front of the field - and mixed up the sound, too. 

The World Supersport class is also refreshed for 2023, with the top two riders - Dominique Aegerter and Lorenzo Baldassarri - having both moved up to Superbike for the upcoming season.

In their place, ex-Grand Prix riders such as Jorge Navarro and John McPhee - both Moto3 GP winners - arrive to take on production derivative racing for the first time, joining an exciting roster of riders including the likes of Yari Montella, Nicolo Bulega and Stefano Manzi.

WorldSSP Rider line-up

19Jorge NavarroESPYamaha R6Ten Kate Racing Yamaha
262Stefano ManziITAYamaha R6Ten Kate Racing Yamaha
361Can OncuTURKawasaki ZX-6RKawasaki Puccetti Racing
419Andrea MantovaniITAYamaha R6Evan Bros. WorldSSP Yamaha Team
54Harry TrueloveGBRTriumph Street Triple RSDynavolt Triumph
666Niki TuuliFINTriumph Street Triple RSDynavolt Triumph
723Marcel SchrotterGERMV Agusta F3 800 RRMV Agusta Reparto Corse
854Bahattin SofuogluTURMV Agusta F3 800 RRMV Agusta Reparto Corse
911Nicolo BulegaITADucati Panigale V2Aruba Racing WorldSSP Team
1094Valentin DebiseFRAYamaha R6GMT94 Yamaha
1164Federico CaricasuloITADucati Panigale V2Althea Racing
123Raffaele De RosaITADucati Panigale V2Orelac Racing Verdnatura
1322Federico Fuligni*ITADucati Panigale V2Orelac Racing Verdnatura
1428Glenn van StraalenNEDYamaha R6EAB Racing Team
1529Nicholas SpinelliITAYamaha R6VFT Racing Yamaha
1698Maiki Abe*JAPYamaha R6VFT Racing Yamaha
1755Yari MontellaITADucati Panigale V2Barni Spark Racing Team
187Adam NorrodinMASHonda CBR600RRMIE - MS Racing Honda Team
1995Tarran MackenzieGBRHonda CBR600RRMIE - MS Racing Honda Team
2032Oliver BaylissAUSDucati Panigale V2D34G Racing
2173Maximilian Kofler*AUTDucati Panigale V2D34G Racing
2268Luke Power*AUSKawasaki ZX-6RMotozoo Racing by Puccetti
2369Tom Booth-Amos*GBRKawasaki ZX-6RMotozoo Racing by Puccetti
2416Yuta Okaya*JAPKawasaki ZX-6RProdina Kawasaki Racing WorldSSP
2527Alvaro Diaz*ESPYamaha R6Arco Yart Yamaha WorldSSP
2699Adrian HuertasESPKawasaki ZX-6RMTM Kawasaki
2717John McPheeGBRKawasaki ZX-6RVince64 by Puccetti Racing
2839Apiwath WongthananonTHAYamaha R6Yamaha Thailand Racing Team
2951Anupab SarmoonTHAYamaha R6Yamaha Thailand Racing Team
3071Tom Edwards*AUSYamaha R6Yart - Yamaha WorldSSP Team

WorldSSP300 Class

The World Supersport 300 (or WorldSSP300, WSSP300, SSP300) class is the most recent addition to WorldSBK and also the most controversial. 
WSSP300 gave rise to the first woman World Champion in a (solo, as in without a passenger) motorcycle championship back in 2018 with the victory of Ana Carrasco. 

However, since then it has become perhaps one of the most controversial subjects in world motorcycling, because of its danger, and because of the juvenility and inexperience of the riders involved. 

Two riders have died in the class in the past two seasons - Dean Berta Vinales in Jerez 2021, and Victor Steeman in Portimao 2022 - and both deaths were viewed to have been caused by the exceedingly close racing created by the class. 

The bikes are considered - by those on the outside but also those who have races the class in the past (2019 champion Manuel Gonzalez has been particularly outspoken) - too easy to ride because of their combination of high weight and low power making the speeds low and the forces relatively small.  

Because the bikes are quite easy to ride, the separation between riders is little, meaning it is hard for one rider to break away from another. Additionally, the low speeds mean more time is spent on the straights compared to essentially any other category of racing motorcycle, meaning the slipstream effect is significant. 

When 20 riders are all together in one group and slipstreaming each other, they get closer at the end of the straight, which means they have to move, but 20 young riders all moving in-sync with each other is never going to happen perfectly, and the shortcomings of being a human mean that crashes are essentially inevitable. 

Despite the perceived danger of the class, there are no significant technical changes for 2023 to make the bikes faster and thus (theoretically) increase separation, or to act in another way to try to reduce the danger. 

As it is, there are four manufacturers involved in WorldSSP300 - KTM, Yamaha, Kawasaki and Kove. Kawasaki has won all but one WorldSSP300 title, with the only Yamaha victory coming last year with Alvaro Diaz.

In total, there are 15 Kawasakis, 12 Yamahas, two KTMs, and one Kove making up the 2023 grid, with Kove a new entry for this year with the China Racing Team, their rider, Shengjunjie Zhou, and their bike, the 321RR.

WorldSSP300 Rider Line-Up

16Jeffrey BuisNEDKawasaki Ninja 400MTM Kawasaki
27Loris VenemanNEDKawasaki Ninja 400MTM Kawasaki
317Ruben BijmanNEDYamaha YZF-R3Arco Motor University Team
480Gabriele MastrolucaITAYamaha YZF-R3Arco Motor University Team
523Samuel Di SoraFRAKawasaki Ninja 400Prodina Kawasaki Racing WorldSSP300
625Mattia MartellaITAKawasaki Ninja 400Prodina Kawasaki Racing WorldSSP300
734Eitan Gras CordonURUYamaha YZF-R3Sublime Racing by MS Racing
845Clement RougeFRAYamaha YZF-R3Sublime Racing by MS Racing
926Mirko GennaiITAYamaha YZF-R3Team BRcorse
1093Marco GaggiITAYamaha YZF-R3Team BRcorse
1148Julio GarciaESPKawasaki Ninja 400Team Flembbo - PI Performances
1285Kevin SabatucciITAKawasaki Ninja 400Team Flembbo - PI Performances
1341Raffaele TragniITAYamaha YZF-R3AG Motorsport Italia Yamaha
1491Matteo VannucciITAYamaha YZF-R3AG Motorsport Italia Yamaha
1528Lennox LehmannGERKTM RC 390Freudenberg KTM - Paligo Racing
1660Dirk GeigerGERKTM RC 390Freudenberg KTM - Paligo Racing
1712Humberto MaierBRAYamaha YZF-R3Yamaha MS Racing - Team Brasil
1839Enzo ValentimBRAYamaha YZF-R3Yamaha MS Racing - Team Brasil
1953Petr SvobodaCZEKawasaki Ninja 400Fusport - RT Motorsport by SKM - Kawasaki
2069Troy AlbertoPHIKawasaki Ninja 400Fusport - RT Motorsport by SKM - Kawasaki
2135Yeray Saiz MarquezESPKawasaki Ninja 400Accolade Smrz Racing
2273Jose Luis Perez GonzalezESPKawasaki Ninja 400Accolade Smrz Racing
2347Fenton SeabrightGBRKawasaki Ninja 400Kawasaki GP Project
2488Daniel MogedaESPKawasaki Ninja 400Kawasaki GP Project
2581Ioannis PeristerasGREYamaha YZF-R3ProGP Racing
2613Devis BergaminiITAYamaha YZF-R3ProGP Racing
2751Juan Pablo UriosteguiMEXKawasaki Ninja 400Team#109 Kawasaki
2859Alessandro ZancaITAKawasaki Ninja 400Team#109 Kawasaki
2998Shengjunjie ZhouCHIKove 321RRChina Racing Team
3077Jose Manuel Osuna SaezESPKawasaki Ninja 400Deza - Box 77 Racing Team

WorldSBK 2023 News

Indonesian round - Alvaro Bautista off the top step for the first time this season in the Superpole Race, but takes both long race wins.

Imola returns - Famous Imola circuit to host Italian round in 2023, making its WorldSBK return after three years away.

Australian round - Reigning champion Bautista unbeatable in 2023 season opener at Phillip island.

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