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Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

#WorldSBKis30: 1988 – 1997

Did you know? The first decade in Numbers

150 – Doug Polen won the 1991 championship with a 150 points advantage over the second-placed rider, Raymond Roche.

89 in 1989 – In the second year of the championship, 1989, 89 riders scored at least one point.

60 – In his two years in the series, John Kocinski managed to climb on the podium 29 times out of 48 starts, for a 60,4% podium rate. He was the 1997 World Champion.

45 – The most winning rider of the first decade is Carl Fogarty, with 45 wins.

34 – Doug Polen, 1991 and 1992 World Champion still holds the record for the highest winning percentage among riders who raced for more than one championship. Polen won 27 races out of 79, for a 34,2% success rate.

24 – Troy Corser became champion in 1996 at 24 years of age: he was the youngest at the time, a record which stood up to 2004, when James Toseland was crowned at 23 years of age.

23 – In the years of his first two World Championships, Carl Fogarty won 23 races out of 44, more than one out of two.

17 – Doug Polen in 1991 dominated the championship with 17 wins, a season record that still stands. That year Ducati won 23 races out of 26. Polen was again champion the following year, with 9 wins.

17 – The record number of poles for this decade is split between Carl Fogarty and Doug Polen, with 17 each.

10 – The second year of the championship, 1989, featured no less than 10 different winners, an absolute record for the series.

9 – 1990 is the first year in which Ducati was the most successful manufacturer. That year they won 9 races, 8 went to Raymond Roche, who took the crown.

8 – Fred Merkel won just eight races in his career, but was eventually able to take home two World Championships, in 1988 and 1989.

6-4 – In the first ten years of the Championship, only two manufacturers shared the constructors prize: Ducati (6 times) and Honda (4).

5 – Davide Tardozzi won 5 races in 1988, more than the double of his main rival Fred Merkel (2), but was not able to take home the Championship.

5 – Also Raymond Roche won 5 races in 1989, to Merkel’s 3, but the title went to the American like the year before. Roche would have to wait until 1990 to take the Championship.

5 – In the first six years of the Championship, the world crown went to American riders 5 times (2 Merkel, 2 Polen, 1 Russell).

1 – John Kocinski stunned the WorldSBK championship taking a sound double from pole in his very first race weekend, in Misano, 1996.

1 – Scott Russell became the first World Champion for Kawasaki, by taking the crown in 1993.


  1. Provologna says:

    This website seldom fails to deliver. Another great walk down memory lane. Thanks!

    GT08…dig! Wish I bought a Yamaha GTS back in the day when they sat months on end on the showroom floor of since-closed Golden Gate Motors of San Francisco (sold all four Japanese brands). If, back in the day, you offered to bet a large sum of money that Golden Gate would close, I would have bet against you, and lost.

    Last I check there is no Honda dealer in SF. Sad, and chilling. Alex McLean’s Motorcycles Unlimited of Corte Madera (long gone) had, upstairs with parts, ex-racer Alex’s gorgeous collection of classic race bikes: Norton, AJS, Benelli, etc. We took it for granted. “Youth is wasted on the young.”

    Remember “microfiche?”

  2. Norm G. says:

    for everyone’s viewing pleasure i saw this on RSBFS about a month ago. someone in “Oootah” is selling off their collection (our guy Provo perhaps). they were mostly grey market 400’s but he did have a minty fresh ’89 0W01. it sold on Ebay for basically the price of a new 0W02. click on the pic in the finished auction while it’s still available…

  3. gt08 says:

    For me this was the best year of Superbike. The bike were beautiful. Not fugly as today.
    The sound, the smell, and that Kawasaki ZXR 750. Wow !
    Suzuki ad 2 headlight, Ducati 851 red and white, Yamaha FZR and Honda Hurricane, Ok don’t miss the Honda but it was sexy remember the white and gray 600. I forgot, RC30 THAT was sexy !
    You were able to put hand on a Superbike and tweak it to go racing on the week-end.
    160 in the rear was big tire and 180 monstrous.
    The 2 stroke was dying because to far away from what we could by.
    Not for racing, but also dont forget the ZX-10 and ZX-11, Yamaha GTS, Honda NR750 Oval piston, the birth of the Katana.
    Sportbike were confortable, beautiful and everybody was staring at them.
    I hope one day that constructors bring back that type of motorcycling