Well, we’ve passed the official midway point of the 2010 World Superbike season. Unlike last year when rookie sensation, American Ben Spies lit the world on fire with blistering speeds, numerous pole positions, and race wins, this season has seen numerous race winners and points lead changes among an array of international protagonists.
For some race fans, there is a sense that the competition, the lap times, and the racing in general is less impressive than what unfolded last season. However, something became strangely evident in the Miller Motorsports Park media center a few weekends back following qualifying.
In studying the results for the final Superpole, I noticed that this year the top thirteen qualifiers had all laid down lap times faster than Ben Spies’ stellar qualifying fast lap of 1.48.319 from 2009 that put him firmly on pole.
It makes you wonder…
Contrary to popular belief that the powerful Xerox Ducati squad of Noriyuki Haga and Michel Fabrizio (pretty much the pre-season favorites given their presence last year on the highly competitive Italian machines) were experiencing bad luck, set-up problems and lack of drive this season to explain their lackluster performance, it may, in fact, be due something else entirely.
In reality, it isn’t that they’ve slowed down, but rather, that the field has stepped up the pace considerably.
In actuality, overall, the lap times, speeds and depth of talent in the WSBK field this season is arguably tougher than it was last year.
Not to take anything away from the astonishing results the Texan (now off racing MotoGP) gave us in his championship-winning 2009 season, but World SBK has some serious new blood coursing through its veins that has driven the pace and fierceness to new heights.
There are a number of riders that have gotten the bit seriously between their teeth. The remaining races of the season are almost assuredly to deliver some historical battles and keep everyone guessing as to who is going to lay claim to the title.
The leading 2010 title contenders show some parity on paper (below) and all the ability to win on the racetrack.