The Throttle Stop – March 2024 – Bench Racing

Senior Editor Nic de Sena.

Winter isn’t my thing. If I were to put stock into astrology, we could chalk it all up to being a Gemini. According to the first search result I stumbled across, those of us born in June happen to be flexible, extroverted, and clever. Personally, I wouldn’t describe myself as any of those things. There’s a much more practical take on this anti-winter stance, and it’s simply that spring and summer days are longer. But, along with that comes racing, and few motorcycle fans are immune to the bug.

The Throttle Stop - March 2024 - Jonathan Rea
Jonathan Rea.

The FIM Superbike World Championship (WSBK, WorldSBK, or World Superbike to the rest of us) marks a seasonal turn for me, wherein the globe-trotting paddock takes to Australia’s Phillip Island Circuit for its season opener. Aside from being the first round, it’s one of the few stops on the calendar that allows me to watch live races at a reasonable hour.

It signals a few things for me and those who have made motorcycles a daily part of their lives; it’s the first sign that the seasons are changing. We could look at the greenery surrounding us, perhaps the blooming flowers, or gaze upon a calendar to determine when spring will get into full swing, but it’s World Superbikes for me.

The off-season storylines couldn’t have excited me more for the 2024 WSBK season, with six-time champ Jonathan Rea moving to Pata Prometeon Yamaha and trading his trusty Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR for a YZF-R1. Equally intriguing is another one of the bright stars in superbike, Toprak Razgatlıoğlu, jumping from his Yamaha and joining the ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team to pilot an M 1000 RR.

Those take the headlines as far as “musical bikes” go. However, a redemption arc is in the making. Andrea Iannone returning to racing after a four-year ban due to steroid use, with the Team GoEleven satellite squad operating Ducati Panigale V4 Rs.

When the lights went out, many usual suspects emerged at the front. Familiar faces within the paddock emerged as new protagonists, albeit for now. With only one race weekend done and dusted, there is a lot of time for things to change and points to flow in new directions.

2016 Honda RC213V-S Price
Coram Publishing President Arthur Coldwells testing the Honda RC213V-S.

Now, there is a lot to waffle on about with the WSBK paddock. Namely, the bikes themselves have always maintained a deeper connection with reality in my mind. After all, the homologation specials used in the Superbike racing paddock have a much more direct link to what we ride, enjoy, and review than a MotoGP bike, which is equivalent to otherworldly unobtanium for most people. Although, we do know a guy.

What stands out with the World Superbike Championship is that the racing can be exceptionally intense. Looking back at the 2023 season, we saw the most action in the no-holds-barred sprint races, where tire conservation goes directly out the window and riders immediately stick their elbows out. And that, friends, makes for good entertainment, which is probably why MotoGP adopted the practice shortly after that. Wrapping it all up in a bow, WSBK will always tug at my heartstrings because it first exposed me to motorcycles and racing.

Daytona 200. Photo by Brian J. Nelson.

Here in the States, the Daytona 200 is set to take place March 7 to 9, 2024, kicking things off for our domestic championship, wherein more than a handful of MotoAmerica classes will be on hand. The Daytona 200 always provides good entertainment, with the 200-mile endurance race typically decided by a photo finish.

Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t discuss MotoGP, the pinnacle of road racing. Preseason testing is wrapped up for the premier class, and while we wait for a show under the lights in Qatar, we’ve already seen a glimpse of what’s to come.

Pecco Bagnaia and Enea Bastianini aboard their Ducati Lenovo GP24s look increasingly strong. At the same time, rookie Pedro Acosta has many fans hoping that he’ll pilot his Red Bull GasGas Tech3 machine to victory in his maiden season.

The Throttle Stop - March 2024 - Marc Márquez
Marc Márquez.

Naturally, that brings us to perennial Honda pilot Marc Márquez, who, to the shock of many, leaped to the Gresini Racing MotoGP satellite team, where he will be riding last year’s Ducati with this brother Alex. Marc is already putting up competitive times in testing; the issue with testing is that, well, it’s testing. We won’t know until the lights go out.

With WSBK kicking things off, MotoGP around the corner, and MotoAmerica about to get rolling, things are looking bright as winter is ending. So, my questions for our readers are pretty simple: What are you hoping to see this season in road racing, and who do you expect will clinch the titles at the end of each series? Get things right, and we might send you something from the junk drawer, which, to be honest, usually has some pretty awesome stuff.