As the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship heads to Donington Park for the sixth round of the season, it’s set to be a pivotal round in the championships history. 2017 sees WorldSBK reach its 30th season of racing, and Donington Park was the host for the inaugural round of the championship back in 1988.
Historical for many reasons, the Leicestershire circuit will go down in WorldSBK history as the circuit which paved the way for 30 stunning seasons of bike racing action. WorldSBK.com will be re-visiting some of the most crucial moments the championship has seen over the years, and none come more momentous than the very first round.
British fans flocked to the circuit as a new era dawned on motorbike racing, and for the first time fans could see the bikes they ride on the roads racing on track and fighting for glory. The first round of nine was held on 3rd April, and for the only time that season results were combined from both races to determine one overall victor.
Racing on the shortened circuit layout – different to what WorldSBK race on today – British rider Roger Burnett secured pole position on a Honda with a lap time of 1.14.810. 25 riders lined up on the grid and it was Italian Davide Tardozzi who took the maiden victory on board his Bimota SpA, just .01.090 ahead of compatriot Marco Lucchinelli for Ducati. Road racing legend Joey Dunlop gave the British fans something to cheer about as he completed the podium in the 30 lap race one.
Race two saw Lucchinelli stand on the top step, as race one winner Tardozzi crashed out on the final lap, providing fans with true SBK drama. American Fred Merkel – the eventual world champion – took second position for Honda as Dunlop made it a double podium around the legendary circuit. Combined results meant Lucchinelli left the UK as the rounds overall winner, however these rules have never been seen again in WorldSBK.
Take a delve through the SBK archives and re-live the 30 seasons of the world’s fastest production-based motorcycle series, whilst WorldSBK.com continue to bring you insight into the last three decades of racing action.