Spain in WorldSBK history
Plenty of World Superbike history has been made in Spain. More will come this weekend – and it could include a title-crowning moment.
The first WorldSBK event to be staged in Spain came back in the third year of the series, 1990, when Jerez hosted a round in March. It proved a precursor of what was to come, as France’s Raymond Roche did the double en route to that year’s world title. During the season he only lost the overall lead once, after Hockenheim.
In 1991 the Spanish Round was at Jarama; Champion-to-be Doug Polen was indomitable, winning both races from pole and taking two fastest laps.
The first season to feature two Spanish events was 1992. Jarama moved to a later date on the calendar, as the campaign opened in Albacete for the first time. The opening race featured what would prove to be a significant victory – the first in the star-studded career of New Zealander Aaron Slight; he would go on to become the championship runner-up of 1996 and 1998, as well as a multiple race winner.
From 1993 up to 1999, Albacete became the sole Spanish fixture; a period that coincided with the four title-winning seasons of Carl Fogarty (1994, ‘95, ‘98 and ‘99). The Englishman won at Albacete six times, recording doubles in 1993 and 1994 followed by Race 2 in 1995 and 1998. The ’93 success was the first of 16 career doubles for Fogarty – only Troy Bayliss equals this feat.
Albacete played a pivotal role in 1996. Scheduled as the penultimate venue of the season, Troy Corser did the double to grab a decisive advantage over Aaron Slight in the title race. The former would go on to clinch the title for the first time. The Albacete appointment of 1997 was just as important, but this time the contenders were Fogarty and John Kocinski. Crucially, Fogarty fell in Race 1 and would become the victim of contact in Race 2; in a desperate bid to fight back he crashed again, giving his American rival a 52-point advantage with only two rounds remaining.
For the Millennium year, Spain’s WorldSBK event was moved to Valencia at the new Ricardo Tormo circuit. It stayed on the schedule until 2010 and, with 22 races to its name, remains the Spanish circuit to have hosted most World Superbike races. Initially placed in the middle of the season, Valencia would play the important role of season-opener from 2001 to 2004. Noriyuki Haga is the most successful rider at the track, with six wins followed by Corser’s five and Bayliss’ four.
In 2011, there was another switch of destination for the Spanish Round as MotorLand Aragón joined the calendar. From 2013, there have again been two Spanish venues in World Superbike, as Jerez made its return to celebrate the maiden title success of Tom Sykes. In 2014, more titles were won in Jerez as Michael van der Mark and Marco Faccani collected their respective World Supersport and Superstock 600 crowns.
Notable WorldSBK events in Spain:
• In 1994, Giancarlo Falappa went into a coma following a heavy crash in Free Practice at Albacete; this incident marked the end of his racing career
• Aaron Slight won Race 1 at Albacete in 1995 at the helm of a Honda RVF750 / RC45; this was the first of 34 wins for one of Honda’s most successful motorcycle models (so far, the CBR1000RR has won 42 races)
• In the second Albacete race of 1995, Carl Fogarty became the most successful rider in history by clinching a 28th World Superbike victory. By the end of his career in 2000, he had won 59 races
• 61 Spanish riders have featured in at least one WorldSBK event. Of these riders, 49 have started races
• Three Spanish riders have won at least one race in World Superbike: 2011 World Champion Carlos Checa (24 wins), Ruben Xaus (11) and Fonsi Nieto (1)
• On only one occasion has a Spanish rider won a World Superbike race in Spain, when Ruben Xaus won Race 1 at Valencia in 2007
• No Spanish rider has won a World Superbike race since Carlos Checa in the opening race at Miller Motorsports Park in 2008