Emotional first wins and an era of airhorns: the sound of the wildcards is fast approaching…
The 2020 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship has seen frantic action in the first three races but built on a rich history, the Championship reflects on the greatest wildcard achievements. From John Reynolds to Marco Simoncelli, Ben Bostrom to Cal Crutchlow, the list is packed!
After a short pause in action, Max Biaggi returned to racing in WorldSBK at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia. In true ‘Mad Max’ style, it’d the wily old fox himself who paced himself to come through the pack with preserved tyre life being the key. The double Champion dropped to sixth in the opening stages but fought his way through, snatching the last podium place from long-time race leader Tom Sykes on the last lap, starting a mixed last round, as he crashed on Lap 1 of Race 2.
Marco Simoncelli may have only graced us with his effervescent presence for one weekend, but he left a legacy greater than some more regular riders in the Championship’s past. A Race 1 crash fired Simoncelli up for greater things and after a bright start, he soon entered the podium battle with teammate for the weekend, Max Biaggi. A hard move on Biaggi at the last chicane halfway through got Marco his first and only WorldSBK podium, in just his second ever race. A wildcard done good.
Cal Crutchlow’s WorldSBK debut at Donington Park in 2008 was eventful; Race 1 saw him DNF, but Race 2 was a different story. In the heavy rain, the rider from Coventry, UK, was a man on a mission, coming from ninth on the grid to sixth in one lap. The British star was then up to third two by Lap 5 and inherited second on Lap 12, courtesy of a Troy Bayliss crash. Ryuichi Kiyonari led all the race but it was home-hero Crutchlow who took second as a wildcard. A sign of things to come in WorldSSP…
The last round of an incredibly unpredictable 2000 WorldSBK season got even crazier, when wildcard John Reynolds eased to victory for Ben Atkins’ Reve Red Bull Ducati team. The Nottinghamshire rider showed his full potential in tricky conditions at Brands Hatch, losing the lead once in the middle of the race. From then on, former full-time WorldSBK rider and podium finisher Reynolds eked out a lead and came home to the sound of airhorns and celebration for his first and only WorldSBK win.
There’s nothing like an emphatic home WorldSBK appearance and for Ben Bostrom, that was exactly what Laguna Seca 1999 was. Second in Race 1, Ben Bostrom looked to consolidate that in Race 2 but a crash for wildcard teammate Anthony Gobert – who was leading – meant Bostrom topped the rostrum in front of a huge, expectant sun-soaked Californian audience. Beating names like Carl Fogarty, Troy Corser, Colin Edwards and Noriyuki Haga, it’d be the start of big things for ‘Big Ben’.
Check back tomorrow, 10th June, to see who makes the cut for the top five wildcard performances!
Enjoy 2020 in comprehensive fashion when racing resumes with the WorldSBK VideoPass!