Challenge of excellence: What stands in the way of the SBK World Championship in China / World Superbike Championship

Challenge of excellence: What stands in the way of the SBK World Championship in China / World Superbike Championship

Chinese motorcycle manufacturers are increasingly involved in the SBK classes, and there are many efforts behind the scenes to bring the world championship to the Land of Smiles.

With Kove, who has been in the Supersport 300 World Championship since 2023, and supersport newcomer QJ Motor, the two Chinese manufacturers are competing in the world championship of the motorcycle series. The locals from CFMOTO are striving to enter the Superbike World Championship, currently scheduled for 2026. QJ also wants to be involved in the top division in the future.

Chinese manufacturers’ interest in motorcycle racing is growing, and SBK promoter Dorna wants to take advantage of this momentum. The Spanish outfit is desperately looking for a venue in Asia after races in Malaysia (Sepang), Thailand (Buriram) and Indonesia (Mandalika) failed to make it onto the calendar because local organizers would have preferred to have the more expensive MotoGP event. but it brings more attention.

“1.4 billion people live in China, the country can grow into a huge motor racing market and become very important,” says Manuel Puccetti, manager of the QJ factory team in the World Supersport Championship. “You dream of your own race. A new chapter of the World Superbike Championship could open in China, that would be great.

Currently, no racetrack in China has the A or B rating from the FIM international federation required for the World Superbike Championship, but this would be easy to get at big tracks like Shanghai or Zhuhai.

As has learned, Dorna’s plans are not for one of the mentioned locations, but for a new route in the greater Chengdu area, the capital of Sichuan province. Chengdu is located northwest of Chongqing, home to many of China’s motorcycle manufacturers, and has a population of over 20 million.

Construction of a new race track began there in 2023, which is now largely complete, but is shorter than the 3.4 km required for the World Cup. The road is currently 3 km long and will be extended to 5 km.

Dorna management first inspected the track last September, but an SBK event in China is unlikely to take place before 2026.

Because in the Land of Smiles there is tension between the national motorsport federation and the motorcycle manufacturers’ association. They accuse the party of only caring about car racing.

In September, FIM President Jorge Viegas will visit the Motocross GP in Shanghai and will try to fix things and mediate between the manufacturers and the federation. Because only if they unite together then the SBK event in China can become a reality.

“With the three Chinese manufacturers coming soon, we will find a way to compete in China,” a senior Dorna employee stressed to “It doesn’t matter that the route is only 3 kilometers long, then we will make more rounds. Because everyone will agree that China is an important market. But you also need people to control the event on site. And marshals are needed, which is not easy because of the language barrier . We have the championship and the song – the rest is politics.”

Formula 1 competed in the Shanghai International Circuit from 2004 to 2019, MotoGP from 2005 to 2008. The Asian Road Racing Championship (ARRC), where Markus Reiterberger won the title with BMW last year, raced in Zhuhai. The Motocross GP returns to Shanghai in 2024 after a five-year hiatus.