The FIM Superbike World Championship (WorldSBK) started in 1988 at Donington Park in Great Britain and soon became established as the foremost production-derived race series on two wheels.
Kawasaki was an early winner in the riders’ title chase, thanks to American Scott Russell in 1993. Tom Sykes was the next Kawasaki champ in 2013 and six-times World Champion Jonathan Rea has dominated each season since 2015 to date, with the British riders victorious on their Ninja ZX-10R and Ninja ZX-10RR machines.
Such has been the recent success of the Ninja model that Kawasaki has won the past six Riders’ and Manufacturers’ titles despite numerous changes to the technical regulations. Five Teams’ titles have also been gathered in the past six seasons by the official KRT squad.
The Ninja dynasty of machines had won 158 race victories up to the end of 2020, beginning with Adrien Morillas in the inaugural year of the series, 1988. Since then Doug Chandler, Rob Phillis, Aaron Slight, Scott Russell, Anthony Gobert, Akira Yanagawa, Hitoyasu Izutsu, Chris Walker, Tom Sykes, Loris Baz, Jonathan Rea, Toprak Razgatlioglu and most recently Alex Lowes have won WorldSBK races for Kawasaki.
Going into the 2021 season the podium-scoring total for Ninja pilots stands at 454 from 832 races started. Kawasaki has taken 92 pole positions in that time too.
Kawasaki has been an ever-present manufacturer in WorldSBK racing and from the earliest days to now and has fielded starters in more WorldSBK races than any other manufacturer.
Several other teams on the grid in addition to KRT have opted to use the latest Ninja ZX-10RR machines once again for 2021, a testimony to the performance and reliability of Kawasaki products from the very start of the championship to now.
The FIM Supersport World Championship (WorldSSP) became a full status FIM world title back in 1999, after two seasons as a World Series. All the main Japanese manufacturers have won the title along the way with Kawasaki earning the Manufacturers’ title three times so far.
In the Riders’ Championship, Kawasaki competitors have scored top spot - in 2001 with Andrew Pitt before Kenan Sofuoglu won the title for Kawasaki in 2012, 2015 and most recently in 2016. The Ninja ZX-6R was still winning races in WorldSBK in 2020.
The first Kawasaki race win in the full FIM WorldSSP championship was the first race of the 1999 season itself, with British rider Iain Macpherson scoring maximum points at Kyalami in South Africa. Andrew Pitt, Fabien Foret, Joan Lascorz, Broc Parkes, Randy Krummenacher and Lucas Mahias have also posted race wins on the middleweight Ninja. Kawasaki has now scored 44 individual race wins since 1999.
A healthy WorldSSP grid has already been confirmed for 2021, including the return of 2020 WorldSSP Teams’ champions, Kawasaki Puccetti Racing. Like most of the 2020 championship rounds, the new season will feature two races per weekend, providing added excitement for the riders, teams and fans.
As always, the chassis of a WorldSSP machine must remain largely as standard, engine tuning is tightly regulated but, like 2020, slick control tyres will be used again, to keep pace with the ever-improving lap times in the WorldSSP category. Limited electronic regulations have made the championship even more open recently but despite all the regulatory changes the Kawasaki has once more proven to be a winning package in the right hands.