The 10 most successful WorldSBK runners have NEVER won a t …


The WorldSBK Championship has delivered legendary drivers over the years, but only a fairly small handful have managed to achieve champion status. This is our salvation to those who have come so near, but so far …

A quick warning. We based this list on the number of victories riders have had over the years and picked those who have won a lot without claiming a world title.

It’s no good that today there are more WorldSBK races in a season – even before the jump to three in a single weekend, but we think this list gives an accurate representation of the best that aren’t. gone to the end …

9 = РRegis Laconi, Ruben Xaus, St̩phane Mertens (11 wins)

Technically speaking, this is a roster of 11 riders up to ninth (but let’s not let the details get in the way of a good title) as three riders are tied for 11 wins during their stint in WorldSBK.

Regis Laconi [pictured] could have done more if he hadn’t suffered a career-ending injury that left him in a medically induced coma for several weeks during the 2009 season. His successes came in 2004 and 2005, the first on seeing him win the title fight against James Toseland, but in the short term. It’s also worth noting that it was one of the few to perform well from the Kawasaki during the manufacturer’s lean period in the 2000s.

Ruben Xaus has spent 10 years pedaling in WorldSBK, achieving his best results on Ducati machines – 9 with the works team and two on the private twin Sterilgarda. He came closest to the title in 2003, albeit some distance from teammate Neil Hodgson.

Stéphane Mertens was present from day one in WorldSBK and remains one of the most successful Belgian motorcycle riders. A 1989 Honda runner-up to Fred Merkel, he actually had more victories than the title winner that year.

7 = – Eugene Laverty, Aaron Slight (13 wins)

Eugene Laverty is one of three riders on this list still competing in WorldSBK, although we have to go back to 2014 for his last victory over Suzuki. Succeeded by winning races on three different machines (Suzuki, Yamaha and Aprilia), it is with the latter that he came closest to the title in 2013 with a tally of nine victories in this single season.

One of the series’ most enduring figures, Aaron Slight [pictured] was one of WorldSBK’s top performers in the 1990s, but it never really led to a title. Nonetheless, while the Kiwi had 13 relatively modest victories in nine seasons, his impressive 87 podiums perhaps tell the real story of being one of WorldSBK’s near-men.

5 = – Alvaro Bautista (16 wins)

We’re a little reluctant to include Bautista in this list for a key reason. Compared to most of the other riders here, he’s got at least 13 more attempts to claim a win than most on this list due to the series’ shifting to three races per weekend starting in 2019.

However, even if you took away a third of his 16 wins last year, that would still place him with around 10 or 11 wins, which would still qualify him at the bottom of that top ten. We will therefore give him the benefit of the doubt here in recognition of his impressive record achieved in a single season with Ducati in 2019.

Two lean years followed thereafter, but he returns to Ducati for 2022 – we just wonder if he will ever keep his promise of securing a WorldSBK title to be considered one of the greatest …

5 = – Giancarlo Falappa (16 wins)

Nicknamed the “Lion of Jesi” due to his formidable driving style, Giancarlo Falappa didn’t quite take that fierce nature until the title, but 16 wins in 106 starts is a solid comeback for the Italian. Interestingly, Falappa has never once finished a WorldSBK season in the top three, despite winning seven of those races in 1993 but only finishing fifth overall (with nine retirements) tells his own story. story.

Sadly, fate intervened when Falappa suffered a career-ending head injury while testing his Ducati in 1994 after managing to complete just three full seasons of uninterrupted racing, dashing any hope of improving his obvious speed. .

4 – Pierfrancesco (Frankie) Chile (17 wins)

The fact that many – and not just Italians – still defend Frankie Chili as the all-time favorite Superbike rider is a testament to this enduring legend. A long career spanning 1995-2006 may reveal more about Chile’s success rate than ever really tough for the title, but he was still a regular on the podium through a mix of Suzuki and Ducati machines.

3 – Marco Melandri (22 wins)

Seeking to follow in the footsteps of compatriot Max Biaggi in turning the MotoGP experience into WorldSBK success, Marco Melandri has come close to the title on several occasions but never quite finished in style. Despite this, he was still on the hunt, scoring victories in six of the seven seasons he raced on Yamaha, BMW, Aprilia and Ducati machines, while he was in the top five overall in the except for its 2019 Swansong campaign.

It should also be noted that despite the fact that he started fewer races than Biaggi, he won more races than his Italian counterpart.

2 – Chaz Davies (32 wins)

Chaz Davies is not only the second most “winning” driver in WorldSBK history not to claim a title, he’s actually seated eighth on the all-time winning list. Without Jonathan Rea, Davies could already be celebrating two or three titles, but the Welshman has never quite managed to take the measure of his rival Kawasaki. Even so, his tally is impressive on paper with wins under his belt in seven of the eight seasons he has played across Aprilia. [pictured], BMW and Ducati motorcycles.

Maybe the good news here is that he still has a long way to go to “beat” our number one on this list…

1 – Noriyuki Haga (43 wins)

Considered one of the greatest WorldSBK riders of all time – title or otherwise – Noriyuki Haga has come close to first place on several occasions during a long career spanning 1998 to 2013.

Three times finalist (and finishing the year third on four occasions), such was the longevity of the capacities of the Japanese rider, his first and last stints at the second place of the general classification were nine years apart. The last of them, in 2009, stings the most because he let slip a good lead on Ben Spies to miss a long awaited victory in the championship.

While Haga’s career has never quite recovered from this disappointment, his legacy of 43 wins and 116 podiums alone sets a stunning WorldSBK record, even though he has never had the chance to burn his name on the title trophy.


Wiley C. Thompson