The World Superbike Championship began in 1988. For many years, the formula allowed for machines with 1000cc V-twin engines (Ducati, Honda, Aprilia) to go up against the 750cc 4-cylinders (Kawasaki, Suzuki, and the occasional Yamaha).
The twins definitely had the advantage, especially where power delivery was concerned, and this explains the proliferation of Ducatis in recent years. Although the 750s were allowed a lighter weight limit in 2002, to try and even things up a little more, it didnít seem to change the position greatly.
However, with this in mind, the 2003 series followed the lead of British Superbike, and allowed four cylinder machines with a maximum capacity of 1000cc
1988 American Fred Merkel on a Honda RC30 takes the new Superbike World Championship trophy ahead of second placed Yamaha rider Fabrizio Pirovano and fellow Italian Davide Tardozzi 3rd on a Bimota. Rob Phillis was best placed Kawasaki at seasons end at 7th after 3rds at Manfeild and Oran park.
1989 Merkel wins again on the Honda, Stephane Mertens is 2nd also on a Honda (after a 4th in '88 on a Bimota) and Fenchman Raymond Roche finishes 3rd after 5 wins during the season on his Ducati. Rob Phillis was top Kawasaki again at 11th after a 2nd and two 3rds during the year. Aaron Slight was 14th after a 2nd at Manfeild.
1990 Raymond Roche secures the first world superbike crown for Ducati with 8 wins during the season. Rob Phillis was the best placed Kawsaki rider at 4th overall with two wins (Manfeild and Phillip Isl.) and two 2nds. Philis was riding for team Kawasaki Australia, the official factory supported team for the year. American Doug Chandler ended up 11th after two wins and two 2nds during the year.
1991 Doug Polen totally dominanted in 1991 taking the title for Ducati with fellow Duke rider Roche in a distant 2nd place. Phillis was best overall Kawasaki again in 1991 at 3rd place after 8 podium finishes and five 2nds during the year, Aaron Slight was next best at 13th after two 3rds.
1992 Same result in 1991 with Polen in a clear lead ahead of Roche then Phillis. Polen had 9 wins during the season, Phillis had two wins (Spa and Jarama) for Kawsasaki and five 2nds. Aaron Slight finished a respectable 6th overall with a win (Albacete) a 2nd (Masino) and 4 3rds during the year.
1993 A great season for Kawsakaki, Scott Russell wins the championship the first and only world Superbike victory for the marque. During the season he had five wins, twelve 2nds and a 3rd leaving 2nd place overall for Carl Fogerty and 3rd going to Russell's Kawsaki teammate Aaron Slight who had a win (Monza), four 2nds and five 3rds. Fellow Kawasaki rider Piergiorgio Bontempi also finished 6th overall.
1994 Fogarty wins the first of his 4 Superbike crowns aboard a Ducati with ten wins and four 2nds, beating 2nd placed Scott Russell who had nine wins, two 2nds and two 3rds who in turn only narrowly beat Aaron Slight now racing a Honda. Piergiorgio Bontempi ended the season 8th and next best Kawasaki was brittain Terry Rymer in 10th overall.
1995 Fogarty wins again with 13 victories during the year. Fellow Ducati rider Troy Corser was 2nd overall a long way back on points and 3rd overall was Aaron Slight on a Honda. Best placed Kawasaki was Anthony Gobert in 4th.
1997 John Kocinski wins 9 races aboard the Honda RC45 and takes the title from Fogarty with Slight in 3rd overall. A good year for Kawasaki with Akira Yanagawa in 4th and Simon Crafar 5th at seasons end.
1998 A down to the wire battle. With Corser out injured, Fogerty took the championship by a slender 4 points ahead of Aaron Slight
1999 Fogarty champion again for Ducati, Colin Edwards 2nd (Honda), Corser 3rd (Ducati) and Slight 4th (Honda). Akira Yanagawa finishes in 7th.
2000 Colin Edwards takes the title aboard a Honda VTR1000 SP1 comfortably ahead of Noriyuki Haga in 2nd and 3rd placed Troy Corser. Kawasaki's Akira Yanagawa finishes in 5th.
2001 Proving there is life after Foggy, Troy Bayliss takes the title back for Ducati. The last year the ZX7R was to appear on the WSB podium, Akira Yanagawa, Gregorio Lavilla and Hitoyasu Izutsu all had a couple of podiums but finished the season at 9th, 10th and 14th respectively behind a raft of 1000cc Twins.
2002 A season-long battle between Bayliss on the Ducati and Edwards on the Honda with the Japanese team taking the title and the two of them finishing well ahead of the rest of the field on points. The Ducati's of Hodgson, Bostrum, Xaus, Toseland and Chili cleaned up the minor placings with Haga on the Aprilia the only other marque finishing well (in 4th)
2003 With the new Moto GP formula attracting the major manufacturers, there was no WSB presence for Honda, Aprilia, Yamaha or Kawasaki. The 2003 season was a white-wash for Hodgson on his Ducati who won every race.