May 27, 2001
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By Glenn LeSanto<BR><BR>The organizers of the Superbike World Championship made it crystal clear in a press release issued Saturday morning at Donington, England, that the series will not be merged with the motorcycle Grand Prix Championship. The pronouncement was made to stem the tide of speculation regarding the future of the Superbike Championship when four-stroke motorcycles return to the Grand Prix series for the 2002 season.<BR><BR> <BR>In the statement, SBK officials said that it is their belief that "the Superbike World Championship is one of the most interesting sports products that motorsport has ever produced and, therefore, excludes the possibility of a merger with the Grand Prix."<BR><BR>The statement contained a quote from Aprilia President Ivano Beggio affirming the Italian manufacturer's commitment to the World Superbike series, "we are linked to this formula and we will continue to be so to the best of our ability."<BR><BR>There was also reference to future rule changes in Superbikes, aimed at allowing 1000cc four-cylinder motorcycles to compete in the series. The Motorsport Manufacturers Association (MSMA), of which Beggio is also President, is currently considering "modifications to the performance balance between the various engine's configurations allowed by the technical regulation (2/3/4 cylinder, etc)." The MSMA hopes to have the any proposed changes defined before the next FIM meeting, which takes place in October this year.<BR><BR>World Superbike officials have acknowledged that while 750cc four-cyinder motorcycles and 1000cc twin-cylinder motorcycles made a logical mix at one time, the move in the marketplace away from 750cc four-cylinder machines and toward 1000cc four-cylinder machines now makes inclusion of 1000cc four-cylinders more realistic. The only manufacturer currently selling large numbers of 750cc four-cylinder machines is Suzuki, the GSX-R750 having vanquished its 750cc four-cylinder rivals from (non-Superbike)races and from the sales floor.