Welcome to the beta version of the new Women & Golf website. Our web monkeys are still hard at work and welcome your feedback.  


Independent fighters | 10 WorldSBK satellite stars that outshone the factory mother ship

Gold & Goose
Toprak Razgatlioglu, Puccetti Turkish Racing, Kawasaki ZX-10RR, 2019 WorldSBK, Portimao, action [Gold & Goose]

Who doesn’t love a good David vs. Goliath story in motorsport?

The satellites, the independents, the privateers. The precocious, have-a-go minnows punching above their power-to-weight budget against the mighty factory giants with their state-of-the-art upgrades, world class riders and hospitality with a roof not fashioned out of tarpaulin.

OK, so these days satellites orbit very close to the factory Mother Ships and regardless of whether there is a gulf filled with cash separating the haves and have nots among teams in WorldSBK, you still need a fair bit of green just to get your team to the grid.


Even so, WorldSBK would be nothing without its private chancers and there have been some real standouts over the years, whether they’re fresh faces trying to make an impression or golden oldies giving it one last shot at glory in their autumn years.

Time to give our appreciation to the minnows who made a big splash in the WorldSBK pond.

Jakub Smrz, Guandalini Racing, Ducati 1098R, 2008 WorldSBK, Miller Motorsports Park, portrait [credit - Gold & Goose]

10 - Jakub Smrz

2007 - 2012 | Caracchi Ducati, Guandalini Ducati, Effenbert Liberty Ducati

While not quite as decorated as so-called 'Mr Superpole' candidates like Troy Corser and Tom Sykes, Jakub Smrz made a name for himself as a one-lap specialist with numerous giant-killing qualifying efforts.

Three pole positions and five podiums often saw Smrz upsetting the established order during his six seasons spent in WorldSBK, with his strongest campaign coming in 2009 with the Frankie Chili-helmed Guandalini Racing team.

While it never quite led to him topping the podium or getting a works chance, Smrz remains one of the series' true underdog stories.

Ayrton Badovini, Leon Haslam, BMW Italia SBK, BMW S 1000 RR, 2011 WorldSBK, Misano, action [credit - Gold & Goose]

9 - Ayrton Badovini

2008 - 2015 | Pedercini Kawasaki, BMW Italia SBK

A familiar figure in the WorldSBK paddock, while Ayrton Badovini's career including a factory-supported stint with Kawasaki in 2008 and then Ducati in 2013, it was his exploits in lesser fancied teams that earned him his reputation as a trusted hand.

Often punching above the quality of his machinery, Badovini's strongest campaign came in 2011 with the satellite BMW Italia team formed by ex-Ducati works effort Feel Racing.


A steady hand with a strong finishing record, Badovini cracked the overall top ten and was the highest-placed independent in a high quality factory-dominated field.

Loris Baz, Ten Kate Racing, Yamaha R1, 2019 WorldSBK, Magny-Cours, action [credit - Gold & Goose]

8 - Loris Baz

2018 - 2020 | Althea BMW, Ten Kate Yamaha

Whereas most upstarts tend to begin their international careers in a privateer team, Loris Baz hit the ground running in WorldSBK with the very best as part of the Kawasaki Racing Team, eventually moving on to MotoGP.

Returning to WorldSBK in 2018, though Baz 'went private' second time around - first on the Althea BMW S 1000 RR and then the Ten Kate Yamaha - he quickly re-established himself among the front-runners once more.


While both Althea and Ten Kate were no longer operating to the same scale and budget of their former title-winning efforts from years earlier, together with Baz they formed an experienced and proven package capable of taking the fight to the front.

Four podiums on the Ten Kate Yamaha in 2020 demonstrated Baz was still a reckoned force, not to mention the podiums he achieved on the Go Eleven Ducati - while standing in for Chaz Davies - at Portimao in 2021, which earned him a full-time ticket back to the world championship.

Alex Barros, Klaffi Racing, Honda CBR1000RR, 2006 WorldSBK, Assen, action [credit - Gold & Goose]

7 - Alex Barros

2006 | Klaffi Honda

Alex Barros' time in WorldSBK may not have been long, but his one and only season in the series was certainly very good.

Among the first to successfully beat a (now well worn) path from MotoGP to WorldSBK, Alex Barros' patriotic green and yellow-liveried Honda was a distinctive and competitive addition to the grid.

Quickly getting to grips with the Honda CBR1000RR prepared by the very capable Klaffi Racing, Barros was on the podium in only his second event, with his season - and ultimately his career - culminating in a victory during the penultimate round at Imola

Pierfrancesco Chili, Frankie Chili, Klaffi Honda, Honda CBR1000RR, 2005 WorldSBK Brands Hatch, action [credit - Gold & Goose]

6 - Frankie Chili

1995 - 2006 | Gattolone Ducati, PSG-1 Ducati, Klaffi Honda et al.

He may not have won the title during his esteemed 12 season stretch competing in the WorldSBK Championship but Pierfrancesco 'Frankie' Chili's legacy as one of the series' most characterful figures continues to endure.

Beyond factory stints with Suzuki and Ducati, Chili represented various privateer teams during his career, while seven of his 17 WorldSBK wins came in an independent capacity.

Success on track notwithstanding, however, it was Chili's animated personality off the track that built him a loyal band of fans, enough for him to earn a special place in the annuls of WorldSBK history, title or not.

Leon Haslam, Stiggy Racing, Honda CBR1000RR, 2009 WorldSBK, portrait [credit - Gold & Goose]

5 - Leon Haslam

2009 | Stiggy Honda

Leon Haslam may have only been 25-years old at the start of the 2009 WorldSBK season but the 'Pocket Rocket' was still regarded as an experienced hand when he was snapped up by Stiggy Racing to front its new - albeit short-lived - WorldSBK effort.

His second stint in WorldSBK after getting his first shot six years earlier in 2003, Haslam was part of a British invasion that also included Tom Sykes, Shane Byrne, Tommy Hill and Cal Crutchlow. However, it was his efforts with the Johan Stigefelt-led team that arguably shone brightest in the Superbike class.

Four podiums on the Honda CBR1000RR amid a slew of consistent top six finishes saw Haslam finish the season as the top privateer in a quality field, paving the way for a deal with Suzuki in 2010 that took him to a career-best runners-up spot.

Sylvain Guintoli, Effenbert Liberty Ducati, Ducati Panigale 1098R, 2011 WorldSBK, action [credit - Gold & Goose]

4 - Sylvain Guintoli

2011 - 2012 | Effenbert Liberty Ducati

Having re-routed his career from MotoGP to WorldSBK via BSB, while Sylvain Guintoli began his Superbike adventure as a factory-supported Suzuki rider, it was his two seasons with the privateer Effenbert-Liberty Ducati team that set him on course for his eventual title with Aprilia.

All-new for the 2011 WorldSBK season, the Czech-based team arrived in the series with a high expectations, a few crates of beer and a wise signing in Guintoli.

Armed with the well-proven Ducati 1098R package, Guintoli's steadfast consistency and podiums set the foundation for the team's maiden campaign before the Frenchman went on to land both his and the team's first win at Assen in 2012, the first of three he'd achieve by the season's end.

It was enough to convince Aprilia Racing to hire him alongside Eugene Laverty for its title-defence in 2013, leading him to his first world title in the following year.

Axel Bassani, Motocorsa Racing, Ducati Panigale V4 R, 2023 WorldSBK, Imola, action [credit - Gold & Goose]

3 - Axel Bassani

2021 - Current | Motocorsa Ducati

Arguably the feel good story of the WorldSBK Championship in recent years, Axel Bassani has emerged as both a frequent frontrunner and a firm fan favourite since making his debut as a relative unknown in 2021.

With an aggressive, boisterous riding style, Bassani has replaced Toprak Razgatlioglu as the series' most prolific giant-killer aboard the Motocorsa Racing-run Ducati Panigale V4 R.

One of the smaller teams on the grid, Motocorsa and Bassani have nonetheless taken the fight to the factory Aruba.it Ducati stablemates on numerous occasions.

Working his way towards the front of the field in his first season, Bassani waltzed to the independents' title in 2022 and is well on course to do the same this year too, while his career podium tally - as of writing {July 2023) - stands at six trips to the WorldSBK rostrum.

Moreover, unlike many experienced or former MotoGP riders ranked here, Bassani has done so as a fresh talent climbing up the career ladder

Toprak Razgatlioglu, Puccetti Racing, Kawasaki ZX-10RR, 2019 WorldSBK, Magny-Cours, action, wet, rain [credit - Gold & Goose]

2 - Toprak Razgatlioglu

2017 - 2019 | Puccetti Kawasaki

The first rider to win a WorldSBK title by forging a career path via through the production-based feeder categories, between becoming European Superstock 600 and WorldSBK Champion, Toprak Razgatlioglu cut his teeth on the 'big bikes' with Puccetti Racing and Kawasaki.

Making his full-time debut in 2018, the Turk's wild style on the Kawasaki ZX-10RR made him an instant fan favourite. Indeed, while the early stages of his WorldSBK career were blighted by inconsistent qualifying results, it gave him the platform to showcase his feisty riding style as he climbed back through the field.

Two podiums in his rookie season provided a taster of what was to come, Razgatlioglu going on to become a regular visitor to the rostrum in 2019, piquing with his spectacular double win at Magny-Cours from 16th on the grid... arguably still the finest successes of his career.

Carlos Checa, Althea Racing, Ducati Panigale 1198R, 2011 WorldSBK, Portimao, portrait, celebration [credit - Gold & Goose]

1 - Carlos Checa

2010 - 2012 | Althea Ducati

While there is perhaps a solid case to argue for Althea Racing being considered as-good-as a factory effort in the absence of an official works entry from Ducati in 2011, it certainly wasn’t a team operated directly from the boardrooms of Borgo Panigale either.

Integral to that success was Carlos Checa, a shrewd signing that gave the Spaniard a long-awaited first World Championship title in the autumn years of his well-established career. 

Indeed, while Althea Racing came into the 2011 WorldSBK season having been upgraded to Ducati’s leading representative - as the factory retreated to work on its forthcoming Panigale - Checa wasn’t initially considered an immediate title threat in the face of reigning champions Aprilia, the improving BMW and Yamaha.

However, four wins from the opening six races set him on an early course he’d maintain towards a dominant title success, some 18 years on from making his international debut

Articles you may like


More WorldSBK

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram