Twenty-fourteen World Supersport Champion, Michael van der Mark, began the 2016 World Superbike season last weekend with two podium finishes: 3rd in Race 1, 2nd in Race 2. In his inaugural season last year, van der Mark scored three podiums, so he’s nearly matched his success last year in the first race of this year.

Joining van der Mark on the Honda World Superbike Team is 2006 MotoGP World Champion, Nicky Hayden. It’s been 13 years since Hayden’s piloted a superbike, but in his first outing aboard the Honda CBR1000RR Hayden finished 9th in Race 1 with tire problems, and 4th in Race 2, having 3rd place snatched away by Davide Giugliano in the closing stages.

At age 34, Hayden says he’s still hungry for another championship, but the ambitions of his 23-year-old teammate were on full display at Phillip Island. Will youth overcome experience? If you had to put money on one rider to outscore the other by season’s end would it be Hayden or van der Mark?

  • Old MOron

    Young VDM made Nicky look pretty old last weekend. But maybe that’s an incomplete statement. Maybe “old and wise” is more accurate.

    If Nicky had tire problems in race one, then he would surely want to make up for it in race two. On the other hand, finding himself 9 points behind his teammate after the first race should not cause him to panic. He would race hard in race two, but he wouldn’t throw caution to the wind on the very first race weekend.

    Seems like Nicky rode a smart race on Sunday. What a shame he was pipped off the podium at the end. Right now, I’m leaning toward young VDM, but if Nicky can summon that “knife fight in a phone booth” mentality when needed, he can turn the tables on his teammate.

  • D H

    It’s a long season, and this basically Hayden first race since he rejoined the WSBK. He will get better and understand the bike and tires limitation. Hayden will make history as the first Moto GP and WSBK, my bold prediction of the year. Now, how to make those Kawasaki slower!!….

    • Vrooom

      Did you leave champion out of the sentence about the first MotoGP And WSBK…? Biaggi won the WSBK championship and the 250cc Moto GP championship (4x). I’m not sure if anyone has won the premier class championship and the WSBK championship? Mick Doohan, Garry McCoy and Pierfrancesco Chili come to mind as possibilities back in the 2 stroke era of GP. Good question requires a google.

      • Tom Roderick

        There has, thus far, been no dual champions in the premiere class MotoGP/500cc and WorldSBK ranks. If Hayden pulls it off, he’d be the first.

        • Vrooom

          Interesting, that’s surprising given SBK is sort of on the career path for a GP racer.

  • Vrooom

    Can’t vote against VDM after his performance this weekend. Nicky might make the top 5, but I don’t see him beating VDM or the Kawasakis for points barring injuries.

  • Gruf Rude

    VDM has the better hairstylist by far . . .

  • Branson

    van de Mark.

    Hayden shreds his front? How can the younger rider be both faster and better with tires than the former MotoGP champ? The answer is that van der Mark is the superior rider today. Hayden looks like he’s doing the superbike thing because…he has to — what else would/could he do?