Analyzing the Details of the 2014 WSBK & EVO Regulations

08/27/2013 @ 6:18 pm, by David Emmett20 COMMENTS

Analyzing the Details of the 2014 WSBK & EVO Regulations sylvain guintoli burnout aprilia racing 635x420

It’s been a busy couple of days at FIM headquarters, as they have been putting the finishing touches to the new rules for both the World Superbike and MotoGP series. The biggest news was the release of the detailed technical regulations for the World Superbike series for 2014 and beyond. The new rules had been announced in early August, but the precise details had to wait until now.

Though the changes are extremely detailed, they can be boiled down to a few major points: the introduction of the EVO class, which allows Superstock engines in Superbike chassis; the introduction of price caps on suspension and brakes; restrictions on gear ratios; and the introduction of an engine allocation system similar to that in MotoGP and also in Superstock.

The engine allocation system had long been expected, after Carmelo Ezpeleta made a series of barbed (and misleading) attacks on the number of engines supposedly used by Aprilia in WSBK in 2011 and 2012. The limit on the number of engines is relatively low: each rider will have 8 engines to last a season with.

Though that seems reasonable for some 13 or 14 race weekends, that requires the engines to last for 26 or more races. As in MotoGP, the engines are sealed to prevent maintenance on crankshaft, bottom and top ends, and the valve train, other than camchain tension adjustment.

The crankcases, cylinders, cylinder heads, and valve and cam covers are sealed. Seals may be broken to allow gearbox ratios to be changed – see below – but also as in MotoGP, that can only be done in the presence of a technical official from the series.

The aim of imposing restrictions on engine maintenance is to reduce cost, though the savings will be different in WSBK compared to MotoGP. The savings in MotoGP were largely in transport: previously, engines from some Japanese factories were flown back to Japan to be stripped, checked, and rebuilt, before being flown back for the next race.

For World Superbikes, engines are all maintained by the teams in their own workshops, and so shipping is not an issue. However, restricting the number of engines each team can use will reduce the amount of tuning which can be done.

Reliability will become a bigger factor, and as WSBK allows limited modification of engine internals, reducing the state of tune of the engines is the most obvious way of pursuing it.

This is likely to punish some manufacturers more than others: in its stock state, the Aprilia RSV4 produces 177hp at the crank. BMW’s S1000RR pumps out 193hp, and Kawasaki’s ZX-10R kicks out a smidgeon over 200hp.

Another change aimed at reducing cost is the restriction on gearbox ratios. Teams will be allowed two options: they can either have the choice of two sets of gearbox ratios, plus the choice of two primary drive ratios, or they can have the choice of three gearbox ratios. Though alternative ratios can be selected individually for each gear, they can only be changed as a predefined set of gears.

In other words, the teams have a choice of two or three gearboxes with set ratios they can use; they can’t mix and match individual gear ratios. Gear ratios will have to be selected at the beginning of each season, and declared to the series organizers. The idea behind restricting gear ratios is to reduce spending in three areas.

Firstly, the teams don’t have to carry as many physical gears around with them, as their choices are so restricted. Secondly, they don’t have to spend so much time either exchanging gears and building gearboxes, or running computer simulations to figure out the best possible combination of gear ratios.

Finally, as is the case with the restriction of engines, the hope is that the amount of engine tuning will be less, as the engines will have to be slightly more flexible in their power delivery. Fewer possible gear choices mean a broader spread of torque is required.

Of course, for some of the factory teams, the savings in time spent on gearing will just go into electronics to manage power delivery, so it remains to be seen how effective this will be.

Perhaps the biggest saving will come in the imposition of price caps on suspension and braking parts. Though the items themselves were not that expensive, the real cost was in the service contract which teams were forced to sign for the maintenance and set up of forks and shocks. A team might pay, say, 40,000 euros for a couple of sets of forks, but then over 100,000 euros for the technician to maintain them and advise and manage spring rates, damping, etc.

Under the new rules, suspension manufacturers will have to supply a list of available suspension parts, complete with the cost of spares. They must be prepared to supply any team which asks them, at the prices stated in the official lists. More importantly, the manufacturers must be willing to supply them without imposing a service contract on them. The teams are free to sign up to such a service contract if they wish – something the top teams will all almost certainly do – but it is no longer a compulsory part of purchase.

A similar set of rules has also been imposed on brakes and brake parts. Each brake manufacturer will have to supply a list of parts for approval, at a fixed price, and free of a service contract.

There were further minor tweaks to the technical regulations, including restrictions on the method of crankshaft balancing, the use of variable intake tract systems, and the use of the homologated air box. These changes were all refinements, however, not major shake ups.

The biggest change was the introduction of the EVO sub-class of WSBK machines. EVO bikes will race in the World Superbike series, much as the CRT bikes have raced in MotoGP for the past eighteen months. The EVO bikes are basically a hybrid of Superstock engines in full-blown Superbike chassis, with a few minor variations.

EVO bikes will be allowed to use 6 engines a season, rather than the 8 allowed for the full WSBK rules, but twice as many as the 3 allowed in the Superstock 1000 rules. Though engine modifications are as limited as they are in Superstock, the exhaust systems can be full Superbike systems, rather than the more restricted Superstock homologated systems. Clutches are similarly unregulated, with the same ability to replace the stock unit with modified or specialist racing clutches.

Gearbox rules are in the middle of the new WSBK and existing Superstock rules. A team running an EVO bike are free to select their own gear ratios, but they are only allowed a single set of ratios, which they must use all year. Primary drive ratios must remain as standard. The advantage is that EVO bikes are not stuck with the standard gear ratios, but once they have selected a set of gear ratios, they are stuck with them, and can only modify gearing by changing the final drive sprockets and chains.

The electronics remain as they are in Superstock, limited to either the standard ECU with modified software, or a manufacturer-approved kit ECU with a price cap. The price cap is slightly more generous than the Superstock rules. Data logging is also less restricted than Superstock, with 10 channels allowed rather than 7, but not as free as in WSBK, where there are no restrictions on how many channels can be logged. As with so many other items, the data logging system is price capped, in this case to 1,000 euros.

The point of the EVO class is to offer a cheap entry point for teams wishing to enter the class, and to help flesh out the grid. WSBK was down to 19 full time entries at the start of the 2013 season, but since the announcement of the EVO class, two teams have indicated their interest in moving up to the World Superbike class.

It seems unlikely that EVO is the desired end point of the WSBK technical regulations; due to the disparity in power of the various production bikes, performance is hard to balance without allowing engine modification.

The dominance of the BMW S1000RR, Ducati 1199 Panigale, and most especially the Kawasaki ZX-10R in Superstock 1000 show the difficulty in restricting engine modifications too much.

World Superbikes cannot afford to lose any more manufacturers. But given the severely anemic state of the grid, it cannot continue as it is, either.

The changes for the 2014 World Superbike regulations can be found in this PDF document on the FIM website. The EVO regulations can be found in this PDF document.

Photo: Aprilia Racing

This article was originally published on MotoMatters, and is republished here on Asphalt & Rubber with permission by the author.

Comment:

  1. smoke says:

    So here’s my question: what defines a homologation bike? Are we back to the day of small run high spec bikes to top the range off?

  2. paulus says:

    The perceived money saved will be burnt off testing and developing new ways to bend around the updated rules.

  3. 2ndclass says:

    @smoke: If memory serves the current production figures for WSBK homologation is 3000 bikes.

  4. smiler says:

    As the world recession comes to an end. Dorna introduce cost cutting. The CRT system just does not work. All it has done is made a 2 tier MotoGP grid with CRT bikes coming in nearlt one lap behind the others. Colin Edwards opinion is very relevant. Not content with that they then do the same with WSBK, the effect will be the same.
    BMW have withdrawn and Aprilia may as well. So how is this supposed to help WSBK?

    it would seem more sensible to do the following:
    1. Calendar races with the lowest possible number of long journeys.
    2. Make the races available to as many media outlets as possible to a lower individual price.
    3. Add races where there is genuine enthusiasm for racing. For example, Qatar is usually empty. This will keep the number of spectators up, advertising revenue up and sales of merchandise up.
    When WSBK was at Brands there were usually 1000,000 people, then they stopped WSBK at Brands….
    4. Restrict the amount of clobber allowed to be carried by each team and forbid any component to be maintained outside the race track.
    5. Keep the rules the same. Factory teams have 4 riders but must maintain a min 2 man satelite. If other teams wish to use their stuff then it is passed on at near cost.
    6. Encourage riders from countries other than Spain to join the series.
    As everyone feared Dorna are junking WSBK.

  5. Starmag says:

    smiler says:
    August 28, 2013 at 2:58 AM
    As the world recession comes to an end.

    How quaint. You still believe what the TV says. No wonder you’re smiling.

  6. paulus says:

    Smiler:

    Constructive suggestions. A great set of thoughts

  7. MikeG81 says:

    “The engine allocation system had long been expected, after Darth Vader made a series of barbed (and misleading) attacks on the number of engines supposedly used by Aprilia in WSBK in 2011 and 2012.”

    Fixed.

  8. Efforts to write rules that restrict budgets are really misguided, for the simple reason that everyone always spends all their budget, in whatever way they feel gives them the best competitive advantage. All we can really hope for is to reduce the marginal benefit (in lap times or results) of extra expenditure. If there’s a side benefit to all this, it could be that the more restrictive the rules, the greater the significance of the rider. Team budgets may shift to rider salaries.

  9. sburns2421 says:

    IMO the primary effect of limiting the modifications will be to keep bikes a bit behind firmly off the leaders. A manufacturer (KTM for sake of argument) would never come into the series knowing its engines were below par and rules prevent them from developing them to be compeititve.

    Ironically the manufacturer perhaps best suited to take advantage of these new rules was BMW, only now they have pulled out of the series.

    Why not have a horsepower cap rule? Set a reasonable max amount for the rear wheel (180 hp?) and a rigid testing procedure. Top five bikes are dyno tested immediately after the race. Bike has to have enough fuel left from the race to complete the test. Exceed the limit=DQ. Simple really.

    The rules for suspension and brakes are interesting for sure. It is probably going to be a situation where “in theory” a team could get going relatively cheaply, being competitive might be a different story of course. But maybe one positive side effect is you could see more wild cards at rounds, riding in the EVO class and now with the ability to have the same binders and boingers and the leaders.

  10. Norm G. says:

    re: “It’s been a busy couple of days at FIM headquarters, as they have been putting the finishing touches to the new rules for both the World Superbike and MotoGP series”

    taking post-it notes to a roulette wheel and spinning it.

  11. Norm G. says:

    re: “Top five bikes are dyno tested immediately after the race.”

    that’s what we did/do in CANSBK and the old FUSA series for the podium finishers.

  12. Norm G. says:

    re: “Though the items themselves were not that expensive, the real cost was in the service contract which teams were forced to sign for the maintenance and set up of forks and shocks.”

    they aren’t forced to sign anything. if you don’t want or can’t afford ohlins…? roll the dice and take your chances with something else.

    re: “A team might pay, say, 40,000 euros for a couple of sets of forks, but then over 100,000 euros for the technician to maintain them and advise and manage spring rates, damping, etc.”

    when a rich celebrity is on trial for DUI…? do they request a public defender…? or do they come off the dime for say… alan dershowitz…?

  13. Norm G. says:

    re: “This is likely to punish some manufacturers more than others”

    see entry for Yamaha R1.

  14. Mark B. says:

    re: “Why not have a horsepower cap rule? Set a reasonable max amount for the rear wheel (180 hp?) and a rigid testing procedure.”

    Because motorsports is a team competition: the work of the constructors is supposed to have an impact. If you have a horsepower cap, then the competition is less interesting for constructors. A cap for horsepower is much easier to implement as a spec engine, like they did for Moto2.

  15. Mariani says:

    Some of these rules are better than others.

    I do agree with engine allocations as well as the measures taken on suspensions and brakes, but creating a sub-category is a bad move.

    Why would a team purposefully seek an uncompetitive, more expensive machine on a higher category, rather than a truly competitive, less expensive one, in the lower classes?

    And like some have said above, these cost-caps might just lead the bigger teams to spend money elsewhere.

    In the end of the day, aren’t the electronics super expensive pieces of luxury that are completely unnecessary? Why not cut those off?

    That could give the ‘lesser’ teams a greater chance, as well as redirect development to a more pragmatic level.

  16. dc4go says:

    Power cap??? what???? How about stock engines, airbox, electronics run what you sell with full exhaust and stock gas tanks. Most bikes on the WSBK grid hardly resemble the stock bikes anymore, the Pinagale resembles the stock bike the most (gas tank, body work) and it’s struggleing to get into the top 5.

  17. sunstroke says:

    “Why not have a horsepower cap rule?”

    Horsepower is already capped in basically all forms of SBK and SS racing.

    This year, 4 manufacturers and 7 riders have won in WSBK. Last year, 5 manufacturers and 9 riders won races. In 2011, 5 manufacturers and 6 riders won races. In 2010, 5 manufacturers and 7 riders won races.

    The competitiveness in SBK racing is not an accident.

  18. DC4GO says:

    Cause no manufacture would agree to a power cap goes against all racing purpose. Having limits on engines/ fuel make engineers think of solutions to create as much power as possible while still meeting specs and rules. Having a power cap eliminates competitions between factories/manufactures cause every one would quit the series.. Moto 2 has great racing but it would be better if Honda, KTM, Yamaha, Aprilia, Kawasaki, Suzuki all raced in that series would more interest to a bigger audience.. Alot of people feel Moto 2 has close racing cause the electronics are limited not any other reason.

  19. Norm G. says:

    re: “Most bikes on the WSBK grid hardly resemble the stock bikes anymore”

    don’t believe the luddite hype. they don’t stray from their stock counterparts much more than they did 5, 10, and 15 years ago. like the name says on the letterhead, superbikes have always been… SUPER. aside from unseen electrics, there’s nothing new here.

  20. Anvil says:

    @Norm G.,

    While bikes of 15 years ago might have been nearly as modified, it doesn’t change the fact that building a respectable superbike costs well into six figures. That, to me, does not really resemble a production bike.

    I’ll try not to beat a dead horse again, but someone’s got to pay for this stuff. The fact is there aren’t loads of sponsors knocking down the door waving cash. There are 19 bikes on the grid this year and some teams are struggling to stay afloat. Economic reality and it’s not changing anytime soon.

    Marketing budgets of all kinds are being scrutinized down to the penny. The average CMO doesn’t give a rat’s ass about motorcycle racing and probably won’t even give it a sniff at the current costs.

    I agree that the unfortunate result of some of these rules will be more spending to gain an advantage, and teams with money will find ways to spend it. But the sport needs more bikes on the grid and less barriers to entry for teams and sponsors.