WSBK: Bikes To Be Price-Capped at €250,000 per Season?

01/14/2013 @ 11:17 am, by David Emmett13 COMMENTS

WSBK: Bikes To Be Price Capped at €250,000 per Season? fat cat cash 635x483

Now that it has the World Superbike series under its control, Dorna is turning its attention to the question of costs. It was an issue that, WSBK insiders claim, the Flammini brothers and Infront spent too little time on, preferring to focus on trying to compete with MotoGP instead. The series’s critics charge that this obsession allowed bikes into the series that were more like MotoGP prototypes than production road bikes.

The Aprilia RSV4 is one of the bikes most often named in this regard, though perhaps the most extreme example was the Foggy Petronas FP3 machine, of which the entire homologation run is rumored to be stored in a warehouse owned by the Malaysian oil company in Kuala Lumpur. As a result, grids have shrunk from around thirty starters in 2009 to just twenty in 2013.

Dorna’s solution is a mixture of methods gleaned from their recent experience in MotoGP: price caps and pressure on the manufacturers to reduce costs of their own accord. In an interview with the German-language website Speedweek, Carmelo Ezpeleta said that his aim is to have all manufacturers supply teams with bikes at a cost of €250,000 per rider.

Included in that amount would be two bikes per rider, and full support to complete an entire season. Only crash damage would be excluded from the quarter of a million per season, that being a cost that is outside the control of the factories. In addition, Ezpeleta said each manufacturer had to be prepared to supply up to six riders with equipment, should there be sufficient interest, a measure currently being enforced in Moto3.

How such substantial price reductions – according to the Speedweek article, a competitive WSBK machine currently costs around €300,000 per bike – are to be achieved is entirely up to the manufacturers. Ezpeleta has told the MSMA that he expects to receive proposals from them in the next three or four months. If they cannot come up with a set of technical regulations which would reduce costs to the required level, Ezpeleta will impose his own rules, bringing the machines pretty close to Superstock level.

This is very similar to the tactic which Ezpeleta used against the factories in MotoGP. Since 2009, Dorna had been pressing the MSMA to provide affordable machinery, either by building production racers or allowing engines to be leased at a much lower cost than entire satellite machines. The MSMA members consistently refused, saying that they had no interest in making a production racer, and putting the minimum price for leasing an engine at around 70% of an entire satellite machine.

But with the introduction of the CRT machines, and the threat of a rev limit and spec-ECU software, the manufacturers finally succumbed, realizing that Ezpeleta was prepared to race in MotoGP without any factory involvement. A compromise was reached, whereby Honda promised to start building a production version of its RC213V for sale to MotoGP teams, and Yamaha agreed to lease engines to teams at a much reduced price.

Ezpeleta’s hope in World Superbikes is that the factories will find a way to cut costs of their own accord. The Japanese factories especially fear a Superstock-based series, as Ducati and BMW have dominated Superstock for many years now, with Kawasaki the only Japanese manufacturer to get close.

Threatened with a series which would put them at a disadvantage – or make them invest heavily in a manufacturing segment where it is very difficult to recoup the investment, without leveraging the premium commanded by luxury brands such as BMW and Ducati – Dorna’s hope is that the MSMA can come up with a set of technical rules which would cut costs back to affordable levels again.

Cheaper bikes should also see a return to fuller grids once again, and the requirement for each factory to supply six riders, if they have the requests, should mean that there is more parity between the officially-backed teams and the privateer WSBK squads.

Though the manufacturers will want to avoid a completely Superstock set of regulations for World Superbike, it is unlikely that the bikes will continue at their current spec. Dorna also wants to make the distinction between the MotoGP and World Superbike machines much more clear, and reducing the performance of WSBK is part of that goal.

Bringing WSBK closer to Superstock spec will also make it easier for national wildcards to compete in WSBK rounds, as most national series now have their Superbike classes running in near-Superstock trim.

Source: Speedweek

Comment:

  1. JTB says:

    The gutting begins :( Maybe if we are lucky WSBK can be a support race for Moto GP :P

  2. Cpt.Slow says:

    Just use AMA SBK as a platform already…

  3. John says:

    Closer to stock is fine with me. That will allow privateer teams to be more competitive. The fact is that stock, the superbikes are pretty amazing machines, so why not race them that way and see what gives.

  4. Robert Chase says:

    It will be nice for the racing to be more about skill and less about who has more money for super exotic parts.

  5. Jon says:

    @ Cpt Slow

    Yep, AMA or BSB spec would be interesting. It would likely allow a decent amount of ‘crossover’ for riders and teams in WSBK races in their own country while also allowing riders/teams to move up more easily from the national to international levels.

  6. RJJR says:

    Maybe these d bags wont ruin moto racing?

  7. JoeD says:

    Advertised and sold as Superbikes. With a few mods such as exhaust and fueling race it off the showroom floor. Run what ya brung. If you want to race exotica, sell it as well on every day machinery.

  8. tyler says:

    This is world class development racing, with production machines – these developments directly attribute to future models by every manufacturer who races in WSBK. Limiting WSBK down to superstock spec is just plain and simple a bad idea.

    WSBK has been one of the most competitive series to spectate for several years now, with multiple manufacturers having a shot at the title every one of those years.

    WSBK’s formula is quite simply, not broke. Aside from (some) cost cutting to allow more team entries WSBK should largely remain the same.

  9. jet057 says:

    I don’t know,just hope it all works out.Just start racing so i can get my fix…..lol

  10. Personally, I think blurring the lines between superbikes and prototypes is a bad idea. Currently, there seems to be little real differences between WSBK spec machinery and MotoGP bikes. Whatever the factories can slip into WSBK to dominate is okay? It seems to miss the spirit of what a superbike used to be.

    Once upon a time, a privateer could build his/her own competitive superbike to run at the national level. That’s no longer the case. WSBK bikes are as alien to what you can buy in the showroom as a factory prototype. Having a similar fairing and a headlight sticker doesn’t cut it.

  11. David says:

    Idk, as long as the racing stays competitive not like MotoGP where is only 3 dudes, than I’m ok with it.

  12. 2ndclass says:

    @tyler,

    Given the current level of modification allowable in WSBK (and how much of that engine modification is done by parties other than motorcycle OEMs), moving WSBK back to a Superstock spec would increase the level of development going back to road bikes. The manufacturers would need to make better parts for their standard production machines for them to have a chance of being competitive. That’s why Ducati and BMW have been dominant (and Kawasaki very competitive) in WSTK of late, because those companies put a lot of development into standard production machines and created great bikes. If the manufacturers can fit better forks, brakes, swingarms and modify cranks, cylinder heads, replace pistons etc etc then they can build those components down to a price for a road bike.

  13. JoeD says:

    @2ndclass
    My point exactly. Prototype Tech for MotoGP with the end result refined and built for the showroom. Take those stock machines devoid of EPA type restrictions and race them in a SuperBike event. Costs come down for all if the manufacturers honestly play fair.