Rumor: World Superbike to Have Pit Stops?

03/21/2012 @ 12:48 pm, by Jensen Beeler32 COMMENTS

Fresh on the heels of AMA Pro Racing’s 2012 Daytona 200 (surely to be a race we will talk about all season), there is a fun rumor floating around that World Superbike is considering changing from its two-race format at select events to one longer race format that would include pit stops. The rumor comes about as Infront boss man Paolo Flammini allegedly told journalists that he was considering the format switch for WSBK, as it would increase the spectacle of the sport, and we presume help differentiate it from its rival series, MotoGP.

While it is hard to ascertain the sincerity in Flammini’s remarks (F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone has committed tree genocide pondering similar thoughts to the auto-racing press), the move would certainly add some diversity to the World Superbike calendar, and could be a boon both to fans and sponsors. In a sport where races often last less than an hour, the extra time on the track with fans watching in person and at home in front of the TV can only mean more marketing potential for sponsors, and by association bring more revenue into the sport.

Additionally, with the increased level of strategy necessary to compete and win in a multi-stop race, an extra layer of intrigue would be added to those WSBK events. Where more often than not the race winner is decided in the first few laps of the contest, the added necessity of fuel and tire stops could help create a more competitive race for teams and riders, while keeping fans engaged through to the race’s completion.

It has always struck me as odd that while World Superbike and MotoGP want to have the following that Formula 1 and NASCAR enjoy, the motorcycle series have never adjusted their race format accordingly to match those types of events. If this year’s Daytona 200 is any indication of how compelling a longer-format motorcycle race can be, it certainly is worth the scrutiny of Paolo Flammini & Carmelo Ezpeleta alike. Will we see such a change? Probably not, but it is an interesting notion worthy of some debate.

Source: Superbike Planet; Photo: © 2011 Jensen Beeler / Asphalt & Rubber – Creative Commons – Attribution 3.0

  • Minibull

    I hate it. Watching F1 or V8 Supercars or whatever it may be, the winner is always decided through pit stop strategy. You may have a driver who is blitzing the lap times, but as his strategy didnt work out or something went wrong, he ends up down the back of the pack.
    Its taking that “purity” out of the race IMO.

  • Gritboy

    Not a fan. I love the current 2-race WSBK format.

  • aaron

    I’m a huge fan of motogp and F1 (and a lapsed WSBK fan) and I’ve long wished that F1 would go for 2 sprint races per event. reversing the qualifying order or direction traveled would only sweeten the pot!

  • Racefan

    I thought the Dayton 200 was awesome. The pit stops added some suspense to to the race, and you got to see the fast riders shine as they had to fight though the pack several times to catch back up to the lead pack. Not a Biaggi fan, but could you imagine seeing him doing what he did in Phillip Island this year several times in one race? :)

  • Bob

    No way would I be interested in a race that could be decided in the pits. A team’s only involvement should be in prepping the bike. Endurance racing is another story.

    And what about safety? Race 1 is fatiguing enough. Doing double distance could needlessly tire the riders, become “highway hypnotized” and make a dangerous mistake risking not only a rider’s life and limb but the other riders around him. Not worth the risk.

  • MP

    Personally, I think pit stops would make WSBK really interesting. Having a crew of my own, I’d be nothing without them. Every one of them is needed to go fast and that makes it a team sport.

    Perhaps WSBK should follow the indy formula – some street tracks and some speedways keep that interesting. Maybe in some locations WSBK does longer, pit-stop races and in others, they keep to the same format.

    that would keep it varied and interesting.

  • Jake

    Absolutely hate this idea and if they change to it I won’t watch SBK anymore. I freakin hate gimmicks and that is all this is. I’m sorry I don’t find pit stops exciting. Not one bit. I want to see a race determined by the best guy on the best bike, not because some pit stop mishap. I don’t find it interesting. When I want to watch endurance racing guess what ? I watch an endurance race. This stupid crap about SBK needing to differentiate itself from MotoGP is just that stupid. People are either interested in the racing or series or they aren’t. I don’t see how someone who isn’t a fan of SBK is all of a sudden going to become a fan of SBK because of pit stops. How ironic is that…….. These great marketing minds think the way impress the speed of race bikes is to have them stop in the pits! just what we need something else to take the attention of the action on the track…..people walking around a pit. No doubt I’d rather watch gas and tires being changed then guys actually racing on the track.

    Here’s an idea why not just scrap the racing altogether and just have pit races?

  • adam s

    …and maybe like the Daytona 200- you might get some underdog like P1A handing the the big boys their asses. hell, P1A didnt even have a “yamaha” sticker on their bike, and with an untried 19yr old at the helm beat the OFFICIAL FACTORY team of chuck graves. now that is what i call racing. not the everyone-get-in-line and finish to how big your budget is.

  • Jake

    Also in the US if it is an issue of TV viewer ship given that there are 2 races per weekend for the main class, plus the Supersport……..if the question is length of the program you’d think the those great minds at Speed TV programming would put on a better programming scheduling and show the racing, qualifying, and some kind of REAL pre/post race show that actually provided useful insite into the sport? That would make too much sense I guess.

    So sorry Mr Beeler I don’t understand that comment about the “event” being too short

  • Dr. Gellar

    If it was only a few WSBK races here and there having pit stops and a much longer distance to race, I wouldn’t mind.

  • My biggest worry about a pit stop format is refueling. I’ve watched enough F1 cars catch fire and drivers/crew get injured over the years that I really don’t like the idea on MotoGP bikes. What could make it interesting, however, is a return to the possibility of real-time pit stops to deal with weather. Instead of red-flagging the race, you could make a dash to the pits to change tires. Get it right and you could win. Get it wrong and you’re yesterday’s news. That’s fun stuff.

  • noch

    lot of complaints bout ‘purity’ of racing, but anything to get more overtaking and less processional races is ok by me. Except, WSBK is already pretty exciting as it is compared to GP snooze-fests

  • Testiclees Giganticus

    I like the idea of having a couple races on the calandar that would use pit stops. While we’re changing things, let’s drop superpole and use heat races (ala dirt track and supercross) to determine grid position!!

  • Keith

    In the intrest of keeping the so called PURSISTS happy I suppose we should eliminate all tracks and strictly race on streets or board tracks. Oh yes that’s just what the purists seem to want…meh. Racing has always involved pit stops, why they went away from it is beyond me.

  • Minibull

    @Keith: Its not purist as in “shit, we should all have points ignitions and carbs”, but in terms of the actual racing. Pitstops are an “artificial” way of making a race exciting IMO.

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  • ThatGuy

    I generally concur with Testiclees. I’d like to see the AMA run two extended races during the season. I like WSBK in the two race format as it is but, would appreciate an endurance races during the season. While I don’t disagree that races can be lost in the pits, which kinda sucks, I do appreciate that longer races are more mentally and physically demanding.

  • Jake

    But isn’t that what endurancing racing is for? This is just gimmick like the bsb shoot out thing to add artificial excitement to a race. I personally don’t find anything exciting about pit stops and would prefer watching a bike going around a track then being serviced in the pits. I love the isle of Mann for what it is…same with Suzuka 8hrs or any other endurance race. But when I want to watch endurance I watch endurance racing

    I’m just sick of all these stupid rule changes simply for the sake of change. They claim it’s to improve the show but they rarely address the items that are truly killing the show. Whatever if they go this pit stop stuff then that will be my reason to quit watching like CRT is why I won’t be watching motogp anymore

  • Rob749

    I wasn’t aware there was a problem with WSBK spectacle. MotoGP on the other hand could definitely use this.

  • Westward

    Maybe MotoGP should have all the bikes race two up, and the riders behind are supermodels wearing see thru leathers and lingerie… Obviously it would require some sort of new race protection technology…

  • Dawg

    Go on. balls up a good thing. People just can’t stop meddling with things that work perfectly well can they?

  • Minibull

    Watched an interview with Stoner, twitter questions and such things.

    He said, for cutting costs and making the racing far more “exciting”, cut some of the electronic aids. Its been flogged to death, but it always keeps coming up.

    Makes the racing more variable and it lowers the money pit that is software development (technicians, programmers, the software, ECU’s, etc) Dont bother with this ridiculous pit stop stuff, give the race some real excitement.

    This may be where the spec ECU comes in, but then that would just be used to cripple the GP bikes to the CRT level.

  • Adam

    every weekend there is always about 3 hours of racing, this is divvied up between the support classes and main event. I like this I get to see several outcomes in one weekend. I don’t think that making it a longer race will provide additional advertisement time to sponsors at all, there is already 3 hours of coverage on TV if not more at the track. I have a limited attention span and so sprint races appeal to me, I don’t watch Nascar its boring please don’t turn motorcycle racing into this.
    I agree with a post above that rider fatigue would certainly increase risk and poor decisions especially with the big bikes. the Daytona 200 was run with 600’s not 1000’s I wonder how a rider would feel at the end of a 200 mile race on a demanding high speed high temperature track in Europe while riding a tuned up Super bike? judging by the responses and number of comments on this article I don’t think the audience wants this change.

  • mxs

    Forget it, silly idea.

  • BBQdog

    Pit stops and pace cars are race killers. I like the WSB as it is now with 2 races.

  • sunstroke

    I think it’s a good idea to use middle-distance racing for some events. Adds a bit of flavor and unpredictability. However, I’m only cool with it, if they have a minimum pit stop time policed by the pit in transponder and the pit out transponder. I hate it when pit stops decide who wins, and free pit stops will only make the mechanics jobs more difficult. Plus, I care about rider safety, and the integrity of fueling and wheel swaps. If the min time is relatively low, the mechanics will still be hustling.

    Pit stops are pretty low on the priorities list though. SBK (series and the industry) has much bigger problems. Converting a stock machine into a WSBK wastes unbelievable amounts of money. Homologation specials. Solves many cost problems if a majority of the modifications are done by the factories. Let the teams do bolt ons and cylinder head airflow. Internals, blueprinting, cooling, homologated gearbox, fuel cell, etc at the factory.

  • Minibull

    @Sunstroke: Exactly, I would love to see those specials come back. Plus it means there are a few real choice streetbikes up for grabs.

  • arjay

    Yeah. I want to watch mechanics compete – not racers. Just like NASCRAP.

    WSBK is the best racing out there right now. It certainly should be changed.

    Maybe WSBK should start racing ovals, too.

  • vonich

    I don’t find this as addition to the excitement on the race. I couldn’t watch the great race without dealing of so many commercials. Making the race longer by putting a pit stop during the race makes it worst to sit in front of the TV seeing more commercials than the actual race. Speed channel is notorious for doing just that. You often missed the action of the last 5 laps because the damn commercials.

  • jj

    NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This ain’t NASCAR! What’s next, rolling starts? Remember when the AMA tried that, it sucked, big time.

    I love the 2 race format.

    Don’t screw with a good thing!

  • jj

    re: vonich

    Worse yet is when they show the leader with a 10 sec. lead, crossing the finish line all by himself, then pan to his pitcrew celebrating , all the while missing a great last lap battle for 2nd/3rd/4th.

  • Grant Madden

    Pit stops and longer races is what endurance racing is all about.Is it more popular than superbike racing?If it is then surely if you introduce it to the superbikes they will become more popular but if endurance racing is less popular then you could expect to see a reduction in popularity.I like the 2 race format and dont feel the need for a change.Superbikes and supersport complement each other well and pit stops would just complicate something that is already complex in the extreme with track conditions changing between races, its great !Keep it simple stupid!