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.