The World Superbike Championship released the latest decision from the SBK Commission today, which clarified a few rules for the 2018 season, most notably the new rev-limiter and parts cost rules, which have been discussed already at great length here on Asphalt & Rubber (Part 1, Part 2, & Part 3).
There was another interesting rule change of note though, which is likely to get over-looked by the racing community, and that is the World Superbike Championship permitting the use of winglets, although there is a catch.
The World Superbike championship has moved to address the performance disparities that have seen Kawasaki and Ducati dominate in recent seasons.
The Superbike Commission, the rule-making body for the WorldSBK series, today announced a series of measures to ensure greater parity among teams and factories.
The measures, which will enter into force in 2018, see rev limits replacing weight penalties and air restrictors as a performance balancing mechanism, and a performance-based concession point system for allowing engine updates during the season.
The changes fall into three main categories: the performance balancing system, a system of concession points, and the price capping of a range of suspension, chassis, and engine parts related to performance.
The performance balancing system and the concession points system are aimed at creating more parity between different manufacturers, while the price capping of certain parts is aimed at both limiting costs, and of ensuring that all teams have access to the same parts.
Momentum for a technical shake-up in WorldSBK has increased, but the manner to instigate that change is a big question. As such, the Imola paddock was full of rumor and discussion about changes to the technical regulations for 2018.
With Kawasaki and Ducati having shared all but four wins since the start of the 2015 season, there have been calls to grant other manufacturers some avenues with which to improve performance. Discussions between the manufacturers took place once again in Italy to lay down a framework for the future.
No answers were forthcoming but with Yamaha and Honda having brought all-new Superbikes to the series in the last year, and struggled to compete with the front-runners, it is clear that the winds of change may be in the air.
For 2017, Aprilia increased its involvement with the Milwaukee Aprilia bikes built and prepared in Italy. The former title-winning marque has thus far failed to live-up to preseason expectations.
The Superbike Commission, governing body for the World Superbike Championship, met at Madrid to introduce a number of changes to the rules for the World Superbike and World Supersport series for 2017.
There were some minor changes to the sporting regulations, as well as a couple of tweaks to the technical regulations. But there were also two major changes which will have a significant impact for next season and beyond.
The biggest change is also the most surprising and the least comprehensible. There is to be a major shake up in the way the grid for the second World Superbike race is set.
At the last meeting of the Superbike Commission, the body which makes the rules for the World Superbike series, representatives of Dorna, the FIM and the factories agreed a number of measures which provide yet another step on the path to the future of the series.
There were a couple of minor technical updates, and two changes which point the way to the series’ long term future.
The changes to the technical regulations were relatively simple. The balancing rules, aimed at allowing different engine designs to be competitive against each other, received a number of minor tweaks resulting from the fact that those rules will now be carried on from one season to the next.
In practice, this means that results for either twins or fours will be carried over between seasons, creating a rolling balancing scoreboard, which should create a better balance between fours and twins.
The other change to the technical rules allow a manufacturer to revert to their 2014 electronics for the first two races of 2015, should the 2015 electronics cause them problems.
Basically, this will give the teams a fallback position and give them a little more time to develop the electronics. As the first two rounds are in Australia and Thailand, the risk of struggling with a system which is not completely ready to race during a period when it is impossible to test has been reduced.
The changes to the sporting regulations are more interesting, and point the way to the future of the series.
The loss of the South African round of World Superbikes, when the safety improvements to the Welkom circuit could not be completed in time for homologation, meant that the WSBK calendar had lost two rounds from its 2014 calendar, with both South Africa and the Moscow Raceway event having been scrapped.
Two rounds meant the loss of two World Supersport races and four World Superbike races, a total of 50 points for WSS and 100 points for WSBK.
The loss of those points left both championships much closer to being decided. Tom Sykes leads the World Superbike championship by 44 points with 150 points still at stake, while Michael van der Mark is even closer to the World Supersport championship, leading Jules Cluzel by 53 points with just 75 points left.
The teams, but most especially the riders, felt that they had had a chance to try to reopen the championship races taken away from them.
The World Superbike championship remains in a state of flux, despite the good news emerging today about the 2014 grid (Feelracing taking on the Ducati factory team, MV Agusta expanding into World Superbikes, and Michel Fabrizio joining Grillini).
The Superbike Commission met at Valencia to agree further rule changes to the series for 2014, as part of the push to revitalize the series. Some of the rules are cost-cutting measures, others are aimed at making the series a more attractive TV package, while some are aimed at providing a more homogenous set of basic rules between the World Superbike and MotoGP series.
The biggest change – and the change that will be mourned the most – is the loss of the current three-stage Superpole qualifying format. Instead of having three Superpole sessions, with the slowest riders being dropped after each session, World Superbikes is to adopt a system similar to MotoGP, where the fastest riders in free practice go straight through to the second and decisive qualifying session, the rest having a second chance in a first qualifying session.
Tucked away in the Friday press release from the World Superbike Commission, along with other changes to the technical and sporting regulations, was the news that only sixteen bikes would be eligible to compete in Superpole qualifying. In the 2010 season, the fastest 20 riders during the qualifying practices competed to move on to Superpole 2 and 3 to vie for the pole position for the Sunday races.
With the lower numbers of entries this past season, many if not sometimes all of the riders gained entry into the first Superpole session. This coming, 2011, season, only the sixteen fastest riders will be in the first session of Superpole, with the slowest four getting knocked out of the running for Superpole 2 (allowing the fastest twelve to move onto Superpole 2).