Erik Buell Racing in World Superbike for 2014?

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While debuting its EBR 1190RX street bike last week at the AIMExpo, Erik Buell Racing announced its intent to begin racing in the World Superbike Championship. At the time, details were light on that intent, though while talking to Greg White, Geoff May let it slip that he and another rider would be forming an American team entry into WSBK for next season.

Using the EBR 1190RX as its racing platform, Erik Buell Racing would be the first American marques to compete in WSBK since the series’ inception in 1988. However one of the big unanswered questions for Erik Buell Racing is how the company plans on meeting homologation requirements.

The relevant 2013 FIM regulation is Technical Regulations Appendix § 1.2.1:

A manufacturer that requests homologation for a motorcycle for Superbike, Supersport or Superstock, must observe the following rules:

  • The manufacturer must have produced at least a quantity of 125 motorcycles prior to the homologation inspection (this number may be adjusted upwards in 2013, for 2014 models). The motorcycle must be on sale to the public at that time. 
  • The minimum quantity of 500 units must be reached by the 30th June of the current year. 
  • The minimum quantity of 1000 units must be reached by the 31st of December of the current year. 
  • The minimum quantity of 2000 units must be reached by the 31st of December of the following year.

In relation to Erik Buell Racing, the FIM’s rules effectively mean that before Erik Buell Racing can even begin the homologation process, 125 units of the EBR 1190RX need to be built first (the rules above are for the 2013 season, so the provision of adjusting the pre-requisite higher applies to 2015 model year bikes being homologated for the 2014 season).

Once those 125 models have been deemed to meet homologation requirements for the 2014 season, Erik Buell Racing has several more production milestones it must reach in order to stay homologated for the season. The first is a June 30th deadline, where 500 “for sale” EBR 1190RX street bikes must be ready for sale to consumers. EBR must also meet  similar hurdles by December 31st 2014 (1,000 total units), and by December 31st 2015 (2,000 total units).

World Superbike provisions do not factor in actual sales, which should help the American brand, as it has had trouble moving its $40,000+ EBR 1190RS superbikes, but the road ahead isn’t an easy one for Erik Buell Racing if it wants to be racing in WSBK for 2014.

The biggest hurdle will be making the initial 125 unit provision for homologation inspection. Erik Buell Racing is still a small company, and has been hand-building its 1190RS machines to-date. With the first WSBK test at Jerez already done, the company is losing valuable time in developing its racing platform for the 2014 season.

With just four months until the start of the 2014 World Superbike Championship season, Erik Buell Racing will have to produce close to one motorcycle a day to meet a race day deadline, a tall order for a small company. To make matters worse, that pace will have to increase almost three-fold in order to meet the FIM’s second and third volume levels in order to maintain homologation. The short of it is, the biggest key to EBR’s racing future is the company’s ability to build an effective production line in a short timespan.

Surely with Erik Buell Racing’s AIMExpo announcement, the volume requirements, and what goes into those volume figures, has already been assessed and planned for in EBR’s future growth. Luckily, Erik Buell Racing will have the backing of minority shareholder Hero MotoCorp, which will be the World Superbike team’s main racing sponsor, as it was in AMA Pro Racing.

It’s not clear at this time if Erik Buell Racing will be racing under WSBK’s new EVO class rules. If so, it would be an easier path for the American company’s quest to be competitive on the world racing stage, not to mention a smarter move development-wise as WSBK will be use only the EVO class rules from 2015 and onward.

For Geoff May and his yet unnamed teammate, the hurdles will be centered around developing a new race bike, though thankfully May has experience on the EBR 1190RS, which should be sufficiently similar to the EBR 1190RX to be a quick-study. May will also have to contend with learning the World Superbike circuits, a not-so-simple task in its own right. As for May’s teammate, we can only speculate on whom it will be. Though, it will be interesting to see if Erik Buell Racing chooses to go with an all-American rider lineup.

One thing is for certain though, if EBR can make the jump through all of the FIM’s hoops, it will be great to see an American presence in the World Superbike series. Interest for WSBK in the United States will surely benefit from Erik Buell Racing’s presence…now if we could just do something about its availability on TV.

Source: Erik Buell Racing