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.
In its rules update, the SBK Commission decreed that teams and manufacturers may fit aerodynamic components (e.g. winglets) to their superbikes so long as the winglets are fitted to the homologated motorcycle.
As such, the announcement opens the door for motorcycle manufacturers to offer winglets on production models, in order to gain an edge on the race track. This notion gains even more steam, if further changes occur to the WorldSBK electronics package.
With talk of a spec-ECU for the World Superbike Championship ever-looming, manufacturers will have to look for other ways to gain an edge over the competition.
As we have seen in the MotoGP Championship, which already runs a spec-ECU, aerodynamics have become a large focus for development, with teams using aerodynamics to supplement electronics when it comes to front-end lift and stability.
On the production side, there has already been some speculation that Ducati’s 1,000cc V4 superbike, which is expected to debut late next year, and may have MotoGP-inspired aerodynamics.
Additionally, Aprilia has made winglets available on the track-only Factory Works version of the Aprilia RSV4 RF superbike. Which brand will be the first to offer winglets on a production machine though, remains to be seen.
Kawasaki has already shown an interest in winglets as well, with the supercharged Kawasaki Ninja H2R (shown above) getting a fair amount of aerodynamic consideration to tame its 300hp+ engine.
Where this will all lead, it is not clear. It is too late in the development process of the production motorcycles to see new fairing shapes for the 2018 season, but for 2019…well, things could get very interesting. As we’re fond of saying, time will tell.