Infront, Dorna, Bridgepoint: Where The Coup Came From, And What Next For World Superbikes?

Sunday is going to be a big day for World Superbikes at Magny-Cours. Not just because the 2012 title is to be settled in what could be a fascinating showdown, helped in no small part by the weather, but perhaps most of all because on Sunday morning at 9am local time, Infront Motor Sports CEO will speak to the media for the first time since the announcement that Bridgepoint, the private equity firm which owns both Infront and MotoGP rights owners Dorna, has decided to bring both series under a single umbrella, and that umbrella is to be Dorna.

That news has sent a shockwave through the motorcycle racing world. The World Superbike paddock is hardest hit of all: the mood there is somber, with everyone from Infront staff to team mechanics fearing the outcome of what amounts to a coup by Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta. Optimists are few, especially as Ezpeleta is one of the most reviled characters among denizens of the WSBK paddock, because of what he represents: the perceived arrogance of the Grand Prix paddock, and a culture which is anathema to everything which World Superbikes stand for. MotoGP is truly the Beatles to WSBK's Rolling Stones.

There is some justification to their fears. WSBK, in the person of Paolo Flammini, has been holding out on requests from MotoGP's organizers to impose further restrictions on development of the WSBK machines, bringing them much more in line with the Superstock-style regulations proposed by FIM to harmonize regulations at the national level. He does so with good reason: the manufacturers currently racing in World Superbikes have made it very clear that they have no desire to see any further restrictions on tuning and bike modification put into place. Given WSBK's increasing reliance on manufacturer teams - though blessed with six different manufacturers, teams without some form of manufacturer backing are finding it increasingly hard to survive, leading to shrinking grids and gaps opening between the factory-backed and privateer squads - keeping the factories happy is becoming ever more important. WSBK does at least have the freedom to change the rules without factory interference, something which was until recently unthinkable in MotoGP.

But Flammini has a list of further crimes to his name, at least seen from the perspective of Dorna. Selling the rights to organize a race at the Buddh International circuit in India at a bargain basement price, right in the slot where Dorna had hoped to set a MotoGP race, was not well received in Dorna. India is a crucial motorcycle market - millions of new units are sold there every year, and offering a marketing opportunity to the factories still in MotoGP is one thing Dorna is trying to do to placate the factories as Dorna imposes a spec ECU and a rev limit on the class in 2014.

In response to those changes, Honda is threatening to leave MotoGP and concentrate on World Superbikes once the spec ECU - Honda's biggest bugbear - is introduced. The first signs of a shift are already visible: HRC will be providing engines, chassis updates and most especially, electronics systems for the Ten Kate Honda team from 2013 onwards, signs that Honda is preparing a full factory effort in the near future. That is most likely to come when Honda introduces its new V4 sportsbike based on its current RC213V MotoGP machine. Those close to that project consistently use one phrase to describe that bike: game changer. That effort represents a massive shift in the balance of power between the two series.

And so Dorna - or rather, Carmelo Ezpeleta - has seen fit to act. Though sources report that this move has been several months in the making, the timing of the announcement is at the very least remarkable. Normally, a major announcement such as this would be made in December, when Dorna, InFront and the FIM have enough distance between themselves and the media to handle enquiries in their own time. Instead, it came a few days before the finale to the World Superbike season, and ahead of the annual season-ending dinner, a special affair this year celebrating 25 years of the championship.

Was the timing of the announcement a direct insult, an attempt at getting the Flamminis and Paolo Ciabatti, Director of the WSBK championship, to hand in their notices in a fit of rage? Possibly. A clear-out of the top management level would make it easier for Dorna to seize control of the series. However, losing senior management would also leave Dorna with a problem: they do not have the staff ready to step into the Flamminis' shoes, and any move which looks like a coup would see an immediate end to any hopes of cooperation with Dorna from the rest of the paddock.

This weekend's WSBK meeting is not the only event of significance in the coming days. Next week, upon his arrival in Japan for the upcoming MotoGP round at Motegi, Carmelo Ezpeleta is scheduled to have meetings with senior staff from all three Japanese factories looking at competing in the 2014 championship about the technical regulations to be introduced from that season onwards. It is believed that Ezpeleta will explain to the factories that a rev limit set at 15,500 RPM and a heavily controlled standard electronics package are to be introduced, whether the factories like the idea or not. This move is necessary both to close the massive performance gap between the factories and the private teams - both satellite and CRT - and reducing the costs in the championship which have spiraled to unsustainable levels. Ezpeleta's message is simple: you are welcome to compete, but you will compete under our regulations, as the regulations which you drew up drove costs completely out of control.

From the outside, the announcement by Bridgepoint that Dorna would be in charge of both the MotoGP and World Superbike series looks like it has its roots in a conflict which has little or nothing to do with WSBK itself. WSBK is caught in the crossfire between Honda and Dorna, over their battle for the soul of the MotoGP series. Is it a technological arms race, as HRC would like to see it, or is it entertainment for the masses, as Dorna is trying to position it, in an attempt to boost the revenues from MotoGP and prepare itself for the day when Valentino Rossi finally hangs up his helmet.

That does not mean that the Flamminis and their confidantes will not take umbrage at their treatment, or even that their treatment was intended as a gross insult. How Paolo Flammini sees the situation, and whether he intends to stay on to run the World Superbike series, as the Bridgepoint press release implied he would, we will find out tomorrow. Much will surely depend on exactly how Dorna intends to change the series.

Quite honestly, there is little about World Superbikes that even needs changing. In contrast to MotoGP, where Bridgestone are supplying tires that are detrimental to the spectacle, Pirelli provide rubber to the teams that allows the riders to put on a real show. The Superpole format works well, especially the twist of only giving riders two sets of qualifiers for three Superpole sessions, and the two-race format on Sunday is a massive hit with motorcycle racing fans. WSBK's only real weakness is an inability to market the series as it could be, and to sell itself short when it comes to TV rights. Several parties have tried to secure rights to supply internet streaming for the World Superbike races, but the current TV contracts make that almost impossible to secure. With better TV coverage and some form of internet streaming of the races, allowing audiences to follow the series in territories where the races are not shown live on TV, these gaping holes could be quickly fixed.

What World Superbikes does not need is a MotoGP makeover: the accessibility of the paddock and riders - paddock access tickets are sold at a very reasonable price, and WSBK riders will stop and chat freely with fans - is one of the series' most endearing features, and the WSBK paddock feels like a small Italian village, where everyone knows each other and rivalries are relatively petty. MotoGP may generate a lot more money, but that money serves mainly to create distance between the riders and the fans, and the paddock is a good deal more business-like and, yes, just plain cold.

The risk of a Dorna intervention is that they kill the soul of World Superbikes, sending it over the edge into a terminal decline. That is a massive risk to take, and could be a very expensive one indeed, if circuits and TV companies were to start suing Dorna should the WSBK series die. The smartest move Dorna could make is to leave WSBK well alone, seeking only ways of extracting more sponsorship and money from the series.

That, however, requires the management team to stay in place. On Sunday morning, we shall find out whether Paolo Flammini is inclined to lend a helping hand to the organization which he set WSBK up against ever since MotoGP was taken over by Dorna back in 1992. There will be plenty of gazing at tea leaves tomorrow.

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Comments

Were a bunch of pussies. I'd take The Stones any day. I love MotoGP for all it is, but prefer Sundays with a double header of racing packed to the gills with "racing."

And Carmelo seems to have turned The Dilbert principle on its head - for those not in the States, The Dilbert principle sees the most incompetent person repeatedly promoted so as to get them out of any given department. Somehow he ends up now at the top of two World Championships. Unreal.

Great write up by the way, David.

re: "The Dilbert principle sees the most incompetent person repeatedly promoted so as to get them out of any given department. Somehow he ends up now at the top of two World Championships. Unreal."

ironic. we would think this a joke, but there's actually ALOT of this going around. yes, even here a dozen years into the 21st century. if i hadn't witnessed it myself, i would've never believed (on paper) that the "dilbert principle" exists... and yet to varying degrees it DOES.

I don't see how neutering WSBK will improve MotoGP.

MotoGP need to fix their own house first and that includes getting off the teat that is Valentino Rossi. On that day, MotoGP will get back to reality and start make sane and rational decisions and build up a solid fan base (not fanboi's).

Dorna also need to make a coherent series from Moto3 to Moto2 to MotoGP. The dual engines of Moto3 (HRC & KTM) points to a major failure (whilst the current racing is superb).

WSBK needs to fix it's marketing and shambolic race scheduling. Far too many delays to the schedule, red flags etc. Also a series pandering to Ducati. What other manufacturer would (or could) contemplate building race spec bikes like Ducati does? Production bikes they are not. Even the BMW S1000rr in comparison is quite a conventional bike.

In comparison, F1 has prospered with a very controlled series and has an international flavour. MotoGP is FAR too Spanish orientated. WSBK is FAR too Italian orientated. This is to the detriment of motorcycle racing. The Spanish and Italian press are culpable also.

F1 is run by the English and has a broad international participation and following and a better established fan base.

Motorcycling needs to look further. Hermann Tilke circuits are killing the show. Great motorcycle circuits have overtaking chances in the last few corners; Sachsenring, Phillip Island, Donnington, Montmelo.

When all is said and done, first and foremost a strong economic series is needed (controlling costs and boosting revenues), then a strong show.

The last thing WSB needs is HRC rolling into the paddock with a full on factory assault, bringing their RACE SPECIFIC electronics and ramping up costs to compete there like they have in GP.

How are corner by corner TC and engine braking strategies, to conserve a limited amount of fuel, EVER going to be relevant to what we ride on the road?
It's just not practical or neccessary.

On road bikes you get a pre-set power switch..1,2,3,4 OFF and apparently most riders who have bikes with this capability just leave it alone. In a lot off cases you have to stop to change mode. Are you going to load a specific map for a specific journey? What if the you have to take a detour? and in any case there is a petrol station round the corner.

A slipper clutch on the road is just bling, and will do if you're into bragging rights.

Assuming I'm wrong..who's going to pay for all these superfluous toys?

Trickle down?..bullshit.

Superbike rules need to be standardised globally so it can get back to it's roots. Where TEAMS run bikes, whatever brand they like, and we get to see local wildcards back on WC grids.

There's only one full-on factory effort..Aprilia. Other brands have varying levels of factory support (BMW 2013) and are farmed out to TEAMS. Let's keep it that way.

The BSB model is perfect with great racing. Very limited electronics that are real world, giving riders the chance to make a big difference. Too much power, not enough traction. It's cheap as chips too..comparitively.

As long as GP has the faster lap, it will remain #1 but it too needs to make competing more attractive for OTHER manufacturers, who are reluctant to enter at present as they haven't got a cat in hell's chance of catching up with the present incumbents.
It needs to DUMB DOWN tech to DUMB UP the riders. Man and machine..not machine and man.

Why the gloom? Why does Flammini need to be there? This is the last race, they have all winter to get new people in.

GP upset over India? Tough..get your finger out and cut a deal. Where has China gone?

Bridgestone to blame for the spectacle?

Dorna sued for killing WSB? ..C'mon.

This LEAVE WSBK ALONE piece, sounds like HRC propaganda to me, so they've got a bolthole for their geeks to play and an exit from GP if they need it.

If you can destroy them openly, then bring to you and damage it from inside, the simply conception of the idea is disgusting, Dorna must fix the problems of his own series not causing damages to the neighboors series, even being owned by Bridgepoint would be more logical if dorna started a revival for MotoGP. rather than starting in the weird idea than ruining SBK would turn attention again to MotoGP.

¿But what the fan received? a takeover, only one organization structure and all we know than Mr's ezpeleta arrogance and intolerant behaviour is the most damaging factor than MotoGP are suffering in contribution to all the manufacturers has do in the past.

We have enough of experimentation thanks by ezpeleta in MotoGP, now he want to make crazy experiments in SBK, and his first freak action will be change key people in infront and that is kick the flammins out, to put his people in infront.

Bad day for Motorcycle Fans.

:(

If dorna have intentions to put SBK rules under the concept of BSB Evo rules, then are welcome. but if it the case of freak experimentation then much motorcycle fans would disagree. lets see what happen.

As a new fan to MotoGP and WSBK, and subscriber to MotoGP.com video pass, the one thing I find annoying about WSBK is the (IMO) shoddy TV presentation and lack of internet support that MotoGP has. Granted, $130 seemed like a lot to shell out at the beginning of the MotoGP season this year for the video pass, but I must say I have THOROUGHLY enjoyed video on the site. I never seem to be able to watch the races real time (except for the Laguna Seca race that I attended), so the No-spoiler site is a godsend. Also I think Gavin and Nick do an outstanding job. While I get both MotoGP and WSBK on SpeedTV. I always watch the races on MotoGP.com as it airs the entire show from Fri-Sun. The WSBK web site is a bad joke compared to the MotoGP site and the TV presentation feels like it's two Aussies doing an illegal podcast from a broken down van-- yikes. This REALLY influences my enjoyment of the series in a negative way. Same with AMA series-- too much like hillbilly Nascar. Hope that doesn't sound snobish, but that's the way it comes off to me. I really hope the WSBK stays the same, as it would be a shame if all the pluses of the series David mentioned could be in jeopardy. For me, it would be nice if some of the presentation were improved upon... not saying Dorna would actually do that, but it would help make me, for one, more of a fan.

Welcome to the fun world of motorcycle racing fandom. The more you watch racing, the more cynical you get, but you'll always come back for more.

You're just the type of new fan Dorna is looking for. That's not meant as an insult at all by the way. Your points are spot on, MotoGP TV production is clearly head and shoulders above. Some complain about the drama shots (garage shots of crew or rider girlfriends), but generally they show the hot girlfriends/wives, which is pretty much all of them :) All the nice HD cameras they put on the bikes, the gyros, they're the nuts.

Yeah, if Dorna just cleans they're presentation up a bit and just does some minor tweaks to the rules they'll be better off... big unknown though.

Awesome article David... nice insight into what's going on, you must be talking to the right people.

"and WSBK riders will stop and chat freely with fans - is one of the series' most endearing features"

Okay, so this is the only part I could take exception with.

I went to WSBK Miller last year, and granted, it rained most of the time, and probably none of the riders wanted to be there, but still. I saw most of the riders in golf carts zippin by most of the time, but they were just going from one truck to another. I got Melandri to wait before he took off on a scooter with some unbelievably hot model (not his girlfriend) and he signed my hat without saying one word and took off.

I'd say the nicest guy on the pit walk was Tom Sykes, who had his perma-grin on and was genuinely friendly and receptive.

The post-race interviews with the racers was really cool. They just put em on a makeshift little stage in the paddock area and talk for 5-10 minutes. You definitely get a feel of a smaller series race.

I'd say the most surprising guy was Max Biaggi. I ran into him at the airport right after the race, nobody had a clue who he was, and I was just standing there staring at him... it was kind of strange :) But I chatted with him for a few seconds, said too bad about his luck at the races (he crashed), and thanked him for the good entertainment... he was really nice and easy going... not like I expected at all. His on/off air personalities are completely different.

Anyway it was a sweet weekend, but I didn't see the overall friendliness of the paddock... maybe Miller's too tame, but you can't beat the view (One of Scott Jones' shots of Miller is my favorite screen saver), and it's as accessible as Indy.

WSBK and MotoGP were encroaching on eachothers territory, and thereby eroding the unique selling points of each series. These days I often hear people calling for the series' to be merged into a single championship, which as a bike racing fan I find ridiculous. Why would you want to halve the amount of racing on TV, when both series could co exist easily if the regulations were tweaked slightly. For years people have also been calling for electronics to be limited in GP, when no such restriction exists in WSBK - where the influence of GP style aftermarket electronics is increasingly impacting the racing and costs. How is it logical to limit electronics in a prototype championship but leave them wide open in the production based championship? Flammini has always coveted the 'premier' status GP occupies and has therefore been happy to make it difficult for GP to thrive by reducing costs, first by challenging the CRT concept legally and now by allowing costs in WSBK to escalate with electronics. No that both series are under the same stewardship I hope to see SBK return to its production roots by banning aftermarket electronics completely (Dorna has shown the EVO rules in BSB work well, though a bike ought to be able the electronics they come with stock). The WSBK handicap system needs overhauling too but thats another discussion. WSBK has had an excellent year racing wise but these changes would lay the foundations for coming years in terms of costs, parity and participation.

Then GP can FINALLY make the changes that need to be made and which fans have been calling for, reduce electronics and costs and bring back the manufacturers. In short, GP needs manufacturers to thrive, WSBK does not.

You said it yourself WSBK has had a great year of racing.

Aprilia, Kawasaki, BMW. They don't just bring parts and support to the table, they bring money. Money that's needed to just run a team including attracting top talent to run the team and ride the bike.

You take factories out of WSBK and you take a lot of money from teams. They'd have to fight harder to get money from sponsors that other teams rely on. You take factories out of WSBK, smaller teams would suffer.

Nobody wins by removing a source of cash from a series even WSBK. Dorna will be walking a fine line between improving the show for fans in both series, and keeping everybody with some skin in the game happy, including the factories.

I completely agree with you though that ideally WSBK should go more towards it's production based roots. That's Dorna's job to convince everybody... good luck to them.

The are not enough weekeds in a year to support some 33+ bike racing weekends without getting deep into nothern hemisphere winter and/or clashing with all the other racing in the world, most importantly, F1. That is a big reason why WSBK makes less money than it should. They keep clashing with all forms of racing all year long.

Ha I see Honda have already started their move in by replacing the KTM juniors.
I agree with wosideg, its all blinkered view of WSB that has gone on for years and let Honda disappear from GP and throw its wobbler there instead.
WSB has been in trouble for a few years now with no investment to make it better, so they handed it over to someone they thought could make it better and failed. Dwindling grids of 36 in 2006 and the the bragging of Flamini that it is the rules they put in place in 2002 that did this, to see them dwindle to 25 by the end of that season. Now we are at 21 with what is supposed to be (as the fans have bragged) "a series where you can go buy a bike from a shop and race it at world level" changing to "something the fans can relate to because they are based on the bikes they ride" I'm sure they are. Those will be the CRT equivalent wildcards 3 seconds a lap down like Grillini who have no electronic aids.
Things banned in GP are still used in WSB like active suspension and GPS ECU, GP bikes are not supposed to use anything found on a WSB bike but the WSB is riddled with GP technology.
The video of Flamini's press conference that is taking place during a practice and looks like a "send a message through the paddock so Dorna don't find out" reminds me so much of the last company I worked for when the were going bust but the MD telling us the company is good foundations because of him and will continue for years because of the steps he has taken.

"and WSBK riders will stop and chat freely with fans - is one of the series' most endearing features"

Is this the point where they nearly hit you with their scooter and then look at you as if you should not be walking around the public part of the track?
Really as I have said I know from twitter David you have a love for WSB but it is getting more blinkered, last week I said to you how long will Infront put up with WSB losing money over ridiculas low sanction fees and TV rights, well wasn't even a week. Did he act again like he appeared to do with Octagen (Interpublic) when he just took losses thinking his parent would swallow them?

Carmelo Ezpeleta, the CEO of Dorna©, the new regulatory body for the World Superbikes® championship, has announced a set of rule changes in the World Superbikes© championship for the upcoming 2013 season. These rules are supposed to remove entry barriers for teams wishing to enter the championship, and will thus ensure a healthy and competitive grid.
The first of the rule changes will impose a fuel-limit of 18 liters per bike for each race. This fuel limit is supposed to cut costs for the teams. The ever rising costs of petrol has meant that a substantial amount of money had to be spent for fuel in the past, a cost that will now be severely reduced. In addition, this measure will show that Dorna™ and motorcycle manufacturers take protection of the environment very seriously. Excempt from the fuel limit are only the bikes fielded by the manufacturer Kawasaki, because according to Dorna™ CEO Ezpeleta, these bikes with their characteristic color are "already green".
To further cut costs and make the series more appealing to potential competitors, a new class of bikes is to be introduced. These bikes will have the working title "WRT©". It is not yet clear what WRT® will stand for, but the acronym has promptly been dubbed as "Weird Rules Teams" by the press.
WRT™ bikes will have to use engines from the Superstock® class, but are only allowed to use 5 engines per season. While this means that the engines will actually have to last longer than they have to do now in the Superstock™ class, which will probably only be possible with a quite conservative state of tune, a number of performance balancing measures will be in place to make the WRT® bikes competitive. For example, the WRT™ bikes are excempt from the obligation to use fake headlights, and are allowed to use performance enhancing stickers instead, like tribals and racing stripes. A number of other measures are already being worked out, the rest will be made up on the fly by Dorna® CEO Ezpeleta™ as the season progresses.
While the suspense and entertainment in the World Superbikes™ series will probably never be able to reach that of MotoGP©, the pinnacle of motorcycle racing, Dorna™ CEO Ezpeleta© has announced a number of measures that will aim to match the entertainment value of the two series more closely.
To make the racing more entertaining, the World Superbikes® grid will see the introduction of mandatory pit stops. For each half of the race, only 9 liters of fuel will be allowed. WRT® teams will start with 7 liters of fuel, and will have two pit-stops, which means that they will be allowed to use 21 liters of fuel in total.
Pit stops will have to take at least 5 seconds, and the tires will have to be changed twice. The rear tire will have to be mounted to the front first, while the front tire is to be mounted to the rear, before the tires are allowed to be assembled in the correct order. Correct application of these rules will be monitored by the FIM™. Failure to abide by the rules will lead to severe punishments, at the moment penalties like having to ride circles in the parc ferme are discussed. These pit stops will introduce a much needed element of strategy into the World Superbikes® races.
To adopt the success of the spec tires used in the MotoGP© championship to World Superbikes®, the teams will be able to choose from two different compounds by the new spec tire supplier Bridgestone™ for each race weekend. These two compounds will be either wet tires, or so called "smooth tires®", which are basically wet tires with the thread pattern removed. With these new tires, Bridgestone© and Dorna® are hoping that the racing will be much more entertaining, because especially in hot conditions these tires can fail at any given moment.

Dorna© CEO Ezpeleta: "While it is clear that the racing in the World Superbikes™ championship will never be as close and entertaining than in MotoGP©, we hope that the new rules will make the racing in World Superbikes© much better and greatly enhance the entertainment value. We are sure that the new regulations will attract a great number of new sponsors, and will establish World Superbikes® as the second best series after MotoGP©".

You forgot: "All riders of Japanese-branded WSBK motorcycles will be required to wear shorts, sneakers w/o socks, a t-shirt whose back is to be emblazened w/ the phrase 'If you can read this, the b!tch fell off!' and a WWI-era replica helmet. In addition, they must also carry as a passenger a booty-shorts-clad person of the female persuasion who will be required to have undergone breast-enhancement surgery, be employed as an exotic dancer and must have 'issues' w/ her step-daddy 'visiting' her bedroom at night after her mother passed out due to excessive alcohol consumption at the strip club wherein her daughter is gainfully employed."

This rule, and this rule alone, will be responsible for a spectacular increase in viewing in my home country, the USofA f**k yeah!

Shame on you Honda! It's always your fault! David says that WSBK is caught in the crossfire between Honda and Dorna, over their battle for the soul of the MotoGP series and now Carmelo Ezpeleta wants to ruin this beautiful series. Shame on you! It's not Ezpeleta fault. Don't blame him. He has to do it! Honda is to blame.

>>The smartest move Dorna could make is to leave WSBK well alone, seeking only ways of extracting more sponsorship and money from the series.

Pretty shallow statment considering the situation. The only reason for Dorna to have control of WSB is to change the rules thereby squeezing Honda into a Dorna or nothing approach on their racing activities. WSB is merely a pawn for Dorna to put Honda in their place. Great use for a world championship race series. And if by _'extracting_ more sponsorship and money from the series' you means taking teams' private sponsors and moving them to MotoGP this really seems like a losing proposition for WSB teams and fans

Chris
http://moto2-usa.blogspot.com/

BSB is leading the world right now in terms of solid rules and regulations. TC is absent and the amount of high sides haven't increased. MYTH BUSTED!!!

WSBK should adopt the same rules as well as the AMA. Would make wild cards easy and when the national series and World Series ruleset is the same, that is a win win.

I've grown well tired of Honda bitching and moaning to get its' way. Electronics or bust is a shit direction to take.

Man do I miss the days of 4 stroke engines and minimal or absent TC. The bikes slid, the tires smoked, there was lots of passing, lots of battles, and I woke up very early every Sunday to watch.
Honda thinks electronics are more important than the fans or the racing. Maybe it's time for them to go home.

As a community of people who strive to be armchair pundits, can we please stop using 'Superstock' to describe changes to SBK regulations? There is nothing Superstock about the new regs in AMA or BSB. AMA is in the same technological vein as Supersport regulations, and BSB is a hybrid rulebook with WSBK chassis regulations (prototype swingarm) and Supersport-ish engine regulations. The spec-ECU is the wild card regulation in BSB. It defies FIM categorization.

Superstock is what the name suggests--motorcycles that are not far removed from production bikes, which are designed to run on pump gasoline at modest engine temperatures with production derived tires. Supersport allows airflow mods (port/polish), compression mods (cylinder head decking), and cam modifications. Though Supersport engines are comprised mainly of stock internals, they are race engines and they function like WSBK race engines, not Superstock engines. Supersport engines are not 'dumb' by any stretch, but the main difference between FIM Supersport rules and FIM Superbike rules is that the engine tuning is accessible to private teams. Under the current WSBK arrangement, the prototype engine internals are only available by restrictive lease covenants to select teams--similar to the satellite bike arrangement in MotoGP. Supersport regulations also allow frame modifications by adding materials like gussets and brackets (same as FIM Superbike), but Supersport does not allow prototype swingarms (FIM SBK does allow replacement swingarms).

If the organizers want to reduce costs and make the sport more accessible to privateers, Superstock is not the logical progression. Supersport would be the next stepping stone or some kind of hybrid rulebook between SBK and SS which allows equal access to racing parts. The skill of the rider and the technical savvy of team mechanics (to make engine/chassis mods) would ultimately decide the winner. Manufacturers can run factory teams if they wish, but they wouldn't be necessary.

Isn't this simply sport in a corporate world? Since Bridgepoint own both Infront and Dorna wouldn't they would be daft to let Honda play MotoGP off against WSB? And daft to allow one series to undercut the other when negotiating for slots in the calendar such as India and potentially TV and other rights too? And daft not to put Dorna in the lead when it is solely focused on motorcycle racing and Infront have a hundred and one other sporting interests amongst which WSB hardly gets a mention? Whether Ezpeleta is the right person in the long term to run the new show is another question, but now would not be the time to replace him, especially as Flammini has done himself and WSB (which isn't quite the idyllic series David suggests) no favours by playing his corporate cards like a novice.

First, let me say I love WSB. I love the varied engine sounds and bike design that are recognizably based on the street bikes. But WSB is getting too complex and too expensive. Why did Yamaha pull the factory team after winning? Why is Ducati only running an "assisted" team? Why did Triumph pull factory support of its super sport bike?
It's because of the crazy spiraling costs. When parts are leased to teams, it's merely one step to leased bikes. I knew world super bike was out of control three years ago when I saw the virgin park'n go triumph Daytona WSS bike for sale on eBay for 350,000. That bike was uncompetitive in WSS, yet one of the two machines was 350k. Not counting engines, parts, spares, travel, staff, racing in WSS is a multimillion dollar proposition. God knows what a winning effort in WSB would cost. Does WSB really need more than to watch Motogp to see what happens when factories have too much power and carte blanche.

¿Why Yamaha SBK leaved after having a good season with laverty in melandri one year ago? because for them the MotoGP team is more important, remembeer than Yamaha one year ago was going without title sponsor, for Ducati in some fonts dont confirmed Xerox didnt wanted to continue the sponsorship for the factory team, so ducati changed the plan and put a wealthy factory package to althea, than worked but the 1198 is a old model and frankly Ducati was with the priority to use the Panigale for 2013, so checa and davide was forced to use the previous model.

What SBK needs to copy is the BSB Evo class rules and mantain the good show, not freak experiments than ezpeleta and his people are converting with MotoGP, most people are afraid of what are ezpeleta's intentions, in MotoGP too many technology first and in second place dull and boring races. the bikes can be a marvel of engineering but if you cannot attract more money for create interest to the others manufacturers and create rules for mantain the interest in the participants, then why kawasaki and suzuki left, then the organizers are doing something wrong and that's is dorna fault.

But WSBK just delivered a wonderful season (Ok, Ducati was way too handicapped on weight) and MotoGP is way too expensive. CRTs cause more problems than they solve and are not the way to go IMO.

Dorna wants spec-ECUs and rev-limits to cut costs in MotoGP and possibly attract more manufacturers; Honda doesn't, and threatens to take their money to WSBK.

So Dorna takes over WSBK and will impose what? Spec-ECUs and rev-limiters, thus sticking it to Honda.

WSBK is just a pawn in the money war. Simple, huh.

re: "Dorna wants spec-ECUs and rev-limits to cut costs in MotoGP and possibly attract more manufacturers; Honda doesn't, and threatens to take their money to WSBK.

So Dorna takes over WSBK and will impose what? Spec-ECUs and rev-limiters, thus sticking it to Honda."

i've only been saying this battle has been brewing and would eventually come to a head. here it is playing out. however (comma), the reality is (as a manufacturer of kit) HONDA holds all the cards. the only person who doesn't seem to know this is dorna/ezpelata...? BIG RED is to grandprix what electricity was to the crippled apollo 13 spaceship. "POWER IS EVERYTHING...!" without honda there is no durable repsol sponsorship, without honda Motogp is gutted, without honda Moto2 is gutted FOR DAMN SURE, and without honda Moto3 is nearly gutted. they haven't been in worldsupers for a decade so it's not like they'll be missed. nakamoto sits on an ACE. carmelo getting his mitts on infront does NOTHING to alter this dynamic.

... that they already have done.

The more significant point is that if Honda is bigger than MotoGP, then MotoGP has been doomed from the start. Honda almost pulled out at the end of 2008, and another economic downturn, a shift in priorities, or even a new CEO could see them decide to pull out again, regardless of the technical regulations. If Honda were committed to prototype racing, they could start a series of their own, just as they threatened to with the MIC series in the US.

Whatever became of that series?

Let's hope Dorna learns from Julian Thomas' crew how working with the media can be done. Not with trying to ban and police every shred of digital media in motorsports, but by trying to make a series look as good as possible in this modern age. People at Dorna's digital division are still in the stone age on that subject.

Honda cares not a fig for the sport of motorcycle racing. It raced in the 1960s until it spent itself out of competition. How many Hondas were being raced, outside of the factory team, then? When it returned, it was in the era of tobacco sponsorship when it quickly learned to profit from FAT lease deals. How many Hondas are on the grid in MotoGP now? Then look at the Formula One series in the USA in the early 1980s. Once the AMA was persuaded to open it up from 750cc to allow 1025cc four-strokes, Honda built a handful of FWS1000 V4s, and apart from cheeky Kiwi Graeme Crosby sticking it to them at Daytona (on a 750cc two-stroke), Honda dominated, cheered on by the bought-and-paid-for American motorcycle media. Not learning from this, the AMA allowed Honda to run its RS750 V-twin in dirt-track. The AMA thought Honda was going to make lots of these available to privateers. Honda built five (5) RS750 dirt-trackers. These went on to dominate AMA dirt-track half-mile and mile racing, the crowds stopped coming and they damn near killed AMA dirt-track. Honda, who needs 'em! Go home. NOW.