As the 2013 World Superbike season ended, the question was how the series, now owned by Dorna, could once more fill the grids. With some races rewarding every finisher with points, while the cheaper Supersport and Superstock championships raced with full grids, it was clear that more seats were needed.
One part of the solution was the new EVO class. Essentially Superbikes with Superstock engines, EVO bikes are much cheaper and, from 2015, will be the standard specification of all bikes, and over a third of the full-time entries in 2014 are EVO bikes, with familiar riders taking some of the seats. Another part of the solution was the addition of several new and returning manufacturers to the series. Alongside Ducati, Aprilia, Honda, BMW, Suzuki and Kawasaki, we now have MV Agusta, Buell and, hopefully, Bimota bringing the number of marques to nine.
A new weekend schedule has been brought in, along with new qualifying rules, details are available here, with the new qualifying bringing World Superbike qualifying into line with the system used in MotoGP, for better or worse, and the Sunday races are timed to allow World Superbike not to clash with other motorsports events, with a view to increasing the audience. Along with the schedule change, Dorna has introduced a video streaming package for those without access to a broadcast of the events.
Kawasaki Racing Team returns with both Tom Sykes (1) and Loris Baz (76). World Champion Sykes will be wearing the number one plate on his bike, and he was characteristically quick in testing, with the Kawasaki looking like one of the strongest packages. The green bike is also a popular choice with EVO entries and the team fields a third rider on an EVO-spec ZX-10R.