The FIM and Dorna have agreed on a new entry class for the World Superbike championship. A Supersport 300 championship has been created to house the burgeoning market of lightweight sports machines, such as the Yamaha YZF-R3 and the KTM RC390.
The concept for the class came about after consultation with manufacturers. Motorcycle manufacturers have seen sales of 600cc supersports bikes plummeting, while sales of lightweight machines have been booming. More and more manufacturers have been entering the class, though each with slightly different machines and different engine capacities.
That presents the series with its first major challenge: balancing different motorcycle concepts against one another, while still ensuring that racing remains affordable. For 2017, four machines have been homologated: the Yamaha YZF-R3, the KTM RC390, the Honda CBR500R (previously raced in the European Junior Cup) and the Kawasaki Ninja 300, one of the first bikes to be launched in the segment.
Performance balancing the concepts will initially be done via minimum weights and maximum revs, with adjustments made by agreement in the Superbike Commission, the governing body of the series. In keeping with previous performance balancing concepts, such a decision is only likely to be taken if one bike is either obviously dominating or lagging severely behind.
The bikes to be raced must remain very close to stock. The engines and frames must remain virtually unaltered, with only the removal of secondary throttle valves permitted. Electronics must be either the stock kit fitted, or a separate, homologated race kit from the manufacturer, or a Dorna-provided special Supersport kit. Datalogging is severely limited, as are changes to the suspension. Exhaust may be changed, but must retain the same number of silencers in the same position as on the road bike.
Although personal anecdotes bear no relation to real data, I noticed a very large number of Yamaha YZR-R3s in Germany, when I traveled to the Austria and Brno rounds of MotoGP by motorcycle. It felt like it was the second most common bike I came across, after BMW's ubiquitous GS.
Below is the announcement from Dorna, plus a link to the current set of regulations:
New FIM Supersport 300 World Championship Set to Begin in 2017
FIM and Dorna WSBK Organisation announce the creation of the WorldSSP 300 Championship for 2017
This new production-based platform is designed to be the new beginner class for the WorldSBK Championship, feeding the higher categories with new talents in the near future. This class will be a perfect window for the various manufacturers to showcase their new range of lightweight 300 sport bikes that are emerging in the marketplace. The category is devoted to building rider potential and discovering new talents worldwide, with a minimum rider entry age of 15.
“This new platform will be the perfect environment for developing future talent,” said Vito Ippolito, President of FIM. “The intention of WorldSSP 300 is to create a benchmark for National Championships to follow. We want to offer an environment that is regulated and relatively equal in which future talent can grow, and where manufacturers can accompany young riders as they take their first steps towards stardom.”
“The focus is to have an affordable Series for these young competitors,” said Javier Alonso, WorldSBK Executive Director. “There has been great interest for low-capacity motorcycles in this sport and the new WorldSSP 300 class strives to offer that. It will be promoted by Manufacturers as an easily accessible championship, the best possible platform to grow future stars where Manufacturers can accompany riders from an early age and as they progress through their career.