WorldSBK To Hold 3 Races Each Weekend In 2019 - 1 Race Saturday, 2 Races Sunday

The FIM and Dorna today announced that from 2019, the WorldSBK class will see action in three races at each event. A sprint race is to be added on Sunday morning, in addition to the two full-length races held on Saturday and Sunday. 

The addition of a sprint race will mean a revised race schedule for each WorldSBK weekend, with races moved to different time slots to make room for the races. Race 1 will be held on Saturday, as it currently is, but the start has been moved back to 2pm European time, which is the more traditional time for racing, and the slot in which MotoGP also races. On Sunday, Race 2 will be a sprint race, starting at 11am, followed by Race 3, the normal length race, at 2pm.

The realignment of the race start times will help race organizers, who felt that the racing day was too short, with many fans leaving immediately after the WorldSBK class was finished. A longer race schedule is meant to give fans more value for their ticket money. The start time shift has been made possible by the changes to the F1 schedule, which now starts their races at 3:15pm European time, opening up that 2pm slot for both WorldSBK and MotoGP.

Though the schedule switch had been widely trailed, the FIM and Dorna press release raises more questions than answers. There is no mention of how the grid is to be set for the Sunday races, for example, and whether the current format with the grid for Race 2 being set in part by the results in Race 1 will be maintained, either for Race 2, or Race 3. There is no mention of whether Race 2 will have an impact on the grid. 

More importantly - and more interestingly - there is no mention of either the duration nor the points distribution for the sprint race. We have no idea whether the current Grand Prix system - 25-20-16-13-11-10, then 1 point less for each position down to 15th place - will be maintained for the sprint race. If it is, then it would send points tallies for the season through the roof, but it would not necessarily mean that the title would decided earlier. The points differentials would be bigger, but there would still be a lot of points on the table at the end of the season, with 75 points on offer each weekend, if the system were to be maintained as it is.

There is also no word on how long a sprint race is supposed to be. At the moment, WorldSBK races are roughly 90-100km in length, so for example 21 laps of Assen. The WorldSSP300 class has races of between 50 and 60km, or 12 laps of Assen. We have no clue as to whether the WorldSBK sprint race would be longer or shorter than that. Make the race too short, and it leaves little time for riders to escape their grid positions. Make it too long and it is hard to see how the outcome would be any different to a normal race.

There is also the question of additional risk. The experience of races shortened due to red flags is that they tend to be far more hectic affairs, with riders taking more risks. Will riders take more risks, making them more likely to crash, if they  know there is a second, full length race on Sunday afternoon? That question will most likely only become apparent when the racing starts.

The reason for adding a third race is simple. Dorna is trying to increase the popularity of the series, and raise interest by making it more exciting. Whether this is the correct path or not is not immediately obvious.

The FIM / Dorna press release appears below:


Three races set to be introduced into WorldSBK race format in 2019

New era for the premier class on the horizon

Looking ahead to 2019, FIM and Dorna WSBK Organization have announced some updates to the 2019 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship race day schedule, which will welcome three races held over one weekend for the first time in the series history.

Sticking with the now traditional Race One on Saturday at 14.00h, this will open the weekend and will be the same duration. For the first time ever, Sunday will see the dawn of a short sprint race format at 11.00h. The weekend will conclude for the WorldSBK class with Race Three at 14.00h with usual duration, for all rounds held inside Central European Time.

Preparing for what is set to be a sensational weekend full of pure WorldSBK action, Dorna WSBK Organization and the FIM are working alongside riders, teams, manufacturers, circuits, broadcasters and sponsors to ensure the best format is decided throughout the 2019 season. Nail-biting and enthralling races will be guaranteed as we welcome the WorldSBK weekend into a brand-new era with a whole new experience for fans and viewers the world over.

Daniel Carrera, WorldSBK Executive Director explains: “To bring in a third ‘sprint race’ into the WorldSBK format for 2019 is something we have been planning for a long time now, so we are delighted to see the plans coming together. We are committed to bringing exciting races to the fans year on year, and we think the addition of a sprint race will add to the WorldSBK experience. We are continuing to work on the final adjustments and hope to bring more details in the near future.”

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Comments

As with all major changes, this will affect the record books, making every year previously incomparable to this one. You can no longer directly compare points claimed in the 2019 championship with any other, or race starts, or … so many other statistics some of us quite enjoy.

Total votes: 28

If there is still only the same guy on the same bike winning the vast majority of the time it doesn't matter whether they have 2, 3 or 100 races. What is missing for the fans is competitiveness.

Total votes: 52

In our house we've taken to calling him Yawn-ny Rea. He seems a good fellow, but puh-lease can we get some competition. Two races on Sunday was better as others have noted.

Total votes: 20

If they want to make SBK more exciting (and thus draw more fans) all they need to do is force Jonny Rea to Moto GP and make sure he has a factory ride with one of the top 3.

Other than that they're just going to be handing him the record for the most wins in a season, assuming he doesn't get it this year.

Total votes: 18

That’s too much risk for injury to the riders.  2 races are sufficient.  I love racing but I don’t have all weekend to sit in front of a tv, other things to do, especially my own riding.  I loathe the qualifying changes, and this.  

Total votes: 28

Agree brickTop,  bring back 2 races sunday as well. Who's gunna risk a Sprint race if a Championship is at stake ?

Total votes: 9

First thing I did was look at the calander and no, it's not April 1st.  

I don't understand the point of adding a short WSBK sprint race. Why not add a sprint in some different class?  Perhaps a 1000cc supersport sprint? Perhaps a privateer WSBK sprint?  Perhaps riders on smaller machines could race WSBK bikes?  Like a learning class sprint race?  

This just seems odd

Total votes: 19

One thing I never understood is how riders in MotoGP complain there're too many races on the calendar, it's too exhausting, yet SBK has had 2 (now 3) races per weekend.   I never hear SBK riders mention a grueling schedule.   I guess it's the number of rounds, not the # of races that matters.   Either that, or riding a MotoGP bike is significantly more exhausting than riding a SBK.

Total votes: 25

when Bayliss first started GP in 03 he said he was bummed they didn’t get another race!

Total votes: 23

So instead of just admitting that doing one Saturday race and one Sunday race was a bad idea, they prefer to dig themselves deeper and come up with ways to make the format even worse, as opposed to just going back to the proven and popular model of two Sunday races?

What exactly is a sprint race anyway when the races are already only 40 minutes long? Some car series have 40 min sprint races, with the main race closer to 2 hours, so this makes a little more sense. Having 3 races also dilutes the value of each race - in MotoGP having a couple DNFs can be disastrous to your championship, so each race is that much more important. 

 

Total votes: 24

Dilutes the whole thing. Just go back to 2 on Sunday with superpole the draw for Saturday. If they really want a "3rd race", have a dash for cash on Saturday after quals. Top 5 in a 3 lap sprint. I think we used to call those dash for crash, or was it crash for cash?

Total votes: 21

I can see little point in this.  To echo an earlier sentiment, Rea will just win more points every weekend.  What's the difference in 2 boring races versus 3?  A mixed-up grid and rule changes didn't even help, so why this?  Maybe if the sprint race was the last stage of superpole, that'd be more fun to watch.

Every motorsport who needs to increase competitiveness should use a system similar to MotoGP.  The concessions plus the standard parts have worked very well and don't lock newcomers into an impossible situation.

Total votes: 19

That was the main diffentiator from MotoGP, and it made it worthwhile paying to ride out and watch in person.

As BrickTop rightly states, there are other things to do at the weekend. A decent days racing please, not two stretched-out schedules.

They're taking a leaf out of the 'The Hobbit' - a small event stretched beyond breaking point to 3 installments. :-)

Total votes: 38

Crikey, Brno off the schedule next year, what are they thinking. Playing around with the program for each weekend's racing. European rounds will have a different schedule to the flyaways.

Kyalami coming back seems like the one good idea they have come up with.

I still cannot access the 2019 WSBK calendar, I blame my shonky phone for that. I can't even see the calendars in motomatters, when I try I get taken back to the front page.

Does anyone know the dates for Imola WSBK 2019 or if Brno WSBK is on the calendar next year ? Please let me know ta.

What about moving some rounds to November when there isnt much bike racing on, sorry I don't get it.

Total votes: 23

The final superbike round this weekend & still no calendar for next year. Also looks very unlikely Kyalami will have a round in 2019.

World SuperStock championship. Who wants to hire a rider for next year before knowing what's happening?

Total votes: 14

I mean, what is the point? Sunday only is better, turn up and watch the race card.

Total votes: 22