The future of the World Superbike series is about to undergo a radical change. The EVO class to be introduced from next year onwards is to be the standard for all World Superbike machines from the 2015 season onwards.
As the WSBK grids have dwindled over the past four years, World Superbikes have been looking around at ways to stop the decline of the series. Former owners Infront were unsuccessful at stopping the rot, and now that the series is in the hands of Dorna, the Spanish series organizer has sat down with the manufacturers - previously excluded - and tried to find a way to cut costs drastically and increase participation. In August, they agreed that a new subclass would be created, to be called EVO, which can be summarized as having Superbike chassis rules (which allows extensive modification) and Superstock engine rules (which does not allow much modification).
Now, the Superbike Commission have agreed that from 2015 on, all bikes must be EVO. The problem with EVO regulations is that without extensive modification, some manufacturers' bikes are simply not competitive. The current Superstock 1000 series is dominated by Kawasakis, BMWs and Ducatis, with the first Honda to be found in 13th place, the first Suzuki to be found in 25th place, and not a single Aprilia RSV4 - the bike 2nd and 3rd in the WSBK standings - having scored a point this year.
To address this, rules will be modified to create some kind of technical balance between the various manufacturers bikes. In a recent interview with the German Speedweek site, Dorna's WSBK supremo Javier Alonso suggests allowing modifications to camshafts, while imposing stricter limits on electronics. His reasoning is that there is a limit to how much you can spend on camshafts, while electronics have proven time and time again to be a bottomless pit for spending.
The introduction of the EVO rules will see the end of the firebreathing World Superbike machines as we know them. But they could also see the return of the homologation special, the specialist race bike produced in very small quantities at a very high price. With the sports bike market in severe decline in almost every market in the world, providing much higher spec machines at a much higher cost to enthusiasts could be a better business model than selling large quantities of generic sports bikes to the disinterested masses. Whether this is a viable business model will soon be seen, when Honda introduces its V4 Fireblade replacement. When that bike actually makes it to the showrooms is still up in the air.
Below is the official press release from the FIM announcing the new rules for WSBK and WSS:
FIM Superbike & Supersport World Championship and FIM Superstock 1000cc Cup
Changes to the Regulations
The Superbike Commission, composed of Messrs Javier Alonso (WSBK Managing Director), Ignacio Verneda (FIM Executive Director, Sport) and Takanao Tsubouchi (MSMA Representative), met at the Dorna Headquarters on 1 October in the presence of Messrs Daniel Carrera and Gregorio Lavilla (Dorna WSBK Organisation). A unanimous decision was taken to introduce the following main modifications to the Regulations of the FIM Road Racing Superbike & Supersport World Championship and FIM Superstock 1000cc Cup:
Application for 2014
Superbike & Supersport
- Winter test ban starts on 1 December each year and finishes on 15 January as per current rules.
- Overseas testing is forbidden for contracted teams and riders. Dorna will organise Official Tests in Phillip Island before the race. Dates will be communicated as soon as confirmed.
- No testing will be allowed from the first race of the calendar until the last race of the calendar for contracted teams and riders. Dorna will organise three Official Tests on the Mondays following three races, for the World Superbike class only. Dates will be communicated as soon as confirmed.
- No testing will be allowed for Supersport after the first race until the last race of the season.
Application for 2014
- 6 engines per season only;
- 1 gearbox option only.
Application for 2015
- All Superbikes will have to comply with the EVO technical regulations, in order to maintain the ongoing cost reduction process. The Superbike Commission is studying some modifications to those technical rules that will be announced by the end of 2013.
- The new changes should allow all Manufacturers entering the Championship to be competitive, as well as providing an easier route into the World Championship for National Championship Riders and Teams, either as a wildcard or as a permanent entry.