WSBK To Go All EVO In 2015, Ban Winter Testing For 2014

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:

Sporting Regulations

Application for 2014

Superbike & Supersport

Practice restrictions:

  • 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.

Technical Regulations

Application for 2014

Supersport

  • 6 engines per season only;
  • 1 gearbox option only.

Application for 2015

Superbike

  • 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.

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Comments

Thank you DORNA for killing the best championship.

Total votes: 138

Production based racing doesn't need 240hp machines with NASA electronics, and If you've ever watched World Superstock the racing there is usually better than WSBK. This will increase participation, reduce costs and provide closer racing, and the high spec chassis will still mean that top class riders will benefit from being able to use their superior skills.

I understand David's point that some machines will suffer under an EVO format because their machines aren't as competitive out of the box. But to some extent you can only artificially extend a bikes performance so much before it becomes totally removed from the production product, which totally undermines what WSBK should be about. It gives the sport meaning again if a bike that's a slug off the showroom floor struggles compared to the new missile sports bike. Manufacturers will just have to up their games if WSBK is important to them rather than just buying MotoGP electronics. The CBR and GSXR are aging platforms so it stands to reason they'll struggle against the very latest machines, to me that's how it should be.

The only parity rule Id put in there is penalty ballast, so that winning machines have extra weight put on them up to a maximum of 6 kilos or so. Having different tuning rules is a slippery slope. Manufacturers and teams should be able to place the ballast wherever they like so that it doesn't upset their machine balance, but teams would have to organise with the FIM where they plan to add the weight before the season begins.

Plus, competitive wildcards will return which will be great. Now WSBK just needs to return to Brands Hatch and Sugo and the series will be as good as it ever was.

Total votes: 140

They don't have a rider/bike combined minimum weight so penalty ballast would be pointless.

Total votes: 108

Whether there are minimum weights or not ballast is still an effective and transparent handicap system. The existing weight penalty for twins was applied irrespective of rider weight as well. And that was effectively success ballast as well, except that it was calculated very infrequently and only applied to twins which culminated in a farcical situation where Ducati had been struggling to to finish in the top 10 at times but were still wearing a weight penalty to supposedly even up the competition. A proper weight penalty system would be calculated far more frequently and be applied to everyone. Combined weight isn't taken into account in other series that apply success ballast either like in touring cars which have very different car/driver weights.

Total votes: 99

The ballast for 1200cc twins is a primitive attempt to equalize performance between bikes with different displacement. They already have a method for equalizing performance between bikes of identical displacement, and that's why no ballasting was used prior to the 1200cc allowance.

Speaking of the 1200cc twin rule, the air-restrictors and ballasting are not working. WSBK should trim horsepower output just a bit, and move the twins back to 1000cc. The Panigale can stay at 1200cc, but the R homologation needs a dedicated 1000cc engine, just like the 999R.

Total votes: 100

is pretty stupid.
if they want to encourage new teams/manufacturers, you've got to give them enough chances to improve their bike, and you can only improve if you have enough testing possibilities. like it will be, experienced teams have a to big advantage.
"cheap" testing is possible.
- rent tracks on monday's after races (every otherrace for example). everyone is already there -> low cost for travelling, and low cost because a team doesn't need to pay a track by itself. basicly this is what Dorna does, but why limiting it to 3 times for SBK and none for SSP ?
- or let teams dedicate their own testing track (not a race track) close to their home where they could test X times.
- let them organise trackdays on which for example 1/4th of the tracktime they can use themselves for testing, while the other 3/4's would be like a normal trackday, so fan's can have close/personal contact with the team. heck, the teams even could make some money or give something back to sponsors on days like that !

testing is probably the most important thing to become a good team/rider/bike. limiting that to stupid small numbers is the complete opposite of entering the competition, or making newcommers competitive.

Total votes: 109

This:

"Let them organise trackdays on which for example 1/4th of the tracktime they can use themselves for testing, while the other 3/4's would be like a normal trackday, so fan's can have close/personal contact with the team. heck, the teams even could make some money or give something back to sponsors on days like that ..."

... might be the single coolest suggestion I ever have read on the Internet.

Total votes: 116

Very good suggestion to get fans more involved and interested, and it would really provide more value to the sponsors, which is super important. They need to find a way to help teams bring more sponsorship money. This is a way to help.

Total votes: 103

The golden era for WSB was also the era of the wildcards when there was almost technical parity between national series and the world series allowing wildcard entry into the world championship for not a lot of effort by the national teams and local track specialists.

There is no national championship in the world that could afford current spec WSBK machines as their standard kit. If EVO is close enough to BSB and the German series to see the return of wildcards .......... then bring it on. Cheaper grids = fuller grids.

Wildcards, the past is hopefully the future.

Total votes: 119

AMA Superbike just loosened up their camshaft rule. The additional cost of developing the engine package to the new rules has cost the front-running teams about double the price of the best electronics package on the bikes right now, maybe more.

EVERY avenue of development becomes a bottomless pit when all others are blocked off.

Total votes: 98

Lift and duration combinations for each bike are basically limited. The 1's and 0's are basically infinite and electronics development is unpredictable.

That's what Javier Alonso meant.

Total votes: 99

Understood. But give Honda, say, more freedom with camshafts to try to keep up with the Kawasaki, and Honda has to go back to the shop, design a stack of cams, build the best ones, put them on the engines, dyno them, take the results, try new combinations, field-test them ... While the ultimate cam configuration may be "findable" (for lack of a better term) it's still stupid-expensive to be sure you've found the absolute best combination. And if that's the only freedom you have for tuning the engine, imagine how much of your time and money will go into that camshaft design.

Electronics development for roadracing motorcycles really isn't that unpredictable. It's been the same main goal for the past 15 years or so - better traction. First it was TC, then you've seen engine braking strategies added in the past half a decade or so to help traction going into the corner. But that's just the electronic version of a mechanical system that already was in place. Race-ready ABS has arrived, but God, how long have streetbikes had ABS? All that's changed is that the tuners have gotten better at accomplishing those goals and the ECUs have gotten quicker.

Total votes: 96

"Better traction" is a gross simplification of the development work done by the electronics people. The first traction control systems were primitive. The electronics simply cut the spark to the engine. In the AMA, wheel sensors were banned, F1 decided that spark-cut created a hideous aural experience for fans, and MotoGP moved to strict fuel capacity limits. Traction control was changed fundamentally. The ignition-cut systems focused on eliminating excess horsepower and torque, but the modern systems focus on creating an engine/electronics package that delivers only what the pilot wants.

Instead of comparing the speed of the unpowered wheels to the speed of the powered wheels, now the electronics measure yaw, pitch, roll, tire temperature, tire load, rate of crankshaft acceleration, selected gear, final gear or sprocket ratios, throttle position, wheel speed, etc. Then the engineers have to write algorithms for tire wear and tire deflection (g's) and so forth. You might remember all of the work Honda did with the Torquemometer or whatever we were calling it a few years ago. If you listen to the Kawasaki in WSBK, it sounds like they have created some kind of cylinder-deactivation system, which might be another wrinkle in the push for more development.

The electronics problems are genuine and specific, and that's why nearly every racing series has moved to spec electronics or homologated kit systems. "Spending cannot be contained" is layperson's abstract wisdom, and it can't be used as a foundation for the rulebook. Development spending is contained in the production market b/c the companies are trying to earn profits. Production racing can operate the same way, and that's what the manufacturers are hoping for, but they are probably hesitant to adopt performance balancing b/c they don't want the performance of their equipment to be controlled directly by the sanctioning body.

Total votes: 97

A gross simplification, true, but a reminder of what they are trying to do with electronics. So it's not really unpredictable at all. Were magnesium-bodied flat-slide carbs an "unpredictable" development? Disc brakes? Cast or forged wheels that led to the development of tubeless tires? The list goes on. Electronics is just the latest front upon which the battle against the track is being waged. No better, no worse, than the introduction of new technologies in the past.

Had the rulemakers not banned GPS-based turn-by-turn systems, imagine how inexpensive they would be now. Had the rulemakers not banned "dual-clutch" technology, how much cheaper would shiftless transmissions be?

If the rulemakers ban electronics that control rear-wheel speed on corner entry, imagine how expensive a mechanical slipper clutch on a MotoGP bike will be in three years. Really, is anyone spending less money in F1 (or BSB) because they banned traction control? Or is the racing any better? Right now, I'm halfway through yet another F1 snoozefest, this one in Korea. Is this the better racing that I'm being promised as the result of more rules and more technology bans?

There's nothing abstract about the concept that spending cannot be contained. In the BSB series that everyone here seems to endlessly praise for being so competitive, are there underfunded teams anywhere near the podium? Let me help - there have been just as many winners this year in MotoGP as there have been in BSB, and so far this season, three fewer winners in BSB than there were last year in the series.

Just sayin'.

Total votes: 97

I'm confused. The cost of racing components will always increase, especially camshaft costs, but "imagine how inexpensive [parts] would be now", if the series were deregulated?

Total votes: 88

My bad; I'm mixing apples and oranges a bit here.

"Inexpensive" is relative to the cost of working around the ban.

F1 banned TC, and now the cars have these incredibly complicated differential systems that mimic the effect - at a much greater cost than a simple wheel speed differential computer-controlled TC system.

MotoGP banned dual-clutch technology, and Honda and Yamaha spent immense amounts of money to develop transmissions that mimic the effect but stay within the rules.

I apologize for the confusion.

Changing the rules for camshafts meant the people at the front of the AMA grid had to go back to the engine room and make hard parts to see what worked. That's new costs, with no limit on the amount you can spend on them.

At this point, the AMA rulebook has a price cap on electronics systems of $18,000.

http://amaproracing.cdn.racersites.com/assets/AMAP-RR-2013-ASB-Electroni...

Buy whatever system you want, tune it anyway you want, you just have to meet the price cap. Obviously, there's a cost in tuning it, but as TC systems mature, the body of knowledge stabilizes, and tuning them becomes much less expensive.

And that system was good enough to put an AMA-spec Superbike, down 20 horsepower and running on completely unfamiliar Pirelli slicks, eighth in the World Superbike race at Laguna Seca.

To my way of thinking, that's not perfect, but it's a far better method than spec electronics or spec software.

Total votes: 100

It seems as though Dorna is at it again!!! Change the rules to get the manufactures to build better bikes in order to save face while increasing the entertainment aspect of racing in WSB. Heck, it's working in MotoGP at the moment... so why not give it a go! Will this cut costs? Nope! Just creating new ways to spend money on motorcycles and racing. However, this is a better idea of bringing the WSB machines closer to what is actually being purchased by the average Joe. Better than slapping headlight stickers on machines that costs 10-Times more than a consumer bike. The Japanese manufactures/bikes/teams are going to suffer the most. Yamaha, Kawasaki, Suzuki, and Honda are all behind in their model line-up compared to the BMW, Aprilia, and even Ducati electronic systems. Is this New Rule Package the reason that Honda has delayed their new 1000cc-V4? 2015 will be a magic year, since all the totally new redesigned Japanese sportbikes won't be out til then or in 2016. Dorna/Carmelo needs a SuperStar Celebrity Racer like Rossi in the series to draw the crowds (as a distraction) each race weekend while the series gets the new rule package working.

Total votes: 98

Superbike engine tuning won't be less sophisticated than Supersport so no reason to panic. WSBK will not be less sophisticated than BSB or AMA, either.

If the manufacturers cannot make certain modifications, they will equip the parts on the bike prior to homologation, as David pointed out. The best part about the homologation specials is that they will be available to the national championships, which creates a de facto unified rulebook.

The manufacturers are probably supportive of the new regulations, especially since homologation specials will raise revenues, rather than burning cash. Overall, this is probably good. No reason for fan tantrums.

Total votes: 83

The factories helped create the new rules, so I think we have to assume that they're generally supportive. And I think this is a good thing, too.

The costs in WBSK have grown too high and the bikes are no longer really representative of the production models. Sponsorship money is very scarce and racing near-GP bikes doesn't really help the manufacturers. People who follow racing are usually sophisticated enough to know that the bikes on the grid only bear a faint passing resemblance to what they can buy at the dealer.

Total votes: 84

but I didn't understand your opinion. You finally say yes or no to the new format?
The article if I can understand correct shows that you are against Flaminis while the same time you don't mention anything wrong to DORNA's moves but earlier this year you wrote that you like SBK exactly as it is.

Total votes: 99

David, a V4 Fireblade. The last intel I read on this was that this homologation V4 would be $60-80k. I've read nothing about it being a Fireblade. Fireblade = CBR1000RR and those have always been inline 4's.

Total votes: 104

I'm not sure how productive the day is for the teams, but the PR aspect certainly works.
It already happens in the UK in an informal way for BSB teams etc.
I once had James Ellison go past me like I was standing still into Schwantz at Donington. That was in his WSS days.
So smooth, and he must have been 20 mph faster -better tyres and more powerful engine obviously...brakes too, I suspect :).
Also shared a day with Josh Brookes/Seeley/Relentless BSB team at Cadwell and they were very accessible and happy to talk. Great to see the teams and mechanics up close - what they achieve in set-up changes in half an hour is amazing.
The only session they had to themselves was during the lunch break.
They were out with the fast group every session and it was great to see.
Not sure it would widen the audience though - not many fans are going to go to test days - they can now and it doesn't attract a big (or small) crowd.

Total votes: 106

Something has to change. I'm not aware of any team that has said they are fine with current costs. And it's easy to see that this will save money in some areas. The last few seasons have given us good racing but I see no reason why this should change just because the bikes have a bit less performance.
The superstock stats are concerning on the 'out of the box' performance, but limited tuning should sort that out.
Given their performance/reliability stats in MGP Honda don't have many excuses.
The easiest way to equalise performance is a no-fuel bike+rider weight adjustment (it has worked in Moto2) and to dyno the bikes/engines and seal them. Full equalisation isn't necessary - as in Moto2 getting the bike and rider within a range should be enough.
If a maximum power limit was set that would automatically limit the tuning and the money spent trying to gain more power.
Indirectly, teams will concentrate on fuel efficiency (not a bad thing) to gain some weight advantage.
Performance of both riders and machines has evolved to a point where power and gross weight are the main difference and the basic competitiveness factors.

Total votes: 96

There must be some lessons to be learned from BSB. Because this year has really worked. And there's no real reason why Aprilai and Ducati shouldn't be in there as well. The key has to be the ECU rather than the tuning limits.

And why does Dorna have this obsession with engine rebuilds?

Total votes: 100

Agreed. I think BSB are ahead of WSBK on many fronts. When they introduced new rules on bike performance a couple of years ago; much jumping up and down from the armchair critics.

What happened - the good riders still excel (Shane Byrne) and it gave a chance to other talented riders who would have had less good kit, to get podiums. Close racing and different makes of bike still competing, Kawasaki's, Yam, Honda, BMW can all podium.

The difference between Shane and Sykes is that he has to control the throttle, rather that switch it on or off.

Good move by Dorna.

Total votes: 97

I can see a WSB manufacturer with deep pockets building a limited edition 1000 road bike with pneumatic valves. It is totally feasible with a pump to keep the air pressure up (Kawasaki were talking about doing this with their ZX10 a few years ago)

If this happens it'll blow the Dorna's "budget racing" out the window.

RPM = horspower so if a manufacturer builds a street bike that can rev to 16,000 rpm plus, on the track they will have a huge power advantage over the other bikes no matter what type of electronic package is on it.

IMHO, one of the best things Dorna could do at the moment is to bring in a 'valve spring safe' rev limit of 14,000 for 4 cyl WSB bikes (and lets face it, there's no chance of a street bike having pneumatic valves unless it was needed for racing)

An RPM ceiling with a standard ECU would really help level the playing field

Total votes: 98

Desmodromic valves can already reach far beyond the current production spring-valve system. Ducati has never exploited this advantage in Superbike or Supersport.

Curious. There must be some reason.

Total votes: 87