Updated World Superbike Rules: Balancing And Electronics Clarified, And A New Global Entry Class Mooted

At the last meeting of the Superbike Commission, the body which makes the rules for the World Superbike series, representatives of Dorna, the FIM and the factories agreed a number of measures which provide yet another step on the path to the future of the series. There were a couple of minor technical updates, and two changes which point the way to the series' long term future.

The changes to the technical regulations were relatively simple. The balancing rules, aimed at allowing different engine designs to be competitive against each other, received a number of minor tweaks resulting from the fact that those rules will now be carried on from one season to the next. In practice, this means that results for either twins or fours will be carried over between seasons, creating a rolling balancing scoreboard, which should create a better balance between fours and twins.

The other change to the technical rules allow a manufacturer to revert to their 2014 electronics for the first two races of 2015, should the 2015 electronics cause them problems. Basically, this will give the teams a fallback position and give them a little more time to develop the electronics. As the first two round are in Australia and Thailand, the risk of struggling with a system which is not completely ready to race during a period when it is impossible to test has been reduced.

The changes to the sporting regulations are more interesting, and point the way to the future of the series. First of all, the sporting, disciplinary and medical regulations will be harmonized with the rules for MotoGP wherever possible, creating a single set of regulations across both series. This will make it easier for teams and riders to switch between series, but more importantly, it should also make it easier for circuit and medical staff. With a single set of rules, marshals, event organizers and circuit medical staff will find it easier to switch between MotoGP and World Superbike events, which should in turn help keep costs down. It will also make it easier for circuits to either switch between series or host both series, without having to go over the differences between the two.

Most interesting of all, however, is the announcement that the Superbike Commission is to create a working group to look at a new entry level class. That class will be based on what they describe as the Supersport 300 class, the range of small capacity sports bikes which is growing in popularity. The class will features machines such as the KTM RC390, the Kawasaki Ninja 300, and the Yamaha YZF-R3. British site Visordown has a rundown on the bikes which could be allowed. The decision to consider such a class builds on initiatives in countries such as the USA, UK, Germany and the Netherlands to feature a KTM RC 390 cup series, which will allow young riders to compete at a very low cost. Perhaps more importantly, initiatives in key markets such as India, Thailand and Malaysia could see such bikes being raced. With the same class running as a support series at World Superbike events, the new class could provide a stepping stone from nations across all of Asia into world championship motorcycle racing.

The change seems a key part of Dorna's strategy to create a broader base for motorcycle racing around the world. With a more homogenous set of rules across several world championship, national and regional series, the cost of moving up to the World Superbike paddock should be lowered, and wildcard entries at various rounds should also be easier. At the same time as the WSBK rules were being announced, the AMA was announcing a few changes to the MotoAmerica AMA series, bringing their Superbike and Superstock regulations even more into line with World Superbike and Superstock rules.

There appears to be a concerted move to help broaden the base of motorcycle racing, and open up World Superbike racing to a broader audience and a broader range of entry. It is a hopeful development, and one which the series badly needs after a steady decline in the past few years.

The FIM press release containing the rule updates is shown below:


FIM Superbike & Supersport World Championships and FIM Superstock 1000cc Cup
Decision of the Superbike Commission - 2014 final meeting

The Superbike Commission, composed of Messrs Javier Alonso (WSBK Executive Director), Ignacio Verneda (FIM CEO) and Takanao Tsubouchi (MSMA Representative), met at the Dorna Headquarters in Madrid on 16 December 2014 in the presence of MM Daniel Carrera and Gregorio Lavilla (WSBK-Dorna), Scott Smart and Paul Duparc (FIM).

During the 2014 final meeting, the SBK Commission has agreed as follows:

  1. The Sporting, Disciplinary and Medical Regulations will be harmonised as much as possible with the 2015 Grand Prix Regulations.
  2. After the approval of the main pillars of the SBK Technical Regulations 2015 last June 12th , two main points of discussion have been clarified:
    • The Superbike Commission agreed to amend the details of the Superbike Balancing rules to improve the clarity of the application of the balancing method. Changes for the 2014 season included the balancing level being carried from one season to the next and this had resulted in other small details needing updates.
    • For safety reasons, The Superbike Commission agreed to consider, individually, any manufacturers request to use their 2014 season electronics packages during the first two championship rounds 'as is', in case of any issues arising from the changes in the electronics concept in the 2015 regulations. Should this arise then the Manufacturer must make available to all 'customer' teams on the same brand of machinery the same 2014 electronics so as not to disadvantage them.
  3. The Superbike Commission approved assembly of a working group comprising of any interested machine manufacturers to develop a class structure for an entry level category. The category would be based on the burgeoning Supersport 300 class machinery and would aim to include varied capacities and engine configurations, with the aim to provide a low cost platform to develop new talent. The class would be raced in many domestic championships with the goal being to bring the 'stars of the future' to the premier events running alongside the World Championship series.

The full 2015 Regulations will be available on the FIM website shortly.

http://www.fim-live.com/en/sport/regulations-and-documents/superbike/

Back to top

Comments

As they move from weight additions and subtraction to air restrictors which will get larger or smaller depending on the points leader and rolling three race averages.. It will be interesting to see how it plays out. Many often criticize bolted on weight is more a penalty than weight you can move, and depending on the increments of air restriction it may be more or less influential.

The 300cc Supersport Class development group is a wonderful piece of news. Hooray! They read my mind BTW (or posts here I should say). When KRAVE started their work this captured my imagination.

Small displacement sportbikes are an integral part of the developing markets. Here in the USA we have brand new novice motorcyclists sincerely discuss the 'more is better' merits of perhaps getting a 600cc or even 1000cc as a 1st bike. The 250 and 500cc twins sell pretty well, we haven't had good performing race worthy 400cc machines since the FZR400 way back when. The Ninja 250 and 300 that came out right when the global economy tanked changed things a good deal. So did the economy. Regional club racing grids dwindled. The exception? That little Ninja.

We now synch up a bit with the parts of the world in which small displacement motorcycles and scooters crowd the landscape and imaginations. And the buttering of the manufacturers' bread.

Of course there are a bunch of folks right now grimacing that the 125's and 250's no longer smoke up paddocks. I get it. Consider this too though...this winter I can grab a rashed up low mileage 5 yr old Ninja 250 for a thousand dollars, get a 320cc piston in there, mill the head down to bring the compression ratio up, slap it back together, pipe, suspension, you know the drill. Supersport. Then stick my kid on it. BOOM.

And there are how many kids in SE Asia with the R3 as the desktop picture on their laptop? And Movistar livery on their scooters? And Lorenzo t shirts? And drinking Monsters until their eyes bulge out?

The bikes are already out there. The market is hungry. The racing can arc very important points that fires up lots of sponsorship dollars. Fans. MORE FANS.

I may be shopping for a CBR1000RR right now, but my imagination is being drawn to picking up a Lightweight SS. Hey Mahindra, how many Rupees can you throw at producing a RC390 beater for 2016? In the 1980's when the sportbikes manifested we called them "rice rockets." The Kawasaki had another Maverick on it featured in "Top Gun."

In the lightweight class we have a "perfect storm" of opportunity right now. There is also an unusual absence of Honda in this arising class. KTM, Kawasaki, and now Yamaha. Is a Chinese manufacturer positioned to enter? Mahindra we are looking squarely at you...how about it? Beat "rice rockets" with your "curry cruiser" that even the old markets could munch up for cheap? And you better make a LOT of posters for all those kids...

;)

This is indeed a good idea and a great way to bring racing culture to the grass roots in countries where there is enthusiasm for motorcycle racing. Apart from the KTM RC 390, the Yamaha R 3 and the Kawasaki 300, there is also the Honda CBR 300. And Motoshrink, Mahindra has been working hard of 292 cc single cylinder engined motorcycle called the Mojo. It has been a concern that Mahindra is testing it for so long but then they are probably trying to make it bullet proof since the Japanese big wigs, KTM and now BMW (in collaboration with TVS Motors of India) are all in this 300 space. The BMW/TVS will see the light of day in 2015 and TVS has a culture of racing (in fact the only Indian manufacturer to do so) and they are participating in the Dakar in January in technical collaboration with French manufacturer Sherco. The engines, interestingly carry the TVS designation of RTR (short for racing throttle response; whatever that may mean). This category should be encouraged because it will give an average Joe like me also a chance to compete starting at a club level. Hope this one succeeds.

And David, thank you very much for keeping your word regarding an article that you promised to write in the off season about the rules and regulations of WSBK. Much appreciated Sir.

The Mojo will unfortunately be in the same spot as the Honda it sounds. The CBR as it is won't be raced as it is a single and the singles will be just under 400cc's, twins 320cc. SS trim horsepower will need to match the RC390 stock at minimum (and that is not likely to be the baseline used either, more like RC390 in SS spec). Think 50 horsepower.

I am curious about the arrangement amongst TVR and BMW, thanks for the info. The recent move of Ducati to start production in SE Asia of their (soon t be booming) Scrambler conjures a possibility that non-Japanese manufacturers will be heading your way to gain market entry and utilize your manufacturing capital.

If Mahindra can just make a 400cc version of their Mojo single as their flagship poster child, and come in lighter than, and at a much lower price point than the KTM...that would sell a lot of base model 300's for the streets.

Is anyone else poised for entry? European? Anyone have insight into a possible Chinese manufacturer? Off to Google TVR - BMW and Mojo...

Edit - The Mahindra Mojo does not look like a possible platform. They would have to come up with a ground up redesign. At their speed on the "5 yrs to finish" Mojo I don't see it being relevant for a good while.

Motoshrink, since you are looking up the collaboration it TVS (not TVR) that is collaborating with BMW. TVS is probably the best Indian two wheeler maker since their launches have all been after they have brought their products to the same quality (in build and reliability) levels of Honda. That is one of the reason that BMW wanted to collaborate with them on building motorcycles of less than 500 cc. TVS is a bit slow in launches of new products because of their concern of meeting the world quality standards and they have a Deming award to show for that. And they believe in racing, that is the good part.

So can we expect Aprilia will be running with restrictors next year then, seeing as they've won 3 of the past 4 titles or something? Or will all manufacturers start 2015 with no restrictors due to the new tech regs..