Ever since the Superbike Commission - the rule-making body for WorldSBK - announced back in October that a third race would be added to the WorldSBK schedule, we have wondered exactly what this would mean for the class, both in terms of championship points and qualifying position for the second WorldSBK race, held on Sunday. On Tuesday, the FIM issued a press release containing the missing details for the coming season.
The new schedule impacts both qualifying and the races. The current two-stage Superpole has been abolished, replaced with a single Superpole session for the World Superbike and the World Supersport series. Those qualifying sessions will set the grid for the WorldSSP race on Sunday, and WorldSBK race 1 - the normal length race - on Saturday, and a new, 10-lap sprint race to be held on Sunday.
The 10-lap sprint race - to be named the Tissot Superpole race - will set the first 9 positions of the grid for the second full-length race on Sunday afternoon. Positions 10 and onwards will be set using the qualifying positions from Saturday's Superpole session, presumably taking account of riders who qualified inside the top 9 but crashed out of the Superpole race on Sunday.
With the return of a single qualifying session, the times from free practice no longer count towards determining which Superpole session a rider has to go to. That means that free practice is once again free practice, and riders can use the full session to work on race setup, rather than trying to post a quick lap. As a result, the WorldSBK class loses one session of free practice from Friday. The press release does not state whether the current 40-minute sessions will be extended to compensate.
The 10-lap Tissot Superpole race will also count towards the championship, but as it is a shorter race, fewer points will be awarded. The winner will score 12 points towards the championship, second place will get 9 points, and third place will get 7 points, with places four through nine being awarded 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1 points respectively. The two full length races will continue to score according to the current Grand Prix points system.
Winning the Superpole race will not count as a victory in rider statistics, however. At the end of the 2019 season, the WorldSBK will count 26 races from its 13 rounds. The Superpole race is a qualifying competition, meant to establish a grid and add some excitement for spectators on Sunday, rather than count as a fully-fledged WorldSBK race.
Though the press release does not contain a detailed schedule, each WorldSBK event will look something like this:
Two sessions of free practice for the WorldSBK, WorldSSP, and where applicable, WorldSSP300 classes.
One session of free practice for WorldSBK, WorldSSP, and where applicable, WorldSSP300.
Qualifying for the WorldSSP300, WorldSSP, and WorldSBK classes.
WorldSBK Race 1.
A last chance qualifying race for the WorldSSP300 riders who didn't make it straight into the top 30. 6 riders will progress to Sunday's race.
Warm up for all three classes.
WorldSBK Tissot Superpole race of 10 laps.
WorldSBK Race 2.
The press release announcing the changes appears below:
WorldSBK set to welcome new weekend format
Updates confirmed for 2019
As thoughts are turning to the 2019 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship battle, during the FIM and SBK Commission, held on the 30 th November, in Madrid composed of Gregorio LAVILLA (WorldSBK Sporting Director, Chairman), Takanao TSUBOUCHI (MSMA) and Paul DUPARC (Deputizing for Rezsö BULCSU & secretary of the meeting), also present Charles HENNEKAM (FIM CTI Coordinator), Scott SMART (FIM WorldSBK Technical Director) and Daniel CARRERA (WorldSBK Executive Director), the CET Standard Time Schedule was confirmed, providing the final shape to the weekends format.
2019 will see World Superbike Championship change from four to three free practice sessions, meaning Friday will revert back to two WorldSBK Free Practices. WorldSSP on track action will remain the same, whilst WorldSSP300 will be split into two groups with two free practice sessions for each group. The final times from Friday’s sessions won’t affect qualifying positions. Saturday offers a big change in the format as the Tissot Superpole will now become one single Qualifying session for all classes. The final results of the WorldSBK Tissot Superpole will decide the grid for WorldSBK Race One and Sunday ́s Sprint Race, now branded as the Tissot Superpole Race. For the World Supersport 300 Championship, the riders not qualifying for their first race will also have a ‘Last Chance’ race to follow on from Qualifying. The top six finishers of this race will secure the final six places on Sunday’s grid.
Four races will be the treat on offer on Sunday, with two WorldSBK Races. The first SBK® race of the day will be an all new Sprint Race format of 10 laps (throughout duration of the season) where points will be added to the overall championship standings* and awarded in the Tissot Superpole Race as follows: 12/9/7/6/5/4/3/2/1. There will be no change for Race One and Two where point system remains unchanged and awarded to the first fifteen riders as followed: 25/20/16/13/11/10/9/8/7/6/5/4/3/2/1.
The second race on Sunday for WorldSBK will be the traditional format. The grid for this race will be determined from the first nine positions in the Tissot Superpole Race, and the grid from 10 th onwards will be the positions from Tissot Superpole. Offering three races with different formats will give the teams opportunities to work on different strategies for each race throughout the weekend and will offer even more exciting races for fans and riders to enjoy. On top of this, the weekend will finish with the WorldSSP300 race, which is always a sensational fight to the finish line.
Keep up with all the new regulations and updates, and see how the new 2019 season plays out, all with the WorldSBK VideoPass.
* Results not included in statistics and historical data.