Latest World Superbike News

Tech Briefs: Tyres, Or How Evolution Brings Revolution In WorldSBK

In the era of control tyres in WorldSBK Pirelli has shown that it’s no excuse to halt development

In racing, you’re always competing. You’re battling against the clock and you’re battling against your rivals. Performance and pushing the boundaries is the key to success. But what happens when you are a control supplier to a championship? For over fifteen years that’s been the conundrum for Pirelli.

It’s very easy to look at tyres in a control era and think that development has stood still. Why would a tyre company want to push to the limits when the only time they’ll be noticed is if something goes wrong? For Pirelli, the sole tyre supplier to WorldSBK since 2004, the goal is to ensure development keeps pace with the evolution of current road-going machinery.

A control tyre doesn’t have to mean a lack of development. Recent years have shown the opposite, with changes to the profiles of tyres and the introduction of a host of “development” tyres in 2019. The goal for Pirelli for these tyres is to develop them into the tyres that customers can buy in the shops for use on track days and in club races. The goal for Pirelli has always been to produce production tyres from their involvement in WorldSBK for their customers.

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Coronavirus Update: The Challenges Facing MotoGP And WorldSBK In 2020 And Beyond

No news is good news, at least as far as the current outbreak of COVID-19, or the coronavirus is concerned. And for thirteen days – nearly two whole weeks – we went without a change to the calendars of either the WorldSBK and MotoGP calendars. Given the speed at which the world has changed over the past two weeks, that is almost an eternity in normal time.

The same could not be said for other motorsport disciplines. For two weeks, we have been inundated with cancellations and postponements. The Le Mans 24 Hours Endurance motorcycle race has been postponed until August. The Daytona 200 and Daytona TT flat track races were postponed until October. The Merzouga Rally has been canceled, the route of the Silk Way Rally changed. The Isle of Man TT was canceled, Supercross and MXGP had rounds canceled and postponed.

The TT wasn't the only iconic event to be canceled. F1 canceled Monaco, probably the most prestigious race on its calendar, and postponed the races at Zandvoort and Barcelona, joining the Bahrain, Vietnam and China races in being pushed back to the second half of the year. The Le Mans 24 Hours car race was put back until September.

Changing day by day

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Assen WorldSBK Round Postponed To August - Further Changes On The Horizon

The COVID-19 outbreak has caused further delay in the WorldSBK calendar. Today, it was announced that the Dutch round of WorldSBK, due to be held at Assen on the weekend of April 19th, has been postponed, and put back to August.

The postponement of the Assen round became inevitable on Monday night, after the Dutch government extended its ban on public events until June 1st, and tightened restrictions on travel and gatherings.

Preparations for the change had been going on for some time, as the TT Circuit in Assen has a full calendar of events, with some kind of activity taking place on most days of the year. The new spot slots the WorldSBK race in between two other major events, the Gamma Racing Day, from 7th-9th August, and the Assen DTM round, from 4th-6th September.

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Dorna Press Release: Carmelo Ezpeleta - Dorna Working To Ensure Modified Calendar Is Only Consequence Of COVID-19 Outbreak

Dorna today issued the following press release, containing a letter from CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta, concerning their ongoing plans for the 2020 season:


Letter from Dorna Sports CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta
Friday, 20 March 2020

Dear all,

Today, the OR Thailand Grand Prix was set to be getting underway in Buriram; the race weekend that was meant to be the second of the season. The entire MotoGP™ paddock and family was supposed to be doing what we love the most: racing. We would have loved to watch the riders from each category fighting it out on track and delighting us to another last corner battle like we’ve come to expect from Buriram.

We would have loved to see the many international members of the paddock back hard at work for our fans; both those who travel from all over the world to join us trackside in Thailand and those who, like they do every race weekend, follow us faithfully from every corner of the globe.

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Coronavirus: The State Of Play, What Happens Next, And Why

The outbreak of novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, has wreaked havoc on many things: public health, international transport, the global economy, and much more. But as MotoMatters.com is a site about world championship motorcycle road racing, we are concerned above all on the effect it has had on the MotoGP and WorldSBK seasons. As of Friday 13th March 2020, Dorna and the FIM had postponed the Buriram, Austin and Argentina rounds of MotoGP, and the Jerez round of WorldSBK, and were forced to cancel the MotoGP class at the season opener at Qatar.

Things have changed so fast over the past two weeks that it is almost impossible to keep up. As Twitter racing wit SofaRacer put it, "A month ago, the state of Marc Márquez’ shoulder was the big talking point of the season. Halcyon days." Since then, a small, contained outbreak of a new flu-like disease has gone from a curiosity in a remote location far from any traditional racetracks to a global pandemic, sweeping through the racing heartlands of Italy and Spain.

Pace of change

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Coach Them Up! - A Closer Look At Rider Coaching

WorldSBK riders are embracing the role of track spotters and rider coaches, but what do they actually do?

The SAG Team Moto2 rider coach Alex Debon at the 2019 Sepang round of MotoGP

If Tiger Woods needs a swing coach, it stands to reason that even a world class motorcycle racer needs a coach too. Gone are the days where riders eschewed coaching; now they are embracing it. In paddocks, like in any walk of life, keeping up with the Joneses is a factor of life. When one rider makes a change, it forces others to do the same.

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2020 WorldSBK Calendar Updated - Season Now Finishes At Jerez, Magny-Cours Moved

The novel coronavirus outbreak is touching all forms of motorcycle racing. After MotoGP had to change its calendar twice in the past two days, the WorldSBK series has also had to change its plans. With the Spanish round at Jerez scheduled for the end of the month, that became untenable.

So the Jerez round of WorldSBK has been pushed back to the end of the year, and is due to be held on the weekend of October 25th. An arrangement has also been made with the Magny-Cours round of WorldSBK, moved a week later to avoid a clash with MotoGP at Aragon, which had also been changed to make way for Thailand. The French round of WorldSBK will now be held on the weekend of October 4th.

The WorldSBK season is now set to hold its second round of 2020 on the weekend of April 19th. But all planning at this time is provisional, and subject to change.

Below is the press release and revised schedule:

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Qatar WorldSBK Round Postponed - To Be Rescheduled

After Qatar blocked the entry of Italian and Japanese passport holders into the country, causing the MotoGP race (but not the round) to be rescheduled), it was inevitable that the WorldSBK round would follow suit. Today, Dorna and the FIM announced that they had to postpone the Qatar round of WorldSBK, pending further rescheduling.

If the situation was difficult for MotoGP, it was even worse for WorldSBK. Not only is Ducati competing in WorldSBK, but Pirelli, the official tire supplier, is Italian, and staffed entirely by Italians. The Pirelli tire fitters and engineers had all headed home to Italy after the opening round of WorldSBK at Phillip Island, with no possiblity to enter Qatar. Without tires, nobody can race.

The round is now due to be rescheduled, with a suggestion that the most likely time for the races to be held being the end of the year.

The press release from Dorna announcing the postponement of the Qatar round appears below:

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2020 WorldSBK Preview: All Change In World Superbikes?

What championship is the biggest box office draw? MotoGP. What championship is the most likely to give box office drama throughout the year? In 2020 it could be WorldSBK.

It’s a far cry from recent years where we’ve traded Jonathan Rea’s domination for Alvaro Bautista’s purple patch and then seen Rea rise from the ashes. The stick to beat WorldSBK with in recent years has always been that one man has won five titles in a row and won so many races. This year that could all change.

Scott Redding comes in as the reigning British Superbike champion. There’s a level of expectation heaped on his shoulders. Honda are back as a full-factory team and they are sure to be strong over the coming seasons. When HRC race they race to win. Yamaha has a brand new bike that has found a small step forward that could leap them into regular contention. BMW is in the second year of their programme. Kawasaki showed they are still the benchmark for consistency. This year in WorldSBK all five manufacturers will feel they can be competitive. Their riders will all think that they have a chance.

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Analyzing WorldSBK's 2020 Rev Limits: Tenor, Soprano, Castrato?

If anybody tells you it is easy to make modern day Superbikes truly competitive with fixed tech rules that are identical for every bike, smile warmly and move on to a more stimulating, reality-based conversation. Possibly the single most difficult thing to do is make sure the final on-track performance of what started out as commercial products in the market place, all with their own unique marketing USPs and familial DNA helices, is to design the final tech rules. After all, some donor bikes are still relatively cheap and low-tech and some are sold right on the forty grand limit for eligible WorldSBK machines, complete with an electronics suite fit to control the International Space Station. Or even a design concept that is MotoGP-driven, rather than coming with an extended warranty requirement in the original engineering brief.

Enter a plethora of performance rules for WorldSBK, which extend to cost-capped parts and approved racing parts, which can include concession parts, as one profound balancing rule element if your bike qualifies. But all of these operate under the catch-all of the ultimate balancing rule - Maximum Rev Limits.

There, I capitalised the initial letters, to show how significant this one can be.

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2020 Ducati MotoGP Launch: Gigi Dall'Igna On Horsepower vs Turning, Silly Season, And WorldSBK

After the press conference part of Ducati's 2020 MotoGP launch, we got a chance to ask Ducati Corse boss Gigi Dall'Igna a few more questions about the Italian factory's plans for the coming season. Dall'Igna expanded on some of the things he had told the press conference, such as his priority for the Desmosedici GP20, and how he expected the new Michelin rear tire to affect the racing.

But Dall'Igna also answered some other questions as well. The Ducati Corse boss talked about why he wanted more power from the GP20, the support on offer for Johann Zarco, how he sees rider contracts, and Ducati's thoughts on racing in Endurance. He even fielded a question about Marc Márquez, and managed to answer it by not answering it.

Corners or straights?

One of the main questions the media had for Dall'Igna was what his priorities were for the GP20. Ducati had brought a couple of new chassis and a new engine spec at the Valencia and Jerez tests last November, and at Valencia, especially, the bike seemed to turn better. At Jerez, that improvement didn't seem as significant.

Was the GP20 really better in the corners? "It’s difficult to tell you an answer," Dall'Igna said. "For sure we’re improving the bike. We have some ideas about improving the bike that can help us in that direction. But we have to test it before telling you something. Maybe after Sepang I can tell you something more."

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Jerez WorldSBK Test Notes: What To Watch Out For At The First Test Of 2020

Testing resumes today at Jerez for the WorldSBK class. At least, it will if the track dries out enough to make conditions usable. Heavy overnight rain has soaked the track, and more rain is expected over the next two days.

The WorldSBK field will be hoping for dry track time for a lot of reasons, not least because it will be the first time that the Honda CBR1000RR-R will be seen at a public test. Alvaro Bautista and Leon Haslam have ridden the bike at private tests already, the bike getting a run out at Aragon and Portimao, and reports were that the bike was very quick, but the rest of the WorldSBK field will want to see a direct comparison with the bike.

Photos of the Honda CBR1000RR-R have already been floating around social media. Here is one photo, with some of the engine visible.

Besides the Honda, there are plenty of other things to keep an eye. At Kawasaki, Jonathan Rea will be continuing his transition to a thumb brake, working on getting used to that feel. Alex Lowes, meanwhile, will be trying to unlearn some of the things he learned about braking on the Yamaha, and find the limits on the Kawasaki ZX10-RR. Corner entry has been Lowes' biggest problem so far.

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2020 Week 3 News Round Up: Bike Launches, Iannone Update, Aprilia's New Bike, Marquez' Slow Recovery

As the world of motorcycle racing starts to get into the swing of things, activity is starting to ramp up. The first of the MotoGP factory launches is due this week, Ducati to present their 2020 livery and (unchanged) rider line up in a 13th Century palace in the middle of Bologna. That event happens on Thursday evening, the 23rd January, and I will be attending to try to find out more about Ducati's plans for the coming season.

The other factories will have to wait. The three Japanese factories will be launching their bikes just ahead of the Sepang test. Repsol Honda go first, holding their launch in the Indonesian capital Jakarta on 4th February. The Monster Energy Yamaha and Petronas Yamaha SRT teams will be holding their launches at the Sepang circuit on the 6th February, as will the Suzuki Ecstar team.

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Realizing The Dream of Bringing MotoGP Back to Indonesia

Logo Mandalika International Street Circuit

It has been 22 years since the last time Indonesia held a motorcycle racing Grand Prix. The dream of watching riders in action burst again in 2015. Unfortunately, the meeting between Dorna Sports SL, the Government of Indonesia and Sentul Circuit ended in failure.

A year later, Alex Noerdin – at that time was South Sumatra Governor – visited Sepang during the Malaysian MotoGP to meet with Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta. The two sides discussed about using the Jakabaring in Palembang, on South Sumatra, as the location of the race. However, that failed too.

Now, the country’s dream to host the prestigious racing event seems closer to reality. The Indonesia Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) is currently building new circuit – it has apparently been in preparation since 2017 – in the Mandalika special economic zone, Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara (NTB).

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Superbike Commission Moves To Preemptively Restrict Active Aerodynamics In WorldSBK

The launch of the Honda CBR1000RR-R has caused the Superbike Commission, the rule-making body for the WorldSBK series, to take preemptive action to restrict the use of active aerodynamics. In a press release today, announcing a series of rule changes for the 2020 season, the biggest change is putting limits in place on how dynamic aerodynamics can be used.

The new rules limit the amount of movement available for active, dynamic, or movable aerodynamic parts. Moving parts will be restricted to the range of motion used on the production bike, even if the parts allow greater freedom of movement.

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