New WSBK Rules: Pit Stops To Replace Restarted Races

World Superbike is to see pit stops introduced from 2013 onwards during wet races. Races affected by changing conditions - either rain falling during a dry race or a track drying out after rainfall - will no longer be stopped, except for 'extraordinary conditions', or conditions which affect rider safety. Instead of stopping the race and restarting with either wet or dry tires, riders will now be allowed to come in to the pits, where the the team will be allowed to change tires and, if necessary, suspension settings. Only three mechanics will be allowed to help each rider during the pit stop, though the rider himself will be allowed to help.

The decision to introduce pit stops is a result of two factors: the first is pressure from TV broadcasters to remain within their given broadcast window, a move that prompted MotoGP in the past to introduce flag-to-flag races. This system was also adopted by World Superbikes, but when the series switched to a single bike per rider at the start of the 2012 season, that became impossible. Reverting to stopping and restarting has not been popular with TV companies, and so WSBK has instead adopted pit stops, allowing teams to change wheels. That change will likely see the widespread adoption of - very costly - Endurance style quick-release wheel axles and brakes to speed up wheel changes, but depending on the speed of the teams it could also lead to riders attempt to stay out for longer in difficult conditions, and risking crashes.

The introduction of pit stops was just one of the rule changes agreed during the meeting of the Superbike Commission at the final round of World Superbikes at Magny-Cours just over a week ago. A number of other modifications to both the sporting and technical regulations were also made, including the introduction of a 3-abreast echolon grid instead of the 4-abreast system, the introduction of tail lights to be used in wet conditions, and brake lever protectors. All of these changes have already been tested in the three classes in MotoGP.

The two biggest changes to the technical regulations are to the minimum weight and to the wheels. The six kilogram ballast added to the V twins (in other words, Ducati) has been dropped, and the Ducatis will now start the season with the same weight as the four-cylinders machines. The move is partly in response to Ducati's introduction of the Panigale; the radically redesigned V twin has a long way to go along its development path. The performance balancing rules remain in place, meaning that should the Ducati prove too successful, extra weight can be added according to the formula set out in the rules. 

The loss of the six kilo ballast should mean that Carlos Checa will shortly announce he will remain with the Althea Ducati squad for next season. Checa had been extremely vocal in his criticism of the extra ballast the 1198R had been forced to carry, and had hinted it would be barely worth competing if the extra weight were to remain. His rival Max Biaggi, the 2012 World Champion aboard the Aprilia RSV4, takes a diametrically opposed view of the situation: "They [Ducati] were already competitive before. Now they'll start with championship already halfway won," the Italian told GPOne.com.

The second major change is the switch to 17-inch wheels. The idea behind the switch is to bring the Superbikes closer to the production machines from which they are descended, and to slow the bikes down a little. The aim to slow them down has been quite unsuccessful: at the Aragon test which took place this week, all of the bikes were as fast or faster on the new, larger wheels than they were on the old 16.5-inch wheels, the traditional 'racing' wheel size.

These rules will remain in place for at least the 2013 season. After that, the series is likely to move more towards a Superstock format, in line with the wishes of Dorna, who have just taken control of the series. No formal announcements on the future beyond 2013 are to be expected for some time to come, however. First, the rules for MotoGP for 2014 and beyond must be determined, in a process which Carmelo Ezpeleta has said must take place before the start of 2013. Only then will we know the future of World Superbikes.

Below is the official press release containing a full list of the changes introduced by the Superbike Commission:


FIM Superbike & Supersport World Championships
FIM Superstock 1000cc Cup

Changes to the Regulations

The Superbike Commission, composed of Messrs Paolo Flammini (IMS Chief Executive Officer), Ignacio Verneda (FIM Executive Director, Sport) and Giulio Bardi (Team representative), during several meetings held between 8 and 17 October, unanimously decided to introduce the following main modifications to Regulations of the Road Racing Superbike & Supersport World Championship and FIM Superstock Cup for 2013.

A number of representatives of Infront Motorsports and the FIM took part in these working meetings (Messrs Paolo Ciabatti, Rezsö Bulcsu, Igor Eskinja, Fabio Fazi, Steve Whitelock, Charles Hennekam and Paul Duparc).

Application from 01/01/2013

Sporting Regulations

- Grid position in 3-3-3-3 echelon configuration.

- Clarification of the Superpoles for Superbike (depending on weather specific conditions).

- Clarification of the starting procedure.

- Clarification of the red flag procedure.

- A Superbike race will not be interrupted for climatic reasons except for extraordinary events and riders who wish to change tyres or make adjustments must enter the pits (at any moment) and do so during the actual race.

- A new article 1.23, related to Pit Stops, has been introduced:

1.23 PIT STOPS

Riders may enter the pits during the race.
Refueling is strictly prohibited.
Any infringement of this rule will be penalized with a disqualification.

For the Superbike class only, the following procedure will also apply:

  • Riders who wish to change tyres or make adjustments in the pit lane must stop in front of their garage, turn off the engine and dismount from their motorcycle. Only three mechanics, clearly identified with an official armband, are allowed to touch the motorcycle or work on it during the pit stop. These three mechanics cannot receive any external help in the pit lane (i.e. passing the tools from the garage, etc.), but the rider can help them if he wishes to do so. A marshal will monitor the situation and report any infringement of this rule which will be penalized by the Race Direction with a ride through.
  • The use of power tools (maximum two at the same time, electric or pneumatic) is allowed.
  • Stands or lifts must operate manually and cannot be power assisted.
  • The use of an auxiliary starter and/or of a booster battery is allowed to restart the motorcycle.

Technical Regulations:

For Superbike:

- Minimum weight :
   - 1200 cc 2 cylinders: 165 kg
   - 1000 cc 3 and 4 cylinders: 165 kg

- Balancing various motorcycle concepts:
For 1200 cc 2 cylinders: The minimum weight may be increased twice by 3 kg reaching a weight of 168 kg and 171 kg respectively. The upper limit is 171 kg. If this measure proves to be insufficient, then the air restrictor handicap will be applied according to the relevant provisions described in Art 2.4.8.1.3.

- The pre-assembly of the spare frame shall be strictly limited to:
Main frame
Bearings (steering pipe, swing arm, etc.)
Swing arm
Rear suspension linkage and shock absorber
Upper and lower triple clamps
Wiring harness

- Modifications to the frame at the swing-arm pivot area are allowed to give a maximum of +/-5 mm of adjustment vertically and horizontally. Welding and machining is allowed for the purpose of making this modification of the original swing-arm pivot, regardless of the technology used and the dimensions of the component or section of the frame (i.e.: cast, fabricated, etc.).

- Wheels: Only wheels made from aluminum alloys are allowed.
The use of the following alloy materials for the wheels is not allowed: Beryllium (>=5%), Scandium (>=2%), Lithium (>=1%). Each specific racing wheel model must be approved and certified according to JASO (Japanese Automotive Standards Organization) T 203-85 where W (maximum design load) of art. 11.1.3 is 195 kg for front wheel and 195 kg for rear wheel, K = 1.5 for front and rear wheels. Static radius of tyre: front 0.301 m, rear 0.331 m. Wheel manufacturers must provide copy of the certificate for their wheel(s) as proof of compliance to the FIM Superbike Technical Director when requested.
For motorcycles equipped with a double sided swing arm (rear fork), the rear sprocket must remain on the rear wheel when the wheel is removed.

- Wheel sizes:
Wheel rim diameter size (front and rear): 17 inches
Front wheel rim width: 3.50 inches.
Rear wheel rim width: 6.00 inches.

- Handlebar levers: Motorcycles must be equipped with brake lever protection, intended to protect the handlebar brake lever from being accidentally activated in case of collision with another motorcycle.

- Fairings: The exact appearance, shape, size and location of the front headlights of the homologated motorcycle must be respected, and should be obtained by applying a plastic or metallic film on the front of the motorcycle.

- Rear Safety Light: All motorcycles must have a functioning red light mounted at the rear of the seat, to be used during Wet Races or in low visibility conditions, as declared by the Race Direction.

For Supersport:

- The total number of engines that can be used by a team during the entire Championship is limited to eight (8) per permanent rider. If a permanent rider is replaced or substituted during the Championship, the total engine allocation for the team will not change.

- Handlebar levers: Motorcycles must be equipped with a brake lever protection, intended to protect the handlebar brake lever from being accidentally activated in case of collision with another motorcycle.

- Rear Safety Light: All motorcycles must have a functioning red light mounted at the rear of the seat, to be used during Wet Races or in low visibility conditions, as declared by the Race Direction.

For Superstock:

- The total number of engines that can be used by a team during the entire Championship is limited to three (3) per permanent rider. If a permanent rider is replaced or substituted during the Championship, the total engine allocation for the team will not change.

- Handlebar levers: Motorcycles must be equipped with a brake lever protection, intended to protect the handlebar brake lever from being accidentally activated in case of collision with another motorcycle.

- Rear Safety Light: All motorcycles must have a functioning red light mounted at the rear of the seat, to be used during Wet Races or in low visibility conditions, as declared by the Race Direction.

- Additional equipment
Additional electronic hardware equipment not on the original homologated motorcycle cannot be added with the exception of FIM / IMS approved data logging units.

OTHER SPORTING MODIFICATIONS, TECHNICAL AND DISCIPLINARY REGULATIONS WILL BE AVAILABLE SOON ON THE FIM WEBSITE.

http://www.fim-live.com/en/sport/official-documents-ccr/codes-and-regulations/

World Superbike is to see pit stops introduced from 2013 onwards during wet races. Races affected by changing conditions - either rain falling during a dry race or a track drying out after rainfall - will no longer be stopped, except for 'extraordinary conditions', or conditions which affect rider safety. Instead of stopping the race and restarting with either wet or dry tires, riders will now be allowed to come in to the pits, where the the team will be allowed to change tires and, if necessary, suspension settings. Only three mechanics will be allowed to help each rider during the pit stop, though the rider himself will be allowed to help.The decision to introduce pit stops is a result of two factors: the first is pressure from TV broadcasters to remain within their given broadcast window, a move that prompted MotoGP in the past to introduce flag-to-flag races. This system was also adopted by World Superbikes, but when the series switched to a single bike per rider at the start of the 2012 season, that became impossible. Reverting to stopping and restarting has not been popular with TV companies, and so WSBK has instead adopted pit stops, allowing teams to change wheels. That change will likely see the widespread adoption of - very costly - Endurance style quick-release wheel axles and brakes to speed up wheel changes, but depending on the speed of the teams it could also lead to riders attempt to stay out for longer in difficult conditions, and risking crashes.

Comments

single sided swing arm vs. double sided swing arm

..."For motorcycles equipped with a double sided swing arm (rear fork), the rear sprocket must remain on the rear wheel when the wheel is removed"....

Why would the rules require the above? That will give a huge advantage to the single sided bikes, since they don't have to deal with the chain during the rear wheel change.

Total votes: 53

What?

If you want to change rear tire fast...the rear sprocket must remain on one side of the swing arm anyway. If you need to take chain off and mount everything again you are out of the game. So for fast change you need a system where sprocket with a chain is mounted to one side of the swing arm. You remove mounting points of the wheel and swap for another. It is not such a big deal. So the rules only state what will be necessary for fast wheel change. I do not see a problem here.

Total votes: 65

my point exactley

If you read the above again you will find that the rules appear to forbid the use of the systems that are used in the endurance world. As you stated very rightly the chain and sprocket are staying on the swingarm in endurance racing and only the wheel gets changed.
The new rules appear to require the sprocket to stay on the WHEEL. Hence my surprise, because that will mean that the teams with DSS will have a major disadvantage compared to the SSS teams.
Really can't think of any reason to make this a rule and wonder if it might be a mistake.

Total votes: 62

Pit Stops

Eh.. I understand the pressure, but pit-stops in motorcycling just seems so... .. dirty.

Total votes: 60

Not really.

It is emergency pit stop. And I agree with them. To much weather changes this year. They waited before stopping the race until half of the riders ware out (if they stop the race it is bad thing for every one). That is stupid. Now they can make pit stop and the race go on.

Total votes: 63

V Twin

I consider this class to be World Super Bike not World Super 1000's.
If the V Twin is so much better, why don't most manufacturers just do one and then win? Honda did it before returning to 4's and winning (again against the Ducatis).
The V Twin has advantages and disadvantages. In Russia, although the Ducati's were very fast in practice sessions, they couldn't simply stay ahead of the 4's. Even with the 6kgs off the result wouldn't have changed that much. This happened in so many races it was getting quite ridiculous. Sykes with a tyre sliding all over the place was able to pull a big enough gap to stay ahead of Checa (Germany).
Aprilia built a bike good enough for MotoGP (top CRT), with adjustable geometry and other things useful only for racing not for the general public. That is surely not an advantage, because the bike is a V4 1000.
Let the Ducatis be, check if it will be a rider being amazingly fast or every Ducati, add restrictions as necessary.

Total votes: 56

yes it does

Actually it makes a very large difference in the most important and relative metric, power to weight ratio. While every other developer remained at the same weight as 2011, they were able to developed more power and refinement in the chassis and effectively increased their power to weight ratio.

But Ducati, first had to find a place to put the extra 6kg on the bike that only weighs 165kgs. Placing the weight in an appropriate place to have at least a neutral effect on handling instead of a negative one is a challenge. Then, since you have added weight, you have lowered your power to weight ratio. You must develop more power just to get BACK to the starting point of the last race of 2011. Then you have to develop even more power to begin to compete with everyone else's increases in power. Add to this equation, the fact that with the added weight, came a decrease in the throttle body intake size on the Ducati, effectively decreasing power and making it even more difficult to develop HP.

So yes, with the 6kgs off, the end result could have been very, very different on the race track. The added weight complicates things quite a bit.

Total votes: 56

Pit Stops

David, you claim that the introduction of pit stops in wet races "will likely see the widespread adoption of - very costly - Endurance style quick-release wheel axles and brakes."

Are those quick release systems really so costly? The World Endurance Championship riders have been using them for as long as I can remember (late 1970s) and as most Endurance teams are private efforts, surely the cost cannot be that big a factor?

I have been saying for years that both MotoGP and SWC claim to be professional series. So how come they are not professional enough to handle a pit stop and wheel change mid-race when the privateer endurance teams can?

Pit stops are routine in many auto racing categories, why not in bike racing. Certainly adds some more spice.

Anyone who attended one of the Australian Castrol Six-Hour races in the late 1970s and early 1980s will tell you that a bunch of dealer-backed teams were carrying out tyre changes with Production bikes (NO quick change wheels) at each refuel stop. Thanks to You-Tube, you can see one around a minute into this clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o2hrvbZKziw

This was 1984!

Are the Euro teams so disorganised they could not manage this?

As for the tech rules, they should drop the 50mm intake (unfairly) imposed on twins as well. It is unbelievable the handicapping twins are saddled with. And how about allowing 1100cc triples?

Finally, the one-bike rule is silly. The teams take more than two bikes per rider to each race, one fully assembled, the others in pieces that have to be assembled in the worst possible conditions - at short notice with the mechanics under pressure.

Instead, why not allow the teams to have their spare bike fully assembled, but placed in an impound and only able to be taken out after the scrutineers have deemed the original bike is damaged to the point it requires substitution?

Total votes: 79

The Kawa in the video still

The Kawa in the video still has its center stand :-)

Total votes: 57

New WSBK Rules

Looks like Carmelo Ezpeleta wants to dumb down SuperBikes same way he's doing to MotoGP. Which should be prototype the best of the best.

Total votes: 60

3 by 3 grid?

Why is this?

Total votes: 50

First Corner...

I believe it is too reduce the carnage of first corner pile-ups. This gives a chance for the field to spread out just a bit before going into turn-1. (although I never really considered this a problem for WSBK, except Monza)

I remember when they announced this for Moto2, there were concerns that with so many riders, the guys in the back of the field would generate too much speed, since they started so far back on the straight away, and wipe-out riders already in the first corner... seems like it turned out ok, which is good.

I have a few very casual bike racing fans and they always tell me... "they should adopt pit-stops to make the racing more exciting".... I get that, but one of the things I've always loved about bike racing is that the racing is in the hands of the riders once the flag drops. This, to me, takes the outcome of the racing away from the riders and puts it into the hands of mechanics, which is not so good.

Total votes: 55

Carmelo had nothing to do

Carmelo had nothing to do with these rule changes as far as I know.

I don't really like pit stops in motorcycle racing, either. I always liked the fact that once the flag dropped, it was one rider, one bike, one set of tires, and one tank of gas. I understand the purpose of them here, but I see more safety hazards with this approach. Hurrying to put on a new wheel? What if they get something wrong?

Total votes: 57

Sensible decision

in my view.
Endurance racers have been doing it for years without problems - hopefully the professionals in this series will bring some improvements to the kit too.
Limiting the people involved is a good idea - in F1 you can hardly see the car!
It lets the rider check the axle bolts and brake pressure too. With a decent commentary and video it will help non-bikers understand the issues around bikes too - all good for widening the appeal of the sport and biking.

Total votes: 57

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