2013 Donington World Superbike Weekend: Shrinking Grids Help Nobody

The reduced grid in World Superbike really shows up when one or two riders are injured and cannot race. Losing both Leon Haslam and Carlos Checa from the competition today hammered home the reasoning behind Dorna's proposed financial limiting, especially after the predictable departure of Effenbert Liberty Racing. Seventeen riders competed for points in the second race, meaning only two of them wouldn't score points. With the good weather, there were luckily very few DNFs, which would have made it look even worse. When MotoGP was in this position, defibrillators were charged, flags were run up poles, mourners wailed and changes were forced through for the good of the sport. World Superbike is getting close to this stage and something needs to be done.

With no British wildcards able to compete due to an incompatibility between the British Superbike and World Superbike specifications, the usual British invasion (including the occasional Japanese and Australian riders) that the weekend used to attract from the British series couldn't even be counted on to bolster the numbers and they were sorely missed.

What wasn't missed by the local crowds was the British National Anthem. The podium CD player may as well have been taped closed before the event as both Tom Sykes and Sam Lowes put on performances that teams, riders and trackside fans love, even if TV audiences prefer a little more ambiguity and unpredictability at the front of a race. Tom Sykes didn't make a mistake all day, apart from maybe not getting the perfect start in race one that he did in the second race, and if losing the hole shot to Sylvain Guintoli and having to take it back at turn one is the worst you'll do all race, then you're having a good weekend. Even with what could almost be considered a boring handful of races, there was plenty of action further back in the pack to keep our attention. Loris Baz's charge through the field, Marco Melandri's wonderfully terrible starts that give us the entertainment of his aggressively making up for lost time, all-Aprilia fisticuffs, Jonathan Rea's hard-fought miss of the podium, the stories behind the winner were compelling enough to keep us glued to the action.

World Supersport shows no such danger of not filling the grid, and the sight of more than double the number of World Superbike entries swooping through the undulating curves of Donington demonstrated that if more people could afford to race in World Superbikes, there would be a queue of hungry riders knocking on the doors of those who could put a team together. While Kenan Sofuoglu may prefer to remain in World Supersport, after a few failed attempts on more expensive machinery, most of the younger riders would stop at nothing for a chance on a Superbike. Sam Lowes, for instance, leading the championship, winning in an utterly dominant manner today, may well be on a Yamaha in World Superbike next year, instead of the originally planned year after next, and his twin brother Alex Lowes has openly stated that he wants to end up in World Superbike next year.

A per-rider budget limit, like the one proposed, could open the doors to a lot of talent, but something else that would help would be allowing the Panigale 1199R to breathe a little more freely. The Italian marque has long been the touchstone of production bike racing, with many World Champions straddling red V-Twin bikes. While a return to single bike dominance wouldn't be good for the sport, castrating the big boomers is hurting the image of the series. When Carlos Checa is pootling around for a fistful of points at best each week, there's only so much blaming of the rider one can do before looking at the bike.

World Superbike has always been the home of close racing, with every manufacturer able to compete for wins. In that respect, if a price cap is what's required to bring that back, so be it. The alternative is too scary a prospect to consider, especially as Dorna now owns both MotoGP and Superbike.

Race Details
Round Number: 
5
2013

Comments

Ducs & Kawasakis

If anyone of any standing in the rule making bodies pays attention to these comments on Motomatters.com, then pay attention to this. You built this series on head-to-head competitions between 2-cylinder and 4-cylinder production based race bikes. The epic battles between RC-51's, a flurry of Ducati twins, inline 4's of outstanding pedigree (such as the R1), and now the V-4's of Aprilia have made fans of sportbike riders around the world. And let's all be honest, mostly you built this series on the strength of 90 degree desmos, with challengers coming along to upset things when the Duc's became too dominant.

Now, you are alienating all of us, the Ducati fans of the world from your series. First, one guy, a former GP rider who finally learned how to ride smoothly after chucking it down the road for years, dominates for a single year, so you throw extra weight on a bike that never won with top speed anyway. Now, the new 1199 comes along and you throw restrictors on it out of the box without even giving it a chance to breathe and develop. You, World Superbike, suck! And that is an opinion shared by the millions of Ducati fans around the world.

On the plus side, the brand that made sportbikes a household name (we've all told our friends that our "insert series of letters and numbers here" is "like a Ninja bike"). And Sykes ability to conserve tires now has really excited all of us that grew up with Kawasaki wins in the 80's and 90's. Go Sykes and go Kawasaki!

Total votes: 43

I don't think this has a

I don't think this has a whole lot to do with the motor / restrictions of the ducati. The previous trellis framed bikes had a very long run of race development. Tossing a whole new frame concept taken from MotoGP was a huge risk. I don't follow the data/speed stats closely enough to judge whether or not the Ducati is slower in a straight line. That being said, I do have eyeballs and it's painfully obvious the Ducati handles like a piece of garbage.

Tweaking the restrictors or allowing them no restriction might be the right move in the short term, but it's not going to solve the long term problem with the chassis. It will be interesting to see what Ducati's plan is to handle the frame issue. The fact that the Panigale has a frame that isn't a steel trellis nor one that works well for racing hasn't effected sales much. I am under the impression that the Panigale has been a big sales success for Ducati. Perhaps the sales figures aren't as dependent upon the tech of the retail bike matching up with the tech of the race bikes as Ducati thought?

Total votes: 18

Not just Ducati fans

I think WSBK fans in general are getting fed up with Ducati being penalised for no reason, to the detriment of the racing.

Total votes: 37

Yep

It makes no sense whatsoever at the moment. The I4s are now so powerful - and tractable - that the extra capacity of the twin doesn't really give it any tangible advantage.

Release the twins! Why have four manufacturers vying for wins when you could have five? Or six; where art thou, Yamaha?

Total votes: 32

+1 yep

As Checa himself has said; last year - he had a weight penalty (6kg wasn't it). In 2011 when he won the championship, the next Ducati to him was 9th. How can anyone construe that the bike had an advantage? Fact is the rider had a brilliant year.

You can understand Checa feeling as though he was being penalised, not the bike.

Now the Panigale is penalised where its already well down on top speed.

Total votes: 24

As forecast

It seems that electronics are dominating and decimating the series. I agree that the present restrictions on Ducati make no sense. If I were Checa I would take myself off and get that shoulder fixed rather than waste a year on a bike that cannot win, largely due to the rules. A couple of interesting comments were made in the Eurosport interview with Stuart Higgs, the BSB boss (not all by him).
Firstly, lamenting the absence of UK/American/Euro wildcards in the series the difference in the rules was highlighted as the reason - it's not easy to adapt a more basic BSB/other bike. The cost difference shocked me - they had done a check on what a top BSB bike cost vs a WSBK - 70,000 vs 300,000+(the 300k is Dorna's target I think so Lord knows what the current bikes cost!).
Cannot afford to enter/cannot afford to pay riders/bring on younger riders? I wonder why. The BSB bikes are 1.5 or so seconds a lap slower, but I cannot tell the difference.
BSB isn't having it easy, with some teams declaring they cannot afford it at those prices, but the racing is close and exciting. (Perhaps some AMA similarities here).
The other comment was about the affect of electronics - de-skilling for riders and giving the advantage to the pit techies rather than benefitting the racing. They also seem to be the root cause of many of the problems on otherwise highly reliable bikes.
The ability for national riders to wildcard and be competitive is a great boost for the local fans and the likely attendance at races. It adds interest to the series, and it can all be done with bikes and a team infrastructure much cheaper than present WSBK rules.
Being in WSBK adds a lot of cost with travelling etc., but a two bike team being able to knock 500k++ off of their budget, and create closer racing has to be an attractive prospect. Doesn't it?

Total votes: 30

1. Electronics are NOT

1. Electronics are NOT dominating or decimating racing series. I is opposite. Nowedays average street bike has more electronics than average racing bike - it is not crazy - it is insane. When we look around ourselves - electronics is the cheapest way to improve our lives - period. Motorcycle racing is no different.
2. Examples of the costs from last year - guy from Sweden has paid 10k eur for one round in WSS class and 4k eur for one round /when buying 3 at one time/.... SBK class is not much more expensive from WSS in reality. Differences between bikes are bigger - so the most important rule to keep costs down is calming rule.
3. I doubt in difference between BSB and WSBK superbike. DLC cams, buckets, titanium nitrided valves, whole more detailed superfinishing of camshafts and many more is popular in BSB - not WSBK /making every engine refresh hell more expensive/. Beside that BSB electronics are top WSBK level electronics with some functions locked - so it is not much cheaper.
4. Electronics are rising skills of racers not opposite. There is NO better to learn where to seek for more traction /with body, bike, setup, whole kinematics/ - than Traction Control. Motorcycles are now last in racing technologies, and voices like yours makes us to stay further behind EVERYONE. Two months ago AlpeAdria or Fim europe has made decision that their superbike class cannot be equipped in any datalogging system. So it is going to absurd level. You may buy special intake stacks with steering for 2200 eur but you cannot have evo4 datalogger for 900 eur. It is telling directly to the face of the racer - You must crash several times - checking the limit, broke some bones and spend couple of 10's k eur until you learn - instead of analizing your data and getting faster and faster by improving safely... SAD.
Please compare knowledge of racing /even single using width of the track/ between our hardcore champions in the past http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=J7_WAeCe8oE
and any amateur racing class nowdays...
destroying... isn't it?
Why to stop evolution process? To see more blood at the track?
I still prefer less crashing - more racing...

Total votes: 41

Lessee:- Ducati introduces a

Lessee:

- Ducati introduces a new model with a chassis design that they've since abandoned in MotoGP.

- Ducati changes team management for their 2013 Superbike campaign and starts from Ground Zero in terms of electronics, setup, etc. (And having a Superstock team has some value in this field, but less than you might think).

- Ducati has one rider that is, what, 800 years old and is injured, and another rider with one podium in 93 World Superbike starts.

Therefore, logically, the reason for Ducati's poor performance is ... the series management, and five races into the new year, the rules should be changed to ensure that Ducati fans are happy.

Christ ...

WSBK has a performance balancing formula that has worked well for a very long time. I'm sure that if the Duc teams keep stinking it up like this, they'll pretty soon be allowed to run their GP13 in World Superbike.

Only turbocharged.

Props to Sykes and the Kawasaki team. They really have gotten that bike working well over a full race distance ...

p.s. The only reason Honda built the RC51 was that the WSBK rules favored big twins so blatantly that Honda simply concluded it was easiest to just build one. Having proven that it could out-Ducati Ducati, Honda quit building them.

Total votes: 34

People have long memories

But what happened in 2002 isn't relevant to the parity regulations in 2013. The 1200 twin engine hasn't demonstrated it needs to be restricted to maintain parity for quite a while. The Panigale is competitive in Superstock racing, but in WSBK it's nowhere and has to run restrictors even while bikes fly past them on the straights. It's silly.

Total votes: 27

Bingo

Yes, that's the situation in a nutshell. I agree with some of Morbidelli's thoughts. But I am not Ducatista, not even close (never owned one and have no ambition to own one) and I think they are being let down by a rule that needs to be suspended at the very least. Derestrict the Panigale and let it take its natural path of development.

Total votes: 19

Ducati

Whatever the reason, having all 4 Ducati's crossing the line as the last 4 (proper) finishers in the first race looks pretty bad. Having both the regular factory riders missing by the end of the 2nd wasn't so great either. Maybe they discreetly asked that the restrictors be retained so they have an excuse?

Rumours I've heard:
1. It won't turn;
2. Ducati won't let the Alstare team work on the motors;
3. The lubrication system is poorly designed and if you run the bike in more than superstock spec, the bottom-end lets go;
4. Ducati are sand-bagging to get rid of the restrictors so they can dominate the rest of the season (this one is in the Mary Poppins realm by now).

Total votes: 31

Open your Eyes....

...there are 2 sides to all of your arguments:

"- Ducati introduces a new model with a chassis design that they've since abandoned in MotoGP."

-> with which Stoner won a title on

"- Ducati changes team management for their 2013 Superbike campaign and starts from Ground Zero in terms of electronics, setup, etc. (And having a Superstock team has some value in this field, but less than you might think)."

-> yeah, but dropping from, at least a "sometimes-podium-contender" to a "sometimes-topten-contender" isn't due to a new bike, which supposed to have more power as designed!!

"- Ducati has one rider that is, what, 800 years old and is injured, and another rider with one podium in 93 World Superbike starts."

That 800 years old rider was world campion 2 years ago, and this weekend there was one more rider and don't forget Neukirchner. What's so silly about it is, that no matter which level a rider is, they end up about the same position. I.e.: Neukirchner, with customer-material is nearly on the same position as famous Checa with factory-material.

If you would be aware of that "performance balancing formular" you would know, that it's still present. Ducati is mostly in a situation that this formular has to take action...though this is action is just in small steps (2Kg off after ?? 4 Races, 2mm restrictors more after ??4 Races, etc.)

No company is going to build a Twin just for the reason it's going to win a SBK-title. The costs would NEVER deck the income!! Honda simply tried to jump onto the Twin-market as it was popular in the end of the 90's as several manufacturer build them and sold them pretty well (Aprilia, Suzuki, Bimota, KTM, etc.) but by doing this, they found that it's difficult to build it good enough for SBK-Homologation for an reasonable price, for a stock bike. Honda found out that they pretty much "fished in foreign lakes", which isn't actually as easy as it looked from the outside, so stepped back after 3 years!!

If it would have been just for SBK rules, they would have sat it out like Suzi, Yami and Kawi did!!

There are always 2 sides of each story. The lineup is: whether you want to have a class with multiple engine layouts or you won't. For my understanding it's the first one, otherwise we can start looking GSXR-cup races!!
So with this in mind, the obstacle is to find the best balance and therefor there is some action to be taken, It'll be interesting how this is going to look like!!

Oh one more thing, as we already mentioned SSTCK-class: Isn't it funny how well a Pannigale fits into that field without restrictors?? On tight tracks they can fight for a win (although not dominate) at tracks with long straights they still suffer, though not THAT hard as in WSBK.

Come on guys: the I-4's really stepped up that much and everybody who's technically based knows what happened: Ducati build a shorter-stroke engine which in the end has less torque but more top-power. But with those restrictors they don't really get that morepower, but the new engine layout let them still loose the grunt down low. Let them breathe freely and there we are: equal competition for everybody!!

Total votes: 26

New engine...Old engine

Maybe Ducati should blame themselves for going shorter stroke.

Total votes: 28

Electronics again

What is cheaper and private racer can make it by himself in his house:

1. modify cylinder head, cutting valve guides and checking airflow; taking another cylinder head in case making mistake - plugging usb cable downloading traction curves and changing it according to powercurve or suspected grip; pressing Ctrl-Z in case of doing sth wrong.

2. Buying CNC maschine to mill crankcases - or - buying laptop /cheapest one is still way too good for racing software/

3. Having 20-30 engines /refreshes/ as a WSBK season backup - or- 2-4of them + USB cable...

it is endless...

:)

Total votes: 20

You Can't Be

comparing a "power commander" piggyback ECU to a true racespec ecu can you? You also forget to take into account programming the traction control and anti-wheelie systems. Software and licenses are expensive, and you can't just go to the pirate bay and download them.

Total votes: 23

programming :)

YES I CAN! Both needs laptop and usb cable - exactly the same hardware as Max Biaggi or Valentino Rossi technicians have - so at least at this level we and everyone else are leveled...

Can you tell that about hardware of any other aspect of motorcycle racing???

1. I see that you are not close enough so I explain. All softwares /EFI Technology Ect Mod, Motec M1 Tune, Wintax Junior/user/ are free from manufacturer. Actually I had to pay 99 cents for Marelli soft due to not having ECU with me. Please inform which single licenses and software are expensive /mentioning wintax team for F1 is not reasonable here ;)/
2. I'm not real fan of piggyback controllers /NOT ECU!/ but fuel maps are pretty much the same. With race spec ECUs I use CLC (closed loop control) so there is no much to work on fueling map until CLC works under 5-6% correction of the map - but if so... I press Learn and new map is done by one click. So answer to you is yes - sometimes race spec ECU is easer than power commander...
3. Programming TC strategy. In fact WSS WSBK Moto2 and CRT TC strategies are way less sophisticated than OEM RSV4, Panigale or S1000RR TC strategies because are based on actual slip without taking into acount accelerometers, gyros and so one. In fact we try to use external control unit CR-2 to work as master on existing system and connect IMU sensor /the same that all we have in smartphones/ to predict what will be happening with the bike... But in fact we are chasing OEM equipement strategies somehow ;) :) - does anyone know other motorsport that is doing that? ;)
Back to TC. Most expensive investment that you may /not necessary/ have is Microsoft Office Excel to use macros and make WSBK level TC maps /have seen quite big success of this way in SBK Brno round last year/. But having buttons + - and standard slip numbers is good enough to start with /2009 WSS level/.
4. Having TC on means antywheelie on as well /in simple form/ but you may ask for help any fellow /not expensive one/ to lift front end of the bike and read front susp potentiometer value to put it in proper table and make it as separate strategy by dependint TC cut of reaching that value.
5. Launch control - you may rewrite strategy from Motec website but most of the racers are able to launch better by using just visual indicator of 40-50% of TPS. AW strategy should be off after 20meters...
6. You forgot about most important and most responsible for winning or loosing strategy... Engine Braking - this is trail-end-error method and it should be changed in small steps - but it is so much fun when you realize that your bike is turning so much better with so small step :)

All of that black magic mistery of electronics makes me laugh when I realize that one of top 10 WSS teams is using car ECU bought at ebay and home made wiring... None of crew was at any software seminar /they still use car one - found at internet/. They just did not realize that electronics should be treated as black magic /so they were trying everything what came to their mind last year/ and now they are more advanced than I was with motec M1 last year... :) really funny.
Bucket racing wins :)

BTW. Racing software requirements are similar to windows Paint or Minesweeper :) - cannot be complicated :)

Total votes: 30

Stoner Never

won a title on a frameless Carbon Fibre DUCATI. He won it on a Trellis Welded, Bridgestone shod Freak of a machine in 07. DUCATI have dominated the sport of WSB and truth be told, always had the rules witten in their favour.

10 years back, the grid was filled with 999's, the series was dubbed the DUCATI Cup and now, they find themselves with an unproven design On the world stage. DUCATI are allowed to struggle in Motogp, not SBK. Here they dominate and rightly so. Thing is, a KAWASAKI won yesterday. Hadn't won since Scott Russel on a Muzzy Powered Ninja in '93, thats 20 years. Aprilia (Italian Manufacturer too) Did well with a few podiums, BMW, Honda and Suzuki were there and thereabouts too. Despite Tom Sykes domineering display yesterday we've seen good scraps of late. I dont see why DUCATI can't struggle ? They'll get the Pinagale winning. Be patient and stop changing rules to suit them.

OH YES. HONDA designed and produced the RC51 for the simple reason of beating DUCATI at world superbike. Because they can.

Total votes: 23

Wow

We're not even halfway through the season of Ducati having a new bike and with there best rider (Checa) being so hurt he had to skip yesterday's race two and from that people are gonna start crying that Ducati is being treated unfairly. I guess even the experts think a bike should be fighting for wins being a brand new model straight away. Give it some time jeez.

Total votes: 18

Show me the recent domination

Show me the recent domination by Ducati that shows they should have their bike artificially restricted compared to the 4 cylinders, which make WAY more power anyway.

It's not that Ducati 'aren't allowed to struggle'. Thats boloney. Of course they should succeed or fail on their own merits - but thats not the case right now. The restrictors are in place to maintain parity, but the trend for the past couple of seasons - even before the Panigale and Checa's injury, is that the 4 cylinder bikes make so much more power than the Ducati that the Duc's superior traction is irrelevant.

I am not a Ducatisti or whatever, I'm just a racing fan that loves seeing a variety of machines mixing it up at the front in WSBK, and I cannot see any justification for restricting the twins at this point.

WSBK has always been too slow to update regulations based on the reality of the racing situation. They were too slow to derestrict the 750cc 4s when they were racing the 1000cc twins, they were too slow to allow 1000cc 4s when everybody in the world was buying R1s, and now they're too slow to see that the new generation of 4s like the RSV4, BMW S1000 and ZX10R are now the dominant force in WSBK. Of course if the situation is different again down the track and Ducati are dominating , then the restrictors can always be reintroduced.

Hopefully with the introduction of the new regs in 2014 restrictors are no longer neccesary and we can have great racing that reflects the true level of the machines like we get in World Superstock.

Total votes: 17

Rules changes in WSBK for

Rules changes in WSBK for parity purposes come slowly for a reason. You don't want to start making changes haphazardly and accidentally hand a competitor a clear advantage when all they needed was a season or two to straighten their own house out. And every time you give one team a break, you are in effect penalizing everyone else who built their bikes to the rules in effect at the time they built the bike.

This is why WSBK has a very specific formula for making parity-based rule changes. I have no problem with the series making changes based on that formula; I don't like performance indexing, but everyone who wants to compete in WSBK knows the score going in. On the other hand, I have a massive problem with deviating from that formula.

Checa and the Ducati went from three wins and eight podiums in 2010 to 21 podiums and 15 wins the next season on the same bike. Racing fortunes shift and wane, and that's just part of the game.

To very specifically answer your question about the Ducati needing the restrictors: The hopelessly outgunned 1098R last season in the hands of Guintoli and Checa won as many races as Honda and Kawasaki - COMBINED.

And wasn't the Panigale on pole in Australia in its first race?

p.s. Baron's idea - standardizing Superbike specs for national and international series - has been on various people's agendas for a decade. Until spec tires go away, it's a longshot at best.

Total votes: 24

I don't think reacting to a

I don't think reacting to a results pattern that has been going on for most of the past two seasons (and looks set to continue) could be construed as 'haphazard'.

In reference to Ducati's results in 2012, they did very well at Phillip Island and Imola mainly due to the fact everyone else was destroying their tyres at those tracks. Guinters put in a stellar effort at his home race, but for the main part of the year the trend was clear for all to see - Ducati was struggling against the best 4 cylinder bikes. And I say the best 4 cylinder bikes because for parity purposes thats what counts, not how the twins compared to Honda's ageing CBR. Next to the Aprilia and BMW the Duc was just outgunned, and Kawasaki has been added to that list since they've learned how to conserve tyres.

Sure Ducati are having a few extra troubles this year, but the pertinent question is still 'are the restrictors maintaining parity', and the answer is still no. Getting rid of them won't solve all Ducati's problems, but it will get rid of the absurd situation we have at the moment where one of the slowest bikes is the one being restricted.

Total votes: 18

Ducati's problems have nothing to do with restrictors

People have awfully short memories, or are willfully blind. Ducati has a new bike (with ZERO data on setup), a completely new team (also with ZERO data), and a rider who is injured. This has nothing to do with restrictors at all; it has everything to do with Ducati basically starting from ZERO.

All the Ducati fans want is a return to Ducati completely blowing the field away with a bike that has greater capacity, and all the same electronics that the 4 cylinder bikes have. If I remember correctly, Ducati won the WorldSBK championship 5 times out of the last 9 years going from 2003 to 2012. And that was with bikes of equal or great capacity than the 4 cylinder bikes, and they would have had 6 if Haga had triumphed over Ben Spies.

Total votes: 21

Not to mention that Checa won

Not to mention that Checa won 15 races in 2011. I truly believe that if Checa were not hurt, we wouldn't be having this conversation - unless we were talking to one of the Ducatista who believe that if a Duc finishes second, it's because of the rules.

Back when Honda, Suzuki and Aprilia built 1000cc V-twins, the rules allowed them to race against 750cc inline-fours. If you read the literature from the day, Honda was very blunt about why they built the RC51 - the rules completely favored Ducati-spec twins. So Honda built one. It was never intended to be a big seller on the streets (they had the SuperHawk for that). It was designed solely for Superbike racing under that rules package.

I will give Ducati props for this, though. They have always been willing to sell you a WSBK racebike that would finish on the podium. It's never been the full factory stuff, but it's always been good kit that private teams can race and have a shot at a trophy, every race. That support for the series carried it through some lean times. But it's not an excuse to change the rules.

Total votes: 24

The Ducati was being

The Ducati was being outgunned all through 2012, before the panigale was introduced. The question you need to ask is - are the restrictors helping to maintain racing parity between twins and 4s? The answer is no, and has been no for long enough that the restrictors should be dumped.

The restrictors are there to maintain parity, and should be looked at season by season to ensure they are serving their intended purpose. I'm not saying removing the restrictors will magically solve all Ducati's other problems, I'm saying with the current state of V twins competitiveness vs 4s its nonsensical to also be restricting them!

Total votes: 33

HOW QUICKLY....

We get off-topic. Jared Earle's final par was: "World Superbike has always been the home of close racing, with every manufacturer able to compete for wins. In that respect, if a price cap is what's required to bring that back, so be it. The alternative is too scary a prospect to consider, especially as Dorna now owns both MotoGP and Superbike."

So, instead of addressing the elephant in the room, we rush off into a sort of tribal fight with the Ducati proponents and the Ducati opposition tossing around half-truths with gay abandon.

Let us, for the moment, forget about Ducati's Superbike problems (and the fact is the new bike is not running the lap times or the race times of the old 1198R - for a variety of reasons).

Let us look at the point Jared made. Seventeen (17) bikes on the grid!

And wild cards (from whatever country the series goes to) cannot compete because they run different spec. bikes.

Let us wind-back to 1988, the first year of the Championship. There was a handful of series regulars and the rest of the grids were made up entirely of local riders or riders who popped across a border - or in the case of the Austrian round, flew in during a break in the Australian season.

This gave crowds two reasons to go along. To see the trick Bimotas and Ducatis and the special, very limited production RC30 Hondas battle it out, and to see how their local heroes fared on a world stage. Instant success.

Then the Flamminis got control. They stuck to the script for a while, and then turned it into a plaything for Italian millionaires. That kept the numbers of competitors up in the mid-late 2000s, but now ?

And while it kept competitor numbers up, it did nothing for crowd appeal. How many more would be at the USA rounds if the top Americans could take part? Same as at Donington, and Australia, and no doubt Assen and so on.

So, c'mon, address those issues instead of having some Ducati vs the rest tribal conflict that leads no where.

Total votes: 20

Bikeshedding

This is what's known as Bikeshedding, or Parkinson's law of triviality

The Ducati issue is easier to discuss, whereas the grid size is a little bit more complicated. 

ps. I deleted your duplicate post so replies don't get screwed up. 

Total votes: 19

Parity

Superbike is a marketing platform, founded on the notion of parity. The competitiveness of the V-twin platform, particularly for a historically significant brand, doesn't qualify for Parkinson's law of triviality.

Whether or not the SBK comission sucks at administering the rules for Ducati is a candidate for Parkinson's law of triviality. All discussions about whether or not Parkinson's law of triviality has been correctly applied are candidates for Parkinson's law of triviality.

Total votes: 19

I'd suggest that the first

I'd suggest that the first comment posted here established the grounds for the Ducati discussion, not that V-twin vs. four-cylinder parity is simpler. Far from it, based on the comments that have been posted since.

Grid size is complicated by the fact that several national race orgs, not Dorna or the FIM, have by this point sold their Superbike classes to tire companies for spec-tire competition, and have diverged widely in their rules packages by this point. It's not that National series bikes are different than WSBK bikes - it's that they're completely different from each other!

You could not run a Canadian Superbike in BSB, and you can't run an AMA Superbike in BSB, and you can't run a BSB bike in either of those two classes, nor can you run it in Australian FX-Superbike. You can't run an IDM Superbike in BSB, but you might be able to run it in AMA. And if you run in the AMA, you have zero data for WSBK Pirelli tires, etc., etc. And they're ALL different from WSBK.

Anyone wants to try to untangle that knot, have fun - as I mentioned, high-level discussions and public calls from manufacturers for years for standardized Superbike regulations have produced not an inch of progress. If WSBK goes to a "cheaper" Superstock spec, same problem - most National-level bikes still won't meet that spec.

Cheaper bikes or price caps are easy to suggest, but let's ask a hard question about that. Were the grids substantially larger when the manufacturers left WSBK in 2003/2004 than they were before? In other words, do cheaper machines equal larger grids? History suggests that it's not the case. In 1999, with full factory participation and bikes loaded with unobtanium, there were 31 bikes on the grid at Brands. In the 2002 series, with full factory participation and where Edwards or Bayliss won every race but one (talk about factory domination), there were 26 starters at Brands Hatch. In 2004, with the factories (except for Ducati) gone and everyone else ostensibly on shop-built kit, there were 26.

In 2005, it was 29, back to the pre-spec-tire, full factory days. In 2007, there were only 20 bikes. 2008, back up to 29, as there were in 2009 (and believe me, there was NOTHING "affordable" about the bike that Spies was racing that year.)

In other words, even in bike-mad Britain, the field size varied widely year to year, regardless of the specs or cost of participation. And the number of wildcards at Brands, whether in 2001 or 2008, is insignificant.

(All data on the WSBK website).

Total votes: 18

Shouldn't we be celebrating

the first double victory for Kawasaki in WSB since 2000? I'm delighted for Tom and the team.

Total votes: 24

I will watch a WSBK race over MotoGP any day of the week...

..regardless of the grid size.

But trying to maintain parity between twins and fours is inherently flawed, and Ducati has been given the advantage for far too long. Ducati needs to just get over it and build a 1000cc 4-cylinder production bike. The 1199 is so oversquare that it has no mid-range or grunt anymore, so there is no point in using a twin..

Total votes: 22

Electronics vs swept volume

The general concensus is that a 4 cylinder machine of 4 valve persuasion outguns a twin cylinder machine of 4 valve persuasion in terms of HP output by 4 to 3,hence the original format of 750cc 4 vs up to 1000cc twin. 2 stroke equality being 2:1. Actually, a long winded analysis is not necessary. The speed,acceleration deficit is abundantly apparent if you care to look at data sheets.
With the extra 200cc capacity, a twin can exploit torque at low revs, but the key for 4 cylinder tackle is electronics.
The ECU on the 4 cuts the input to one cylinder making it work like a twin when required. ..that is, run on 3 cylinders for a couple of hundredths where required, preventing spin and tyre chewing.
On the other hand,the twin cannot use the ECU to add 2 cylinders worth of top end power as required because there simply does not exist another 2 cylinders.
No matter which side of the 4,twin or 3 cylinder side of the debate you sit on,SBK is plain boring right now. A shell of its former self. STK is the show of the day for me right now. Maybe Dorna are driving the series that way.

Total votes: 22

Shrinking Grids and Ducati

All these things being done in the name of "Cost Cutting", has started to erode the sport by KILLING the show. It is a great idea to cut the costs, but to fix the real problem, VIEWING NUMBERS, which is what they keep complaining about, but then turn and do something that leads more fans away in disgust like Casey Stoner when he quit. Marketing. It seems to me they need to focus more on promotion than restriction. More people watching, more money coming in. More money coming in, the less you have to worry about saving.

BSB has done a good job of this. Yes, I know many people hate the rules imposed on that Superbike class, but I have to admit, it is my favorite national series. As far as action goes, consistently good. Plus you add in that little points thing they do at the end of year to make it a scrap for the title, brilliant! Whoever is in charge there knows the power of marketing. Those races always look like the stands are full. WSBK and Motogp do not always want to focus on making the show. Motogp seems to be turning the corner. But why they don't let teams join the grid and limit the numbers is baffling to me, and something I will talk about at another time.

As far as the issue with Ducati, I always thought when a manufacturer came out with a new bike they were allowed to run unrestricted until they showed they were too domininate after 1 or 2 races. Then the restrictors were put on. Guess I had that wrong? Checa seems like he no longer has what he once had since being injured, and no one else racing Ducati seems to be able to step up into his place. Ok riders with ok machines. Not the worst bikes out there, but certainly not the best.

Total votes: 16

Fact, Not Fiction

I think this might be helpful for future discussions about the Panigale and the performance balancing rule in WSBK:

- The intake restrictor rule and the weight rule came about because in 2007 Ducati demanded that World Superbike create a new class structure that allowed for its planned 1098 - which would have been illegal in WSBK - or it would quit racing. Ducati, the other teams and WSBK negotiated the performance balancing formula. This was not handed down from on high to punish Ducati; Ducati asked for this, participated in its creation, knew of its existence when it created the Panigale and knew exactly what engine configuration it would be raced in. Since the formula was adopted, Ducati has won the title twice in five years.

- A comparison of top speeds in Superpole (I chose that to avoid as much as possible aberrant readings due to the draft) over the years is interesting.

In 2011, when Checa slaughtered the field in World Superbike, his top speed in Superpole at Donington was 266 kph (165.28 mph) compared to the 270 kph (167.77 mph) registered by several of the four-cylinder bikes.

In 2013, Canepa's top speed in Superpole at Donington was 265 kph (164.63 mph) compared to the 271 kph (168.39 mph) registered by Guintoli on the RSV4. No other four-cylinder machine topped 270 kph.

Difference in top speed at Donington in 2011, when Ducati was killing the field: 2.49 mph.

Difference in top speed at Donington in 2013, when Ducati now is 30 seconds back at the end of the race: 3.67 mph.

In other words, the gap between the top speed of the Ducati and the fours has changed in two years by 1.27 mph.

I find it difficult to believe that a 1.27 mph change in the gap in top speed is going to drop a WSBK-winning machine from the top of the podium to 30 seconds off the pace.

And you'll find the same pattern at other tracks: Virtually no change in the top speed difference between the field-destroying 1098R in 2011 versus the under-performing 1199 in 2013.

The Ducati problem is not in the rulebook.

In re: Superstock: Maybe, just maybe, the Ducati teams in Superstock are simply stronger than the current teams in Superbike ...

Total votes: 15

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