Last year’s World Superbike championship saw a Kawasaki or Ducati finish on the podium 72 times with just 78 podium places up for grabs across the 13-round season.
The dominance of those two factory manufacturers has been harming the series over the past few years, but those in charge have tried to take a significant step to bridge the gap between Kawasaki, Ducati and the rest of the field in the hope to make the racing more exciting moving forwards.
The regulations introduced to do this are bewilderingly complex on paper, but in theory it marks a step forward to making the World Superbike championship the exhilarating race series it used to be known as.
There are three key strands to the 2018 rules, new, dynamic, rev limits, a concession points system and a cost-capped approved parts list.
1) REV LIMITS
Machine-by-machine performance advantage had previously been controlled in WSB by an air intake restriction for V-twins, but for 2018 there will be a maximum rev limit for each individual manufacturer.
The FIM, led by former BSB star Scott Smart, has worked out what each machine’s ‘real’ road bike rev limit is, and then added 3.3% on top to arrive at the starting point for each manufacturer’s rev limit.
However, in order to balance performance even more, the limits can be re-visited at various points in the season. If any manufacturer is considered to be ‘running away with it’, they may be hit with a lost of a further 250 peak revs, while a struggling manufacturer may be given 250 more. Whether a certain manufacturer will be penalised or given a bonus will be decided by a computer-generated algorithm which takes into account lap times compared to all other competitors, speed trap figures, number of riders per brand, track-by-track trends, race results, laps led and overall race time.
REV LIMITS AT START OF SEASON
MV Agusta 14,700
2) CONCESSION POINTS
A concession points system introduced by series bosses basically inflicts an engine development freeze on the most successful manufacturers, with only those scoring significantly less points than the leading manufacturers able to upgrade their motors from a series of cost-capped approved parts across the season.
This will be managed by a points system, with manufacturers being handed concession points for podium finishes in dry races. Three for first, two for second and one for third.
After every three rounds, any manufacturer that sits more than nine points behind the leading concession points scorer can make one, and only one, update from the list of approved parts. They don’t have to do it right away, they can choose when they want to do it.
BOX: CONCESSION PARTS
Price cap also shown
Valve springs single € 60.00
Valve springs double € 75.00
Collet and Retainer € 45.00
Camshaft € 1,000.00
Camshaft Sprocket € 100.00
Shim bucket € 45.00
2019 Cam chain TBC
2019 Flywheel € 1,000.00
3) APPROVED PARTS
In order to help improve the competitiveness of satellite outfits, Dorna has intervened to ensure factory teams main parts can be made available to private outfits at a reduced cost.
This is nothing new in World Superbikes, with these rules already applying for brakes, suspension and electronics, but now key chassis parts are also covered.
Rear swingarms must now be approved by Dorna/FIM and are cost capped at €10,000 for the bare swing arm, with €2000 more for bearings, spacers, brackets etc. Furthermore, only one update or evolution will be allowed each season.
BOX: APPROVED PARTS TABLE
Price cap also shown
Swingarm € 10,000.00
Triple Clamps € 2,000.00
Linkage € 1,500.00
Sump € 3,000.00
Superbike Kit System € 8,000.00
For a comprehensive preview to the 2018 World Superbike season, pick up this week's MCNWSB:2018rulesexplained