The MCE British Superbike Championship blasts back into action later today so now is the time to get up to speed with the most competitive and innovative superbike series in the world. Our guide will transform you from an armchair critic to a BSB expert on the areas that matter most including tyre allocation, the 200bhp-plus bikes themselves, the racing and the weekend format. And for the latest updates on BSB visit www.britishsuperbike.com
200bhp plus missiles
Unlike MotoGP, machines in BSB are derived from production models and are kept as close as possible to road bikes. But they still make more than 200bhp and can hit awesome 200mph speeds with lap times just a fraction off those achieved by Rossi, Marquez and the rest in MotoGP. The bikes must maintain the same silhouette as their road-going counterparts, with the same overall appearance as seen from the front, rear and sides. The frame cannot be modified.In 2012 significant changes were made to the regulations in an effort to bring down costs while at the same time improving the spectacle and increasing the opportunity for private teams to compete on even terms against the bigger budget manufacturer-supported squads.
Teams can do as much testing as they like from January 1 up until the first round, and again after the final round until December 31. However, during the season, testing is restricted to 12 days at permanent circuits for registered BSB riders and teams. No testing is allowed at a circuit hosting a championship event in the seven days preceding the first official practice day. And teams must register test days during this period at least 72 hours before any planned event to gain approval.The pre-season has seen the majority of teams visit at least one of the Spanish circuits of Guadix, Cartagena, Almeria, Monteblanco and Calafat with official UK tests taking place at Silverstone and Donington Park last week.
A typical MCE British Superbike weekend takes place over three days, with free practice on day one, qualifying on day two and two MCE BSB races on day three. Three 50-minute practice sessions are staged (two on Friday – FP1 and FP2, and one on Saturday morning, FP3) and all riders then start the three-part qualifying session on Saturday afternoon.Thirty riders go into the 18-minute Q1 session with the top 18 going into the 12-minute Q2. Riders can put in as many laps as they wish during each session but at the end of Q2, slower riders are eliminated with the fastest nine going through to Superpole for the final single-lap shootout.
The safety car
Unlike other two-wheeled championships, the British Superbike Championship deploys a Safety Car when deemed necessary by Race Director Stuart Higgs. This can be brought about by a crash necessitating a clear up or by fluid (oil or water) deposited on the track. If the incidents aren’t too serious, the Race Director will send out the safety car for a period of time to slow the pack down and enable crashed bikes to be recovered or injured riders to be treated by medical staff. It has the benefit of meaning that races don’t get stopped and re-started, ensuring spectators can stay engaged with the race because they know what is going on.
Electronic aids such as traction control, launch control and anti-wheelie strategies were outlawed back in 2012 when controlled electronics were introduced. The objectives behind this included improving the spectacle by creating closer racing, increasing the opportunity for private teams to battle competitively and restricting performance by only allowing limited modifications to improve reliability and durability and to create parity between different motorcycle models and types.
BSB introduced a single-make tyre rule in 2008 with Pirelli becoming the sole supplier. The thinking was to level the playing field, preventing any rider from having an advantage or disadvantage at any given track, therefore making the racing even more exciting. There are multiple compounds available to each rider. Some give more grip than others and some will last longer. The temperature of the track is also a major factor in which tyre a rider will chose. The compounds are SC1 and SC2 front options and SC0, SC1 and SC2 rear, with 0 being the softest and 2 the hardest.
In 2009 British rider Leon Camier dominated the season wrapping up the coveted title with three rounds to spare. In an effort to prevent that happening again, BSB bosses came up with the Showdown format which virtually guarantees the championship will go down to the final round.The Showdown effectively divides the 12-round championship into two. The first nine meetings (19 races) form the Main Season of the championship, before the final three meetings (seven races) make up The Showdown. At the end of the Main Season, all riders drop their two worst scores, which must be from events for which they have at least qualified. From this points order, the first six riders in the championship standings will be elevated to a new base level and become the Title Fighters for the final three events and seven races of the championship.Each Title Fighter starts The Showdown with 500 points, plus additional points for each podium position they have obtained in the Main Season termed Podium Credits – five for a win, three for second and one for third. The standard points scoring format from the Main Season (see right) then continues for The Showdown, with all points scored from the final seven races counting. All riders outside of the Title Fighters go on to race for the BSB Riders’ Cup, continuing to add to their points total from the end of the Main Season.
How the points are awarded