Gary Pinchin's British Superbikes blog: Never mind the politics - what about the racing?
Politics, it seems are the order of the day in British Superbikes.
Which is a bit disappointing since the championship decider is on October 14 at Brands Hatch and is largely being overshadowed by what is going on behind the scenes.
By now you may well have read this week’s ‘BSB teams – where’s the money?’ It’s a question aimed squarely at Dorna, BSB’s commercial rights holders.
The teams claim that far from Dorna bringing new-found financial growth to the series, they’ve actually delivered nothing while their own costs are rising year on year. British Superbike bosses (MCRCB – essentially the circuit owners) are saying pretty much the same thing.
The MCRCB, on the other hand, are constantly striving to improve the show and curb costs for the teams. It’s in their interest to achieve both for the future prosperity of the championship, hence the latest idea of the single tyre supplier for 2008 – across British Superbikes and British Supersport.
Trouble is Dorna don’t seem to see it the same way. They already admitted to MCN in this week’s feature that they are not making any money in the series - and until they do, the teams won’t see a return.
In fairness to Dorna, they say they want to re-instate prize money – but again, only once they start making money.
From Dorna’s point of view, they entered into this partnership with British Superbikes as a commercial venture. No one can blame them for that.
What British Superbike insiders criticise though is their lack of enterprise in finding new avenues of income to bring to the table.
By Dorna UK boss Tony Partis’ own admission in MCN this week, selling British Superbikes is not an easy proposition but it helps if you’ve got people who understand the sport, on the ground, working the paddock, to get a better feel for how the sport ticks.
Only then can you have a chance of persuading outside backers to spend their money within the sport. It’s quite damning when teams claim they don’t even know who Dorna’s British Superbike Commercial Manager is!
So how do Dorna achieve something they’ve not managed to do in four years? The simple answer is that they’re not going to – not in the final year of their contract. That’s why they’re pushing for a 10-year deal.
But to make a profit they reckon they’re going to have to hit the circuits harder. I’ve heard that one way Dorna are thinking is to have a clean circuit for British Superbike rounds and then take all the trackside signage money themselves. That’s well and dandy when you’ve got a series like F1 or MotoGP but I can’t see that working in British Superbikes.
The problem is that British Superbikes is the only form of motorsport making any money for the circuits. Even British Touring Cars struggles to attract crowds so British Superbikes is the circuits’ only big pay day. And they need every bit of revenue they can get to keep up with the constant safety upgrades, never mind spectator improvements.
Can you see them wanting to give Dorna an even bigger slice of their cake? No, nor can I.
It’s not just the circuits that Dorna are targeting to improve their financial position. The latest gossip I’ve heard is that even though the proposals for a single tyre supplier across British Superbikes and British Supersport issued by the MCRCB categorically state the aims are to improve the show (everyone on identical rubber should, in theory, make the racing more competitive) and to bring no extra financial burden to the race teams, Dorna are after a cut if it happens.
Dorna angered the superstock teams this year when tyre prices were hiked up by nine per cent - seemingly to bump up the rights fee paid to Dorna.
That’s something the MCRCB are addressing with the British Superbikes / British Supersport single tyre supplier proposals by divorcing technical supply contracts from commercial rights.
I think this all goes to illustrate what everyone in the British Superbike paddock is asking, is the series big enough to support the level of resource Dorna is committing to the series? And I think everyone is in agreement to the answer.