Winning Evo championship strategy explained
In so many ways the Evo class within the overall WSB grid in 2014 was unusual but arguably the thing that most set it apart from other WSB initiatives of the past was its scoring method.
Each SBK rider on the grid – full WSB or Evo Class – was awarded points based on how they finished in the overall Superbike races.
With the top 10 or 11 places almost always filled by full Superbike machines, that meant that Evo riders did not get 25 points for an Evo ‘win’ but just took their WSB points in each race across to the Evo championship standings.
This scoring peculiarity had a profound effect on the approach of the team that won the title, KRT, with their lone official Ninja ZX-10R rider David Salom.
“The main factor in winning a title is always the rider,” said KRT team manger Guim Roda recently. “I think David made a very good job and he understood the philosophy of the Evo class because it was important to not make mistakes. You could not gain 25 points for winning the Evo race, you had to play with four, five six, seven maximum.”
So massive points changes were unrealistic ambitions for even the best Evo riders at any stage. With the best Evos giving away 20 - 30 bhp to the best Superbikes it was just too much of a gap to make up to achieve double digit points scores. It made for a whole new way of thinking according to Roda.
“That meant that the difference between winning - and taking second or third - was just one, two or three points,” said the Spanish-based team manager. “If you made a mistake and lost a race then it would be very difficult to recover. We analysed the championship before the start of the season and realised that it would be better to make a ‘bad’ race and take only three or four points than make any mistakes from the front and lose or crash out. We understood this clearly and it was a key point to follow.”
All the same, Salom still rode to win wherever possible because that is the only way to win 13 of the 24 individual Evo contests, as he did in 2014. His campaign was helped to some degree by occasional tech issues affecting Niccolo Canepa (Althea Racing Ducati) and the (sometimes non-racing) crashes and injuries that plagued the season of Sylvain Barrier (BMW Motorrad Italia SBK).
Given his win ratio of more than 50% the Evo Championship scoring quirks made it all the more weird that he had to wait to the very last round to officially earn the title because – in theory at least - his main competitor Canepa could have scored more than the 30 points he trailed Salom by on the eve of the finale at Losail.