The final 2015 technical regulations that will take WSB into a more stock-based era from now on were ratified shortly before Christmas but the vast majority of the new limitations were already agreed in the summer months.
As the FIM’s Scott Smart explained, arriving at rules for this season was not just an exercise in limiting costs and complication, but in dealing with WSB’s unique position for the competing manufacturers.
With so many domestic Superbike championships being run to some kind of Stock or lightly modified Stock rules, WSB is still the main global class where manufacturers come to develop their next generation of motorcycles. Particularly in terms of electronics and engine tuning strategies.
Hence the retention of ride-by-wire even for machines that do not have it as stock and no adoption of BSB-style control ECUs.
“There are certain requests from the manufacturers that are grounded in research and development budgets, for example, versus what they need to achieve on the racetrack,” said Smart of WSB. “So there is definitely a balancing act and there are certain things you have to take into consideration. Overall I am pretty pleased where the rules have ended up.”
The reality of some manufacturers having much more expensive, advanced or simply newer standard machines to go racing with than their rivals was demonstrated by the Evo class last year, where only two or three machines were truly competitive at world level. Most WSB manufacturers were not even represented by regular Evo entries.
Hence the 2015 tech rules are not quite Evo and not quite old-style liberal WSB versions – but with enough left in them to keep eight manufacturers and their homologated machines in the championship, just like WSB enjoyed last year.
“Setting out the stall with Evo last year meant that manufacturers knew that it could go a very long way towards a stock motorbike,” said Smart. “Certain manufacturers would have been very pleased about that - those that have got brand new bikes. However, the balance has come back just about right. The engines are in a perfect position. The electronics are going to be a lot of work for everybody this season, just to get everything ready for the first couple of rounds, but then it is going to be in a good place.”
Manufacturers and their teams who need more track time to get their 2015 electronics fully tested now have a dispensation to use their 2014 systems at the first two flyaway rounds, but must use their cost-capped and universally available 2015 electronics packages from then on.