World Superbike: Bimota suspended, no recovery of points for cancelled races

Bimota suspended from further competition, controversial Dorna/FIM decision to not make up points for cancelled South African round angers many teams

World Superbike bimota out homologation

The two major issues affecting World Superbike we posted last week are now official. Today, championship organizer Dorna and FIM announced that Bimota is officially halted from further competition after failing to meet homologation requirements. Also, it was announced that the possibility to compensate for the amount of points that will be missed due to the cancellation of the South African round has been denied.

Bimota's failure to meet homologation requirements for WSBK competition does not come as a surprise. The small, Rimini-based factory does not have a production line, which makes it a rather long process to assemble 125 bikes (the minimum required for initial homologation). Also, sources at BMW (who prefer to remain anonymous), which supplies the engine for the BB3, have repeatedly stated that only less than a third of the required engines were actually delivered to Bimota.

The Italian manufacturer, however, is not giving up its WSBK dreams. “Six to eight weeks would have probably been enough to assemble the remaining bikes,” recites Bimota's press release. “These last few months of 2014 will be utilized to meet the necessary requirements of the new WSBK regulations, and be competitive again at the beginning of next season.”

Negotiations between Bimota and Alstare, the team that served as a racing hub for the manufacturer, are currently taking place in Italy. Much is yet to be discerned as to whether the two parties will take the matter to court or reach an agreement to continue the partnership instead. Meanwhile, the Belgian squad lead by Francis Batta is looking for options to allow its contracted riders (Ayrton Badovini and Christian Iddon) to compete until the end of the year. Alstare runs a junior team in the British Superbike Championship, which appears to be the most viable option. Badovini, however, was also contacted by the JiR Moto2 team for a test.

As for the WSBK calendar, the decision not to recover the points lost due to the cancellation of the South African round came as a surprise for most team managers. Dorna and FIM, after proposing to hold an extra race in Qatar or double the points, asked each team's opinion. It was understood that the majority's verdict would apply, but, as it turned out, only a unanimous decision would be ratified.

It was pretty easy to guess which team vetoed the proposal, and the resulting decision boosts Tom Sykes' title chances. The reigning world champion has a 44-point advantage over Sylvain Guintoli. For example, even if the Frenchman won the remaining six races, now Sykes would only have to finish second three times and third three times to clinch the title by two points.

“I feel disappointed because the championship was supposed to require a different kind of commitment,” said Romano Albesiano, head of Aprilia Racing. “With 14 races and only eight engines per rider per season, we had to carefully evaluate durability. The number of races is an essential variable to this end, and reducing it can radically change performance. You no longer have to limit the revs at a certain regime.”

The decision to cancel the South African round, however, came only in August, citing delays in the work required for the track to receive homologation.

“If the calendar changes at the last minute, whoever successfully limited performance to favor durability is penalized compared to who had a problem with the engines' rotation,” Albesiano added. “I find it ridiculous that a decision like this needs unanimity, as there will always be someone who has a particular interest to defend. It seems a bad way to end this championship.”

A championship that, as of today, has only three races left and a total of twelve in the calendar, an all-time low since 2006.