WSBK: Riders await final regulations to begin 2015 negotiations

Riders' contract negotiations held hostage by 2015 rules not being finalized

2015 world superbike rules negotiations dragging riders contracts

Marc Marquez kickstarted riders' negotiations for 2015 by renewing his contract with Honda as early as the French round in Le Mans, but the ripples set in motion by the young Spaniard are still far from the WSBK shore (which is also watched by Dorna). The contracts of several top contenders in the production-based championship – such as Tom Sykes, Jonathan Rea, and Eugene Laverty – are set to expire at the end of the season, but talks are kept on hold until the new regulations will be ratified.

When that will be, no one knows yet. However, the sooner, the better. During the fifth round of the season in Donington (UK), several managers expressed skepticism as of why a draft of the new rulebook has not yet been released despite an informal agreement between FIM, Dorna and OEMs.

According to different sources, future regulations will allow for the modification of the cylinder head, including intakes, valves, springs and cams. Crankshaft and connecting rods, however, should be left untouched or only substituted with components made of different materials but weighing as much as the original. The proposed price cap for electronics cannot exceed the €8,000 mark (roughly $11,000), while the one for suspensions and brakes will remain the same. The maximum retail price for a homologated bike will be €40,000 (almost $55,000), while the final number of units to be produced to receive homologation will decrease from 1,000 to 500. Before these changes are officially confirmed, however, no team can itemize the budget for 2015 and therefore proceed with negotiations with the riders.

Both Rea and Sykes expressed an interest in MotoGP, but only if they are given a factory bike. Therefore, they seem likely to stay with their current teams, with which they have a shot at the title in WSBK. Laverty, on the other hand, has been struggling with the reliability of his Suzuki after seizing an historic win in his debut in Phillip Island. The Irishman signed a one-year contract especially to leave room for a switch to the MotoGP with the same manufacturer. To this end, the team has scheduled two tests, one in Okayama (Japan) next Thursday and the other in Phillip Island on June 3 and 4. However, the squad ran by Davide Brivio also held talks with Dani Pedrosa and Aleix Espargaró (though an agreement is far from within reach at the moment).

In the end, however, many competitive rides are up for grabs. Ducati is not one of them, since both Davide Giugliano and Chaz Davies have signed two-year contracts, while Suzuki and Aprilia have an option to renew their respective contracts with Alex Lowes and Marco Melandri. Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia), Leon Haslam (Honda) and Loris Baz (Kawasaki) will also be free agents at the end of 2014, but all the riders are being held captive by the regulatory stalemate. The unfortunate situation mirrors what happened last year regarding the EVO category, which was ratified in August 2013. The expected deadline for the 2015 rulebook's draft was originally set for Aragon. At any rate, it should be formalized before the end of June, when many teams have to register their budgets with their respective constructors.