World Superbike enacts wild grid rules change for Race Two in 2017

Race One results will now determine grid for Race Two in the first three rows—except Race One podium finishers will have to start from Row Three

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In apparent effort to spice up the races at World Superbike events, the FIM Superbike Commission has enacted a wild rule change for the Race Two grid, making the first three rows determined by finishing order in Race One...with a twist.Photo courtesy of WorldSBK.com

A bombshell was dropped on the World Superbike Championship with the announcement of changes to the grid lineup for the second race of a World Superbike event. Instead of Superpole qualifying deciding both race grids, Race Two’s first three rows will be decided by Saturday’s Race One results—with a twist thrown in.

The front three rows of Race Two will be determined in the following way:

  • The top three finishers in Race One will start from Row Three, and see 1st and 3rd reverse their positions.

  • Riders who finished in 4th, 5th and 6th will be promoted to the front row.

  • Riders who finished in 7th, 8th and 9th will start from the second row.

It was stated that Superpole qualifying results will continue to define starting positions for riders who finished in 10th position or lower, but what was not clarified is what happens when a rider that qualified in the first three rows finishes outside of the top 10, most likely as a result of a DNF. Do they get moved to the back of the grid? Are they slotted into the 10th and following positions for Race Two, with the rest of the grid moved back accordingly?

The announcement came after the December 1 meeting of the FIM Superbike Commission—made up of Gregorio Lavilla (WSBK Sporting Department Director), Takanao Tsubouchi (MSMA Representative), Rezsö Bulcsu (FIM CCR Director) in the presence of Messrs Daniel Carrera (Dorna), Paul Duparc, Charles Hennekam and Scott Smart (FIM)—which addressed changes to the 2017 MOTUL FIM Superbike & Supersport World Championships Regulations that were made.

Other than the aforementioned grid changes in World Superbike Race Two, the introduction of flag-to-flag races (where riders are permitted to come into the pits for a wheel/tire swap for weather changes, instead of waiting for a red flag) for World Superport was also a bit of a surprise, given that the stock wheel hardware was mandated in the class. But the technical rules were amended to allow changes to the “wheel axles, related parts and front fender mounts. These changes will mean we will see easier, safer and faster wheel changes.” Anyone who’s struggled with lining up the wheel spacers and brake pads/calipers while changing a wheel on a stock sportbike knows what a mess it would’ve made in the pits if the rules weren’t changed in this area.

There are also slight changes to the Sporting rules such as the meanings of the signaling flags or rider's behaviors. Also, as is done in MotoGP, there will be a ban of the use of scooters in order to aid track familiarization in advance to or over a race weekend.

There will also be a new and updated time schedule across the weekend which was yet to be defined, promising changes to how the World Superbike race weekend is played out, especially with the introduction of the World Supersport 300 series.

In each class, 2 wild cards will be allocated for each event and the deadline for presenting the wild card candidature will be extended to 90 days for overseas event. There have also been slight technical changes for World Superbike in 2017 as seen below:

FIM Superbike World Championship: Airbox regulations have been updated meaning sensors will now be allowed to change. Additionally parts of the Variable intake tract system may now be replaced for added strength, whilst retaining exactly the same functionality as the respective street bike.