BSB Increases The Cost Of Entry…
The promoters of the British SuperBike Championship yesterday announced the rules and regulations for the 2012 season.
As expected the rules have heavily relaxed the no tuning concept found in the Evo class over the last couple of seasons despite retaining the Evo name. In reality it is a transition to something close to the fully tuned SuperBike spec. engines that exist at World SuperBikes and the rest of the British SuperBike field.
They are being sold as a cheaper alternative but this revolves around the use of standard pistons and a ban on expensive titanium rods. As discussed previously running full spec. engines is crucial to be able to have a competitive field across the board yet few rely on the titanium option so the cost saving is questionable but the new found freedom is most welcome.
In fact our own SuperBike is already using stock pistons and rods although, to be fair, the rods have been balanced. Fortunately we can continue to run these modified items although the rules state “The weight must be the same or greater than the original homologated part.”
Due to the tolerances allowed in the homologation papers we re still safe. We could even have some aftermarket rods made up to 15g lighter than standard despite the new rules. It gets even more confusing with an Aprilia where 21g can be removed due to some minor contradictions in the official paperwork.
Some of the less relevant rules are mainly noise to help sell the concept that this is a new cheap initiative. You can’t lighten the crank but, realistically, nobody ever does these days. In fact many would rather make it heavier to provide greater inertia to help increase grip at the rear tyre.
You can’t use surface treatments on standard parts although it is still possible on crankshaft bearing surfaces. We relied on Superfinishing our crank as it reduces drag and evens out any surface irregularities. This was a cheap option to effectively strengthen the part so that is now not possible.
There are no changes to the previous SuperBike rules as far as the cylinder heads go. Nobody bothers using aftermarket valves so only using stock valves won’t make a difference. Porting is free, adding filler to change the port shape is permitted, replacement camshafts with different lift and duration remain, valve springs, cotters & retainers can also be changed.
You can still replace the stock gearbox with an expensive aftermarket item. The Yoshimura item in our bike retails for around four thousand pounds and, as yet, there are no other aftermarket items available.
The only real oddity is that kit or aftermarket generators are not permitted. Any privateer that has tried to race a tuned Yamaha will be well aware just how much longer their cranks last without the extra weight from the standard flywheel. Whether it should be permitted for cost or safety grounds it remains a strange call, especially as an aftermarket version is available for around five hundred pounds.
In fact, looking at the SuperBike engine we have just built for our wildcard entry in World SuperBikes the only thing to fall foul of the new rules would be the kit generator.
The biggest difference is really with the electronics as the engine is pretty much untouched. The fixed rev limit of 750 rpm over than the standard limit for each model of motorcycle fits within our existing plans also.
The one headline grabbing change for 2012 is the banning of all traction control and other sophisticated electronics strategies such as launch control, auto-blip, etc. The obvious question is why? As discussed in the previous blog there is no real cost associated with having it enabled and Pirelli has already said that the tyres have been developed based on it being available so the real question is why ban it?
Other than the lack of traction control and the absence of a non-standard generator the changes seem pretty much inline with my suggestions in the previous blog so why did I label this as “BSB Increase The Cost Of Entry…”?
One of the reasons given by BSB for these changes is to “Increase the opportunity for private teams to compete competitively”. Inarguably this could only be applauded except for the announcement that followed saying that they were reducing the grid to 32 riders, preferably with 16 two rider teams.
At the first round of 2011 British SuperBikes started with 38 riders, one of the biggest grids in it’s history, although that has now dropped to 28 regulars for a variety of reasons. Lots of new teams joined the series, primarily in the Evo class with the promise of cheap racing.
For 2012 many of those riders won’t be welcome. Perhaps the organisers foresaw the diminished grids as those teams realised they could not afford the higher cost of the new engine rules or maybe they simply wanted to ensure the teams accepted in to the series will be able to fund their racing beyond the middle of the year.
What happens to the number of highly competent but one rider teams? Will they have to double up with another team or miss out altogether? Who owns the entry and what might happen to the partnership in the future?
Once up and running any new teams that wish to join the series will have to buy out an existing team. If sixteen teams want to continue racing that buy out will prove to be extremely expensive. It’s just as complicated should an existing team have problems with sponsorship one year. If they have to drop out through non fault of their own how will they get back in?
For the privateers things just got a whole lot more expensive. The Evo class that attracted so many new riders now doesn’t appear to want them. If they can’t make the new cut for the 2012 season then it is unlikely they will ever be able to afford to get back on the grid.
I understand the logic behind the introduction of these rules, it is intended to secure well financed teams and ensure a row of 16 big trucks behind the pit lane at every round. Whether it can count as more cost effective racing, either from a technical or a logistical viewpoint, remains to be seen. I, for one, have my doubts.