BSB ’12 – Is This Progress?
When MSVR announced the new rules for 2012 I was mostly pretty supportive. After all, they were pretty close to what I had suggested back at the tail end of 2009 when they announced the Evo class. At the time I felt the whole stock engine concept was flawed, not just because our Suzuki would have a 25 hp deficit over the BMWs but also because we couldn’t fix the weak cotters and retainers inthe engine nor could we adjust the cam timing without repeatedly pressing and unpressing the cam wheels. In essence, the differences between the different bikes hadn’t been considered properly.
To be honest there wasn’t much wrong with the 2011 rules that banning titanium conrods or implementing a fixed rpm limit couldn’t fixed. The only aspect of the 2012 rules I had aproblem with was banning traction control. Let’s face it, even Casey Stoner believes there is a case for a basic version on safety grounds. Perhaps more importantly it a) didn’t cost much to keep it, and b) the Pirelli tyres were designed to be used with it!
I’ve been watching the 2012 season with interest to see how things have progressed. I’m not too interested in lap times as the lower spec. bikes were always going to be slower. I have been watching to see whether the claims that it would make for cheaper racing were actually true as I had my doubts.
For me the same guys will always be running at the front regardless of the rules. In fact, due to changes with the Pirelli tyres this season many of the privateers are spending more money than they did last year as the tyres do less heat cycles and without traction control they are harder to get to last to the end of the race.
After the sixth round at Knockhill I decided to do a comparison between the 2011 season and 2012. We have heard a lot about how many different riders have won races this season but I maintain that has been more a factor of the weather than the new rules. At this stage last year the top three riders had taken 18 podium finishes, i.e around 60%. That jumps to 70% if you look at the top four riders. In 2012 the top three riders have taken 19 podiums and 23 podiums for the top four, that’s 63% and 77% respectively.
In my opinion the shootout system robbed Shane Byrne of the 2011 championship although the top four riders took 68% of the shootout points. In 2012 those top four riders now have 75% of all the shootout points. Due to the convoluted shootout and a bit of luck MSVR got probably the most exciting finish the 2011 championship they could have hoped for but to my mind it was down to pure luck than their meddling with the rules or championship points.
I guess the question that we need to answer is do these new rule changes help the competitiveness of the series or was it really meddling for the sake of it. As far as I can tell the four top riders are extending the gap over the rest of the field and the rest are struggling to keep up. I know many teams have struggled to get a usable power delivery from their engines now that they can’t run traction control. Perhaps it is easier for the bigger teams to make this happen, i.e. more experience, greater budgets, more testing time, etc., etc. Or maybe their riders just have more talent…
I’ll leave you to make up your own mind…