Maybe World Superbikes Championship isn’t as popular as MotoGP but it has its quality. During 2017 I will be celebrating my 10th anniversary of watching this series. And I think that great year is ahead of us. I’m looking forward to the season so much. There will be lots of new things. So far I don’t know if these changes will be positive or not, just time will tell. But these changes are also reasons why to watch WorldSBK in 2017!
New starting grid format
I think this is the biggest change of the season. When I saw it for the first time I was pretty confused. Actually I still don’t understand why this. I think it wasn’t necessary. They wanted to bring some more attractiveness and excitement. So let’s wait for the beginning of the season how it all will work.
Don’t you know what kind of change is it? So let’s sum it up.
The starting grid for race 1 will be decided by Superpole results, there is no change in it. The change is for the grid for race 2. Top 3 riders from race 1 will move to third row and reverse their order. So it means that the winner of race 1 will start from 9th position to race 2. The second from race 1 will start from 8th position to race 2 and the third from race 1 will start from 7th position to race 2.
Riders who finish 4th, 5th and 6th in race 1 will move to front row for race 2. So the one who finishes 4th in race 1 will be on pole position for race 2.
Riders who finish 7th, 8th and 9th in race 1 will move to second row for race 2.
The rest of the grid for race 2 will be determined according to race 1 results so 10th in race 1 will start from 10th place on the grid to race 2, 11th in race 1 will start to race 2 from 11th place and so on.
New race weekend time schedule
As new category (WorldSSP300) will appear there is new time schedule of the weekend. On Friday there will be 2 free practise sessions for all categories (WSBK, WSSP, WSSP300, STK1000). On Saturday there will be the third free practises, then World Superbikes Superpole followed by World Supersport 300 Superpole. After that the World Superbikes race 1 will start (the time is same as last year, which means 1pm), then World Supersport Superpole and Superstock 1000 qualifying will end the day.
On Sunday it all starts with warm ups. (I am somehow surprised that I can’t see WorldSSP300 warm up. They don’t need it or?) World Supersport race starts at 11:30am, then World Superbikes race 2 at 1pm, World Supersport 300 race at 2:20pm and Superstock 1000 race at 3:15pm.
New technical rules
I have to admit that I am not good at all these technical things. But it’s also the part of the game, very important part. So I try my best to understand (and know and remember it!) at least something. Since the upcoming season there are some new technical rules to run standart throttle bodies in the engine of the bikes.
There is also something about battery capacity, let me quote what the official website says: “As well as this, next season will see a limit set for battery capacity, due to difficulty air freighting larger lithium based batteries. This also means the machines will be required to have working generators in order to maintain the level of charge in the battery.”
Rookies, newcomers, returners
There will be some new faces. The Moto2 World Champion from 2011 Stefan Bradl is coming to World Superbikes. After many years in MotoGP it will be something new for him. Let’s wait and see how he will handle his new challenge.
Randy Krummenacher is going to the highest class after one year in World Supersport category. It was great season for him, he was Kenan Sofuoglu’s team mate and the only rival for title until the end of the season. Before this Randy also spent many years in MotoGP Championship racing in the lower classes.
Leandro Mercardo is the European Superstock Champion 2014 and in 2016 he was close to another title but technical problem caused him the chances as he couldn’t start to the last and important race of the season.
Ondřej Ježek was also racing in European Superstock 1000 (did some podium finishes there) and last year he was in World Supersports. But that bike didn’t suit him much.
Riccardo Russo is coming from European Superstock 1000 but before it he also tried World Supersports and even he did some races in World Superbikes already.
Eugene Laverty is coming back. Time ago he did some decent job in both World Superbikes and also World Supersports. He is 2 times runner-up in World Supersports and once runner-up in World Superbikes. In 2015 and 2016 he was racing in MotoGP, now he is coming back to this Championship.
Marco Melandri is also back. Maybe a little bit surprising thing. Last time when we saw him on track it was in 2014 in World Superbikes. He never totally disappeared from motorsport but he just wasn’t racing. So we will see what his actual form is.
Will Jonathan Rea take his 3rd title in a row?
This is the question. I really wonder about it. It would be pretty awesome if he was be able to take three consecutive titles. It would just show the Kawasaki’s dominance. But you never know. With some of the new technical rules and also the new rules with starting grid it may not be that easy for him.
So if not him then who? Sykes? Davies? Or even someone else? Don’t forget Honda will have strong pair although for Bradl the first part of the season will be mainly about learning. Also Yamaha can say their word there with Alex Lowes and Michael van der Mark.
So you can see that the upcoming season will be very interesting with all the changes and I am already curious about it.
Luckily we don’t have to wait that long time for it. The first race weekend of the season 2017 is already in the last week of February. A week before it there will be official pre-season tests. But some teams have planned also some more tests for January and February. We will also see some team presentations. So finally something starts to happen in motorbike world again.
Photo: World Superbikes