What is WorldSBK?
The FIM Superbike World Championship ("WorldSBK") is currently in its 32nd year of competition and the spectacle is growing from strength to strength. Originating from the 'race on Sunday, buy on Monday' philosophy, WorldSBK is a 1000cc production bike competition fought across the globe, with races held in Europe, South America, Australia, Asia and the Middle East throughout the 13-round season, which runs from mid-February until early November. The 2019 grid holds an expected 20 riders, 11 teams and 5 manufacturers within the top tier of the championship structure.
Two support classes – WorldSSP and WorldSSP300 – will regularly participate in the international race events, with contributions from national categories where possible, facilitating integral rider progression and allowing the spirit of the competition to develop globally.
The Superbike weekend schedule has been continuously adapted in recent years. Condensed and time specific, the track action runs across a three-day period with free practice sessions on the opening day followed by a revised Superpole qualifying session on Saturday morning ahead of the first race.
2016 witnessed a change to the previous format with one race taking place on each of the Saturday and Sunday afternoons, while 2017 continued the evolution further. The final standings awarded from the opening race dictated the grid positions for Sunday’s contest. Podium winners saw their positions reversed as they lined up on row three with the victor starting ninth, while pole was claimed by the rider who secured fourth. The fifth to ninth place finishers maintained their order on the first two rows with the remaining formation of riders placed 10th and beyond dependent on their Superpole hierarchy, launching from the fourth row.
In 2018 new technical regulations were introduced to bring the level of competition in WorldSBK even closer, including a rev limit for teams that adjusts depending on their performance levels, a concession points for manufacturers that allows development during the season for those underperforming, plus approved parts designed to reduce costs for smaller teams.
For 2019 the evolution continues, with two WorldSBK Free Practice sessions on Friday and the third and final Free Practice taking place on Saturday morning. Superpole has now been reduced to a single qualifying session with the results deciding the grid positions for Saturday afternoon’s WorldSBK Race 1 and Sunday morning’s Sprint Race, a new addition to the race schedule for this season.
The Sprint Race will be run over 10 laps with points added to the overall championship standings and awarded as follows: 12/9/7/6/5/4/3/2/1. There will be no change for Race 1 and Race 2 where the points system remains unchanged and awarded to the first fifteen riders as follows: 25/20/16/13/11/10/9/8/7/6/5/4/3/2/1.
WorldSBK Race 2 on Sunday will be the traditional format. The grid for this race will be determined from the first nine positions in the Sprint Race, and the grid from 10th onwards will be the positions from Superpole. Three races with different formats means the teams will be required to work on different strategies for each race throughout the weekend, resulting in even more exciting races for fans and riders to enjoy.
The points accrued over the course of the season will determine the champion, not just for the riders but also for the manufacturers – in the latter’s case utilising the score from the highest placed rider per race.