WorldSBK - What is WorldSBK?
The FIM Superbike World Championship ("WorldSBK") is currently in its 31st 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, North America, South America, Australia, Asia and the Middle East throughout the 13-round season, which runs from mid-February until early November. The 2018 grid holds an expected 21 riders, 14 teams and 7 manufacturers within the top tier of the championship structure.
Three support classes - WorldSSP, STK1000, 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 the revised "Superpole" qualifying format on Saturday morning ahead of the first race.
Superpole is a shoot-out to determine pole position. Superpole 1 features the riders who did not make it into the overall top 10 in the weekend's previous timed free practice sessions. The highest placed two riders from this session will progress to Superpole 2, while the remaining riders will claim their grid positions in the fifth-seventh rows. The top 12 riders of the weekend so far will then fight for the remaining grid spots and the all-important pole position, with another 15-minute session.
The main event consists of two races. 2016 witnessed a change to the previous format with one race taking place on each of the Saturday and Sunday afternoons, while 2017 continues the evolution further. The final standings awarded from the opening race now dictate the grid positions for Sunday’s contest. Podium winners will see their positions reversed as they line up on row three with the victor starting ninth, while pole is claimed by the rider who secured fourth. The fifth to ninth place finishers maintain 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.
Points are awarded for each race to riders placing first to 15th position with the season total combined to determine a 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.
For 2018, new technical regulations have been introduced that aim 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 will allow development during the season for those underperforming, plus approved parts designed to reduce the cost for the smaller teams.