Analysis: The "Smart" Approach To Writing The WorldSBK Rulebook

Scott Smart was tasked with improving the show in 2018. Here the FIM Superbike Technical Director explains the thought process behind the new regulations

Scott Smart has been tasked with writing and rewriting the rule book for Superbikes around the planet. The FIM Superbike Technical Director has been instrumental in bringing about the recent regulation changes for WorldSBK, and speaking at the season ending Qatar round he explained the philosophy behind the changes.

“There's a lot of benefits to these changes but the biggest factor is that we want to find a way to have more exciting racing in WorldSBK,” explained Smart. “With the new regulations each team on the grid has the chance to run the same specification as the factory teams or to develop their own parts. This gives a private team the chance to have a bike with development work already having been completed by simply buying the relevant parts for their bike. This should improve reliability up and down the grid while also improving the quality of packages in the midfield which should improve the racing.

“Another benefit is that because the same kit is available to all teams it should improve safety. If you are using the same parts as the factory team, you will also have the same specification that the electronics have been tuned for. What we've seen in the past is that if you give a team the same electronics as the factory team it will work, but because the engines are different it won't be as efficient. In the past if the private team wanted it to work correctly they had to do a lot of dyno testing and put in a lot of resources to make sure everything worked correctly.

“There are other advantages too because with a lower rpm engine life will be improved. A couple of years we made a big change in World Supersport when we changed the electronics to be a kit level. This allowed some teams to make a big step forward in that class and we're hopeful that something similar could happen in WorldSBK.”

Why not copy BSB?

Smart's role encompasses Superbike racing around the planet and he has been instrumental in writing the MotoAmerica and British Superbike regulations. For the former 500GP rider the biggest question he has faced is why doesn't WorldSBK just adapt BSB regulations going forward? In BSB every manufacturer has the chance to win races and the racing is close and exciting.

“It's a tough balancing act when you are writing the regulations for WorldSBK. The resources available to teams are quite different and that means that teams can't develop their packages to the same degree. The results in WorldSBK do correlate quite closely to the budgets of each team, and we've tried to achieve a set of regulations that would allow smaller teams who can do a great job to be competitive and get to the front. It's a very complicated balancing act.

“When you compare it to BSB the electronics are at a much lower level in Britain. This means that almost the entire grid can reach an achievable level to have success. Also in BSB the engines are built with a lot less power because you don't need huge amounts of horsepower for the British circuits. This means that you have an engine with a flatter power delivery and a much more usable engine.

“With these requirements a BSB doesn't need traction control to the same degree as WorldSBK, so it's easier to reach an achievable engine and electronics level for those tracks. In Britain you don't need a huge amount of horsepower but in WorldSBK there are tracks are the same that are used by 270bhp MotoGP. This means in WorldSBK you need as much power as possible, and therefore the electronics become more important. If we were to bring in a control ECU it wouldn't be anything like a BSB ECU because the demands placed on the bikes are so different.”

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Smart is doing his best to tow the company line but his reference to the BSB bikes/rules doesn't stack up: Haslam just put a BSB spec Kawasaki into P4 on the testing grid, ahead of Savadori and Torres on WSB spec bikes. 

Smart talks about "needing" electronics.  You only need the base electronics of BSB for safety, anything more is just chasing faster laptimes.  Who cares if the laptimes drop by 1-2sec per lap if the bikes look great with a bit of attitude and we get better racing?

I used to absolutely love WSB, but I am now completely dispirited with the whole debacle and the new rules do absolutely nothing to help.   


"Smart" is in inverted commas with good reason if this is verbatim. Isn't he contradicting his own goals with the sentence below?

 When you compare it to BSB the electronics are at a much lower level in Britain. This means that almost the entire grid can reach an achievable level to have success

It sounds like a load of rubbish from Scott in this instance. I think a far more likely story is that the WSBK technical staff could not get the participating factories to accept his "low tech" approach and this is as close as he could persuade them to go.

I think Scott is correct in adopting a low tech approach to WSBK but unfortunately his opinions are obviously not shared by those that have the final say. Scott is a clever guy but these are not clever regulations.

For the record many BSB bikes have in excess of 225bhp and I am quite sure that the extra 10 to 15bhp that their world championship counterparts might enjoy does not require the quite considerable increase in electronics expense.

Also being "hopeful that something similar could happen in WorldSBK" sound like the words of a man who is clever enough to know that his new regulations are likely to have little or no impact on the results.

I think you need to subject him to a tougher line of questioning next time Steve