Does WorldSBK Need A Minimum Combined Bike/Rider Weight?
Last week, the debate over the role of rider weight was reignited by a post on Instagram by BMW WorldSBK rider Scott Redding, comparing his own weight to that of Aruba.it Ducati's Alvaro Bautista, and asking whether there needs to be a minimum combined rider/bike weight in WorldSBK. To back up his claim, he posted some video clips and sector analysis from the San Juan Villicum circuit in Argentina. "I just think it should be as fair as possible for all of the riders," Redding wrote.
Though the sentiment is admirable, the thing about motorcycle racing is it is fundamentally unfair. Somebody else's bike will always be better than yours. Some other rider will be lighter, stronger, have it easier than you in one way or another. That is of little comfort to those racing in a particular class at a specific event, but it remains true nonetheless.
The way this has traditionally been dealt with is through what is usually called "the package". The combination of bike, team, and rider is different for each competitor, and rule makers have attempted to create space in each class to allow riders and teams to find multiple ways to be competitive.
Horses for courses
That does mean that each class requires a different set of specifications, depending on the philosophical starting point for that class. There are combined weight rules in Moto3 (152kg), Moto2 (217kg), and World Supersport (between 239kg and 244kg, depending on the bike). The reason for having a minimum combined weight in those classes comes down to a single, simple factor: in one way or another, the bikes in those classes are restricted from producing enough power to overcome the difference in combined weight.