WSBK Superpole Format And Event Schedule Undergo Minor Changes

The World Superbike schedule underwent a serious shakeup at the start of the 2009 season. The introduction of the new Superpole format had already meant that part of Saturday had been changed, but further cuts, including the scrapping of all on-track activity on Friday morning, were introduced as part of the cost-cutting measures introduced to help WSBK face up to the financial crisis.

Now that the situation has calmed down a little, that schedule has once again been revised. The changes are fairly small, consisting mostly of slight adjustments to the timing of events. The biggest change for the World Superbike class is that the timing of Superpole has been changed. Instead of three 12 minute sessions, the sessions will be different lengths. Superpole 1 will be 14 minutes, Superpole 2 will be 12 minutes and Superpole 3 will be just 10 minutes long. In addition, there will be a 25 minute break between the end of Free Practice 2 and Superpole, instead of the current 15 minutes.

This change had been in consultation between the teams and what the Infront Motor Sports press release terms "other interested parties," presumably meaning circuit management and TV companies. It certainly makes a lot of sense from most angles, as the numbers of riders on the track drops with each Superpole session, from 20 to 16 to 8, and therefore less time is needed on track for everyone to get a clear run at a lap. The final session of Superpole often saw several moments with virtually no action on track, with everyone having already used both qualifying tires. The only concern for the teams will be crashes in the final session, as there will be very little time to get back on a bike and ride it to the pits to swap on to the spare bike.

The biggest change of the weekend is the return of a second qualifying session for the World Supersport class. This was the major victim in the earlier cost-cutting measures, but had very few supporters among the teams. World Supersport now sees its second session reinstated, with QP1 making a return on Friday afternoon at 5pm, while QP2 stays on Saturday at 12pm. The World Supersport race will now also start 5 minutes earlier on Sunday, at 1:30pm, in response to requests by TV companies.

One change that won't affect the schedule is the addition of an extra intermediate timing point. In 2009, the track was divided up into three sections, the addition of the extra timing point will mean the track is divided up into four sections, making it a little easier for audiences watching intermediate timing to compare times during qualifying, for example.

At events where the Superstock 1000 and 600 events are also run, the programs will also be slightly modified. There will be an extra session of practice for the Superstock 1000 class on Friday, and the Superstock 600 race has been moved from Sunday to Saturday.

Back to top


The other day Roadracing World posted some marginally clear press release information about the upcoming AMA purses that also included a line about how they will no longer use superpole (for what ever class used it in the past) and the best time for each rider in any of the timed sessions will set the grid. Without special qualifying tires this seems sensible. The last session should result in the fastest times, but sometimes it doesn't and that fact and weather could make for some interesting grids. I think it would also be interesting if they included the best wet practice times if the race was to be run in the rain (not thinking of hydrophobic AMA) and best dry if it was in the dry. This could only be a factor when there are mixed conditions throughout the race weekend. Though that happens fairly frequently.

SBK is a successful World Championship race series. The last thing SBK should do is adapt anything from AMA. AMA is a failed national series that has zero factory support for 2010 and likely won't complete the 2010 season; if it even starts it. Nothing predicts failure like following those that have already failed.

I'm more or less indifferent to the changes to qualifying, but I don't think the AMA's policy for qualifying would be beneficial to world superbike unless it was adopted for short term use only. Without officially designated qualifying sessions, the sanctioning body can't impose a qualifying criteria to keep backmarking privateers off of the grid.

The AMA's rules don't pose any particular problems at this time b/c the grids are so thin in every series, but it could become a long term problem if the economy improves.

I don't think it would limit qualifying criteria. Just multiply the top time by 1.07 and that's the lower limit for anyone's best time. All sessions essentially become qualifying sessions. They all race to be at the top of the time sheets anyway. It would just be meaningful. It's the only non-horrible idea to come from the AMA disaster.

I still like the superpole as a spectacle. It's the best part of any F1 broadcast. But if they ever change the format, something more simple would do.

While I actualy agree witht eh AMA qualifying aproach, it would not work for WSBK for the sole reason that they need to provide a viewable TV product. Superpole work best for that even though I'm not sure it provides that best results.

Since no one watches AMA races on TV let alone qualifying, their format works fine.

I was just kind of thinking out loud about alternatives in light of any given change.

I agree that superpole is something interesting to watch. I've caught F1 a few times this year and it was actually interesting until the end. It's even more exciting than some bike races that are runaway victories. The question I have is WHO actually gets the chance to see WSBK superpole live on TV? How many countries have the session broadcast live? WSBK promoters include the US in that group because their US rights holders have opportunity to show all the feeds live if they wish. What other countries have a broadcaster that have the rights but don't show it live either?