Flammini Says 2013 World Superbike Series "To Go Ahead As Planned," But What Of The Future

After the bombshell announcement that Bridgepoint was putting Dorna in charge of both the MotoGP and World Superbike series, the media were keen to get a reaction from either of the Flammini brothers, the two men who had helped to grow the series into the success it is today, and who currently run WSBK. After an initial deafening silence, Paolo Flammini finally made an appearance at Magny-Cours on Sunday morning, to explain his, and Infront's, point of view. Our friends at the Italian website InfoMotoGP.com were present to record the press conference on video.

Flammini did not say much - indeed, he started his speech with the words "I don't have much to add to what is written in the press release," - but what he did say helped clarify the situation a little. Starting off with an understatement - "This step represents a very big moment in the history of World Superbikes", Flammini told the assembled media - the Italian was at pains to make clear that World Superbikes would face few changes for 2013. "Many people are worried for the 2013 season, but nothing special will happen," he said, emphasizing that his aim was to keep stability in the series.  

Flammini, his brother Maurizio, and his team at Infront had worked hard to make World Superbikes, and would continue to do what they could to ensure its success in the future. "We will do whatever is necessary for the good of the World Superbike championship," Flammini said. "Whatever will be the end of the reorganization process, whatever will happen during the next weeks and months, we want that the World Superbike championship will continue to grow, will continue to be a very strong product." Flammini accepted that changes were inevitable, though he told reporters that he believed that the most logical step would be for the current Infront team who run the series to remain in place. Flammini emphasized that any changes to be made should have a positive effect on the series: "The only important thing is that the changes are for the good, and if we obtain that we are happy."

He was uncertain about his own position, Flammini told reporters, but he acknowledged that it was a risk that companies run when they partner with larger companies. "Clearly, when you open your company to external investors, you give an advantage to your company, but you can lose power at a personal level," Flammini said. "This is not a problem, as long as this reorganization process will bring a good result for the World Superbike championship, we will cooperate, we will push for the good whatever will be our position in the new structure, if there will be a position."

The championship would not change radically in the short term, Flammini told reporters. The Superbike Commission - WSBK's rulemaking body - was due to meet on Monday to ratify the changes discussed during the current season for 2013. Those changes include the adoption of 17-inch wheels and the application of fake headlights to bikes, as adopted by Kawasaki for the second half of the season and Honda for the last race of the year. Another change Flammini mentioned was less expected: pit stops will be introduced during wet races, to avoid races having to be stopped and restarted. That was in itself a consequence of the introduction of a single bike per rider, a move which made running flag-to-flag races with bike changes an impossibility. The straitjacket of TV schedules means that Infront have had to explore alternative options, however.

Flammini would not be drawn on the future beyond 2013. "From what I can tell you, the 2013 season will go ahead as it is already planned. For the future, I cannot give you any information, this will be part of the strategy that will be implemented and we will see what will happen."

That does not mean that other sources were not providing information. Though 2013 is set more or less in stone, or at least will be once the Superbike Commission publishes the minutes of its meeting today, the years after that look to be rather different. Dorna has made no secret of its desire to see the performance of the World Superbike machines limited, in order to maintain the gap between WSBK and MotoGP. With Dorna now in charge, it is widely expected - both inside and outside the World Superbike paddock - that such limits will be imposed. Reducing modifications to Superstock level seems unlikely, though the regulations could be closer to Supersport than the current WSBK rules. Standard electronics seem almost inevitable, however, to contain the costs which are spiralling out of control in both WSBK and MotoGP. With a spec ECU to be introduced in 2014 in MotoGP, it seems likely that a similar measure could be imposed on World Superbikes at the same time. Such a move would be unpopular with the factories currently involved in World Superbikes, but would be welcomed by the private teams, which have struggled to compete in recent years, with a few notable exceptions.

The most interesting rumor to emerge from Magny-Cours, however, concerned the future of the spec tire. Current suppliers Pirelli were rumored to be ending their tenure as single tire suppliers, with no extension expected. The rumors were not clear on whether they will serve out the full extent of their contract, which runs until the end of the 2015 season, or whether the contract would be terminated prematurely. Nor was their any word on who would replace the Italian tire manufacturer. If the rumor is true - and it is a very big if - it would be a surprise, as Pirelli is also the sole supplier for the British Superbike championship. The series - both World and British Superbikes - are an excellent fit with the current consumer market: Pirellis remain a popular choice for sportsbike fitment, both as OEM equipment and as an aftermarket choice when riders replace their standard tires.

Below is the full video of the press conference Paolo Flammini gave, courtesy of InfoMotoGP.com:

Back to top


21/08/2012. Mick Dundee(haha) @ bikesportnews said..

"Australian Superbike bosses have bucked a popular racing trend and ditched control tyres in favour of a numbers and price cap policy for 2013 in order to bring down costs.

Dunlop had been the official tyre supplier - in the same way that Pirelli is in BSB and WSBK, and Bridgestone in MotoGP - but other manufacturers including Michelin are now being allowed back into the series.

“The move was made to allow riders a wider choice and will bring the cost of racing down, as well as add another exciting element to the tactics and strategy of racing. IEG thanks Pirelli and Michelin for their interest in being involved once more and Dunlop for their continued support," said Yarrive Konsky, boss of right holders IEG.

The price cap (converted from Aussie dollars) and number of tyres per class are as follows:

Superbike & Prostock: Under £386 per set / 3 front & 4 rear / 2 compounds may be homologated per brand

Supersport & Superstock: Under £320 per set / 3 front & 3 rear / 2 compounds may be homologated per brand

Superlites: Under £233 per set / 2 front & 2 rear / 2 compounds will be homologated per brand"

BSB technical rules plus the above..
Who said 'The Commonwealth' was outdated?

It would do exactly what it says on the tin.

Of far more relevance and interest to the fans than slicks, qualifiers and whizz-bang electronics that we'll never see trickle down.

Personally..I'd make them all run throttle cables.

Based on those tyre price cap rules mentioned, how can it prevent most of the teams leaning towards a favourite brand, leaving the other brands in the cold?

Firstly..I said "..slicks, qualifiers and whizz-bang electronics.."
It was early..what I meant to say was "..slick qualifiers and whizz-bang.."

But on second thought..would it be such a bad idea for WSBK to run road legal tyres? It may appeal to manufacturers as correlation to their product is more direct and, it would widen the gap to GP as desired?

If the spec tyre rule was scrapped, opening up competition, why would you want to stop teams leaning towards a certain brand?

Tyre contracts save money for teams but lock them in..perhaps to the detriment of the race budget in other areas if tyre performance is below the level of another brand.

If there were no contracts and teams were free to choose from tyre manufacturers set up in the paddock, at a reasonable set cost, surely this is true competition?

Nothing to stop a team having a contract if they wish..but moaning about tyre performance and using it as an excuse would make teams/riders look a bit silly perhaps?..given the above choice available.

Pricing could be awkward as cost of the same product is different from country to country, continent to continent.

Those prices do seem a little high but in principle, I think the idea is a good one.

Would it be such a bad idea for WSBK to run road legal tires? Yes because the average rider in level 2 of a track day kills a set of road tires and guys on bikes with the power the world superbike bikes make would kill a set of road tires even quicker. Unless of course the race was shortened to say 5 laps or so.

If they made a rule that said teams have to run DOT tyres, I'm sure the tyre companies would quickly come out with some awesome dot tyres. :)
Sorta like Dunlop here in the USA.

"If the spec tyre rule was scrapped, opening up competition, why would you want to stop teams leaning towards a certain brand?"

Back then in MotoGP, Michelin were the winning tyres because they were allowed to utilise their "overnight specials" capability due to vast factories located in the Europe while Bridgestone could not because their only facility is located in Japan. Michelin hand selected teams that "qualify" for the royal treatment.

When the rules changed to such that race tyres for the whole weekend had to be pre-submitted before the prototypes turned a wheel in FP1, Bridgestone became the preferred brand because they were more consistent, while Michelin starting to spike in the number of defects and lost of grip because they were not used to predicting the weather/track conditions ahead of time which Bridgestone were forced to get used to all along. High profile racers like VR#46 & DP#26 made history by demanding a switch of tyre brands during the following race season. When majority of the racers started to demand for Bridgestone in the next season, the Japanese tyre company responded that being the smaller company, it is not capable of extending it's service to more teams. Nobody asked for Dunlop. Dunlop had to pay Tech 3 to use them.

Couple of years later, when Dorna started the bid for a single tyre manufacturer, Michelin claimed they do not race in a spec tyre series and therefore between Bridgestone and Dunlop, we knew who got the deal. Speaking of Dunlop, isn't them the "spec tyre" brand for Moto3 & Moto2 even though there is not a spec tyre regulation in the junior classes?

This is what I meant to ask. Teams and racers will always try to get the best, and cream will rise to the crop (in this case, a particular tyre brand). How to prevent that? In MotoGP, the manufacturers try to control every variables as much as possible, mechanically, electronically and even humanly as much as possible.

It's great to see Showa and Nissin in the sea of Ohlins and Brembo, likewise I do not like the spec tyre rule.

Tyres are of most importance for credibility of sport. But remember WSBK in 90's. Michelin was THE tyre, and others using pirelli or dunlop, had no chance tor podium. So, multiple tyre supliers at top of top levels? this does not work. We have seen it too many times. Australian way can benefit some national championships, but in the big picture? I don't think so.

Pirelli has done wonders to F1!! just as Bridgestone allmost killed the series with their "we are borg" philosophy. As they re doing int in GP! Musthave ally chasis, must have Ohlins must have ultra compact engine.
Pirellis are doeing it on V4, V2 and 4inLine. Ally chasis or steel tubular frames, and Panigale seems to be OK with them too. it might be true, that Bstones are better, but sport is is much worst with them in the game.

It would be easiest to invite Pirelli to GP, alt let them do their thing in the big class to :D

If you watch the USA commercials of what Bridgestone can do to the games (NBA, MLB, etc), one can't help but feel they want to change how games play with their technology. Funny commercials though, but not so funny if they came true...

At the very least this is a good chance for motocycle racing to work on its mass appeal, and be able to guarantee that for a part of the year there will be high quality motocycle racing every weekend without any overlap.

"the two men who had helped to grow the series into the success it is today, and who currently run WSBK."

What are we measuring success by here, the racing is certainly good, but is the business? If it was it would be Flamini running GP.

re: "Dorna has made no secret of its desire to see the performance of the World Superbike machines limited, in order to maintain the gap between WSBK and MotoGP."

in other words, even after we COPIED a major element of their business model, we still see them as a threat.

Hmmm, WSBK (Infront) is doing well, MotoGP (Dorna) is not, so lets put Dorna in charge of BOTH series… What a joke! DORNA will neuter the competition, i.e. World Superbike! The Flammini's need to team up with the manufacturers and start anew!

Your or my opinion on how 'well' each series is being run probably varies considerably from Bridgepoint's.

Remember that money men with no interest in the 'racing' side of the sport own both series, and they may see poorly negotiated TV rights and selling off races cheap as bigger crimes than shrinking grid numbers.

As long as the big numbers look good on paper, Dorna would seem the better choice to manage their 'investment'. Of course, if interest in MotoGP dries up...

Precisely. Investment bankers don't, and aren't supposed to, care about anything other than return on investment. The quality of the racing is just one of the factors that affects the series owners' ROI.

Bridgepoint makes changes solely for the purpose of creating greater returns for its investors. MotoGP is expected to generate revenues via sanctioning fees, TV, etc.

'Giving' away races is an interesting phrase. It means that WSBK was leasing the event for less than what Bridgepoint expected to/needed to make in terms of profit. A private concern (say, the Flammini brothers w/o Bridgepoint oversight) can be happy with making a smaller profit. It's their day job.

BP cannot. It is competing against every other conceivable investment for investor dollars. So it has to maximize its return at every turn. Honestly, how a spec ECU and losing manufacturers from the grids is going to help them do that, I don't see. But these guys are smarter than me.

Oh wait, it was the investment banker shell game that nearly bankrupted the entire freakin' U.S. a few years back. Wonder what they can do to motorcycle road racing ...


re: "Remember that money men with no interest in the 'racing' side of the sport own both series, and they may see poorly negotiated TV rights and selling off races cheap as bigger crimes than shrinking grid numbers."

aside from the names leno, miller, and barber... i have YET to meet the outsider to motorcycling who's ever brought anything but DESTRUCTION to our sport/hobby. be it deliberate...? or accidental...? destruction is destruction. for example, right now the boys of investindustrial are sitting on a beach, sippin' mai-tai's, earning 20%. rossi was but a "puzzle-piece" in a calculated business plan. pfft racing...? WTF's that...?

re: "Dorna would seem the better choice to manage their 'investment"

as the Soup crew points out, Dorna's been in bed with bridgepoint for 6 years now. that means a 6 year headstart on influence and "ear bending".

Invest bankers did not bring down the US economy but given this a racing board I am not going to correct you here. Just know your statement is wrong on many levels.

Stick to what you know - making armchair comments on motorcycling.

Fair enough. I'll simply add that my brother was one of those investment bankers, and I've got a pretty good idea of exactly how the damage was done. Email me at this handle @yahoo.com and we can gleefully continue this discussion off-board ... :)

Back to the topic at hand - maybe we should make MotoGP bikes run on bias-ply tires. That should liven up the show.

And i wasn't being prickly about with my comment but remembering how i got trounced for getting off topic here - kinda like what is going to happen to me for this response to you.

Maybe you can tell me what bias-ply tire is as I have no idea!

No idea of what a bias-ply tire is? Jesus, I've never felt older ...


And you're right, it's a racing board. But as someone else said just a few comments ago, when outside for-profit interests get involved in racing, it rarely winds up good.

Drop a line anytime, morbidelli17 at yahoo dot com.

Damm, I used to race on bias ply tyres. they were not that bad. but I don't see how racing on them now would make the show any better.

Modern capitalism has become almost entirely focused on quarterly or at most annual results.

"Giving away" races would be a great long term strategy if WorldSBK were doing it to develop potentially important new markets (India? Russia?) but the investment bankers aren't much inclined to take a long term look at anything.

I really hope Dorna does not screw up World Superbikes like they have done with Moto GP. That would be a real bummer.

On this website and elsewhere, so many DORNA/Ezpeleta haters seem to think WSBK is all so great, and MotoGP so screwed up, and this 'merger' is simply a way to kill off WSBK. But the sad truth is that both WSBK and MotoGP as they exist currently are not commercially/financially sustainable. How many WSBK riders are earning a good wage? Hardly any! How many teams turn a decent profit? Hardly any! Change is needed in both championships, and it surely needs to be coordinated between them.