Community Commentary 2017 World Superbike Race 2 Grid | Confusing Rules Change

2017 World Superbike Race 2 Grid | Confusing Rules Change

2017 World Superbike Race 2 Grid

2017 World Superbike Race 2 Grid | Confusing Rule Change
2017 WorldSBK Race 2 Grid Lineup

Some unique rule changes are coming to the 2017 World Superbike Championship. This week the SBK Commission, which governs the WorldSBK Championship and all of its support series, has made a significant change to the grid lineup for race 2.

The Superbike race 2 grid starting lineup is now contingent on race 1 results instead of the usual Superpole qualifying results (Superpole still dictates the race-1 starting grid).

The World Superbike race 2 grid will line up as follows:

  • The top-three podium finishers in race 1 will line up on row three, but the winner and third-place finishers positions will be reversed. This means the race-one winner will start from ninth, the second-place finisher from eighth, and the third-place finisher from seventh.
  • The riders who finished fourth, fifth and sixth in race 1 will move to the first row.
  • The riders who finished seventh, eighth and ninth in race 1 will move up to the second row.
  • The remaining positions from 10th-on will be based on the Superpole qaulifying positions.

This sounds confusing because it is confusing, especially for the riders who qualify ninth or better, but finish 10th or worse during race one. To simplify, the riders who didn’t finish race 1 in ninth or better will be positioned on the race 2 grid in the order of their Superpole times.

2017 World Superbike Race 2 Grid Rules
Kawasaki’s Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes battle with Ducati’s Chaz Davies. These three ran away with points during the past two SBK seasons.

WorldSBK reports that these changes will “ensure the ethos of fast and close racing remains the essence of the championship.”

I get it—the SBK Commission is trying to excite spectators and not have a few select riders run away at top with points. The latter was the case for the 2016 and 2015 seasons when Kawasaki Racing Team’s Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes, along with Aruba.it-Racing Ducati’s Chaz Davies, quickly became the only title contenders.

Rea won both of those titles, but I never once became bored during any of the last two seasons.

Winning races is hard work, and consistently winning races is even harder work. Rea, who joined Kawasaki in 2015 after seven years with Honda (and not one title on the CBR1000RR Fireblade), displayed what dedication and team effort can achieve.

Can the Northern Irishman do it again? I believe so, though now he and his team face a much larger challenge in the second races during 2017 WorldSBK.

I believe in equal opportunity, but not at the benefit of a race-2 grid change based on race-1 finishing results. This opportunity for the slower guys can go either way: 1.) create laziness because the riders/teams will feel they’ll always have a greater chance in race two, or 2.) more dedication because they’ll want to capitalize on the better starting position in race two.

Regardless of what way you see this going—either positive or negative—one thing’s for sure, the new rule change is sure to confuse many, from teams/riders to spectators, especially during the start of the season.

Thankfully the race 2 grid lineup is the only major change in 2017 World Superbike. As for Free Practice (FP) and race schedule, these remain the same as 2016 World Superbike. FP1 and FP2 will decide the Superpole 1 and Superpole 2 positions, and FP3 an open session that’s not used for qualifying times. Race 1 will still occur on Saturday, and race 2 on Sunday.

I’m anticipating the season opener more than ever. The first of 13 rounds in 2017 World Superbike is set for February 24-26 at Phillip Island in Australia.

Ron Lieback
Ron Lieback
One of the few moto journalists based on the East Coast, Ron Lieback joined the motorcycle industry as a freelancer in 2007, and is currently Online Editor at Ultimate Motorcycling.

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