UPDATED: World Superbike Changes Qualifying
SEVENOAKS, KENT, ENGLAND, AUG 1: In the first major shake-up of qualifying in World Superbike since the introduction of Superpole over ten years ago, the current format of the top 16 riders doing one flying lap in reverse qualifying order, to determine the final front four grid spots, is to be scrapped. It will be replaced by a Formula One style elimination contest. Speaking at a dinner thrown for invited media, on Friday evening at the Brands Hatch WSB round, FGSport CEO Paolo Flammini outlined the basis of the rules, the condensed version of which follows below. Superpole, for the top 20 riders in regular qualifying, will consist of a series of elimination sessions of 12 minutes each. After the first, there will be four riders who have to drop out, then there will be a break of seven minutes. The remaining 16 riders continue in another 12 minute session, then eight more will drop out, after which there will be another seven break until the ultimate final eight fastest riders contest pole itself in the final 12-minute session. The entire session will take 50 minutes. The new Superpole format will arrive in 2009 and in a more media-friendly initiative; it will no longer start at 4 pm local time, but 3 pm, allowing the final results and TV clips to be aired in afternoon news programs and written reports to make the major newspaper deadlines more easily. Not a definite for 2009, but said to be coming sooner rather than later, in any case, is an adoption of GP-style flag to flag races, where if rain arrives halfway through a race it then becomes up to the teams and riders to decide if and when they come in to change from slicks to wets, without any interruption to the race (and therefore TV) schedules. Flammini also stated that the technical rules in the championship will not be changed until at least after the 2010 season, but at that stage there may have to be some form of control of electronics, to ensure that noone has an unfair advantage in what is rapidly becoming the most important aspect of competitiveness in the WSB paddock.