News 28 Jun 2024

What the new shape of WorldSBK feeder classes could mean for ASBK

More significant relevance could introduce increased manufacturer support.

A dynamic landscape surrounding the feeder categories of the Motul Superbike World Championship (WorldSBK) – namely World Supersport and the accompanying 300 class – will almost certainly see those regulations eventually make their way into the Australian Superbike Championship (ASBK). What’s it mean for the sport locally?

After being introduced in 2017, it was revealed this month that the World Supersport 300 (WorldSSP300) division would effectively be scrapped altogether, and while a new category is in the works, series organiser Dorna or the FIM are yet to formally announce it.

Image: Supplied.

It’s been indicated the new class will have greater ‘sporting and commercial relevance’, along with closing the performance gap between categories, which points to a transition to mid-capacity motorcycles such as the Yamaha YZF-R7, which has already been adopted in the newly-established WorldWCR series, along with the inaugural FIM Intercontinental Games set to be staged later this year.

Alongside Yamaha, a mixture of manufacturers primarily led by Triumph with its Daytona 660 and Aprilia’s RS 660 platform have proven to be competitive mid-capacity options available on the market with a share of balancing to ensure parity is in place, as we’ve seen in the recently-introduced British National Sportbike Championship.

And when you factor in WorldSSP accommodating motorcycles like the Ducati Panigale V2, MV Agusta F3 800 RR, Triumph Street Triple RS 765, it’s a logical step to offer a feeder category that bridges the gap between performance and is actually relevant to a popular on-road segment for manufacturers.

Image: Supplied.

So how does this have any relevance to the domestic series here in Australia? Well, it’s no secret manufacturer support in ASBK has been dwindling across the board over the past decade or more, and it’s largely been Yamaha doing the heavy lifting with its YRD and bLU cRU programs, alongside the factory Yamaha Racing Team.

If Motorcycling Australia (MA) and ASBK were to introduce a new entry-level class in line with what WorldSBK is about to introduce, along with homologating further models in Supersport just like the British Superbike Championship (BSB) and MotoAmerica series have, it could be what entices manufacturers to elevate their involvement in the sport across all classes in the national series.

Image: Supplied.

While not as relevant as it once was in motorsport, the old school saying ‘Win on Sunday, sell on Monday’ still applies in our industry, otherwise we wouldn’t see the significant global commitment to racing from the manufacturers that we do on an international scale.

However, in a smaller market such as Australia, it’s more important than ever that what’s being raced on track needs to be in line to what’s being regularly sold on dealership floors. As it stands, the limitations currently in place are essentially a barrier to entry for greater manufacturer involvement, but sharpen that up across the board and it may just be the resurgence that ASBK has been searching for.