WORLD SUPERBIKES is now run by Dorna, the same people who run MotoGP.
Is this the end for WSB as we know it or will the series bloom under Dorna?
Venture-capital company, Bridgepoint, owns a controlling stake in both Dorna Sports and current WSB organizer Infront Media. All parties are keen to emphasize that the distinct characters of the two competitions will remain intact - the decision to move World Superbikes underneath the umbrella of Dorna Sports is - according to Bridgepoint - a business move aimed at improving the quality of both franchises heading into the future.
Philippe Blatter, CEO of Infront Sports & Media, nephew of controversial FIFA president, Sepp Blatter said: "Under the new structure, the two leading motorcycle road racing events are now set for sustainable further growth and development. A true win-win situation has been created."
Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta added: "We're very excited to have the two top motorcycle road racing series under one roof. We fully expect to develop and strengthen the distinct nature of both MotoGP and WorldSBK as separate properties and remain committed to working with teams and manufacturers, circuit owners, sponsors and broadcasters to give fans the best experience yet."
Bridgepoint, which invested in Dorna Sports in 2006 and in Infront Sports & Media last year, added: "This is a logical and exciting development which should ensure that both these fantastic Championships continue to flourish."
MotoGP is the largest motorcycle racing franchise in the world and with gaps between viewing figures, spectator attendances and sponsorship growing larger year-on-year, Bridgepoint will no doubt be hoping that WSB can benefit from an exchange of expertise.
At the opening MotoGP race at Qatar in 2012, there were 21 riders on the grid, including 9 CRT bikes. At the opening World Superbike race at Phillip Island in 2012, there were 24 riders on the grid.
Significant changes can certainly be expected to both franchises as a consequence of being part of a single organisation. The two championships face the prospect of more stringent technical rules in order to establish a firmer distinction between them.
In a recent interview, Dorna CEO, Carmelo Ezpeleta, said: "For 2013 the regulations will be the ones that have been approved between the FIM and Infront Motorsports. For 2014, we will obviously work together with the manufacturers and the different bodies involved to change the regulations. We think that a championship derived from production bikes that is using 39 engines during one season, and in MotoGP you are using six – to be honest it’s not very correct, and we need to set up both championships with their own spirit. One is from bikes based on production motorcycles, and another is for prototypes. This is something we will do with the FIM first, and then with the manufacturers who are involved in both championships."
Pirelli, tyre supplier to World Superbikes, are switching from a 16.5" - the same size used in MotoGP - to a 17" tyre in 2013 - the same size used on road bikes. This switch will likely reduce lap-times for World Superbikes as the 16.5" tyre is lower, corners better and has years of development behind it.
It's likely that WSB will see a limited engine rule and may see other 'production-based' rules being introduced by Dorna. Will WSB be held back in order to let MotoGP, the real
With MotoGP struggling to fill a grid and World Superbikes gaining in popularity, what do you think the future looks like for both championships now they're run by Dorna?