Could (and should) WorldSBK become a ‘winter’ racing series?

A proposal to shift the WorldSBK Championship to be run between September to May has been submitted... but could it work?

Alex Lowes - Kawasaki Racing Team, start

A proposal to shift the WorldSBK Championship to run between September and May is reportedly being weighed up as both a solution to the ongoing absence of racing hiatus and as a permanent switch.

Andrea Quadranti, owner of the MV Agusta WorldSSP team, has submitted a proposal to Dorna about the prospect of turning WorldSBK into a series that would be run during largely winter months, in line with that of European football seasons.

Though not a new idea, the proposal has gained some traction as a way to provide some certainty for teams to prepare for a full season once the coronavirus pandemic has abated. More than that though, he believes there is an argument for making the change permanent as a way to give the championship greater prominence during traditionally quieter months.

He says the idea has gained growing support in recent weeks – from the Puccetti Kawasaki and Barni Ducati WorldSBK teams – both as a long and short-term solution.

“It was a few years ago that I had this idea and given the exceptional situation that occurred I decided to relaunch this proposal,” he told GPOne. “It would be a matter of carrying out the World Championship from July or August, until May, a bit like how it works with the football calendar.

“I think that for WorldSBK it can be an interesting alternative, especially at a time like the present, where uncertainty related to the spread of this virus exists.”

It’s a bold proposal, but could it really work? We weight up the pros and cons…


In the short-term, the lack of racing action right now means that we simply do not know when motorsport will be back on track. As it stands, it seems increasingly likely there will no sense of normality until the depths of summer, but even then that doesn’t mean racing will be permitted to go ahead.

Either way, it will be a push on the schedules to get the remaining rounds rearranged to be completed before the year is out and this is even before you begin to consider WorldSBK will inevitably clash heavily with MotoGP and lose out on TV time.

However, by rearranging the calendar to run across two years, there will be greater flexibility to give manufacturers, sponsors and riders the chance to get their own slice of spotlight.

Longer-term, were this to become the norm then WorldSBK would be almost exclusive in keeping the show going during the winter slowdown usually reserved for testing and recuperation. As is often seen every year (not least in terms of our website traffic figures) when Phillip Island traditionally kicks off the motorcycle racing season in February before anyone else, there is heightened interest beyond it being the season opener because it doesn’t compete with anything else for airtime.

Moreover, there wouldn’t be that much of a disruption to the calendar itself given WorldSBK insists on having a very long summer break totalling seven weeks in some years – almost the length of the winter break! In fact, teams have complained the winter period isn’t long enough anyway for them to develop their machinery around the holiday period.

On the four-wheel side, there are more winter-orientated championships beginning to crop up. The electric Formula E Championship has run during predominantly winter months since its inauguration and it’s interesting to see how rounds in December and January gain a significant amount of publicity versus its summer events when it goes up against the like of F1 for both TV and media time.

Right now, WorldSBK already battles MotoGP for exposure, not aided by the fact Dorna quite clearly gives it second-billing in comparison. 

By giving WorldSBK its own period of the season from which to build a platform, it’ll keep teams and sponsors happier, potentially encouraging more to join if they recognise they’ll still be racing during quieter motorsport months. 

It doesn’t hurt that its primary European TV audience are more likely to be indoors watching TV during the colder period… and who wouldn’t want to watch premier international motorsport on a continuous cycle every month of the year?


However, that last statement brings up perhaps the most obvious con – the weather.

Arguably the November to March period would need to see the calendar venture to warmer climes in order to hold races, which somewhat goes against the more recent efforts to centralise the season around European rounds. However, current events like Qatar, Argentina and Australia could easily be held during that time, plus somewhere like Sepang or Buriram, with the European events bookending the season.

However, this limits the potential European television audience pull if more rounds are held during the early hours, while it’s an added strain on the purse-strings for teams too.

There is also the point that it would throw a spanner into the rider market as the end of a MotoGP season (and any other series) would overlap with the start of WorldSBK, limiting the chances for someone to progress from one series to the other.

Moreover, manufacturers generally eye up the EICMA show in November as the place to reveal new machinery that will then go on to race the following year, meaning new Superbikes may not hit the track until almost a year later.

What next?

Quadranti – who acknowledges it’s not a flawless plan as yet – says he has submitted the proposal to WorldSBK Race Director Gregorio Lavilla, who has intimated he will float the plan to other teams for their feedback.