WorldSBK tightens rules on wings, must be featured on roadgoing bikes

WorldSBK teams won't be able to add or tweak aerodynamic wings on their Superbikes as FIM tightens its regulations in this area

Alvaro Bautista - Ducati
Alvaro Bautista - Ducati

The WorldSBK Championship has moved to tighten its ruling on the use of wings and aerodynamic aids to stop manufacturers tweaking them beyond the roadgoing models on which they are based.

Wings have become a familiar sight now in MotoGP since being introduced a few years ago, with the FIM acting to allow them to an extent but now under regulation.

As an indirect result of this, wings have begun filtering onto road bikes with the Ducati Panigale V4 R on which its 2019 WorldSBK machine is based featuring them.

It raises concerns teams will develop their racing machines to feature wings – which aren’t available on the roadgoing model – which would steer the series away from its homologation processes as a production-based series.

As such, the FIM has moved to prevent this with the clarification of this new, clearer regulation that outlaws any non-standard parts.  

“2020 Technical rules specify the standards required for the usage of wings and aerodynamics aids in WorldSBK. All Manufacturers will be allowed to use only standard homologated mechanisms, and the rage of movement must be the same as that usually used by the homologated road machines.”

Honda CBR1000RR-R sP
Honda CBR1000RR-R sP

Who benefits from this regulation change?

The move arguably benefits Ducati and probably Honda with its new CBR1000RR-R, which has sprouted aerodynamic aids for its latest generation Fireblade.

Indeed, Ducati went to the effort of developing a more powerful, honed roadgoing bike with the primary intention of giving it an edge on track, though its availability means it skirts the perception of being a homologation special - so-called as a means of developing a motorbike specifically for track with no intention of selling it in large numbers for the road.

Either way, the emergence of the Panigale V4 R put the pressure on WorldSBK champions Kawasaki, who developed the ZX-10RR in anticipation of Ducati’s switch to a V4 platform. Indeed, after Ducati dominated out of the box during the initial rounds, there was talk Kawasaki was busily preparing a winged-special of the bike to help it keep up.

That went away as Kawasaki began to reassert its dominance but the latest ruling shows that if it does feel compelled to produce a winged ZX-10RR it will have to develop a roadgoing bike with exactly the same features. The same applies to Yamaha and BMW.

Crucially, the ruling does also state that Ducati and Honda cannot then tweak the wings they have either with the intention of making them quicker… meaning they need to work as well on the road as they do on the track. That could well make it something of a balancing act for both.

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