Busting the WorldSBK balancing rule myths

| | WorldSBK
Picture: GeeBee Images

Keyboard warriors hit peak outrage over the Portimao WorldSBK weekend as Ducati’s Alvaro Bautista appeared to breeze past the opposition along Portimao’s long straight.

Calls for Kawasaki’s revs to be re-instated, Ducati weight to be increased and even the beheading of technical boss Scott Smart for making a mess of the balancing rules rang across the ether.

We spoke to Smart over the race weekend to get a refresher of how the balancing rules work and how they are not going to influence and very clever and talented, and lightweight, rider on a red V4:

Rev limits are set (as stated in the regulations) by measuring the peak power rpm and hard limit of the Standard bike. Those limits are adjusted using bespoke algorithm software specifically written for Dorna/FIM by an independent company.

The algorithm uses every lap time from each rider over the course of each weekend.

Rev limits will only be adjusted when the algorithm sees a significant disparity between the fastest and slowest manufacturer.

Kawasaki has never had revs removed. In 2020, the bike turned up with a higher rev limit that had been used in testing but the engine was not new enough to warrant a different limit. The rev limit is set in the week after the homologation dyno test.

There is a specific set of rules that lay out what constitutes a new engine for homologation. A new oil pump, for example, is not enough. This also prevents the creation of ‘homologation specials’.

Ducati is the only manufacturer to have had revs removed in season. Yamaha and Honda have had them added.

In addition, and for bigger performance changes, you have the concession system which allows mechanical upgrades.

From 2023 there will be new calculations in place.