Redding poses question of WorldSBK weight limits

| | WorldSBK
Picture: GeeBee Images

At more than six feet tall and 90kgs, WorldSBK’s heftiest rider Scott Redding has given his thoughts on whether the series should impose a combined rider and weight limit.

Alvaro Bautista claimed his 14th victory of 2022 at San Juan last weekend. With 30 podiums to date from the diminutive Spaniards’ returning season on the Panigale V4R, the debate about rider weight advantages, alongside the recently discussed super-concessions, has been brought to the fore - especially following the Ducati rider’s six-second dominance of Saturday’s opening bout in Argentina.

Posing the question via his Instagram account on Wednesday morning, Redding - who rode the Ducati in question for the past two seasons, claiming second and third in the championship standings before switching to BMW - had this to say.

“YES OR NO? Should there be a rider minimum weight limit for 2023?” Redding quizzed his fans alongside an image of himself and Bautista with ‘93kg vs 66kg’ added. “The WorldSBK Championship has done a great job at creating some of the best motorcycle racing in the world but, why is there not a rider minimum weight limit? I can speak on this subject as I am not a championship contender this year, those who are will not speak up about it because they get criticised by fans and social media ‘experts’. As you will see when you swipe through the videos you will see the clear advantage that a extremely smaller rider will gain on a straight, typically 0.2-0.4 of a second, this may not seem a lot to many of you but when 10 riders are covered by one second, this “0.2” on one straight is a beautiful safety net.

“Besides the speed gain, a lighter rider will not consume as much rubber off the tyre as a heavier rider. Therefore at the end of the race, which is most critical, the lighter riders will likely have more grip compared to his competitors meaning more chance of winning. I know information on tyre wear numbers but this is confidential info. Take a look to slide 7 you will see sector time info, sector 2 consists of 2 corner and 3/4 of the back straight in San Juan, you can see there is a clear advantage, this then makes the other rider push even more over the limit to try and recover this 0.2 from one straight. I just think it should be as fair as possible for all of the riders. I will probably get a lot of hate comments, that’s fine because someone needs to speak up.”

It’s an interesting question, especially when raised by the man who himself claimed 37 podiums, 12 of which victories, from his 61 races in Ducati red.

The current Bologna rider, and focus of the attention due to his 169cms, 57kg frame, was quick to reply.

“Let’s limit the strength as well,” Bautista hit back. “The small riders have less strength to move the bike & riding in the corners…but that is not a problem for big & almost bodybuilders riders…so if you make a limit for one thing, you have to put another limit for another thing…

“I think is more important to concentrate in take advantage to use the strong points of oneself & try to minimised the weak points…but is easier to find external excuses instead to work hard and accept the reality…is the first time in my career that other riders complain about the weight of the riders.”

Another ‘giant’ of the Superbike paddock, and fellow BMW rider, Loris Baz chimed in.

“200% agreed. 95kg for me. It’s been like this all my life as well.” Baz agreed with the Brit. “The problem is the bikes become better and better as well ,with electronic and aero. This means the small advantage we can have from the weight is reducing every time new strategies.

“I remember racing Stock1000 and first years in WorldSBK and I could help wheelie or grip with my size and weight. But electronics and aero becoming better and better it’s only big straight disadvantage to be heavy!”

With almost 2000 comments under the post after just a matter of hours, on both sides of the agreement and everywhere in between, Redding continued to refine his position.

“There is a minimum bike weight limit already,” he confirmed. “I don’t want the riders to be the same as me because they would need a truck on their back! But just an average of the riders.”

Something ex-rider turned coach Brad Howell agreed with.

“The series would benefit from a minimum combined weight limit for sure,” Howell, who has recently been seen working with the likes of Tom Sykes and Tim Neave in the BSB paddock agreed. “Bautista, smaller riders may be at a slight disadvantage in terms of leverage, but strength maximum required for riding Superbike can be achieved, irrespective of size.”

Others seemed less than impressed with the idea. Standout Sunflower winner Richard Cooper added: “Absolutely not!!!!!” while former WorldSSP300 Champion Marc Garcia let the emoji’s do the talking, by simply using a fearful face. Bautista’s current teammate, who himself weighs in at around 62kgs, was obviously just there for the comments asking “Were are my pop corn?” To which Baz jokingly replied “at least you can eat popcorn!”

Former BSB rider Glenn Richards joined the conversation but sat painfully on the fence from the other side of the world.

“Little blokes will say no.. big blokes will say yes” he added helpfully before passing the buck to the Championship’s Technical Director. “Get Scott Smart to sort it out.”

“I will say though, last year when you were on the Ducati you were blasting people in a straight line,” he continued. “So a lot of that is the bike.”

While recent World Endurance Champion Josh Hook asked Redding “Surely you’re not 93kgs?” before confirming “I understand your point Scotty but that’s just the harsh reality of being a bigger bloke. Soon as you start putting weight on the lighter rider’s bikes they will complain that you can move your weight around with your body and they can’t do nothing.”

While the discussion continues to run, both on social media and trackside, Bautista’s Championship rivals have continued to make him work for the title with Toprak Razgatlioglu claiming 11 wins from his 24 podiums so far. Six-time champion Jonathan Rea’s podium tally stands equal to his Yamaha foe with just two round remaining but his time on the top step has taken the biggest hit this season, just five wins from 30 races has the Kawasaki front runner firmly on the back foot and almost 100 points shy of the Spaniard overall.

Picture: WorldSBK