WSBK will undergo a radical change to qualifying in 2017 in a bid to create more interest in the ailing series.
Attendance and viewing figures have been in freefall in recent years, and the shake-up is an attempt to reverse that trend. Howvwer, the solution is baffling and is about as clear as mud.
Essentially the Superpole session run on Saturday morning will still set the grid for Race 1, which will still be run on the same day. The grid for Sunday’s Race 2, however, will be partially set by the results of Race 1, using a slightly complex formula. This is where things really start to become difficult.
The first three rows of the grid for Race 2 will be filled by the riders who finished in 1st through 9th place in Race 1. However, they will not line up in that finishing order. Instead the riders who finished in 4th, 5th, and 6th in Race 1 will start Race 2 from 1st, 2nd, and 3rd on the grid, with the riders who finished in 7th, 8th, and 9th starting from 4th, 5th, and 6th.
The riders who finished on the podium, however, will line up on the third row of the grid in reverse order. This means that the winner will line up in 9th, the rider who finished 2nd will start in 8th, and the rider who finished in 3rd will start the race from 7th on the grid.
The grid from 10th place onwards will be set based on Superpole results. However, once again it’s not that straightforward as that does not necessarily mean that the starting positions 10 through 22 will be the same as in Race 1, as riders who started outside of the Top 9 places, but finished 9th or better will move up.
Similarly, riders who qualified in the Top 9 but crashed out or finished outside the Top 9 will be reshuffled down to the fourth row or worse.
All this makes calculating grid positions a little complicated for 10th place and beyond. Basically, the riders who did not finish in the Top 9 in Race 1 will start Race 2 in order of their qualifying time.
Of the remaining riders, the rider with the best qualifying position from Superpole will start from 10th, the second best qualifying position will start from 11th, etc.
The second major change to the rules is far less controversial. World Supersport races are now to be run under the same flag-to-flag format as World Superbike.