Richards wants all-Evo BSB
19 October 2009
Glen Richards thinks technical rules for the new British Superbike 'Evolution' class, which will replace the Privateers Cup from next season, should be introduced throughout the BSB grid.
Using a format not dissimilar to the new Moto2 class in grand prix racing, BSB Evo will feature machines with a full Superbike racing chassis, but powered by a standard engine and a series-specified control ECU.
For its 2010 debut, the Evo class will run alongside the existing full FIM world championship specification Superbikes - the kind Richards raced for HM Plant Honda during 2009 - but the Australian wants to see the full grid on Evo machines as soon as possible.
“To me they should have just made it across the board,” Richards told Crash.net. “They shouldn't be having two classes next year.
“I know certain teams - Nick Morgan [MSS], Colin Wright [GSE] and Jack Valentine [Crescent] - didn't want the Evo rules across the board. I even know that some of the privateers didn't want it, because they've already bought their bikes for next year.”
By using a control ECU the BSB organisers have been able to ban 'any form of traction control, launch control and anti-wheelie devices' from the Evolution class. That will almost certainly improve the show for fans and, according to Richards, massively reduce the cost of racing.
“In the economic climate I think having standard engines and a kit ECU [in the full BSB class] would be great for the teams - and great for the fans as well, because it'd make the racing closer,” said the 2007 British Superstock champion and 2008 British Supersport champion.
“You won't have people with hundreds of thousands of pounds of electronics. The electronics package on the HM Plant bike is worth around £1000. It's a kit ECU,” he revealed. “And then you're lining up on the grid against someone with £100,000 worth of electronics on their bike. It's good if you can afford it!
“But for me it makes sense to have the racing cheaper and closer. If the racing is cheaper there will be more bikes on the grid and if it's closer the fans will get to watch a better race - and that's what we should be striving for. Some of the Superstock races have been the best races of the day this year.
“The track safety issue also comes into it as well. Having 220 horsepower on some of the British tracks is too much. It wasn't that long ago, less than ten years ago, that we were racing around with 140-150 horsepower motorbikes. Now the Superstock bikes have 180!
“The only reason you wouldn't want standard engines is if you've already got something that's special and you don't want to lose the advantage!”
Richards believes the difference between the Evo and full-spec Superbikes will be almost impossible to spot from the sidelines and that the chassis modifications will mean they remain proper racing bikes.
“Alastair Seeley rode the Evo bike at Silverstone and the full BSB bike at Oulton and did better on the Evo [10th]. Any expert stood on the side of the track would be struggling to tell the difference,” said the 36-year-old.
“The Evo bike has 180 horsepower anyway, then if you put a control [racing] ECU on it you'll be pushing 190 horsepower. That's plenty. There will be certain tracks where they won't be able to keep up with the full spec BSB bike, but other tracks where they will certainly be well in the game lap-time wise.
“There's quite a difference between a Superstock chassis and a Superbike chassis,” he continued. “The Superbike chassis is more rigid and obviously you'll have the 16.5” slick tyre and lighter wheels, which will make the bike change direction better. And then you've got better brakes as well. So it will still be a proper race bike.”
Richards added that all of the main manufacturers can be competitive under Evo rules.
“People say it'll be a Suzuki Cup, but I don't think so,” said the #45. “The Kawasaki and Honda would be a very good Evo bike, as well as the Suzuki. Maybe the Yamaha would be the worst of the bunch because it has the least power, but if you put a Leon Camier on it I'm sure it'd be up at the front anyway.
“I can't see why Evo wouldn't be close, because Superstock is so close with all the manufacturers in there. Even Scott Smart on the Ducati has been there or thereabouts.
“I can only see positives with the Evo class. I don't really see many negatives.”
So what will the future hold for BSB?
“I think they'll probably test the Evo rules out next year and then bring them into the full BSB class after that,” replied Richards.
Richards, who took a one podium during an injury-interrupted 2009 season, hopes to stay at HM Plant Honda in BSB next season.