“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.