The MCE British Superbike championship is gearing up for the new qualifying format introduced for 2016 with the debut of a Superpole shootout.
Qualifying retains its three sessions from last year, with the top 30 riders from free practice heading into an 18 minute Q1, which will decide the quickest 18 riders progress into a 12 minute Q2 session with the top nine going into the Q3 shootout.
The nine pole position fighters will get a single hot lap on their own to determine their spot on the front three rows, with the pressure of one mistake being the difference from pole position to ninth place.
The new format has previously been used by World Superbikes in a similar form while Formula E and the World Touring Car Championship currently adopt the format, albeit with five into the shootout rather than nine.
With very few riders on the BSB grid having experienced the format it has generated interest and some are welcoming it with open arms as it will prevent any riders from gaining tows or following one another.
“It puts on a good show and will add to the excitement,” ePayMe Yamaha's John Hopkins said. “For me it could be a good thing as there are a lot of riders who like to get tows and trying to follow other riders to set a time. For me it'll be alright.”
With uncertain weather conditions for the debut of the format this weekend at Silverstone, with rain showers forecast, the BSB paddock may have to wait to see the new format in full effect because if it rains the top nine will battle in a 12 minute timed session rather than the one lap blast.
Nevertheless, the less experienced riders are relishing the new format and the unknown element it can produce.
“It interesting, I used to love watching it as a kid from World Superbikes,” Tyco BMW's Christian Iddon said. “It is nice that they change up the format. I think tomorrow we may not see the first run of it by virtue of the weather conditions which will be a shame.”
“I've never done anything like it so I am looking forward to it,” Quattro Plant Kawasaki's Luke Mossey added. “It is definitely going to be interesting. There will only be certain people who have done it before in World Superbikes so it should be good and at least we won't be getting held up if you are on a quick lap which has happened in the past.”
Iddon also believes it will benefit those who can produced hot laps on fresh tyres straightaway and therefore work against those who build up speed over qualifying runs.
“It potentially might not work for us if we get into the final phase because at the moment I'm getting faster and faster on the used tyres and I'm not as fast on new tyres,” Iddon explained. “We ran the tyres from FP1 in FP2 and did 15 or 16 laps and my quickest was my last one. We put the soft tyre in at the end and my best lap was the last one so I'm getting quicker as the tyre goes off.
“I just need to pull my finger out my backside and go quicker on the first lap! We are already predicting we will get into the top nine and that is not a given.”