The World Superbike Championship's qualifying format is to undergo a significant change in 2009 as it adopts a knockout system similar to Formula 1.

Replacing the increasingly out-of-favour Superpole format that has underpinned World Superbike qualifying since 1998, the new system is intended to bolster interest on a Saturday afternoon.

Although provisional qualification will remain, Superpole, where the top 16 get one flying lap in reverse order to determine the grid positions, will now be replaced by a knockout function.

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This will take the form of the top 20 riders going forward to decide their grid position, with the first twelve minute session eliminating the slowest four riders, before the next eight slowest are removed from the reckoning in the following twelve minute session. From here, the top eight will go forward to compete for pole position.

Following a similar announcement made by organisers of the British Superbike Championship, this would be the first major qualifying format change for the world championship in a decade.

Teams and riders have been informed of the change which, unlike BSB, won't come into force until next year.

FGSport CEO Paolo Flammini also announced that the current technical rules will stay in place with no significant changes until the 2010 season - and probably beyond - although 'a close eye will be kept on electronic development to ensure a fair playing field for all competitors'.

A further unconfirmed change for next season could see the introduction of a flag-to-flag rule, allowing racing to continue regardless of changeable weather, as present in MotoGP.