Simon Buckmaster believes the World Superbike Championship doesn't need to undergo a radical overhaul to bolster dwindling grid numbers, pointing to the current thriving state of the World Supersport Championship as inspiration.
Speaking ahead of the 2013 season, which gets underway at Phillip Island in two weeks' time, the PTR team manager makes reference to impending discussions regarding rule changes for 2014, with new series owners Dorna rumoured to be considering the adoption of more superstock-inspired regulations in an effort to drive down costs and increase grid numbers.
However, Buckmaster feels the Superbike class can learn from the Supersport category, which saw grid numbers drop to a low of 17 as recently as 2009, only to bounce back in the wake of cost-cutting regulations. As an indirect consequence of these changes, as many as 35 riders across six manufacturers are registered to compete in 2013, five of which come from the PTR stable.
Suggesting PTR – along with other better-funded WSS teams – would even consider a switch into the Superbike class if it was made more suitable for privateer outfits, Buckmaster says any potential move to stock regulations in 2014 isn't the way forward.
“I know we will all be considering new rules for 2014 but please let's all take a look at the current rules as they cannot be far off. There is less support for teams in WSS compared to the MotoGP paddock and less TV coverage makes it harder for us to bring backing in. With this in mind and still 35 riders on the grid, I would once again like to ask the people in the right places to consider Supersport rules for the Superbike class.
“In WSS it is possible for a private team to compete with the factory teams as we at PTR have proved over the last three years. I am sure under Supersport rules PTR could consider moving up to Superbike along with some other very good WSS teams. Maybe this way both classes would have a good grid and with the right team you would have the chance to fight for victory in Superbike as well.
“Under current Superbike rules a private team has no chance even if it has the right budget. With talk of more production based rules in our paddock, let's not go too far as WSS is proving all makes can compete under the restricted engine tuning rules which are not so standard that whoever has the flavour of the year road bike wins.
“I also still think there is a definite case for the stock classes to become full production racing, thus maintaining the classes and making a distinct difference between Stock and the Supersport and Superbike classes.”