Dorna and the FIM’s efforts to balance the 2018 World Superbike field have come in for criticism from Pere Riba, who believes the decision to further limit the rev limits of successful machines through the year “are not fair, and not clever.”

Riba, instrumental in Jonathan Rea’s three World Superbike titles in his role as crew chief, expressed his pleasure at Kawasaki’s preparations for 2018 but voiced concerns regarding regulation changes that have impacted the class for the season ahead.

Kawasaki was required to lower the rev limit on its ZX-10R from 15,200RPM to 14,100 for 2018, a change that has done little to slow its riders down throughout preseason testing.

However, should Rea, team-mate Tom Sykes, or indeed any other Kawasaki-mounted rider dominate the opening three rounds, further machine penalties will follow, with a further drop of 250RPM enforced - a penalty that could be repeated at later points in the year. 

Riba was keen to stress his favour of regulations that would bring the field closer together, but feels this method, whereby Kawasaki still appears to be unaware of the specifics of the rules, is “not nice.”

“Of course, we are very proud of the job everyone is doing and, honestly speaking, the only worry is what’s going to happy with Dorna and the FIM,” Riba said in recent conversation with

“I’m a fan of Superbike. I’ve been in this championship always. I raced, am working here and have always been here. I really want a healthy championship, a growing championship, equality and nice races. I’m the first one [that wants that].

“In my opinion, to balance technically is much more difficult in Superbike than in MotoGP. In MotoGP it’s very easy because they are prototypes built from zero. The best technology companies, the best knowledge, the best understanding; whatever.

“But in Superbikes, you have seven different manufacturers - this means the starting point is seven [bikes]. To equal them technically, f***ing hell, it’s so difficult. I’m not saying it’s not possible, but it’s so difficult. This means they go in the direction of revs.

“It’s easy to understand why our bike is one of the most affected. I agree. We will compensate. But what is not nice, is the system points. The worst is if you see the rules they say, ‘After three races, depending on your results, we will penalise you 250 [revs].’ If you make fastest laps, pole positions and win, you can also be penalised. But they don’t give you a formula.

“If they gave me a formula, and they said, ‘This is one point and this is another and if you get ten points then whatever’, then you can make some strategy. You can talk with the rider, and say, ‘OK, Johnny, don’t do pole position. Don’t win this race. Don’t lead the race – wait until the last lap.’

“Then other riders can also win. It is not nice like that because we are in a sport. This means, in my opinion, how everything has been managed is not fair and it’s not clever. This is my personal opinion.”

Riba feels Kawasaki is essentially being punished for success, something that would not fly in the MotoGP class.

“A small example: go to MotoGP and tell Valentino, Marc and everybody, ‘If you win too much, you are going to get penalised because you are too good.’ Go and tell them and you will see the answer,” he said.

“They’ll say, ‘OK, I’ll stay at home.’ I’m sorry. I repeat: I’m not against balancing the championship. But there are many ways to make the balance and some of them are for my understanding a little bit out of the limits.”

Another issue with the enforcement of further rev ‘penalties’ through the year, he feels, is that it will apply to all Kawasakis on the grid – an implementation that may seriously hamper the potential of, for instance, Puccetti Racing’s Toprak Razgatlioglu or Pedercini Racing’s Yonny Hernandez.

“It’s very difficult because Kawasaki, for example, Jonathan and Tom are really fast. I hope that after three races we will have 250RPM less. It’s not only for them. It’s for the rest of the guys. They say you want to balance it.

“But what do they want to balance,” Riba asked. “They said they want to help the small teams. They make a price cap for the swingarm. Then if they win, another six Kawasakis will have their performance lowered. Is this help?”

Does he foresee a change in results as a consequence of the new regulations? “Not in the first events,” he said. “But, it depends on what they decide to do. When I say they, I mean Dorna and the FIM. In the rules, when you talk about points, there is a point when Dorna can add any point [they want].

“At the end of the day the regulations and equalling the championship – everything comes from one guy: Jonathan. He’s the best. The skills he has; the way he manages. He’s like Messi in football. What can you do? Messi is Messi. He’s the best in the world. Even if Ronaldo wants to be close, he can’t do it. We’re lucky that we have Messi.”


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Riba is spot on, it is not fair. But beyond that "balancing" is a cancer that is destroying competition. Sport is balanced be a set of rules that apply equally to all competitors and enforced fairly. Beyond that is manipulation which invalidates any idea of a competition in favor of a show, an entertainment.

I agree with Pere here in that the 'problem' is JR. The Kawasaki is a great bike but it's Johnny's riding which is doing the job. The problem could have been solved by Herve Poncheral and DORNA but it's too late now.

People are missing the point that if WSBK doesn't become a good show it'll die on its arse regardless of whether the attempts to make it work are 'fair' or not. Leaving it like this is pretty much asking for WSBK to become a thing of the past.

In actuality this is really a case of blatent discrimination. It should not be tolerated in any place or form whether it is people or machines. If there is a rule for 4 cylinder bikes it should apply to all of them. If the other manufactures can't keep up, that is their problem not Kawasaki's. Dorna are treading on very thin ice with this one.

I can't believe the other Japanese would accept this - it is such a loss of face. Your product is so bad we have hobbled your competition.

Looks like Kawasaki have strong grounds to sue Dorna/FIM for illegal discrimination.

And which law would they be breaking, exactly?

Around 20 years ago the 900 Kawa was a fast road bike tourer.
Wasn;t the lightest but was real world useful and friendly to ride,
and the ram air intake really added HP when over 150mph.
I remember chatting with a Team Owner in NZ in 2006 he said still got the power
but chassis not good enough.

Well folks, now they have the Power, Chassis, Riders .
As a Big K fan from the Triple Days H1 etc..... and the KX500 mx.....
Time to kick Honda, BMW, Yamaha in the butt.
Allow one RPM change to the 15000 level. One change per Year.

Or for 2019 cut all bikes back to 13,000. A bit like NASCAR's restrictor Plate in 1990's.

World Superbike is a production class.   The problem is that the Honda, Ducati, Aprilia, Yamaha are not fast enough.  The simple solution is for those manufacturers to BUILD BETTER PRODUCTION BIKES.   Now, some people will no doubt say that WSBK is very highly modified, and the issue is that Kawasaki have spent 'too much'.  In that case, change the regulations - for everyone - that restricts the things that can be modified, or the materials that can be used on different items.    Once that is done, refer back to the beginning...  and build a better production bike.   

I totally agree Jr is the mercurial genius thats making the difference. I am a massive tom fan and didn't expect him to come in and wipe the floor with him but he has and its discrimination against him and the team to further penalise them for adapting....  the word here is adapt and survive and thrive. The other manufacturers haven't and will still struggle even with further kwak penalties 


Jonathon is a fantastic rider but he didn't dominate at Ten Kate. Kawasaki have pretty much bought their titles in a championship that has been based on a handicap system almost from the start. Don't know else they expect.