By Haydn Cobb

Pata Yamaha's team principal Paul Denning succinctly laid out the pros and cons of the new World Superbikes race two grid rules and despite being loved by some and loathed by others, at least it demonstrates Dorna pulling its thumb out to invigorate the series.

Last year's change to the weekend schedule with the opening race run on Saturday was met with similar scepticism and whether you support it or not, it largely didn't impact who was going finish where at the fall of the chequered flag.

This week's grid changes, with the podium trio of race one being pushed back to row three for race two, will directly impact race action but as Denning points out the likes of Jonathan Rea, Tom Sykes et al shouldn't be too concerned about starting ninth.

"To provide some context, in the restarted 2016 Qatar race two, Jonathan Rea started in ninth position on the grid," Denning said. "He was fifth at the end of lap one, third at the end of lap two and second by the end of lap five. Only an inspired Chaz Davies stopped JR winning the race - and the starting position made no difference to the result."

Click here to read Paul Denning's full thoughts on the rule change

The fear of the gimmick is correct, artificially shaking up racing by placing the three fastest riders behind six others, but as Denning also points out the rule effects the entire grid equally rather than indeterminate technical rule tweaks which may hurt one machine more than the rest. Parity, or as close to it, is something Dorna strives for as it will ensure closer racing so a rule which impacts equally is more sensible than pegging back the faster ones.

Currently both Kawasaki Racing Team riders Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes have been the most vocal riders against it and with fair justification. Throughout 2016 both riders only missed out on the podium in race one on a handful of occasions and therefore are likely to be hit hardest by the rule in 2017.

Indeed, Sykes isn't tagged Mr. Superpole for nothing so not automatically starting race two from pole even if he qualifies first certainly devalues its total worth.

On good grounds scepticism has greeted the new rule but that's nothing new. MotoGP's unified ECU, British Superbike's Showdown (and lesser spotted 'last-to-first' challenge in 2015) were all criticised initially but got people talking and paying attention. With the added triumph of a successful integration to boost the show all has been forgiven.

Even if it doesn't work out and foul play sparks from the rule change - murmurs of riders slowing to finish fourth in race one for pole in race two, which, if any rider is worth his salt knows that'd be unthinkable - rules can be adjusted.

In the unwieldly world of F1 knockout qualifying was introduced at the start of 2016 in a bid to improve the show and failed spectacularly. F1 bosses accepted this and reverted back to a stronger model.

World Superbike stars have their say on grid shake-up

Even I think the rule could have been made simpler by reversing the top nine from race one finishing places rather than only the top three and promoting the next six. Any rule that can't be explained in one sentence is always a worry. But the change was a clear step in the right direction. If it all stays the same, expect the same results and stagnation.

Besides, as already pointed out by Rea, World Superbike bosses could have gone much further and adopted a model already used with varying success in the British Touring Car Championship - get the top ten to pick grid slots out of a hat for their final race. Forget performance-related grids, why not a lottery?

This is Dorna's attempt to shake some life into World Superbikes and should be seen as a collaborative effort rather than divisive to combat against dwindling TV and trackside audiences.

In 2017 World Superbikes has a lot going for it: seven different manufactures (more than any other series), nine different nationalities, six former/current world champions and sponsors returning with interest.

What is there to lose?


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