Compulsory pit stop for 2024 Phillip Island World Superbike races

This weekend’s season-opening World Superbike and Supersport races at Phillip Island will feature a compulsory pit stop.

Tito Rabat, Australian WorldSBK, 20 February
Tito Rabat, Australian WorldSBK, 20 February

World Superbike has announced that this weekend’s season-opening Superbike and Supersport races at Phillip Island will take place under flag-to-flag rules, with a mandatory pit stop to change tyres for all bikes.

In other words, it’s a repeat of the 2013 MotoGP event, when unexpectedly high (Bridgestone) tyre wear from the new asphalt prompted a mandatory mid-race pit stop. 

On that occasion, rookie title leader Marc Marquez was famously black-flagged for pitting outside of the designated window.

Phillip Island has been resurfaced again for 2024 and, based on information gathered in testing earlier this week, it has been decided that for safety reasons the Pirelli rear tyres ‘shouldn't be used for more than 11 laps for the WorldSBK class and 10 laps for the WorldSSP class’.

In addition, the race distance for WorldSBK Race 1 and 2 has been reduced to 20 laps and two extra sets of tyres have been allocated for each rider in both classes.

"The circuit has performed admirably with the new asphalt,” said WorldSBK Executive Director Gregorio Lavilla.

“While rubber is gradually laid down track conditions evolve, which present some challenges. Since the tyres were shipped out in late November to arrive for this opening round, there wasn't enough time to develop specific tyres tailored to the current asphalt conditions.

“We have carefully assessed the situation, considering the early track activity following the asphalt's being laid out and the two days of testing we conducted earlier this week.

“While conditions have certainly improved, they may not have improved enough, especially considering the challenging, fast-paced nature of this circuit layout.

“In such circumstances, we, in collaboration with Race Direction, the FIM and the Phillip Island GP Circuit, must opt for the safest option, which is of paramount importance."

Pirelli's Giorgio Barbier explained that the company had been caught out due to tyres for the event being shipped before the resurfacing was undertaken.

"I remind everyone that the tyres for this race were shipped from Europe at the end of November while the resurfacing of the circuit was completed only a few weeks ago," he said.

"Therefore, in the absence of data on which to base ourselves, we thought it appropriate to rely on the racing solutions used successfully in the last two seasons. 

"We have seen in the tests that the asphalt offers a lot of grip, to the advantage of the flying lap time, but on the other hand it is very aggressive with the tyres, especially at high temperatures, causing unusual peaks in tread compound temperature on the left side with consequent tyre degradation: we detected up to 160 degrees Celsius in pit lane which we estimate could reach operative peaks of more than 200 degrees. 

"Considering this evidence, in agreement with Dorna, FIM and Race Direction, we have decided that for the races of both classes it will be mandatory to make a pit stop to change tyres. 

"It was a difficult decision to take, also because, as always happens in these cases, some teams would have wanted to try racing over the full distance. However, Pirelli believes that the safety of the riders must be the absolute priority in such circumstances.”

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