WSBK riders react to mandatory pit stops change: “It puts the test to scrap…”

“Unfortunately it puts the test on Tuesday to scrap," Jonathan Rea reacts to WSBK pit stop change

Australian WorldSBK, 22 February
Australian WorldSBK, 22 February

The fresh announcement that the season-opening World Superbike race will feature a mandatory pit stop has caused a variety of reaction from the riders.

The season begins at Phillip Island, Australia, this weekend.

On Thursday it was confirmed that the race will be held under flag-to-flag rules with a compulsory pit stop to change tyres.

Race 1 and Race 2 have also been reduced to 20 laps.

Earlier this week, WSBK riders were busily working at a one-day test on different strategies before this change was announced.

“It’s the same for everybody,” Jonathan Rea reacted.

“Unfortunately it puts the test on Tuesday to scrap.

“The way we worked at Yamaha was on long distance.

“Everybody knows at Phillip Island that tyre consumption is the big key.

“It’s now two sprint races which requires a different set-up for the bike.”

Alvaro Bautista added: “If we race 20 laps, I work to do 20 laps as fast as possible.

“It’s not the same to do five laps. You can go fast, you don’t care about tyres.

“My team work to keep tyre durability, with electronics, with power for 20 laps.

“If you can’t do 20 laps, just slow down. Everybody can do 20 laps, it depends on pace.

“If you want to do 20 laps at time attack pace, you cannot. You must work.

“This decision was taken for safety reasons. I can’t do anything, I must adapt.

“All the work we did to do 20 laps? Now we must do only 10.

“The tyre quantity? The problem is in practice. If you can’t do more than 10 laps in the race, then you do 10 laps in practice. We need more tyres. Or we’ll stop in the box and stay there.

“They have to provide more quantity of tyres. We don’t have enough.”

Alex Lowes, Andrea Iannone, Australian WorldSBK, 22 February
Alex Lowes, Andrea Iannone, Australian WorldSBK, 22 February

Toprak Razgatlioglu said: “This is not just for me. It’s for all riders. The same problem is that rear tyres are destroyed.

“We need to make a plan. 10 or 11 laps? If you push at the beginning, the same problem, the rear tyre is immediately destroyed.

“Everyone is thinking to make a plan.

“We’ll see in the race. It looks like fun! I hope we don’t make a mistake in the box or the pitlane.”

Andrea Iannone added: “A bike race is without stops. 18 laps is better, always. I prefer it, for sure.

“It’s important that safety is safety. From my side, we don’t have a problem.

“I understand that other manufacturers and riders have a problem with their tyres.”

Nicolo Bulega said: “We have to change a little bit. I don’t know…

“I was good with used tyres in the test. So, for me, maybe this choice wasn’t the best one.

“But it’s the same for everyone so I have to be ready for this.”

Alex Lowes: “It’s all about the last 5, 6, 7 laps.

“The guys that look after the tyres the best get the best results. We spent 90% of the test focusing on used tyres and trying to make the tyres last on the new surface.”

Why have WSBK made these changes?

WorldSBK Executive Director Gregorio Lavilla explained: "The circuit has performed admirably with the new asphalt.

“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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