What WSBK Round 1 @ Phillip Island tells us about the new rules.

The first round of the 2017 WSBK season has come and gone.  We saw that the first race was very close and according to Jonathan Rea “very slow”.  It looked fast enough to me, but I understand the intrepid nature of the first race of the season.  Riders and teams has so little testing time and have so much to lose and were basically unprepared for the first event of the year.  The only people that said they were ready was KRT’s Rea and team Aruba Ducati.  Interviews with all of the other riders clearly demonstrated that no one was ready, everyone needed more data for set up, tire selection and to understand telemetry.

Nonetheless, “the show must go on”… and so the races went off with any serious hitches.  The second race was our first chance to see how the reverse order rule would play out and it went smooth and crash free.  Having said that if you have read my previous post you would know that I am not a fan of the new rule. (for many reasons, I feel the rule is a mistake).  When I was a child I took my bicycle to the roof of the garage and I proceeded to jump my bike off the roof and into the pool.  When my mother told me to never do it again because, “Sooner or later you’ll break your neck! It is just inevitable.”  She was right.  Anyone who has ridden BMX, Motocross or raced in any form; anyone who rides a motorcycle to work or bikes of any kind accepts the risk and knows that at some point they will eat dirt, gravel or pavement.

Professional motorsports are no different.  However, the fact that the riders have accepted the risks in no way limits the sporting organizations and owners from their responsibility to provide safety rules that limit the risks.  In race 2 of Phillip Island we saw that the top riders had little problems filtering through the pack to the front, and with the exception of Sykes/Melandri the results were nearly the same.  We did see that some of the other riders were able to hold the front for a few laps but fell away as was expected.

So.. One big question… Was race 2 more exciting than race 1?  Our answer was… not really.  We are sure that there were the corporate ass kissers running around clapping and slapping themselves on the back with boasts of success.  Toasts among executives as they cheer to their own perceived victories.  We are also sure that that same attitude will continue throughout the rest of the season.  As for the new rule, we think it will be much like my old mother said it would be… eventually it will backfire.  It may not be this year or next but it will happen at some point.  A top rider will either get taken out, knocked out, t-boned or just ran off the track.  It will no doubt be called a “racing incident” and shrugged off as inconsequential.  We wonder how people will feel when championships are lost, collar bones broken and surgeries required… will the same fools that thought this would create more excitement and more viewership accept responsibility then? Probably not.  Be we will know the truth.

The corporate cronies have already starting touting their success with articles about how WSBK will be broadcast to more markets than ever before.  This year they claim that the fan base will expand to new highs… why? Because of their brilliant business and marketing leadership, of course, why else?  It reminds me of a beach bicycle rental business.  For years the business had 25 bicycles and every year earned 50k in revenue.  When the owner invested the money for 25 additional bicycles the manager ran around claiming that the increase to 80k in revenue was because of his incredible leadership and planning abilities. When it was just a simple supply increase.  Marketing and advertising are always the key in expanding markets, claiming that the new rules are the answer is just technocratic babble nothing more.

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