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WSB Authorities Reduce Ducati RPM Limit Due to Success of Bautista; Honda Gets Increase

As we have reported, the factory Ducati of Alvaro Bautista has won all 9 races held so far in the 2019 WSB series. This has led the FIM, in conjunction with other WSB authorities, to adjust the maximum rpm of the Ducati V4 downward by 250 rpm. Honda, on the other hand, has been allowed an increase in its rpm limit by 500 rpm.

These changes are effective beginning with Round 4 this weekend at Assen. The following press release discusses adjustments made for the various manufacturers after the first 3 rounds, and identifies the rev limits imposed on each manufacturer going forward.

At the conclusion of the 3rd round of the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship the concession points scores see the top two manufacturers Ducati and Kawasaki at the top of the table. Due to the gap of only 7 points (20-13) neither will be allowed a concession parts upgrade during the season. The remaining manufacturers will all be allowed one upgrade.

The calculation is made considering the results of the full distance races (Races 1 and 2).


The DWO and FIM in consultation with their performance analysis partner have concluded that the following updates will be made to the manufacturers rev limits:

  • Ducati – reduction of 250rpm
  • Honda – increase of 500rpm

Special consideration has been applied in the case of BMW – the German marque, after declaring their concession parts, chose to compete in the first two events using a standard engine. This is compliant with the regulations and therefore the weighting of the calculation has been biased towards their performance during the third event where the concession specification engine was used.

The changes must be in increments of 250rpm and the Honda’s performance indicates that two steps should be applied at this point.

From Round 4 – Motul Dutch Round (Assen) – the rev limits will be:

Brand Rev-Limit
Aprilia 14700
BMW 14950
Ducati V2 12400
Ducati V4 16100
Honda 15050
MV Agusta 14950
Suzuki 14900
Yamaha 14700

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Bautista is the reason why Ducati has been Sooo dominant, but come on, a race bike based on a $40k Ducati VS a race bike based on a $15k Kawi. I wonder what’s gonna win?

    • Dave says:

      Remove Bautista from he saddle and it appears the $15-20k bike wins every single time..

      Ducati’s best is always more expensive than the others but in the past, rarely has it ever been much, if any better in streetbike form.

    • mezzo says:

      why isn’t Davies winning then on the same bike?? its not only about the bike……its about who’s riding the bike too. he doesn’t make a single mistake in any race. think about it?!?
      last year Bautista raced on top of a factory ducati in Motogp while Lorenzo was injured…..he did an amazing race too!!!
      ducati + Bautista= killer combination. ENJOY THE RACES 😉

    • Anon2 says:

      It’s actually a $25K Kawasaki (ZX10RR).

    • TF says:

      Ducati demonstrated a bigger commitment to the series by building a better bike and hiring a better rider. Kawasaki will either respond or they will drop out and go race NASCAR. It already looks like the RPM limit placed on the Ducati did not work.

      I think the V4 Duc is an amazing piece of kit and is pretty competitively priced especially compared to something like the old Desmosedici RR or Honda’s latest attempt at a street legal V4…..maybe not as good of a value as an RSV4 but good luck finding a Aprilia dealer.

    • TF says:

      BTW, I am seeing base model V4 Panigales priced in the low 20’s in my area of the country.

  2. Dave says:

    Just saw Assen qualifying results. Bautista TQ by .08.
    Davies = 7th, Laverty = 13th, Rinaldi 17th. The last two were even beaten by one of the Honda’s.

  3. Don says:

    This game they are playing to make the field stay together will end up like that circle jerk outfit they call, nascar. People just go to see the crashes. There is no racing there.

  4. Ralph W. says:

    Both WSBK and MotoGP are now run as money making businesses which provide a spectacle for entertainment instead of being true sporting competitions. Many of the ‘enthusiasts’ can be placed in two categories,- 1) Gullible people who have little understanding of real motorcycle racing and of what goes on behind the scenes. To them, if it looks right it is right. 2) People who just go along for the party. They have little interest in what happens on the track or behind the scenes. If it is a great social event, that is all that matters to them. For Dorna, the only important thing is that the big money keeps rolling in. Unfortunately, those of us who are enthusiastic about real motorcycle racing are left without any top-level world championships to follow.

    • Anonymous says:

      Oh please.

      • Ralph W. says:

        Is that all you can say? Must be because you are too simple minded to say anything worthwhile, and you are one of the gullible people I am talking about. Say something worthwhile or say nothing at all. I’m sick of your childish stupidity.

    • Dave says:

      Yes, it’s a money making business, and it’s entertainment, but nobody would be entertained by one factory running away with the championship every year. Field-leveling rules are a reality in motor sports. Without them, the entertainment sucks and the audience and sponsors (money) dry up.

      What was a top-level world championship, in your opinion?

  5. leadership says:

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  6. Ralph W. says:

    I’ve seen a production car racing series in which the cars had to be below a certain retail price to be eligible. It allowed high performance sports cars but not the exotics like Ferraris and Lamborghinis. Maybe it is still happening but I don’t watch car racing anymore. For this to work in WSBK there would have to be a minimum number of bikes sold for homologation and unlimited production and sales of the model to the general public. Otherwise a manufacturer could build a limited number of higher spec bikes and sell them at a loss and consider it to be one of the costs of racing. When production and sales of the model cease it would no longer be eligible. If this was done in WSBK, Ducati would have to build a lower spec bike to be eligible, instead of the Japanese developing higher spec bikes which wouldn’t sell in sufficient numbers to be viable. Ducati could still produce its highest spec models to sell to interested buyers. Japanese manufacturers did that when the rules restricted 4s to 750cc and twins to 1000cc preventing the Japanese from racing their top-of-the-range 1000cc 4cylinder sports bikes. Would this work? I don’t know but the current system doesn’t and has killed my interest in the series.

    • Superlight says:

      Maybe I’m wrong, but isn’t this what’s happening currently in WSBK? Manufacturers like Ducati build the V4R respecting the rules, including a price cap, but they also sell other models of the V4 with less content and lower prices. What’s missing is the other factories being serious enough about WSBK that they create competitive bikes.

      • Ralph W. says:

        You missed an important point. This is a production based series and it isn’t economically viable for the Japanese manufacturers to build production bikes which cost as much as the Ducati. Obviously you are a Ducati fan and will be happy as long as they keep winning.

  7. Burtg says:

    “Fred M” has the best quote and analogy. Too funny and so true!

    Fred wrote:
    “If the FIM had been in charge of the Olympics, Usain Bolt would have been required to run in ankle weights and Michael Phelps would have been swimming in blue jeans.”

    Love it!

    Bautista is great. Better make him wear a parachute to slow him down.

  8. Kevin White says:

    It’s Harrison Bergeron for motorcycle racing, hooray!

  9. Grover says:

    Almost as bad as “every child gets a trophy”. Gotta get’em all equal so nobody cries or feels left out. Why not just hold “one design” racing if you want a completely level playing field? Why even race if all the incentive to be creative with motorcycle design is taken out if the picture? Sheesh.

  10. Tommy D says:

    If Ducati V4’s were 1-2-3 I’d expect this. But it’s been Duc-Kawi-Yamaha up front. Sorry that Alvaro is making winning look too easy. They should probably put him at the back of the grid and make the next race worth watching.

    • ApriliaRST says:

      Well, that’s modern motosports. Get used to it. Personally I disagree with your comparison; it’s more the result of data acquisition and analysis. For better or worse, data is changing the world from top to bottom. No aspect of life is going to escape.

  11. bmbktmracer says:

    Maybe they should just have a flat RPM limit of 14,500 RPM, or 1000 RPM above production-bike peak power, whichever is less. That way low-volume manufacturers like Ducati won’t go off building production motorcycles with 16k redlines, which are of no use on the street.

    • Superlight says:

      Maybe you haven’t ridden one of the current superbikes lately, but none of them are of much use on the street, much as Ferrari 488s and Lambo Aventadors are overkill as well. Ducati appears to be the manufacturer with the most interest in building competitive superbikes, so they made a V4R that optimizes within the WSBK rules. Perhaps the other factories should do the same.

      • Dave says:

        And therein lies the problem. This is a tiny business segment for the bigger manufacturers. They must make something raceable, but something that captures a large enough slice of the small open-class sport bike market to justify the effort.

        Poor Honda continually makes excellent streetable sportbikes that are too far off the mark to reach full competitiveness on the track.

        • Superlight says:

          I’m convinced the manufacturers don’t create/build liter superbikes these days to make profits; rather, it’s all about brand image. I don’t feel sorry for Honda; they don’t care about WSBK and it shows.

      • Ralph W. says:

        “they made a V4R that optimizes within the WSBK rules”

        But the rules are not working and they need to be changed. They are now applying different rules to different bikes by changing the rev limits. It gives the illusion of close competition but it isn’t fair racing.

  12. Rhinestone Kawboy says:

    Hmmm, this sounds like socialism for motorcycle racing. The best effort gets penalized so the not as goods can save face? I realize there is some need for some rules like weight, etc. but seems it is going to far to penalize the best. Ducati is small in comparison to Honda, Kawasaki, Yamaha, and probably even Suzuki, but yet they seem to work hard, and get it done in the end.

    • Dave says:

      Motorcycle racing isn’t a social necessity, it’s just entertainment. If the organizers don’t take appropriate steps to ensure the quality of entertainment, the show closes.

      That said, I think this is overreach. It’d be one thing if the Ducati demonstrated a clear advantage over the other bikes, but so far, only one example of the bike has done that, while the other three aren’t winning. If a mid-level guy were all of the sudden beating Rea, sure. But Chaz Davies, who did have wins on the V2 Ducati is struggling now on the V4.

    • Fred M. says:

      Socialism is a society helping its members to have a better quality of life, whether they are disabled veterans, the elderly, the sick, or out-of-work factory workers. It doesn’t attempt to level the playing field so that the worst-off among us enjoys the same levels of success as those who are most well-off.

      I agree with Superlight and maybe even go a step further; the current superbikes are not only overkill for the street, they aren’t even really good to ride on the street if you value performance. The bars are too narrow and low, the meat of the powerband is too high, the fairings are too narrow, the windscreens are too low, and the gearing isn’t optimized for the speeds one sees in street riding.

      • Superlight says:

        Well Fred, I’m with you on superbikes being overkill on the streets. I’m not at all with you on the value of socialism, which works great until you run out of other people’s money. But I digress.

        • Bryan says:

          Such balderdash. Compare to Norway or Sweden. You guys are so often comparing the reality of socialism to dictatorships. Nothing to compare. If I was younger and had more to contribute it would be a Scandinavian country for me. Better health care, education, society and people just generally get along better.

      • TF says:

        I hear the quality of life is not so good in Venezuela at present, just sayin’……equal sharing of misery and all.

        If you are concerned about overkill, the 300SSP class has some great racing AND a female world champion. Headline news? Not so much. However, as the owner of an R3 I can tell you that it’s great on the street.

        • Dave says:

          What happened in Venezuela isn’t socialism.

        • Dave says:

          Who said it failed? The regimes who robbed the citizens of those countries accomplished what they wanted, but they were the only ones calling it socialism in the first place.

  13. Clb says:

    Fred M… right on brother.
    I mean they kept pushing rea’s revs down last year and nothing changed. Maybe it was harder but the computer simply moves the same horsepower down the rev range and whole you might have to sift in places you didn’t before, it really doesn’t affect much.

    Davies, his equal competition can’t ride the faster bike faster yet so now you are penalizing the top rider for riding so well and getting the max out of the same bike that no one else can. Don’t get it.

    • Superlight says:

      No, Clb, reducing max revs does not move the same peak HP lower in the range; it reduces the max power that can be produced.
      Maximum HP is directly proportional to RPMs – the more RPMs, the more HP, which is why the Ducati V4 has a higher redline, by design, than the others.

  14. LIM says:

    I’m done with watching wsbk.

    Dorna can take its silly rules and shove it.

    • Provologna says:

      Unless I’m mistaken, the FIM runs it, not Dorna. But screw Dorna anyway!

      This is first I’ve enjoyed WSBK in, well about five years.

  15. Michael says:

    Meh, Ducati will turn some screws, Bautista will be even more motivated, same margin of victory will remain… These sort of rules will ruin the sport, neutering competitive bikes to make slow bikes competitive is just plain wrong, hell, put’m all on Ducs, I don’t care, most everyone loves Rossi, not cause he’s on a Yammie, it’s cause he’s Rossi.

  16. bmbktmracer says:

    Inevitable outcomes are the death-knell for sports. Governing bodies try to keep participation costs under control (e.g. RPM limit) so that there’re more than 6 guys on the starting grid. Further adjustments are made to keep the racing competitive. When I sit down to watch a race I want to see a battle, not a parade.

  17. downgoesfraser says:

    Folks seem to forget that they did this to Kawasaki for the same reasons over the last two seasons, just trying to keep the racing close in a series that not that many people care about.

  18. Todd says:

    So if Bautista wasn’t in Superbike they would have lowered Kawasaki’s? Seems fair enough and was foerhaps foreseen to be a problem since it was written in the rules .

  19. gpokluda says:

    Sure seem to be a lot of rules for something that should be relatively simple; get bikes of a certain displacement, put riders on them, send them around a track, see who comes in first.

    • Stuki Moi says:

      That’s MotoGP. And even there you have rules banning drag bikes with deployable outriggers wide enough to ensure all those beaten down the first straight, are prevented from passing later……

      WSB is, or at least was, intended to be for more production related machines. The problem is that there are two kinds of “production” liter bikes. $10-15K ones ridden by those who represent the future of sportbiking, and $500K ones bought by collectors for, at most, the occasional old-folks parade at the local retirement track. If WSB, and sportbike racing in general, wants to remain relevant in the future, they need their premiere series to resonate with the former. Not just provide some cheesy means of validating the “investment” made by the latter.

      • Superlight says:

        Sorry, Stuki, I disagree. First, most of the top-tier superbikes are more like $17-27k, not $10-15k. Next, some of the factory superbikes may, indeed, cost six figures once modified for racing, but is that so different than sports car racing? Do you really think the racing Corvettes, Porsches, Ferraris, etc. are close to stock specs? Think again – they are not and cost much more than production vehicles you can buy.

  20. Fred M. says:

    Because God knows we wouldn’t want the best rider on the best bike to be victorious. Quickly, cripple the Ducati so that other factories don’t have to improve their motorcycles!

    If the FIM had been in charge of the Olympics, Usain Bolt would have been required to run in ankle weights and Michael Phelps would have been swimming in blue jeans.

    • Willy Leavitt says:

      Best analogy yet

      • Gerry says:

        Probably nobody is old enough to remember, but Indy car racing used to be fun to watch. On the grid at the 500, you might see a diesel, a turbine, a 4,an 8, a 12, front engine, rear engine,all wheel drive, front drive, rear drive etc. Racing without a rooting interest is dull. Let the best rider on the best bike from the most committed factory win the race on merit.

  21. Superlight says:

    Ducati’s success is a result of being very serious about WSBK and building a bike that is optimized to the rules, plus Bautista’s fantastic riding. The other manufacturers are just not putting in the design efforts that it takes to succeed. Their choice.

    • Fred M. says:

      Why ‘put in the design efforts that it takes to succeed’ when you know that the FIM is just going hobble the manufacturers that do and reward those that don’t? It’s cheaper to run a second-tier bike and just wait for the FIM to change the rules on a brand-by-brand basis.

      I want World Superbike to mandate factory-stock bikes with the exception of settings and springs. Require that the manufacturers publish the settings and that they supply springs at no additional cost if chosen at the time of bike purchase. Make it so that someone buying a bike after watching WSBK knows that what he’s buying really is what he saw ridden in the race. Then, and only then, will you see true commitment to making the best production bike possible.

      • Superlight says:

        Your proposal sounds good until you really think more about it. Problem is, racing is way different from street riding – way different. Sports cars have the same problem, even the mid-engine exotics that you’d think would be ready for racing off the showroom floor – they are not. Running at high RPMs for extended periods and late braking from top speeds over and over call for different engineering solutions than what is required for the street. That’s why every factory modifies their superbikes significantly for racing duty. It seems Ducati has created the best solution so far with their V4R model and it’s time the other manufacturers do the same if they want to compete.

        • Fred M. says:

          They don’t build street engines to tolerate those RPMs for the extended periods of time because of cost, not because such capabilities would make the engine less suitable for street use. Nor would having race-quality brakes be a hindrance to most street riders — but it would cost more.

          Erik Buell got the notion of optimizing sport bikes for street use, but couldn’t sell them, largely because those bikes couldn’t ‘win on Sunday and sell on Monday.’ Everything from the racer’s crouch riding position to designing for horsepower at high RPMs to minimizing the bike’s frontal area reduces a Superbike’s effectiveness and practicality for street use.

          But let’s not forget that in 2018, Josh Herrin rode his 2016 Yamaha YZF-R1S street bike to tenth and sixth place finishes in MotoAmerica Superbike races. His race bike was stranded after a breakdown of the tractor trailer. So his street bike was stripped of street equipment, fitted with rearsets and a flat-black race fairing. And then he raced it.

          • Jeremy says:

            There was a time when all sports bikes were built with the street rider in mind, and they sold very well. Ergos were still sporty of course compared to something like a standard, but they were still relatively comfortable machines with very usable power spreads.

            Now, they are really built with race homologation in mind, which isn’t the best thing for the lowly street rider.

          • Superlight says:

            Fred, I can tell you that street riding and racing are two totally different things from personal experience. Back in the ’80s I bought a new Ducati Pantah 600 and got the racing bug. I uprated the chassis/brakes the first year, then the engine the next two years when I ran the old AMA “Battle of the Twins” series. Then AMA changed the rules and I tried to turn the bike back into a street machine. What I learned was that the instant chassis response and big brakes that served me well on the track made the bike too “nervous” on the street. I kept it around for track days, where it still made some sense.

        • Fred M. says:

          Upon further reflection, I want to add another point. WSBK racers already manage their tire wear by riding at less than 100%. If their factory-stock bikes couldn’t withstand the continuous, high-RPM and braking levels of today’s factory superbikes, they could ride within the limits of what the engines and brakes could handle.

          Mind you, I’m not a stickler for brake pads and even thought of that when I “penned” the original reply, but opted against complicating it further. Brake pads are wear items like tires and oil filters, so I don’t have a problem with racers choosing other brake pads, so long as they are not works parts and are, instead, something carried by the dealers. If you want to race with Yamaha R1 race compound brake pads, that’s fine as long as I can buy the same pads at a Yamaha dealer.

        • Jeremy says:

          Actually, your typical, non-homogulation special sports bikes are quite capable of running high rpms for extended periods, much more so than race bikes which are rebuilt frequently. The frames are also built for the high braking and corner loads seen on the pro circuits. Race bikes give up longevity in the engine in exchange for reduced mass and reduced friction of the internals. For their sacrifice, they can spin up faster and rev higher, but they will not last longer at any rpm than their street bike counterparts.

          Ducati basically sells a race bike with the V4R. I mean the thing has hard main bearings and one compression ring on the pistons. That bike engine isn’t made to go any distance that isn’t measured in laps. It is street legal, but it isn’t a street bike. There is a reason that most of them are bought by race teams.

          That’s not a knock to Ducati. They are playing by the rules. Other OEMs need to step up.

      • blitz11 says:

        This “run stock bikes” is not too far from that which is run at the Isle of Man (as far as i can tell – having been there to spectate in 2014). Unlike the “golden days” when Honda spent a bajillion $$$ to be competitive, these bikes seem remarkably stock.

        Here are the superstock “rules: (from yamaha racing website – i have no affiliation”

        STK1000 motorcycles are usually 1000cc four cylinders, like Yamaha’s new YZF-R1, with limited modifications such as safety and crash survivability. The teams are allowed to enhance their bike’s performance by modifying the road gear (lights, horn, side stand etc.), replacing the standard bodywork with pattern race items and changing small items like the foot rests and handlebars to meet the rider’s preference. The rear shock and front fork internals may be changed for aftermarket items, but otherwise the chassis must remain standard. Engine tuning is limited to changing the exhaust for a race item. Pirelli-developed tyres are provided especially for race events but only one type of grooved rubber is permitted and the same product can be bought for a road bike.

        when I was at the race, and saw these machines go by, i’d have no idea of the level of modification. Stock bikes would be a blast to watch – and they go plenty fast.

  22. Dave says:

    Doesn’t seem like it will have any measurable effect and if it does, it’ll push the other 3 Ducatis further from competitiveness. Likewise, I can’t see 500rpm having any effect on Honda’s fortunes, seems like they have bigger problems than horsepower.

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