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Stock Race Classes

I’m sad about the way our sport has gone in recent years, especially at European Championship and World Championship level – it’s more about money than ever. I used to be proud of our sport when I compared notes with my counterparts in car racing in the 90’s. They found it extraordinary that I was a factory rider for a manufacturer in world championship and yet I came from a country that was not an important market to that manufacturer and I had no money behind me, so hadn’t bought the ride. ”It’s all about talent in our sport mate” I’d tell them. ”If you want results you need to have the best rider on the bike, not the richest. Cool aye!”

Now I get quite angry every time I bump into any of the talented 18-25 year-old riders around who have given up on our sport after exhausting all avenues and using the last of their own and their loyal supporters’ money trying to pay for rides in the various racing classes.

This brings me to the recent decision by World Superbike organisers to drop the European 600 Superstock class (Stk600). I believe that this decision has made the bad situation even worse. Parents/ sponsors that were only just hanging on in European Stk600 are now faced with the decision of coming up with between 100,000 and 200,000 Euros for one year in World Supersport, go back to a national championship… or quit racing. World Supersport is the only stepping-stone class left for young riders coming from National level 600 classes or the popular European Junior Cup series (a one make series) on their way to riding 1000cc bikes.

Is World Supersport an affordable class for young up and coming riders that hope to progress onto Superbike? Not at all.  If I had to describe World Supersport to someone confused about all the motorcycle racing classes I’d say that it’s like a Superbike but 600cc instead of 1000cc. It’s a class that allows reasonably heavy modifications and data recording. All this costs an obscene amount of money (engines tuning and services cost 20- 50,000 Euro per rider per year minimum). These modifications make a 600 perform similar in a straight line to a low cost, standard GSX-R750 with an aftermarket exhaust system but of course the Supersport engine needs regular, expensive engine rebuilds where a standard 750 which is visibly identical to a 600 will only need an oil change.

Supersport do have new regulations this year. My understanding is that Dorna were pushing for Superstock spec in World Supersport but some of the manufacturers would not agree because their current models are too slow without the modifications. As a result the technical regulation changes that could have presented a real cost saving have ended up with the same highly tuned, expensive engines but with cheaper kit ECU electronics (same as stock classes- no traction control, launch assist etc). It does make some savings but as the bikes are allowed to be fitted with data recording systems, the teams still need a very clever electronics guy to be competitive and so there’s not such a big change in actual costs from the year before.

Manufacturers threatening to pull out if they don’t get the regulations they want is a big consideration for all series organisers. For years I’ve seen that not many series organisers have the balls to stick to what they know is best for the sport in the long run.

I’m not at all denying there are very good riders in World Supersport and the bikes are beautiful but it’s not more important to our sport than Stk600 (the same bikes but lower spec regs so relatively affordable). Turkish fans like World Supersport for the same reason Superbike was popular in the UK in the 90’s -they have a real hero in the class- but I believe the majority of fans around the world would choose to watch Moto2 over World Supersport if they wanted to see a close fought race between world championship riders on expensive 600cc motorcycles. I also believe that the riders in World Supersport that are confident in their own abilities and have big goals for the future will have their sights set on a future in World Superbike or one of the Grand Prix classes, not World Supersport. I’d rather see Supersport regs dumped in favour of Stk regs. I believe racing will be better and there will be more opportunities for riders.

Why do I think the stock classes are so important?

Every experienced rider will tell you that they have received help from someone who simply loved motorcycle racing and who chose to help them simply because they were motivated and talented. Our sport needs these people to help riders on their way. They appeared for me at a few different stages of my career, seemingly from nowhere, right when I needed them. Most of them were guys that loved working in their workshop and were experienced in racing circles. When they see someone that deserves their help they spend their own time, knowledge and sometimes money to build a bike for them to race. They sometimes convince a friend who has a successful company to pay for some race entry fees and some tyres. These guys are the base our sport is built on. Without them the conveyer belt that feeds riders through to the top is damaged. I believe that chief mechanics are often these same type of guys but have managed to make a career out of their passion. Often when chief mechanics retire from travelling with race teams they’ll get bored at home and build a bike to give a local kid a shot on. They are the perfect people to give a helping, guiding hand to a young rider.

Dropping Stk600 is taking away a racing class that these valuable, experienced people know is affordable to enter with a limited budget and where good results are achievable. Very few can build a Superbike or Supersport bike in their garage now. Sadly those days went out about the same time electronics came in because of the specialised know-how, staff and most of all the budget that’s needed to run electronics well enough to be competitive. As I have said many times before it’s rare that the big, national importer/distributor teams (Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha, Kawasaki Ducati etc) enter World Superbikes or World Supersport races as wildcards at their local circuits these days; I think for the same reason. Regulations make it too difficult and expensive to be competitive.

Superstock classes are the most important classes in current times for bringing young riders through to the level they have a chance of being noticed.

If I ever achieve my goal of building a safe reliable income to run my little family and in doing so enabling me to have time to do other things, one of my dreams is to start a race series called, for example…  “The World of Outlaw Stock 600 and 1000 Series”.  Local wildcards welcome to try to qualify. No need to buy average quality ‘control tyres’ – run any production treaded tyres you want. I’d have strict minimum weight and maximum horsepower limits with frequent, random Dyno and weight checks and big restrictions on electronics. You’d be welcome to sleep in your van or caravan in the Paddock (BBQ’s encouraged). Strictly no computers in the pit box and no smartphones at the BBQ’s would be great, but unrealistic I know, so I’ll leave that out. All profit would go back into start and prize money and I’d encourage the winners on towards careers in WSBK, Moto2 and MotoGP.

Dreams are free.

Simon

21 comments

I can only agree.. Maybe you will get your wish and i will be there to see it. Best regards.

Spot on as usual.

I still think bike racing is more about talent than car racing, but money has and always will be THE major contributing factor for results in all forms of motorsport even if it is just having enough money and time to ride more laps.

I REALLY hope you can achieve your goal of a new race series – I love that idea!

Hi Simon,
I agree with most of what you say, but will pick a bone about the electronics. I think there are two separate issues: data recording vs engine control, and the cost implications are very different.
If you have sophisticated engine control electronics that do auto-blip on down-changes, control engine braking and offer various traction control strategies, there is no way around it: you are going to need an electronics guy in the box or you’ll be at a real disadvantage.
If on the other hand the issue is about data recording, there is a way around it: you bring a couple of spotters and place them around the track with good quality video equipment. Then you go back and spend the evening analysing the videos frame by frame on a high-res monitor… You just have to buy the cameras, the video editing software, the computer, the monitor and the wages and living expenses and travel of the spotters. Of course if you have the money to pay for more track time, that will help compensate for the less efficient set-up information.
In contrast, it is possible to buy a data-recording set-up for the price of a weekend worth of tyres, if you avoid the more famous brands like 2D.
So by all means do whatever is possible to level down the field in terms of performance electronics, but locking away the data recording may have unanticipated consequences…

Could not agree more Simon.
Maybe you could come back to me,as someone who would love to help a young talent but feels that so many things need to change.
Andy H

I to talk agree with your article. The sport is actually not looking for talent. Only parents with money and the kid has talent will only get a chance to be World Champion. But we all know that combination is never the case. Its always parent are just ok and their kid is super talented.

Robert Kumar aka
Ian Dublin Dad.

100% agree with all you say above mate. The Superstock classes are always treted as the poor relative but it is the backbone of modern Superbike/sport classes.

See you at Slovakiaring
Dvae Charrett

Love the last paragraph, grow roots, involves more people, spreads enthusiasm and education about the sport. That compiled will bring more fans, viewership and focus and equals more money into the sport over time.
80’s and early 90’s where the pinnacle due to ability to participate..

So through Simon and it goes the same way in lots of sports!

Why not?

I am sure it is lot of competitive persons out there whom never get the chance!

Thanks

Mike

Well written Simon
Regards Richie

Well said simon but as you say dreams are free…as a parent and sponsor of a young racer who is talented but on an apprentices wage I would love to have the 600 superstock class available for my son to move up to, sadly even at NZ national level the 600 supersport class is way too expensive for us. So the choice is simple we either stay in low capacity production racing or Quit all together.

Love the ideology Simon. Reminds me of the 1990’s World Superbike rounds at Manfeild with about ten local wildcard riders getting to rub shoulders with the world elite. Troy Corser being .5 faster than Tony Rees. This is now consigned to history, and sounds like some of the future will never get to do the same. Lucky we grew up in the good times. Is it also time for some of the Superstars to ride some local events in their downtime?

Very well said Simon, 100% agree. I’m with you on all points, especially the BBQ and sleeping in the van. Those were very good days of our sport.
I would support you all the way with your plan for a stock series to even up the playing field for so many talented young riders who have sadly dropped out of the running.
Ken Dobson

A great call. I have watched all forms for twenty plus years and it always came down to cheque book racing. At national to club racing the guys doing it the toughest are the ones i admire the most. In New Zealand our rules, in my eyes are a mess. I would love to see a basic superstock class[600=1000], the top guys could race here or overseas and bring a one rule for everyone. I watched you Simon on 250 proddys with Slight and Stroud and it was awesome, today the small proddys are boring, but they do bring young talent through. I believe it starts at the top, and until it sinks in it will not change.Love the idea of yours.

I believe we basically put the nails in the coffin of our sport years ago by allowing it to be highjacked by wanting to become more professional at the time im sure we all believedthat this was the future formularising the racing so thT all were on a level playing field, same tyres same engines for the race class bikes. I think what we used to have in australia was great in the 70s and 80s production racing for std off the shelf bikes likt GT250 suzis 900 kawas all raced together but split in to their capacity classes 250, 350, and unlimited made for great racing with 250s even beating bigger capacity bikes depending on the tracks.we then had some development classes like improved touring which allowed some engine and exhaust development . Then we had superbikes go out grab a Z1R or even XS100 which you could chain drive full engine mods carbs pipes frame mods some fantastic racing resulted from these categories along with GP Bike 125 ,250,350 500, 750 and unlimited you could build what you could afford you got heaps of experience tuning riding racing and learning your craft. I say we’ve got it all wrong now. I still watch all i can of SBK and Moto 2 3 and Gp but you cant just go out and compete in your championship now without owning a franchise or being contracted to a franchise team. Oh well

Not to mention the death of 125s at national level. The price of a moto3 bike is ridiculous, and I can’t believe that a youngster can learn as much from them… The little 125s were so good because they weren’t intimidating to work on.

Richie Cunningham

Hi Simon
Totally agree about feeder classes.
We run a team in Stock 1000 BSB. This is however getting more and more ‘electronic’ where data logging and Dyno fuel checks are used for optimum bike set up.
Our rider has come from Stock 600 and then to the Evo supersport(a lower spec half way between stock and sport) class but now that has been absorbed so again costs rise!
I agree with the principle but governing it legitimately is the key. Bigger teams get checked as well as Father/son teams.
Richie

Agree entirely with your comments, however even at BSB level Stock racing is out with the reach of many. We race in Stock 1000 class and travel from Scotland to all the meetings. Unfortunately for us Sponsorship can be very hard to come by. Scottish businesses have very little interest in a British series that travels North for one meeting a season. Some fantastic riders have come from the North of England and Scotland but now that Croft is no longer used it is hard for riders to gain any help. It is hard everywhere but especially the further North you go. From what used to be a sport that many could enjoy the stock classes are slowly being killed off by the people that control our National Championship. It’s no coincidence that they also own the most prestigious race venues as well. This is a business to them first and foremost and is no longer run through a passion for the sport. It is the only sport I have ever come across where the participants pay small fortunes to the organisers to compete and the organisers charge entry fees to the fans but little or no prize money to the starring acts.

Hi Simon.

I couldn’t agree any more with you!
You could check this out: http://www.easyrace.net/v2/index.php/carreras/open-easyrace
It´s more or less what you are talking about, and it’s also the championship I’m racing in (my girlfriend is my mechanic!! and she’s whou bought me both your books and video, and they,ve been quite hepful for my riding style).

As of 2017 Honda globally are dropping the CBR 600 from their line-up….says something.

Couldn’t agree more.

So bike manufacturers don’t want their bikes to be raced stock because they know their bike is inferior and will lose. Well fuck em I say. If their bike is bad, they deserve to lose.

And if they pull out of the race, that will have an affect on their sales, so they would be sacrificing opportunity cost by refusing to compete.

Their should be a class that allows only showroom stock 599cc bikes with basic safety mods costing under $2,000 and allow only DOT tires.

But then the R6 would win every race…

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