The entire motorcycling landscape has gone through a massive shift over the last decade or two. Arguably, one of the biggest victims of this change has been 600cc sportsbikes; or traditional ‘Supersport’ machines. Whether that’s come from a desire to ride bigger, faster sportsbikes, a shift away from sportsbikes altogether, or ever tighter emissions regulations making it harder and harder to make a ‘traditional Supersport 600’ exciting. You can argue about the reasons until the cows come home, but realistically, it’s likely to be down to a combination of factors. But because of the fact that people stopped buying 600s, manufacturers stopped making them. That meant Supersport racing started to die a death. But Dorna and the FIM have got a plan. It’s a plan to rejuvenate the class as the Next Generation of Supersport. And it’s going to look something like this.
The Next Generation of Supersport will see new rules allow a greater variety of bikes onto the grid. The ‘600cc’ thing will no longer be what the class is really all about, with larger capacity bikes being allowed onto the grid, each with a different set of rules to adhere to. Yes, I know, it sounds very complicated. Hopefully this will clear a few things up…
Yep, there’s going to be a whole host of new machines in the World Supersport Championship in 2022. If you kept an eye on BSB in 2021, you’ll have seen Triumph campaigning a 765, and with some success. Obviously in the olden days, 765cc triple wouldn’t have been allowed to compete in Supersport but now, with the new ‘balance of performance’ rules (we’ll get onto them in a moment), they can compete, and hopefully fairly. The team that competed in BSS last year are, as it happens, stepping up to WSS in 2022.
The Triumph 765 isn’t the only new machine to be eligible for the Next Generation of Supersport. There will be a whole host of Ducati Panigale V2s. Seven, in fact, from six different teams, including Aruba.it Racing.
As well as the Triumphs and Ducatis, some other bikes that are now eligible for competition are MV Agusta’s F3 800 and F3 Superveloce, and Suzuki’s GSX-R750. Of course, the class is still open to the 600cc traditional Supersport bikes that have constituted the class for as long as we can all remember.
To make the competition as fair as possible, there will be a whole host of complicated regulations. To start with, rev limits, though undecided at the time of writing, will be set for each category of bike. This will be in an attempt to raise or reduce the potential power of specific models.
Dorna and the FIM will analyse data, such as lap times, speed trap info and race results to help them tweak the ‘balance of power’, and will alter the regs every three rounds if they need to. Dorna definitely won’t use this complicated system of power balancing and rev limits to give their preferred team an unfair advantage over the competition. That is absolutely, categorically not what they plan to do.
The intention is to attract more manufacturers back into the series, whilst keeping the competition fair, close and exciting. That, in turn, ought to make more want to tune in, and that’s why they’re doing it. There’s no corruption going on, so just leave it, alright? Jesus!
This year (2022) there are some new engine regulations. First of all, for ‘Next Generation’ machines, you’re not allowed to modify anything inside the engine unless it’s on Dorna’s prescribed ‘Eligible Parts for Competition List’.
You also can’t throw engines at the bikes willy-nilly. 400cc-600cc machines can have one engine for every 2.5 rounds, 601cc-799cc machines can have one for every 3 rounds and 800cc and over can have one for every 3.5 rounds.
They can, and probably will, be checked (on the dyno and internally) by Dorna during and between events.
There is a minimum weight limit for motorcycle and rider and it’s the same regardless of type of capacity. The minimum combined weight is 242kg. Bikes and riders will be weighed after the races and, it goes without saying, that you can’t add anything to them.
Tyre allocation has been tightened ever so slightly for 2022. Last year you were allowed eight fronts and nine rears, this year you’re allowed seven fronts and eight rears. If you can’t make do with that, you need to slow down a bit.
As per last year, there will be a minimum of two compounds, and riders will be allowed up to six of each.
Will it work?
Yes, I think it will. The British Supersport Championship did a bit of a pilot scheme in 2021, and it went fairly well. There will almost certainly be teething problems, and for the first year you might find there are certain teams that find a way of making their bikes head and shoulders faster than the competition (within, or without the rules). But with some proper management, they ought to be able to iron that out after a season.
I expect though, with such a smorgasbord of different motorcycles, we’ll see lot’s of different characters on the podium. Different bikes will be better (or worse) suited to different tracks, in a more marked way than is normal.
What it also means is that the 2022 World Supersport Championship is probably going to be the most unpredictable one ever. Not only do we not know how each of the riders will get on, we don’t know how well the bikes will be suited to them. And we certainly don’t know which way the organisers will go with the rules. It’s impossible to say who’s going to win the first season of the Next Generation of Supersport. And that can only be a good thing.