Tuesday, February 09, 2010

2010 BSB Rules: Love 'em or Hate 'em!

The British Superbike Championship will have a new points scoring system for 2010, and it has caused interest and outrage across the interweb. Half of the people simply don't understand what on earth the rules mean, and half of the half that understand it are outraged. The rest are in two minds...

Basically, the BSB has stolen ideas from the American NASCAR championship, and from the Scottish Premier League football (soccer) championship. I'll try to briefly outline what will happen:

For the first 9 race meetings of the season, the points scoring system will carry on as normal (25 for a win, 20 for 2nd place, etc). But after that, the top 6 in the championship will break away (Scottish football stylee) and use the remaining races as a shoot-out for the title (NASCAR, y'all!) Just to confuse things, two race scores will be dropped, so it's actually the points from 2 less than the best results of the first 9 race meetings that will decide which 6 will fight for 1st. (Simples!)

The poor unfortunates who are too slow / on slow bikes / have crashed too much to finish in the top 6 will just carry on fighting for 7th place as usual.

Now, it wouldn't be fair for some poor muppet to run up a huge championship lead in the first 9 races, only to end up on even terms with the other 5 superstars in the "shoot-out". This is where things get even more complicated.

The top 6 will be given 500 points to start the shoot-out. Then they will be given bonus points for the podium places they scored in the first 9 races. 3 points for a win, 2 for 2nd, 1 point for a 3rd place. That means that the championship leader will still lead the championship, but possibly by a hugely reduced number of points.

Some people are complaining that the guys in 7th place downwards have no chance of getting into the top 6 in the last few races. Now, Scottish football has done this for several years, and it's worked fine. Bear in mind that whilst motorcycle racers might indulge in the odd bout of fisticuffs, Scottish football fans are more fond of mass riots, and there hasn't been so much as a punch thrown over the "top 6 split" system. (Just a lot of moaning in pubs.)

My Take
I think this is interesting. The dropped score system was used in that most poncey of motorsports, Formula One, for some years back in the days of Psycho Senna and PĂ©nible Prost, so it's hard to argue too much about it being unsporting. Looking through my 2010 BSB spectacles, I'd have to say that the entertainingly deranged convict Josh Brookes is the big winner through the dropped score rule, as he's most likely to have 2 DNF's to dispose of and therefore lose nothing. Stuart Easton will be the big loser, as his incredible consistency means he could be chucking a good 30 points away.

James Ellison will be a dark horse for the championship, having signed for Shaun Muir's Swan Honda team alongside teeny Scotsman Easton. The Kendal Beefcake is a pretty consistent rider, so ditching two scores probably won't make much difference to him either.

The thing I like about the new system is that it's based entirely on merit. Only the top 6 get into the shoot-out. That's fair enough, they didn't get into the top 6 by winning a scratchcard. They won't start level on points in the shoot-out, but will be separated by bonus points based on their performance so far in the season.

It's too bloody complicated, but I'll give it a chance. I like the idea of having lots of guys battling at the end of the season. The championship winner will have to fight right to the end. And he can't complain about that. Motorcycle racers love to race. Having the championship heavily loaded towards the end of the season will get their adrenaline flowing. It's good for them, they like it.

There's another interesting little tweak to the rules. The qualifying positions for race 1 will be decided in the qualifying session as usual. But the grid for race 2 will be based on fastest lap times for race 1.

Again, I like this. It's based on merit. It's not like the cretinous Touring Car way of doing things, where grids are reversed, allowing total no-hopers to win races by being very slow in the first race, end up randomly reversed to pole position in the next race, and win by being a rolling road block all race long. No, the new BSB rules mean that guys further down the grid can take pole, but only by setting fastest lap in race 1. No-hopers need not apply.

Some smart people have pointed out that in a wet-dry race, guys low down the order might come in, switch to slick tyres and set fastest lap. I say that'll be interesting, bring it on!

All in all, I'm going to give these new rules a go. They'll shake things up. Let's remember that Superbikes are all about entertainment. That's why there's 2 races in one day. That's why there's a knockout qualifying system (for race 1 anyway). Anything that might make things interesting all year is worth a shot.

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