WorldSBK technical director Scott Smart has had endured 'a lot of sleepless nights' formulating the balancing rules for this year's WorlsSSP regulations but believes the class is now in a good place going forward.
Even though Dominique Aegerter is 'doing a Jonathan Rea' at the top of the series, manufacturers have shown their competitiveness and that was reflected in race two at Most, when all five were inside the top five – this was just the second time in WorldSSP history that it had happened, after Monza 2007
So far in 2022, four manufacturers have achieved podiums – Yamaha, Kawasaki, Ducati and Triumph, with only MV Agusta missing out, but they had a rider injury in Niki Tuuli since Estoril, as well as undertaking rookie Bahattin Sofuoglu, who gave them a top five at Most.
“What you’re seeing on track is a culmination of a couple of years of hard work and a lot of sleepless nights,' said Smart.
"There are still plenty of sleepless nights, but we’ve been quite satisfied and pleased with the performance and the level and balancing of the bikes. Obviously, we take a massive amount of time to analyse the data from each weekend and we’ve actually got a little bit of a ‘Jonny problem’ as we label it.
“Dominique Aegerter has got experience of the tracks now and is riding phenomenally well and is winning races, whereas we’ve got to have a look at the raw performance of the motorcycles and an average performance of all the Yamahas and actually, I think we’re in a really good place.
'Obviously, Bulega is riding well on the Ducati but it’s a brand-new bike and it’s never been raced before, so it’s taken them a few events to get the chassis and everything working to how it needs to. Also, he hasn’t known all of the circuits, so it’s been a bit of a double-edged sword for Ducati.”
“We’ve already made some tiny changes throughout the season, and we started by balancing the raw performance of the engines, so if it was a drag race then they’d all be entirely equal. However, we already knew that there’d be some limitations with the chassis and we’re now having to work a little bit with the performance of the engines to counteract the limitations of the more open regulations of which bikes are available.
"Obviously with the 600cc bikes, they are all quite sporty bikes; now we’ve opened the regulations, it’s allowed less-sporty bikes that aren’t so track focused. As a result, we have to be a little bit more open-minded on the way that we move forward with the regulation.”
Discussing exactly what it is they can do to balance the performance, Smart said: “Basically, we have in our power the ability to allow the next generation bikes to change different components on the bike. In general, we avoid the chassis, so the teams have to get the best out of what they have, fitting with the Supersport and Superstock ethos, but we allow them to update the engine components if needed. The good thing is that they all had too much power to start with, so we’ve taken power away. We’ve tweaked a bit to change acceleration and where a bike is fast.
“We’ve got control in a lot of different ways, and we basically control the amount by restricting the amount that the throttle opens, but we can do that not just against the RPM of the engine, but also against speed and what gear the bike is in.
"As a result, we spend a lot of time analysing the data to understand exactly where the different bikes are limited and we’re balancing not only against chassis performance but against the aerodynamics as they’re quite different.”