The willingness of WorldSBK rights owners Dorna to make changes to race schedules, formats and rules has been an unmissable aspect of their operating style since they took over control in 2013.
The adoption of a three WorldSBK race format at the British and Portuguese rounds this year will not happen, but it seems almost anything is possible in the future. “We had a bit of a misunderstanding with this,” said WorldSBK Executive Director Dani Carrera recently. “We had a non-official conversation with some of the teams just to have this possibility for the UK and Portugal, trying to accommodate a request from our broadcasters for a better time slot. In these two rounds we are one hour away from CET, and also to provide something extra for the spectators in the UK, to change a little bit of the race weekend format. So we came up with this solution and put it to the teams, in this non-official way. The official way would be to put it on the SBK commission. During this conversation we saw that there were some manufacturers not in favour of taking this decision. They thought it was a bit too late, so we declined and we are not going to do it. We thought it could be a test in UK and Portugal, to see what the feedback was, and have an idea that it could be implemented in the future. If we take that decision for three races in the future, it will be the same for all the rounds. In this period we are evaluating many different formats for the weekend. Internally we are analysing with all our partners, taking all the different points of view. We have the commercial side, the broadcaster side and the circuit promoter side.”
But the potential for Dorna to apply new formats, race lengths, and so on seems very open-ended. “Everything is on the table,” confirmed the man who is Dorna’s main figure inside WorldSBK. “We can continue with the same format, we can go to three races, we can go to the same race on Saturday but a longer race on Sunday. Everything is being evaluated.”
You, as the fan, will also have some degree of input into what WorldSBK does in future. “Also, we want to implement a fan survey, which shortly we will do,” said Carrera. “It is an important input also. With all this data we will try to take the best decision. It will not be welcomed by everyone, as we know, but we will take the best decision we can. We are happy with the current format but with the situation we have we have to be changing and offering something else every year. That is the situation. One thing we are sure of is that we took the decision of having a Saturday race and we are happy with that but especially from the circuit’s side, they are happy with it but still complaining that before the package offered on Sunday is still not enough. It is a possibility to have two races on Sunday and one still on Saturday. It is possible. The handicap to go back to two races on Sunday is to find the proper timeslot for these races, and the other races we have on Sunday for 300 and Supersport. It was changed from two races on Sunday because we knew that one of the races was not seen on TV. We need to see if this race distance should be the same, or shorter, if there should be a link between the races, how the result from one to another affects. I am just saying that we are evaluating everything – there is no decision. We have to make it as simple as possible.”