After thrilling end of the 2014 season of the World Superbikes Championship which saw Sylvain Guintoli win a thrilling final race of the season to clinch the Championship for the Italian Giant Aprilia. The world Superbikes was recently rumoured to be entering further more into Asia by announcing a Thailand Rcae for 2015.
The FIM have finally released the provisional calendar for the World Superbike series for next year. The 2015 season will see WSBK travel to 14 rounds, returning to all of the venues which hosted races in 2014, and two more overseas rounds added, in Russia and Thailand. The chances of this being the definitive calendar appears to be slim, however. Three rounds are marked as still subject to contract: Portimao, Moscow, and Qatar. Both Portimao and Qatar look likely to go ahead, but whether WSBK will actually return to Moscow remains to be seen. The 2014 round was cancelled due to the political instability in the Russian Federation and the overflow of conflict in Ukraine, which affected various partners of the series. The political situation has only deteriorated since then, with the EU and US imposing sanctions on Russia, making the race there almost impossible.
The teams and riders will be hoping for the round to be cancelled: the race was a logistical nightmare to get equipment to and from, and for both the fans and riders to attend and find accommodation for. The Moscow round is a legacy of the period when WSBK was still being run by Infront Motor Sports. Infront bosses Paolo and Maurizio Flammini signed a contract with Alexander Yakhnich of Yakhnich Motor Sports to host a Russian round of WSBK until 2021. A round in Russia will be scheduled for as long as that contract has left to run, though the chances of it actually being held appear to be slim. The situation highlights the risk of signing contracts with circuits or organizers in politically sensitive or unstable regions.
Happier news for WSBK is that they are heading to Thailand, to the Chang International Circuit. The race is to be the first World Championship race held in the country, and is the start of a push by both Dorna and the manufacturers into Asia. The circuit itself is a good distance from the Thai capital Bangkok, with only limited accommodation in the region, but the popularity of all forms of motorcycle racing in the region makes it prime territory for both WSBK and Moto GP. The Thai round is widely believed to be a prelude to Moto GP going to the track, with the circuit expected to appear on the 2016 Moto GP calendar, if the WSBK race is a success.
The World Supersport class will contest one less race than World Superbikes, the class once again not appearing at the US round in Laguna Seca. WSBK joins the MotoAmerica round at the circuit, and with limited paddock space, a full schedule, and high travel, and accommodation costs, it makes more sense to leave WSS at home.
The Superstock series will continue as support classes at selected WSBK rounds, as will the Pata and Honda-backed European Junior Cup. The Superstock 1000 class will race at 8 rounds, all in Europe, while the Superstock 600 class will have 8 races, spread over 7 rounds, the series doubling up at Aragon. Testing for both WSBK and WSS will take place at Phillip Island before the opening round, the teams riding on 16th and 17th February, while the WSBK class will get two tests on the Mondays following the Portimao and Jerez rounds, on 8th June and 21st September respectively.