WorldSBK Rev Limits with Technical Director Scott Smart

WSBK Technical Director Scott Smart

on WorldSBK Rev Limits

With Mark Bracks

As the dawn of a new season beckons in the Superbike World Championship there has been a lot of focus on the rpm limits imposed on the various new models in the title chase this year.

Much of that focus has been aimed at the new Ducati Panigale V4 R, and how high it is allowed to rev compared to other machines in the class, and/or whether the bike appears, again, to have an “unfair” advantage compared to the rest of the field.

WSBK Test PI Day Bautista
Alvaro Bautista proved dominant at the official Phillip Island Test on the Ducati V4 R

To get the low down, Bracksy hunted down the FIM WSBK Technical Director, Scott Smart, to get the inside story on the process used to achieve the results that were implemented into he new Tech Regs for 2019 season.

Scott Smart is the FIM WSBK Technical Director, and was born in to a family of motorcycle racers and is related to the late, great Barry Sheene. He has a degree in Physics and has raced in the British Superbike Championship, World Supersport and Grand Prix in the 500cc and 250cc categories.

Over the years he has run his own teams and been involved in both the mechanical and electronic aspects of motorcycles, from building and tuning engines, to producing the wiring harnesses for a number of BSB teams. He has also acted as a crew chief in MotoGP, whilst continuing to race. But since 2014 he has been the FIM Technical Director for the Superbike World Championship.

Scott Smart GeeBee
Scott Smart – Image by GeeBee

Scott Smart Interview

Mark Bracks: So the changes for the year, what do they entail and what do they mean?

Scott Smart: “Basically we’ve got a bunch of new riders on a bunch of new bikes and as a result they need starting points for the revs. The way the revs starting point works; you take the street bike, check where the rev limiter is, which is the most horrifying thing on the dyno runs in the factory, and that gives us standard street bike max revs, and we add three per cent to that and it gives us a figure.

The V4 R in the hands of Alvaro Bautista and boasting the 16,350rpm rev limit was the talk of the town – Image by TBG Sport

“We also do a bunch of dyno runs and step tests to let us know to the nearest 100rpm to where the maximum power is. We then add 1100rpm to that, and of those two figures we use the lower ones. That way none of the manufacturers can put a fake really high rev limiter in it. We get basically a sensible point of the power curve to define the rev limit, relative to the street bike.”

Mark Bracks: That answers the question everyone is asking me, why the Ducatis have so many more rpm to play with…

Scott Smart: “So basically when you rev that thing on the dyno, it’ll go to 16,500rpm in top gear, unreal – you’ve never seen it before in a 1000cc superbike. So in most gears it’s 16,000rpm, and top gear is up to 16500rpm. Almost like over-run, I don’t want to even think what speed you could do on the thing, and it also makes quite a lot of horsepower doesn’t it.

“If we based it on 16,000 or 16,500rpm plus 3 per cent we’d be 16,500-16,600 plus, or 17,000 in top, but that would be unrealistic, as the bike makes its peak horsepower at 15,250, so we add the 1100 to that, and get 16,350rpm, which is where we set the rev limiter and that seems pretty reasonable. But it does seem to be ripping down the straight quite quickly.”

Alvaro Bautista – TBG Image

Mark Bracks: So nothing can change this weekend, but is it still a three meeting thing?

Scott Smart: “The official way we do it is every three meetings, unless we rock up at the first race and realise it’s a complete disaster. If you actually look at the time sheets the Ducati does have the highest top speed, but looking at the lap times it’s only in the hands of one rider. It’s not all four Ducatis are romping away by a second a lap.

“It’s just one Ducati that’s quickest and the next best is 10th at the moment, so it’s obviously a hard motorcycle to ride. So as a result there’ll be no knee jerk, emergency reaction. It’s in the rules in case the starting point is completely wrong, but from the results I’ve seen so far, that’s not going to be needed. It’s looking like it’ll shape up to be a pretty good race.”

WSBK Test PI Final GB Rea
Jonathan Rea – Image by Geebee

Mark Bracks: With tyres you always have a problem here, but the weather isn’t going to be the same today as it will be on Sunday, it’ll be warmer.

Scott Smart: “If it gets really hot, the grip will actually be going down, which is actually easier on the tyres. But looking at the weather report we’re looking at 25-27 degrees and maybe a bit of a clearer sky, so it’s going to be tough on the tyres. They developed a bunch of different new tyres, but that’s all been done in overcast quite chilly conditions, and like we said, it’s going to be warmer, and until they test the tyres on Friday, nobody really knows. The idea was – every year since I’ve had this job – that this would be the first year without problems…”

Is there any suggestion that Pirelli just make a special tyre for here?

Scott Smart: “They basically do make specials for here, the question mark has been, can you make one that’s two seconds a lap slower that lasts, and I think that’s been the aim, but it’s a really grippy aggressive surface here, so it doesn’t seem to matter, even if you take away all the grip, it still grips, as the surface is so grippy, so it just tears the tyre to pieces. Unfortunately it looks like we’ll have problems again.”


Mark Bracks: With that 10 lap sprint race, will they be running a softer tyre so they can go harder?

Scott Smart: “In Europe there will be a softer tyre, here it’s still the normal race tyre.”

Mark Bracks: Tyre allowances, because of the extra race?

Scott Smart: “It changes slightly, but it’s quite dynamic anyway, it’s not the same every weekend, as it’s not the same tyres every weekend. Some championships like BSB have a soft and a hard, the same every week. MotoGP it’s not actually the same tyres there either. But here Pirelli has developed tyres more for the circuits and usually there should be eight of the two favourites, and five or six of the other options. Actually what they thought was going to be the allocation for the weekend, will be shuffled up a bit now, as they’ll try and provide more of the harder wearing tyres.”

WorldSBK Australia Promo

WorldSBK  Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit

Event Schedule, 22 – 24 February 2019
Thursday 21 February 2019
Time Duration Category Schedule
9:00 10:00 1:00 World SSP Riders Briefing
10:00 FIM Track Safety Inspection
10:00 11:30 1:30 All Riders Riders Track Familiarization
12:00 13:00 1:00 Safety Car Test Track closed
13:50 14:20 0:30 Aus SS 300 Free Practice 1
14:25 14:55 0:30 Aus SS Free Practice 1
15:00 15:30 0:30 Australian Sup Free Practice 1
15:40 15:50 0:10 Parade Laps Black Dog Ride
14:30 15:30 1:00 WorldSBK Riders Briefing
16:00 17:00 1:00 WorldSBK Official Photo Start/Finish Straight
16:00 17:00 1:00 WorldSSP Technical/Sporting Checks Pit Garages
17:00 18:00 1:00 WorldSSP Official Photo Start/Finish Straight
17:00 18:00 1:00 WorldSBK Technical/Sporting Checks Pit Garages
18:00 All 1st Time Riders Riders Briefing
TBC All Classes Tyre Stickers Distribution Technical Bay
Friday 22 February 2019
Time Duration Category Schedule
8:30 8:40 0:10 Timekeeping Racing Track System Test
9:10 9:25 0:15 Aus SS Free Practice 2
9:30 9:45 0:15 Aus SBK Free Practice 2
9:50 FIM Medical Inspection
10:00 FIM Track Inspection
10:30 11:20 0:50 WorldSBK Free Practice 1
11:30 12:15 0:45 WorldSSP Free Practice 1
12:25 12:55 0:30 Pit Walk 1
13:15 13:30 0:15 Aus SS 300 Free Practice 2
13:35 13:50 0:15 Aus SBK Qualifying
13:55 14:10 0:15 Aus SS Qualifying
14:15 14:30 0:15 Aus SS300 Qualifying
15:00 15:50 0:50 WorldSBK Free Practice 2
16:00 16:45 0:45 WorldSSP Free Practice 2
Saturday 23 February 2019
Time Duration Category Schedule
8:15 8:25 0:10 Timekeeping Racing Track System Test
8:45 9:15 0:30 Australian SSP Race 1 10 Laps 
9:20 FIM Medical Inspection
9:30 FIM Track Inspection
10:00 10:20 0:20 WorldSBK Free Practice 3
10:35 10:55 0:20 WorldSSP Free Practice 3
11:05 11:25 0:20 Aus SS 300 Race 1 8 Laps –
11:30 12:00 0:30 Aus SBK Race 1 12 Laps 
12:15 12:40 0:25 WorldSBK Tissot Superpole
12:55 13:20 0:25 WorldSSP Tissot Superpole
13:40 14:10 0:30 Pit Walk 2 & Safety Car Laps
15:00 WorldSBK RACE 1 22 Laps Pit Opens: 14:40
16:15 16:45 0:30 Aus SBK Race 2 12 Laps 
16:50 17:10 0:20 Aus SS 300 Race 2 8 Laps 
17:15 17:45 0:30 Aus SSP Race 2 10 Laps 
Sunday 24 February 2019
Time Duration Category Schedule
7:45 7:55 0:10 Timekeeping Racing Track System Test
8:15 8:45 0:30 Aus SSP Race 3 10 Laps
8:50 FIM Medical Inspection
9:00 FIM Track Inspection
09:30 09:45 0:15 WorldSBK Warm Up
09:55 10:10 0:15 WorldSSP Warm Up
10:30 11:00 0:30 Aus SBK Race 3 12 Laps
11:05 11:35 0:30 Pit Walk 3 & Safety Car Laps
12:00 WorldSBK S-pole Race 10 Laps Pit Opens: 11:45
13:15 WorldSSP Race 18 Laps Pit Opens: 13:00
15:00 WorldSBK Race 2 22 Laps Pit Opens: 14:40
16:15 16:35 0:20 Aus SS 300 Race 3 8 laps
1 Lap 4,445 km Issued: 28 November 2018 13:00h


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