The new rules package, announced earlier this year, is essentially identical chassis rules as previously but severely restricted engine allowances that are similar to what the EVO sub-class ran under in 2014. This means basic engine internals must remain stock; camshafts can be replaced, and only one set of alternate gearbox ratios may be used. Electronics are similar to last year to encourage development, with a price cap in effect and each manufacturer's software available to other teams using that company's hardware.
WSBK organizers also took the opportunity to tighten up an interesting loophole in the chassis department. Frame dimensions were always intended to remain stock, but the series was unable to accurately measure those dimensions and was forced to allow significant tolerances; some teams were taking that opportunity to massage chassis numbers. Now, however, the series has the capability to accurately measure those dimensions and has removed the tolerances.
We can look to the EVO and 1000 cc Superstock results for an idea of what bikes will suit these new regulations well. In Superstock, the top seven in the championship results were aboard Kawasaki or Ducati machinery, while the EVO results were likewise skewed - with the addition of Sylvain Barrier on the EVO BMW. While that may provide a hint as to what bikes will do well next year, now take a look at some new bikes on offer.
Aprilia was the most likely candidate to suffer from the updated rules, as the RSV4 has traditionally been underpowered and overweight in stock form compared to other litre-sized bikes. The new RSV4 RR, however, has titanium valves with new valve springs, new camshafts, lighter connecting rods and significantly more horsepower, all no doubt to fit the new rules. While the company will not have an official factory team in the series next year (in order to focus on its return to MotoGP), it will have a strong presence with Team Red Devils Roma and Leon Haslam.
Likewise, BMW has updated its S1000RR with a new cylinder head, lighter intake valves and springs, and a new frame. Honda has its CBR1000RR SP model with handpicked connecting rods and pistons (the RC213V-S Prototype that was shown at EICMA is unlikely to be produced in significant numbers for WSBK homologation). And Yamaha is perhaps in the best position to take advantage of the new rules with an entirely new YZF-R1 for 2015.
Of the standouts in EVO and Superstock competition this past year, the Kawasaki ZX-10R is unchanged for 2015 while the Ducati 1199 Panigale R does get some updates to its electronics package. It will be interesting to see how it all shakes out during testing and at the first race, and who has done their homework best. WSBK organizers have worked hard over the last few seasons to create parity among the manufacturers (ironically by allowing more modifications such as ride by wire), and hopefully the new rules do not sacrifice that.