Suzuka 8H: Points Controversy

Posted: 10th July 2017

Suzuka points boosted by 50% - 45 points for the winner of the final round – New rule this year only applies to final championship round – Who will benefit? - Why?

The FIM Endurance World Championship will finish with a final twist at the end of the season, with the championship points available at the Suzuka 8 Hour race increased by 50% due to a rule change introduced last summer.

Rule 1.32.5 in the Endurance World Championship regulations has this addition for the current season:

“Furthermore, the points allocated for the final round of the season will be promoted with 150%.”

Here are the points that will be awarded at Suzuka, alongside those awarded at the Oschersleben and the Slovakia Ring rounds.

The rule change is dated August 2016, before the start of the season, but it does not appear to have been publicised anywhere. A Facebook post mentioning it appeared over the weekend but then was removed when it attracted negative comments.

With the championship currently finely balanced – there is just one point between leaders SERT Suzuki and second placed GMT94 Yamaha, with third placed YART Yamaha still with a slim chance of taking the championship – this addition seems unnecessary but it was perhaps designed to bring more teams into contention at the final round. In fact the only team to really benefit would be SRC Kawasaki who we understand will not be travelling to Suzuka.

It does seem to be a case of meddling to give certain races – Suzuka in the case of the 'bonus points for the final round' rule change, and the two French 24 hour races in the case of the 'additional points for partial classification' rule.

There has also been another largely unpublicised change for this year, allowing teams to drop their 'worst' result if the championship is run over more than five rounds. Rule 1.32.9 reads as follows:

“If the Championship is composed by more than 6 rounds (5 for the World Cup and the World Trophy), the worst results for the teams and for the riders (cumulated total points of the race) of the season will not be taken into account for the general classification rounds. This means that each team and rider must drop one result (whether that is a “No show”, a DNF or the lowest number of points obtained in one event). This general classification will be calculated after the final round of the season concerned.”

We're hearing rumours that there will be additional rounds next year including another 24 hour race and one or more extra 8 hour events (we're not holding our breath) and this appears once again to favour the teams who choose to only contest certain rounds. Surely an FIM championship should be about the best performance across a whole season, not just certain rounds, and should favour the teams that wins the most races, not a team that leads part of the way through some rounds and only competes in some others?

World Endurance needs simplifying, not more added complication. With 60 points available at each of the 24 hours races and 45 available at the Suzuka 8 hour, and the possibility of dropping one race's result entirely, the aim seems to be to marginalise the 'non-traditional' races. It's starting to feel a bit like giving teams the ability to play their “It's a Knockout” joker...

Surely the FIM should be trying to boost the impact of these new races, increasing the entries and making them a more vital part of the championship instead of seeming to want to marginalise them?

The Suzuka 8 Hour race takes place on the 30th of July. www.suzukacircuit.jp/8tai_en/

Words: Martin Gelder