It looks like World Superbike (WSBK) is going to implement “Long-Lap” penalties for the 2021 racing season. After a successful implementation in MotoGP in 2020, Dorna will implement the new penalty system in its production-based WSBK series.
The Long Lap system requires a penalized rider to ride a very wide line around designated corners. The wide line slows the rider and ultimately increases the time to complete a lap. The format will see non-penalized riders taking the faster racing line while the penalized rider navigates a more circuitous and lengthy line. Depending on the required line(s), riders may lose several positions while completing the penalty.
However, not all circuits have sufficient safety boundaries built into the track layout to implement a Long Lap line. For this reason, Dorna will allow the FIM Safety Inspector/Officer to determine whether Long Lap penalties will be in place for each event.
While the new Long Lap penalty system will not be universal to all circuits, it should have a positive impact on the racing action. With its implementation, riders receive penalties during the race itself. That’s a much more positive means to penalize a rider during the race.
Fans will be able to immediately see the impact of the penalty during the racing action. Where the Long Lap penalty system is not in place, penalties may be given after the conclusion of the race.
The outgoing penalty system can change race results after the fact. This is unfortunate for all involved, especially for the fans who want to see the final results once all the competing racers cross the finish line.