Rome (Italy), 17 July 2012 – The eni FIM Superbike World Championship is back in action this coming weekend at the AutoMotodrom Brno circuit in the Czech Republic for the ninth round of 14. Attention will undoubtedly be focused on Max Biaggi (Aprilia Racing Team) and Marco Melandri (BMW Motorrad Motorsport), who split the wins in the previous round at MotorLand Aragon (Spain) as well as in last year’s round at Brno. With a similar result the two Italians, first and second in the standings, could be well on the way towards the title run-in.
Brno, 200 kilometres south-east of the capital Prague, will be the venue for a World Superbike round for the tenth time. The track, which like the production-derived championship itself, is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year in its current layout, measures 5.403 km, has numerous drops and rises and is one of the most spectacular and difficult on the calendar. Max Biaggi, current leader on 248.5 points, is rightly considered to be the man to beat at Brno because the 41-year-old from Rome has won 11 times here on every type of bike he has raced: four times in 250GP, three in 500/MotoGP and four in Superbike: in 2007 with Suzuki and three times in 2009, 2010 and 2011 with the Aprilia RSV4. The 2009 win, Biaggi’s first for Aprilia, was particularly important as since then the Italian machine has always finished the race in first or second place.
Marco Melandri, second on 200.5 points, will have the difficult task of getting the better of Biaggi on his Italian rival’s favourite track. But the BMW Motorrad Motorsport rider also has a good record at Brno, wnning here last year on a Yamaha and in 2002 in 250GP, his world title year. The German bike’s best result at Brno is a fifth place for Ruben Xaus in 2009, when it made its debut. This year however the S 1000 RR has already won three times, so past results count for little. On Monday BMW Motorrad announced that in 2013 it would continue its commitment in World Superbike but would concentrate its energies on BMW Motorrad Italia which will now become the factory team for the Munich manufacturer.
Third-placed Northern Irishman Jonathan Rea (Honda World Superbike Team) will have to put in two excellent results if he hopes to stay in touch with Biaggi and Melandri from the 183-point mark. With a CBR1000RR Rea has already won at Brno, in 2010, but didn’t race here last year due to injury. The four-cylinder Japanese bike also won here in 2007 with James Toseland, who then became world champion that year.
Althea Racing, together with 2011 champion Carlos Checa, are aiming to make up ground on the two frontrunners. Checa is fourth on 175.5 points and can no longer afford any more slip-ups. A Ducati has not won at Brno since 2008 (with Troy Bayliss) while Checa has never won here. The Spanish rider’s plan is to limit the damage in order to give himself the best possible chances in the five rounds remaining, at circuits on paper more favourable to the Italian twin-cylinder machine.
Kawasaki on the other hand have not won at Brno since the very first edition in 1993 when American Scott Russell tasted the victory champagne. Kawasaki Racing Team’s ambitions are now all in the hands of Tom Sykes, the Tissot-Superpole specialist with six successes in eight rounds. Sykes has slipped to fifth in the standings (172.5 points) due to a couple of unfortunate episodes at Aragon. The ZX-10R is a rapidly-improving bike, and the last time it was in action at post-race Aragon testing, Sykes was quickest overall.
The FIXI Crescent Suzuki team are again at full strength with John Hopkins and Leon Camier, the British rider just returning from Japan where he took part in testing for the prestigious Suzuka 8 Hours race. The GSX-R1000 has won four times at Brno, the last time in 2007 with Max Biaggi: it could be a good weekend for the British team which is counting a lot on John Hopkins now being at the peak of his form following injuries in the early part of the season.
There will be considerable home support for Liberty Racing Team Effenbert, the Italo-Czech team based in Prague, and which races with Czech rider Jakub Smrz, as well as Frenchman Sylvain Guintoli, who won at Assen, and Maxime Berger. Meanwhile Red Devils Ducati have replaced Niccolò Canepa with former Superstock 1000 champion Alex Polita for this round.
Points (after 8 of 14 rounds): 1. Biaggi 248.5; 2. Melandri 200.5; 3. Rea 183; 4. Checa 175.5; 5. Sykes 172.5; 6. Haslam 142; 7. Laverty 126; 8. Guintoli 110; 9. Giugliano 94; 10. Davies 78; etc. Manufacturers: 1. Aprilia 266; 2. Ducati 247.5; 3. BMW 242; 4. Honda 189; 5. Kawasaki 178.5; 6. Suzuki 63.5.
The World Supersport class lines up at Brno for round 8 of 13, with the Kawasaki-Honda duel still raging on and showing no signs of abating. The leader is Turkey’s Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Lorenzini) followed at a distance of 16 points behind by Bogdanka PTR Honda man and Aragon winner Sam Lowes.
In the break between Spain and the Czech Republic rounds Sofuoglu flew to Turkey to have a knee operation following the injury picked up in a crash at Imola in early spring. The two-times champion is fine and will be back on track this weekend. Lowes is now in a position to strike back, and so is his team-mate, Frenchman Jules Cluzel (PTR Honda) who is currently third, 33 points behind Sofuoglu. This year’s sensation threw away a possible win when he crashed out of the lead at Aragon. Fabien Foret (Kawasaki Intermoto Step) and Broc Parkes (Ten Kate Racing Products Honda) are also notching up the points, hoping to capitalize on any mistakes by the men up front. Meanwhile the Brno race will see the return of fast Frenchman Florian Marino to the scene, as he lines up with a promising new Indian-backed Kawasaki squad called MSD R-N Racing Team India.
Points (after 7 of 13 rounds): 1. Sofuoglu 117; 2. Lowes 101; 3. Cluzel 84; 4. Foret 83; 5. Parkes 66; 6. Baldolini 54; 7. Morais 53; 8. Quarmby 44; etc. Manufacturers: 1. Honda 156; 2. Kawasaki 151; 3. Triumph 76; 4. Yamaha 60; 5. Suzuki 6.
In the FIM Superstock 1000 Cup the man at the front Sylvain Barrier (BMW Motorrad Italia GoldBet) has just one point’s lead over Eddi La Marra (Barni Racing Team Italia Ducati) and 8 over another talented young Italian Lorenzo Savadori (Barni Racing Team Italia Ducati). The under-26 category, which reaches its sixth round of ten, has so far been full of action and surprises. Barrier has won three times but two errors have kept his closest rivals, who are simultaneously developing the new Ducati 1199 Panigale machine, within shouting distance.
Also in with a shot at the title are Lorenzo Baroni (BMW Motorrad Italia GoldBet), fourth and 19 points behind Barrier, and Australian Bryan Staring, who has finally got the Kawasaki sorted as a race-winning machine after his triumph at Aragon.
Points (after 5 of 10 rounds): 1. Barrier 75; 2. La Marra 74; 3. Savadori 67; 4. Baroni 56; 5. Reiterberger 52; 6. Guarnoni 46; 7. Staring 45; 8. Bergman 40; etc. Manufacturers: 1. BMW 100; 2. Ducati 87; 3. Kawasaki 85; 4. Honda 36; 5. Aprilia 15.
Riccardo Russo (Team Italia FMI Yamaha) leads the way in the European Superstock 600 standings for under 22 year-olds with six points’ advantage over Dutchman Michael van der Mark (EAB Ten Kate Junior Team Honda). These two have dominated the season so far, winning three and two races respectively and are looking to be the likely candidates for the eventual title win.
19 year-old Russo also heads the Italian domestic CIV standings, while in the sixth round at Brno his Dutch rival will have a new team-mate, another 19 year-old Italian: Ferruccio Lamborghini, who replaces Switzerland’s Bastien Cheseaux.
With three podiums in five races, MTM Racing Yamaha’s Gauthier Duwelz is rapidly becoming a force to be reckoned with, while other youngsters to watch include Italian Christian Gamarino (GO Eleven Kawasaki) and seventh-placed Australian Adrian Nestorovic (MTM Yamaha).
Points (after 5 of 10 rounds): 1. Russo 106; 2. Vd Mark 99; 3. Duwelz 58; 4. Calero Perez 50; 5. Vitali 42; 6. Gamarino 33; 7. Nestorovic 28; 8. Chesaux 26; etc.
KTM European Junior Cup
The European Junior Cup category for under-19s on identical KTM Duke 690 machines directly supplied by the Mattighofen manufacturer in Austria moves into its second half of the season. Round 5 at Brno will see Spain’s Javier Orellana leading the way thanks to a win in his home race at Aragon. After a slow start to the season Orellana, born on 27 July 1997, has now worked his way to the top. He lies just one point ahead of Austrian Lukas Wimmer, who won at Misano, while the only female rider in the category, Spain’s Victoria Alcala is still searching for her first points.
Points (after 4 of 8 rounds): 1. Orellana 46; 2. Wimmer 45; 3. Vidal 39; 4. Demoulin 35; 5. Wielebski 30; 6. Pasek 25; 7. Garcia 25; 8. Lewis 25; etc.
Coppa dei Due Paesi (Two Nations Cup)
Brno is the venue for the second round of the Coppa dei Due Paesi, the promo series for Superstock riders from Italy and Russia. The first round at Misano was dominated by Leonardo Biliotti, a rider who is also rapidly emerging on the domestic scene with his domination of the one-make Yamaha R6 Series. A healthy entry list of 22 riders will line up in the Czech Republic with the Russian representatives out for revenge. In 2011 the Coppa dei Due Paesi was won by Russia’s Vladimir Leonov, who currently races in World Supersport. The series concludes on August 26 at Moscow Raceway.
Points (after 1 of 3 rounds): 1. Biliotti 25; 2. Sacchetti 20; 3. Vostarek 16; 4. Mamola 13; 5. Vlasov 11; 6. Buccheri 10; 7. Frosi 9; 8. Valla 8; etc.