Biaggi and Sykes take on Melandri at the Ring

Rome (Italy), 3 September 2012 – The decisive run-in for the 2012 eni FIM Superbike World Championship gets underway this weekend at the prestigious Nurburgring circuit, with Max Biaggi (Aprilia Racing Team) and Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) chasing after the new points leader Marco Melandri (BMW Motorrad Motorsport). With three rounds remaining (six races, 150 points at stake), the 30-year-old from Ravenna heads the table with an 18.5 point lead over Biaggi and 41 over the British rider. Still in with a mathematical chance of winning the title are Carlos Checa (Althea Racing Team Ducati), 75 points from the top slot, and Jonathan Rea (Honda World Superbike Team), a further 21 adrift. The Manufacturers’ battle also sees five different constructors in search of glory: BMW, Aprilia, Kawasaki, Ducati and Honda in that order. After the German Round this weekend, the championship will then move on to Portimao (Portugal) on 23 September and Magny-Cours (France) for the grand finale on 7 October.

Superbike’s debut in Russia a fortnight ago was a massive success with two exciting races that overturned the situation at the top of the table. Marco Melandri arrived at the Moscow Raceway with 10.5 points to make up on Biaggi and he left there with a lead of 18.5. The Tissot-Superpole ‘King’, Tom Sykes (seven wins in 11 rounds), also made up ground and can now also be considered as a clear threat over the entire race distance.

In the last seven rounds Melandri has taken four wins (out of six in 2012), while in the same period Biaggi has only stepped once onto the podium with a third place in race 1 at Moscow. In this decisive part of the season the BMW man has made up 78.5 points on Biaggi, and now the battle for the world title, which after Misano in mid-June seemed to be in the hands of the five-times world champion, has been thrown totally wide-open.

Melandri has reached a total of ten Superbike wins (including four in 2011 with Yamaha) and 25 podiums in just 47 races. Biaggi is stuck on four wins this year (out of 20 overall) and hasn’t won since race 1 at Aragon (Spain) on 1 July. BMW, who had not won a race in the previous three years, now also find themselves in the lead of the Manufacturers’ title chase.

The Nurburgring, where World Superbike has raced every year since 2008, is the venue for the twelfth round of the season but neither Melandri nor Biaggi have ever won there: the former only raced last year, finishing second and sixth, while Biaggi has never even finished on the podium, with a fourth and a fifth his best results in his title-winning 2010 season. Last year Biaggi did not take the start due to an unfortunate incident in qualifying that cost him a bone fracture in his left foot. Sykes on the other hand won at the Ring twelve months ago in a race that only went half-distance due to torrential rain. And on the subject, the weekend weather forecast is slightly cloudy, with no rain and temperatures of 21° max/11° min expected. So after finally reaching a constant level of race performance, Sykes could certainly be a tricky customer for the two Italians.

The German Round is a decisive one for Checa and Rea who really have to score wins in both races, with DNFs amongst the top 3, to confirm their championship challenges. Here in 2011 the Spaniard scored one of his 15 SBK wins, but this year has not gone according to plan with too many errors and DNFs, and in the history of SBK no rider has ever won the title with six zeros to his name. Even more difficult is the task facing Jonathan Rea who after two troubled races in Moscow was selected by Honda HRC as a replacement for the injured Casey Stoner in MotoGP. In the next six weeks the Northern Irishman will embark upon a real tour de force, taking part in three Superbike rounds and the same number of MotoGP races.

The Ring could highlight the abilities of Sylvain Guintoli (Pata Racing Team Ducati), who finished second last year in the wet, Davide Giugliano (Althea Racing Ducati), the 22-year-old Italian who is making his name in the top class after winning the FIM Superstock 1000 title, as well as Frenchman Loris Baz (Kawasaki Racing Team). Guintoli has already won twice this year, while Giugliano has two podiums to his name, and Baz picked up the winners’ trophy at Silverstone in difficult conditions.

A fifth place by Leon Camier in race 2 at Moscow Raceway was some reward for the efforts being made this year by a rapidly improving FIXI Crescent Suzuki team. Team-mate John Hopkins has also resolved his injury problems of the early rounds and a podium is surely now not that far off.

Points (after 11 of 14 rounds): 1. Melandri 308.5; 2. Biaggi 290; 3. Sykes 267.5; 4. Checa 233.5; 5. Rea 212.5; 6. Haslam 180; 7. Laverty 173.5; 8. Guintoli 127.5; 9. Fabrizio 119.5; 10. Giugliano 116; etc. Manufacturers: 1. BMW 361; 2. Aprilia 334.5; 3. Ducati 322; 4. Kawasaki 298.5; 5. Honda 221.5; 6. Suzuki 93.5.


World Supersport

While everything is still to play for in Superbike, in World Supersport Kenan Sofuoglu has made a major step forward towards his third title. By winning at Moscow Raceway (his third victory of the season) Kawasaki Lorenzini’s 27 year-old Turkish rider has further increased his lead over his rivals. With three rounds still remaining (75 points), Sofuoglu has more than one round’s advantage and can also count on a steady run of form: he has only one DNF in his points score (Imola), against two for Cluzel and Lowes.

In the other nine races Sofuoglu has always scored top 5 finishes. Sofuoglu has already won the world title in 2007 and 2010, both times on a Honda. This season he is the top man for Kawasaki who are just five points behind Honda in the Manufacturers’ chase. The two PTR men, Jules Cluzel and Sam Lowes are the only other two real challengers this year, with fourth-placed man Fabien Foret (Kawasaki Intermoto Step) just out of contention.

Points (after 10 of 13 rounds): 1. Sofuoglu 173; 2. Cluzel 140; 3. Lowes 138; 4. Foret 128; 5. Parkes 109; 6. Morais 84; 7. Quarmby 70; 8. Baldolini 67; etc. Manufacturers: 1. Honda 217; 2. Kawasaki 212; 3. Triumph 96; 4. Yamaha 89; 5. Suzuki 6.


Superstock 1000

In Germany the weekend programme returns to its normal scheduling with the two Superstock categories that did not make the visit to Russia. In the FIM Superstock 1000 Cup, Eddi La Marra (Barni Racing Team Italia Ducati) capitalized on the first win in his career at Silverstone to break away from his rivals. Frenchman Sylvain Barrier (BMW Motorrad Italia GoldBet) dropped to minus 31 points, more than one round’s disadvantage over La Marra, with three rounds and 75 points remaining. Barrier is rapidly being caught by the Kawasaki pairing of Australian Bryan Staring (Team Pedercini) and Frenchman Jeremy Guarnoni (MRS). La Marra has so far been quick and constant, with his worst result a fourth place in seven races.

The Manufacturers’ battle is also up for grabs, with Ducati and its 1199 Panigale, this year’s newcomer, just two points ahead of Kawasaki and BMW in third, 16 points behind. Meanwhile eighth-placed Lorenzo Baroni (BMW Motorrad Italia GoldBet) is still recovering after his Silverstone crash and will not be present in Germany.

Points (after 7 of 10 rounds): 1. La Marra 119; 2. Barrier 88; 3. Staring 86; 4. Guarnoni 82; 5. Savadori 67; 6. Reiterberger 62; 7. Bergman 59; 8. Baroni 56; etc. Manufacturers: 1. Ducati 132; 2. Kawasaki 130; 3. BMW 116; 4. Honda 52; 5. Aprilia 17.


Superstock 600

The duel between Riccardo Russo (Team Italia FMI Yamaha) and Dutchman Michael van der Mark (EAB Ten Kate Junior Team Honda) in the category reserved for under-22 year-olds is still raging hard and fast. The 18-year-old Italian soared to the top of the table once again following his win at Silverstone, but his rival is just two points behind, a slim lead considering that there are still three rounds and 75 points remaining.

Van der Mark will not be not entirely 100% fit in Germany because of a crash while practicing for the Supersport race at Moscow which was to have marked the talented Dutchman’s debut in the mid-range category. Van der Mark broke his right collarbone and a metal plate has been put on the fracture to speed up his recovery. He should be able to start but will not be entirely fit for this crucial battle against Russo.

Points (after 7 of 10 rounds): 1. Russo 147; 2. Vd Mark 144; 3. Duwelz 78; 4. Calero Perez 53; 5. Vitali 53; 6. Gamarino 49; 7. Schacht 48; 8. Nestorovic 47; etc.


KTM European Junior Cup

Riders in the KTM European Junior Cup, the one-make series organized for under-19 year-olds by Racedays with the collaboration of the Austrian manufacturer, will resume their title battle in Germany on identical Duke 690 machines. After the sixth round, the points leader, Austrian Lukas Wimmer, and second-placed Spaniard Javier Orellana are still on 70 and 62 points respectively. Their double DNF has bunched up the standings and opened the title battle up to another five riders with 17 points between them and just 50 points remaining.

The man of the moment is Northern Ireland’s Jamie Patterson who won at Silverstone to move into fifth place. The 19-year-old has racing blood in his family as his father Alan was a valid 250 GP rider, but to push to the top he will have to get the better of Spain’s Gaston Garcia and Christian Vidal. With one round remaining after Nurburgring the Cup has fulfilled its main aim of providing exciting racing for up-and-coming talents and giving them a chance to appear on the world stage.

Points (after 6 of 8 rounds): 1. Wimmer 70; 2. Orellana 62; 3. Garcia 58; 4. Vidal 54; 5. Patterson 53; 6. Demoulin 48; 7. Pasek 46; 8. Wielebski 43; etc.