Rome (Italy), 1 October 2012 – Three riders and three different manufacturers will be facing off on Sunday in the final showdown at Magny-Cours for the 2012 eni FIM Superbike World Championship titles. Not for the first time will the French circuit play host to the championship’s grand finale, which this time sees two Italians, Max Biaggi (Aprilia Racing Team) and Marco Melandri (BMW Motorad Motorsport) and a British rider, Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team), currently second in the standings, mathematically still in with a chance of winning.
The last round in Portugal, which produced a number of surprises and upsets, saw Max Biaggi gain ground on his rivals and the 41-year-old from Rome now has 347 points, against 316.5 for Sykes and 308.5 for Melandri. The 30 year-old from Ravenna was involved in a crash that eliminated him from race 1 and he cracked a couple of ribs in the process, but since then he has embarked on an intensive recovery programme in order not to miss out on the final encounter.
The current standings show that Biaggi can easily win the sixth world title in his career, his second in Superbike, with just two sixth places. Even if Sykes takes a double win (50 points), Biaggi just needs 20 to take the title. Judging from his previous form there, the title is within easy reach: he has raced eight times at Magny-Cours and has always finished in the top 6, with four podiums to his name and a win in 2010 when he got the better of Cal Crutchlow in a ferocious duel after he had already clinched the title.
Tom Sykes on the other hand has never finished higher than eighth, with three crashes to his name. The Kawasaki has improved massively throughout the season however and Sykes has taken three of his four race victories in 2012. Marco Melandri only raced at Magny-Cours last season, twice finishing runner-up after two terrific recoveries.
In twenty-five editions of the Superbike World Championship this will be the 15th time the title is assigned at the final round. Magny-Cours has been decisive on three occasions: in 1991 Texan Doug Polen took his first title with three rounds remaining, while in both 2004 and 2007 the championship went right down to the wire, with Britain’s James Toseland getting the nod on both occasions – the first when he beat home favourite Règis Laconi, the second against Noriyuki Haga.
The Manufacturers’ battle is also at stake: Aprilia lead the way with 422.5 points, against BMW on 394 and reigning champions Ducati on 375. As well as Max Biaggi the Italian manufacturer can count on excellent support from Eugene Laverty (Aprilia Racing Team) and Chaz Davies (ParkinGo MTC Racing Aprilia), two youngsters who have already celebrated their first win on the RSV4 in the last two rounds this year, respectively at Portimao and Nurburgring. If they manage to win this title, for Aprilia it would mean a 50th title conquered in Superbike, Grand Prix Road Racing and Off-Road.
At the final round of the 25th edition of the FIM Superbike World Championship, numerous other riders will be aiming to finish off the season with a podium place or a result that may modify the outcome of the title. These will undoubtedly include the outgoing champion Carlos Checa (Althea Racing Ducati) who began testing with Ducati’s new 1199, which will be fielded in 2013, after the Portimao round. Team-mate Davide Giugliano, at 22 years of age one of the revelations of this year, also took part in the testing.
All eyes will also be on Jonathan Rea (Honda World Superbike Team) following his double experience in MotoGP with Honda HRC. The 25-year-old from Northern Ireland has never really had much luck at Magny-Cours but one year ago he did manage to score the Tissot-Superpole.
Expectations are high for the FIXI Crescent Suzuki team following some great recent performances. The Japanese manufacturer has never won on this track, but it does have six second places to its name, so maybe Leon Camier, who went well at Portimao, will manage to buck this trend.
The final round will define the remaining top positions with Sylvain Guintoli (Pata Racing Ducati) currently holding onto the eighth place he has conquered with two wins and some other great races, while another Frenchman Loris Baz (Kawasaki Racing Team) is also looking to finish his debut season, with one win and three podiums to his name, on a high note: the 19-year-old is currently 12th overall and will be racing in front of his home fans. Two last-minute changes see the Effenbert Liberty team declare themselves absent from the final round completely, while one of the team’s former riders Maxime Berger lines up for Red Devils Roma in place of the injured Niccolò Canepa.
Points (after 13 of 14 rounds): 1. Biaggi 347; 2. Sykes 316,5; 3. Melandri 308.5; 4. Checa 278.5; 5. Rea 255.5; 6. Laverty 241.5; 7. Haslam 189; 8. Guintoli 172.5; 9. Davies 156.5; 10. Fabrizio 133.5; etc. Manufacturers: 1. Aprilia 422.5; 2. BMW 394; 3. Ducati 375; 4. Kawasaki 356.5; 5. Honda 270.5; 6. Suzuki 130.5.
Magny-Cours will see celebrations all the way for Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Lorenzini), who took the title at the previous round in Portugal, the 27-year-old from Turkey clinching a third crown after the ones he won in 2007 and 2010. It was great satisfaction also for the team run by Vanni Lorenzini, who won his first world title despite the repercussions of the earthquake in Emilia that seriously damaged the Mantova base of the Italian outfit, which was forced to work for some time in its trucks.
Sofuoglu’s toughest rival throughout the season has been Jules Cluzel (PTR Honda), the 23-year-old Frenchman who came from GP racing and who in his debut Supersport season has already scored three wins. On his home track he will have a chance of increasing his success rate and consolidate second place in the championship. The battle is also on for third, with another Frenchman, Fabien Foret (Kawasaki Intermoto Step) now ahead of his British rival Sam Lowes (Bogdanka PTR Honda).
Points (after 12 of 13 rounds): 1. Sofuoglu 218; 2. Cluzel 185; 3. Foret 160; 4. Lowes 152; 5. Parkes 135; 6. Morais 94; 7. Baldolini 86; 8. Quarmby 84; 9. Iannuzzo 60; 10. Leonov 52; etc. Manufacturers: 1. Honda 262; 2. Kawasaki 257; 3. Triumph 115; 4. Yamaha 102; 5. Suzuki 6.
Magny-Cours will be the decider for the entry-level categories which are reserved for tomorrow’s champions. In the FIM Superstock 1000 Cup Frenchman Sylvain Barrier (BMW Motorrad Italia GoldBet) grabbed the lead back from Eddi La Marra (Barni Racing Team Italia Ducati) but they are separated by just three points. There is still a small mathematical chance for Australian Bryan Staring (Kawasaki Pedercini) who has to hope for a win with the other two riders picking up DNFs. In the previous nine rounds Barrier has won four times, Staring three and La Marra once. The under-26 Cup is also a technical challenge between BMW, Ducati and Kawasaki. Barrier will have the advantage of racing in front of his home crowd, but La Marra and Staring still have their last remaining cards to play.
Points (after 9 of 10 rounds): 1. Barrier 133; 2. La Marra 130; 3. Staring 111; 4. Guarnoni 98; 5. Savadori 91; 6. Reiterberger 85; 7. Bergman 78; 8. Massei 71; 9. Coghlan 68; 10. Baroni 56; etc. Manufacturers: 1. Kawasaki 168; 2. Ducati 165; 3. BMW 161; 4. Honda 71; 5. Aprilia 17.
The final round of the UEM European Superstock 600 Championship for under-22 year-olds sees a clash of two talents who have dominated proceedings since the start of the season: Dutchman Michael van der Mark (EAB Ten Kate Junior Team Honda) and Italian Riccardo Russo (Team Italia FMI Yamaha), both 19 years of age. Van der Mark has won five rounds, and the other four have gone to Russo who now has seven points to make up on his rival. The situation is slightly in favour of the Dutchman who can even afford to finish second if Russo proves to be unbeatable. On the other hand, the Italian has to beat van der Mark and hope that someone finishes in between. The last round will be held on Saturday evening at 6pm.
Points (after 9 of 10 rounds): 1. Vd Mark 194; 2. Russo 187; 3. Duwelz 91; 4. Nestorovic 74; 5. Vitali 66; 6. Schacht 65; 7.Morbidelli 63; 8. Calero Perez 59; 9. Gamarino 58; 10. Chesaux 50; etc.
KTM European Junior Cup
The KTM European Junior Cup gets its grand finale as well, with the entry-level category organized by Racedays for under-19 year-olds coming to an exciting conclusion. The battle will be on identical KTM Duke 690 machines supplied directly by the Austrian manufacturer. Magny-Cours will have two rounds, one of which on Saturday will make up for the cancelled race at Monza in May. With 50 points still up for grabs, eight riders are still in with a chance of winning the title. The standings are led by Austrian Lukas Wimmer (95 points), who is being chased by Spain’s Gaston Garcia, Javier Orellana and Christian Vidal. They are followed by Poland’s Artur Wielebski, Jamie Patterson from Northern Ireland, another Pole Adrian Pasek and France’s Jean-Francois Demoulin.
Points (after 6 rounds of 8): 1. Wimmer 95; 2. Garcia 78; 3. Orellana 75; 4. Vidal 64; 5. Wielebski 59; 6. Patterson 57; 7. Pasek 54; 8. Demoulin 48;