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Biaggi and Co. make eagerly awaited Silverstone comeback

Round ten of the 13-round HANNspree FIM Superbike World Championship will take place at the latest incarnation of the classic Silverstone circuit this weekend, between 30 July and 1 August. 

The championship has been to Silverstone on six previous occasions, the most recent being in 2007, when only one race took place due to incessant rain that flooded the track before race two could get underway. The Silverstone that WSB returns to this year is a very different venue from previous versions, with massive investment in both a heavily modified circuit layout and infrastructure improvements resulting in a 5.902 km circuit, which owes a lot to the ex-airfield circuit’s original reputation as a fast and open racetrack, where speed is a key element.  

Max Biaggi (Aprilia Alitalia) and his factory team have been almost immaculate in 2010, winning half the races on offer, finishing every race in the points and having no individual placing lower than eighth. Biaggi has been so consistent he has only had five non-podium finishes all season. No surprise to find that Max is a clear championship leader after round nine at Brno, now having a 68-point advantage approaching Silverstone. 

Biaggi has not got far to look to see the immediate threat at Silverstone, with the first of seven well-equipped local riders being second placed in the overall WSB rankings, Leon Haslam (Suzuki Alstare). Haslam could ask for no better current WSB venue to try to make big inroads into Biaggi’s points lead, as he will have the crowd firmly on his side for the first time all year, and greater recent experience of at least some of the Silverstone layout than many of his rivals. 

There are no fewer than seven full time riders in the 2010 line-up who emanate from the UK, and all of them are on either official or well-supported machinery. For this reason alone Silverstone may well provide the best chance of a new name appearing on the 2010 winner’s roster since Kyalami in May. 

So far we have had six different race-winning riders, the roll of honour led by Biaggi with nine victories. Next up, Haslam is tied on three wins with overall third placed rider Jonathan Rea (HANNspree Ten Kate Honda). Rea has been busy of late, winning the first race at Brno last time out before heading to Japan and a podium slot at the Suzuka 8 Hours last weekend.

Carlos Checa (Althea Ducati) was a winner at round one in Australia and he is now fourth in the points, close to Rea and the following rider in fifth place, Noriyuki Haga (Ducati Xerox). Haga is another with a single win to his credit in 2010, and the most recent rider to enter the 2010 winners’ club is Haga’s own team-mate, Michel Fabrizio – eighth overall and twice a podium man in the past two rounds. The Ducati 1200cc Vee-twin riders will all arrive at Silverstone with the same regulation minimum weight of 162 kg as the other machines, after once more breaking through the lower threshold of the balancing regulations at the previous Brno round. 

The seven British regulars looking for hometown glory on Sunday include James Toseland (Yamaha Sterilgarda), a double WSBK champion but a rider still looking for his first win in his comeback season. He has already stated that a British 1-2-3 is very possible at Silverstone and for him the top step of the podium is his overriding motivation this weekend. James is sixth in the current rankings. 

Troy Corser (BMW Motorrad Motorsport) was unlucky to injure himself at the previous round in Brno, missing raceday, but he is expecting great things from his S1000RR around the fast sweeps of Silverstone, if he comes through a test at Mugello in good condition. Troy is seventh now, two points ahead of a chasing Fabrizio, with the second official BMW rider, Ruben Xaus, 13th overall and improving all the time.  

One of the ‘magnificent seven’ local riders is particularly well known to British crowds, 2009 BSB champion Leon Camier (Aprilia Alitalia). Already a podium placer on his vee-four Aprilia, Camier is having an intense learning year in WSB, tied on points with a Superpole expert in his first full season, Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha Sterilgarda). Briton Crutchlow has scored pole four times so far, and has four podium places to boot. He is tenth in the championship, but tied on the same 138 point total as Camier and British-domiciled Frenchman Sylvain Guintoli (Suzuki Alstare). 

Shane Byrne (Althea Ducati) sits 12th right now, looking forward to his latest return home to race and another chance to match his sheer speed over a single lap to a race result of equal prominence. 

Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) is the seventh Brit in regular WSB competition in 2010 and he more than anyone will see Silverstone as an opportunity to shine. With his regular team-mate Chris Vermeulen out for the rest of the year through injury, he will have the legendary figure of Akira Yanagawa alongside him at Silverstone, as the Japanese star stands-in for Chris for this race. 

Series regular Luca Scassa (Supersonic Ducati) who suffered a fracture at the Brno race weekend, has recovered well and will race in England. Jakub Smrz (Pata B&G Aprilia) will be on a vee-four for this round again, with Max Neukirchner (HANNspree Ten Kate Honda) and Honda privateer Broc Parkes (ECHO CRS) out for more points to move up the standings. Lorenzo Lanzi (DFX Corse Ducati) plus Pedercini Kawasaki team-mates Roger Lee Hayden and Matteo Baiocco are also privateers worth watching. 

Wildcards of the highest quality and equipment levels are set to join the Silverstone party in 2010, as Josh Brookes and Ryuichi Kiyonari (both HM Plant Honda) combine forces to lever points and places from the hands of the regulars. Privateer rider Tommy Bridewell will also be made welcome in the WSB paddock on his Quay Garage Honda. 

Points (after 9 rounds of 13): 1. Biaggi 352; 2. Haslam 284; 3. Rea 203; 4. Checa 189; 5. Haga 172; 6. Toseland 160. 7. Corser 149; 8. Fabrizio 147; 9. Camier 138; 10. Crutchlow 138. Manufacturers: 1. Aprilia 358; 2. Suzuki 305; 3. Ducati 276; 4. Honda 214; 5. Yamaha 206;  6. BMW 163; 7. Kawasaki 55. 

SUPERSPORT: For the fifth time this year the championship lead has changed hands once again with three riders having taken turns to head up the standings even before the last round at Brno. After another win, his third of the year, Kenan Sofuoglu (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) left Brno at the top of the reckoning and second place in the race gave Joan Lascorz (Kawasaki Motocard.com) second in the rankings also, some 15 points behind Sofuoglu. Eugene Laverty (Parkalgar Honda) no-scored for the first time last time and is now third, 22 points adrift but with four races to go – including Silverstone. ParkinGO Triumph BE-1’s Chaz Davies is an increasingly impressive fourth, having scored three podium finishes so far. Almost a podium finisher last time out, Gino Rea (Intermoto Czech Honda) is looking forward to his first full Supersport World Championship race at Silverstone.

Ronan Quarmby (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) will replace injured regular runner Michele Pirro at Silverstone and there are no fewer than 28 riders on the Silverstone grid, thanks to a wildcard rider influx. 

Points (after 9 rounds of 13): 1. Sofuoglu 183; 2. Lascorz 168; 3. Laverty 161; 4. Davies 113; 5. Salom 72; 6. Harms 61; 7. Rea 67; 8. Fujiwara 59; 9. Pirro 58; 10. Lagrive 56. Manufacturers: 1. Honda 220; 2. Kawasaki 168; 3. Triumph 123; 4. Yamaha 11. 

SUPERSTOCK 1000: Ayrton Badovini (BMW Motorrad Italia STK) has remained untouchable at the top of the Superstock 1000 standings, winning six from six as his championship carries on relentlessly. He now has a 77-point advantage over Michele Magnoni (Bevilacqua Corse Honda), and a win at Silverstone would give Badovini the championship no matter what. Lesser results would also see him crowned champion, if all his four main rivals have poor weekends. Maxime Berger (Ten Kate Racing Junior Honda) is third overall, while Andrea Antonelli (Team Lorini Honda) heads up the final top five runners, together with Davide Giugliano (Team06 Suzuki). 

Points (after 6 rounds of 10): 1. Badovini 150; 2. Magnoni 73; 3. Berger 66; 4. Antonelli 57; 5. Giugliano 53; 6. Barrier 47; 7.Baz 44; 8. Bussolotti 37; 9. Petrucci 36; 10. Beretta 34. Manufacturers: 1. BMW 150; 2. Honda 109; 3. Suzuki 69; 4. Ducati 46; 5. Yamaha 46; 6. Kawasaki 38; 7.KTM 29; 8. Aprilia 18. 

SUPERSTOCK 600: Jeremy Guarnoni (MRS Racing Yamaha) is overcoming all obstacles in his way this year in the 600 Superstock division, having won four races and been placed in the other two. He leads his French countryman Florian Marino (Ten Kate Junior Racing Honda) by 30 points after his last win in the Czech Republic. Italian rider Federico D’Annunzio (Martini Corse Yamaha) is still third but looking for his first win of the year. 

Points (after 6 rounds of 10): 1. Guarnoni 136; 2. Marino 106; 3. D’Annunzio 70; 4. Lombardi 59: 5. Karlsen 51; 6. Fanelli 51: 7. Calero Perez 44; 8. Lanusse 39. 

TRIUMPH PARKINGO SERIES: The monomarque Triumph ParkinGO European Series will be back at Silverstone, with riders on identical Triumph Street Triple R machines battling it out for glory in this thrilling class. Fabrizio Perotti is the leader with three rounds to go, 16 points ahead of Matteo Marzotto. 

THE CIRCUIT: The recent works at Silverstone have now created a multiple use circuit of truly international class, including several initiatives that have been specifically designed for motorcycle use. Riders and spectators have been well catered for in the layout to be used for World Superbike, with the track now shooting to the infield at one key section to allow spectators in that area a closer look at the action, while still meeting all the latest safety requirements. The work at Silverstone is still continuing, to make the classic British circuit even more user-friendly for all. High top speeds and fast average lap speeds will be much in evidence.