With just two rounds of this year’s Superbike World Championship remaining, Team Suzuki Alstare riders Leon Haslam and Sylvain Guintoli will be going all out for podiums this coming weekend in Imola.
Changes to the track were made before last year’s race and many riders do not like the final chicane, but at least most have had a chance to test there earlier this year and get more used to it, and for once, Guintoli will not have to start the race weekend learning the track.
“Since the last round at the Nurburgring, I have been having a lot of physiotherapy on my knee. The problem is that ligaments take quite a long time to mend properly and because of that my knee is not up to full strength yet. I haven’t got full movement and all the power back yet, but I don’t think it’s going to affect me too much once I am on the bike. We’ll see how it goes in practice, but we may decide to put on some strapping and give it some support. I may also strap up the hand a bit as it is OK in certain directions but not so good in some others. Once again, we’ll se how it behaves during practice on Friday.
“We tested here at Imola earlier in the year and the first day was pretty good. The second wasn’t as good because I had a couple of crashes. We tried some tyres there, so it’ll be interesting to see what tyres are brought this weekend. Imola is very technical track and there is a lot to it. It’s what I call ‘an old school’ track and once you’ve got it right, you know you’ve got it right. I think it has many different characteristics and parts of it will suit some bikes and not others, but all bikes will be good there in some areas. Because of the points advantage Max Biaggi now has, all I can do is to go all-out in both races and hope he makes some mistakes, and that’s what I’m going to do.”
“Finally, a track where I’ve been before. Although I haven’t raced there, we did test earlier in the year, so at least I know which way to turn out of the pits! Imola is a technical track and difficult to learn, but I like it a lot. When you know where you are going, it’s a real fun track and a blast when you get it right. The tests went pretty well, so I’m hoping to be on the pace right from the start and then go for my first podium with the team.
“I have been cycling a lot recently and keeping fit and I have also done a bit of cage fighting. The first time I did it, I got well and truly beaten, but the second time was much better. I think this will make me more aggressive on the track and that will help in my battle for a podium.”
Race 1: 1 Noriyuki Haga (JPN-Ducati), 2 Max Biaggi (ITA-Aprilia), 3 Michel Fabrizio (ITA-Ducati). 6 Leon Haslam (GBR-Honda). Sylvain Guintoli DNS.
Race 2: 1 Fabrizio, 2 Haga, 3 Marco Simoncelli (ITA-Aprilia). 8 Leon Haslam. Sylvain Guintoli DNS.