Brno (Czech Republic), Tuesday 5 July 2011 – The FIM Superbike World Championship moves into the second half of the season this weekend with the Czech Republic Round at the classic Automotodrom Brno circuit in the heart of Moravia. The 5.403 km track is full of ups and downs throughout and has a total of 14 curves; the spectacular nature of the track and its strategic location mean that numerous fans will undoubtedly come over from neighbouring Eastern European countries as well as from Italy and Germany.
The rider they will all have their eyes on this weekend, and whose name is indelibly linked with the Brno circuit, is undoubtedly Max Biaggi. The Aprilia Alitalia man has a grand total of three wins and seven podiums in the eight races he has taken part in at Brno since his arrival in World Superbike. His results take on even more significance seeing as he has never qualified for and finished a race in lower than fourth position. Add to this his three wins in 500 cc/MotoGP and four in 250 cc, and it becomes clear that the 2010 champion must be the favourite for the eighth round this coming weekend.
While Max Biaggi is the rider with the best results at Brno, Carlos Checa (Althea Racing Ducati) will be called upon to maintain his 43 point lead in the standings, over his Aprilia rival. Checa has been on the podium only once in his six races at Brno, finishing second in 2009, but this year he has already put an end to numerous preconceptions about his and his Ducati’s form.
Third-placed man Marco Melandri (Yamaha World Superbike Team) has never raced a Superbike at Brno, but he does have a best result of fifth place in 2006 in MotoGP, and did win the 250 cc race in 2002. Currently Melandri has a gap of 66 points from Checa in the standings. Team-mate Eugene Laverty is also lining up for his Superbike debut on this track. The Irishman has already raced Supersport here, with one fifth place to his name in 2009, and Laverty, twice a winner already in his debut season, will be out to defend his fourth place overall from fellow Brits Leon Camier (Aprilia Alitalia) and Leon Haslam (BMW Motorrad Motorsports) who are right behind in the standings.
Another British rider, the injured Jonathan Rea from Northern Ireland, will be replaced by Alex Lowes on the Castrol Honda CBR1000RR, the youngster having previously raced at Brno in Superstock. Another illustrious absentee will be Troy Corser (BMW Motorrad Motorsports), who will not be substituted in the team for this occasion.
Other Italians who have gone well at Brno in the past include Michel Fabrizio (Suzuki Alstare) and Ayrton Badovini (BMW Motorrad Italia SBK Team). The former has seven podiums in ten races to his name, while the latter has twice won in Superstock in 2006 and in 2010. The BMW Italia squad will be back to full strength at Brno with the returning James Toseland, who won race 1 here in 2007, and Toseland is now on the road towards completing his recovery following a crash in private testing at Motorland Aragon.
Things are beginning to move in a positive direction for the Kawasaki Racing Team, with Tom Sykes following up his Misano pole position with a top 5 placement at Aragon. Joan Lascorz scored a similar result at his home round, while Chris Vermeulen is finally putting in the mileage required after recovering from injury.
Brno could also see a return to the leading positions for Noriyuki Haga (PATA Racing Team Aprilia), who has one win (race 2 in 2005) and two pole positions at the Czech circuit to his name. The Japanese rider has always been in the points in the twelve races he has taken part in, and always finished in the top 8, an impressively constant performance by any standards, and he currently lies ninth overall.
Brno will be a home race to all effects for the Effenbert-Liberty Racing Team, who have their base in Prague, a Czech Republic sponsor and a Czech rider amidst their ranks. Jakub Smrz has on occasions proved to be blindingly fast but still has to find the right consistency on his Ducati 1098R machine.
As well as regulars Pedercini Kawasaki (Mark Aitchison and Roberto Rolfo) and Supersonic Racing Team (Maxime Berger), the grid will be made up of wild-card entries for Italian Matteo Baiocco on his Barni Racing Ducati 1098R and Hungarian Viktor Kispataki on a Prop-tech Ltd Honda CBR1000RR.
Points (after 7 of 13 rounds): 1. Checa 261; 2. Biaggi 218; 3. Melandri 195; 4. Laverty 146; 5. Camier 125; 6. Haslam 120; 7. Fabrizio 108; 8. Rea 94. Manufacturers: 1. Ducati 273; 2. Aprilia 257; 3. Yamaha 235; 4. BMW 153; 5. Suzuki 112; 6. Honda e Kawasaki 111.