Magny-Cours (France), Wednesday 28 September 2011 : Spain’s Carlos Checa (Althea Racing Ducati) will need to pick up just three points in this weekend’s penultimate round at Magny-Cours to become the first Spanish rider to take the World Superbike title in the championship’s 24-year history. Once again therefore the circuit on the outskirts of Nevers in central France becomes the venue for the deciding round, even though the outcome is bordering on certainty for Checa.
With Max Biaggi abdicating his 2010 title at Imola, the only rider now left with a mathematical chance of eclipsing Checa is Marco Melandri (Yamaha World Superbike Team), but the Italian was in difficulty last weekend and is coming to a circuit that he has never ever seen before. For his part Biaggi will again miss a race, his second in just one week, due to the as yet unhealed bone fracture in his left foot.
The Ducati machines traditionally go well at Magny-Cours and Sylvain Guintoli (Effenbert – Liberty Racing) will be doing his best to bring home a maiden WSB win in front of his home crowd. The Frenchman was just beaten for the podium by Michel Fabrizio last year on his Suzuki.
All eyes will again be on Imola race 1 winner Jonathan Rea (Castrol Honda) after the young Northern Irishman showed last week that he has fully recovered from his Misano crash injury and that his Honda CBR machine is still a winning performer, especially with the new ride-by-wire system. Another British rider in great form is Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team Superbike), who won at the Nurburgring and then set pole at Imola, while Leon Haslam (BMW Motorrad Motorsport), following an encouraging fifth place last week, is now looking to finish off the remaining four races with the best possible results.
In Biaggi’s absence, Melandri’s team-mate Eugene Laverty (Yamaha World Superbike Team) now has every chance of fighting for the overall third place slot. But the competition for the top positions will be tough this weekend, starting with Noriyuki Haga (PATA Racing Team Aprilia) who has now re-emerged as a race win contender on a superbly prepared Aprilia machine in this final part of the season. Two second places at Imola were an excellent example of Haga’s fighting spirit and the Japanese rider is a wily veteran of the Magny-Cours track.
Points (after 11 of 13 rounds): 1. Checa 417; 2. Melandri 320; 3. Biaggi 281; 4. Laverty 256; 5. Haslam 187; 6. Camier 171; 7: Guintoli 158; 8. Haga 155; etc. Manufacturers: 1. Ducati 441; 2. Aprilia 376; 3. Yamaha 375; 4. BMW 232; 5. Kawasaki 192; 6. Honda 162; 7. Suzuki 158.
After Chaz Davies’ WSS title hopes went up in a plume of smoke, Fabien Foret (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) took his first win of the season at Imola, a result that takes him into his home round with an outside chance of battling for the crown with the Welshman. 35 points is the current difference. Davies has no need to win to be on the safe side but he will be aiming for his sixth victory of the year at a circuit where he was on the podium just twelve months ago. Team-mate Luca Scassa looked to be back to his early season form at Imola and will surely provide vital support.
Over in Parkalgar Honda Sam Lowes added another podium to his rookie season one week ago with a fighting performance, while a pole by Broc Parkes (Kawasaki Motocard.com) at Imola was no guarantee of success for the combative Australian.
Points (after 10 of 12 rounds): 1. Davies 171; 2. Foret 136; 3. Salom 123; 4. Parkes 120; 5. Lowes 109; 6. Scassa 96; 7. Ellison 72; 8. Marino 71; etc. Manufacturers: 1. Yamaha 201; 2. Honda 194; 3. Kawasaki 161; 4. Triumph 30.
Settling for the runner-up slot at Imola in the battle for the win with Petrucci was a wise move for Davide Giugliano (Althea Racing Ducati), whose advantage is now 41 points, with just two rounds of the FIM Cup remaining. Barni Racing’s Danilo Petrucci won his second race of the year to move into the second slot and whatever the outcome this weekend, both young Italians have done more than enough to impress this year.
With the score four to two in Giugliano’s favour, the other contenders for victory will again include Lorenzo Zanetti (BWM Motorrad Italia STK) and Niccolò Canepa (Lazio Motorsports Ducati), while an outside chance also goes to the promising young Frenchman Sylvain Barrier (BMW Motorrad Italia STK), already a winner this year, in front of his home public.
Points (after 8 of 10 rounds): 1. Giugliano 160; 2. Petrucci 119; 3. Zanetti 117; 4. Barrier 96; 5. Canepa 96; 6. Baroni 70; 7. Reiterberger 62; 8. Antonelli 58; etc. Manufacturers: 1. Ducati 190; 2. BMW 153; 3. Kawasaki 75; 4. Honda 66; 5. Yamaha 16.
Following another nail-biting race at Imola, the Superstock 600 title battle is now really a matter between three riders. Australian Jed Metcher (MTM-RT Motorsports Yamaha) leads the way, despite having won just one race this year, and he is closely followed by the man most in form at the moment, American Joshua Day (Revolution Racedays Kawasaki), winner of two of the last three rounds. Third-placed Frenchman Romain Lanusse (MRS Yamaha Racing France) was an early pacesetter in the championship but has slipped away recently. But anything can happen, and usually does, in this hard-fought series, with even fourth and fifth-placed men, Michael van der Mark (Ten Kate Junior Team Honda) and Dino Lombardi (Martini Corse Yamaha) still in with an outside chance.
Points (after 8 of 10 rounds): 1. Metcher 117; 2. Day 102; 3. Lanusse 101; 4. Vd Mark 87; 5. Lombardi 86; 6. Russo 83; 7. Duwelz 67; 8. Egea 39; etc.
The race day programme will be completed with the deciding round of the European Junior Cup. Heading into the final race Australian Matt Davies leads Germany’s Tom Busch by 10 points, with New Zealand’s Daniel Mettam, Californian Brandon Kyee and Spaniard Ruben Fenoll all battling for third position in the championship.