The Mondial Superbike strikes back…
The second opus of the SBK Mondial saga in Italy will be written on Sunday in Misano: an event not to be missed because the Superbike and Supersport championships certainly have some great surprises in store for us … Presentation of the forces involved.
This weekend, while the MotoGP riders will compete in their "TT" in the Netherlands on Saturday (read), those of the SBK and SSP Worlds will face each other for the second time in Italy: after the breathtaking event at Monza (read ), the Superbike stars meet in Misano for the San Marino event.
Life in the World Superbike is not easy: just ten days ago, the riders – but also their mechanics, motorcycles, tires, fans … – had to deal with wet and cool weather in Germany. But this weekend, all these little people will be forced to endure the Italian heat.
"Misano is a place that everyone loves, we all come with our families because it is near the sea", explained Troy Bayliss yesterday."It looks like a mini vacation", even remarked the double world champion !
But despite this pleasant summer atmosphere, the 8th round of the 2008 SBK world championship will not be easy: on the program since 1991, the Misano circuit has been modified for the 2007 test (read) and represents a important challenge for pilots and their teams.
However, it seems that Misano knows how to reward the driver who has best integrated his track, whose direction of revolution was reversed in 2007 as well! We thus note a high number of doubles: 11 out of 16 weekends in all – there were no races in 1992, note for the picky ones who will have counted the exact number of meetings since 1991 !
After Polen in 1991, Falappa in 1993, Lucchiari in 1995, Kocinski in 1996, Slight in 1998, Fogarty in 1999, Corser in 2000, Bayliss in 2002, Xaus in 2003, Laconi in 2005 and Bayliss again in 2007, which will expand the list of the authors of double sunday? Short tour of the favorites, according to the provisional classification established in mid-season…
Bayliss 1st with 227 points
Championship leader with 39 points ahead of his runner-up Checa, Troy Bayliss retains his favorite status despite his decline in form: since Assen, the Australian has not won a single race – out of the six contested since – and no has not scored a single point three times !
However, during his last outing at the Nürburgring, the famous n ° 21 of the official Ducati Xerox team regained some of his splendor: 2nd then 4th, Troy even managed to regain some points from Carlos – who twice finished 5th – but must remain vigilant against Checa of course, but also Haga and Neukirchner !
"Misano is one of my favorite tours and it always gave it back to me", reveals a rather confident Bayliss. Indeed, on the ten races which he contested in Misano, Troy finished nine times on the podium including six times on the highest step. !
It must be said that in Misano, Bayliss is a little "at home" since the headquarters of "its" manufacturer is located nearby. "I was disappointed with my last performance at Monza, so I hope to give the audience a better show", conscientiously notes the" Australian-Italian "kangaroo.
For that, Troy and his team made the most of the week of beating between the Nürburgring and Misano: "we plan to use the new settings we worked on last week at Mugello, we will see how it works and hope we can stop the problems we have been having in the last rounds", says Troy who has lined up in three days of testing no less than 600 laps on the handlebars of his 1098 F08 !
Checa 2nd with 188 points
Missed the German event – although two 5th places remain an excellent result at this level! – Carlos Checa must react if he does not want to be overwhelmed by the two strong men of the moment: Haga and Neukirchner.
In Misano, the n ° 7 of the Honda Ten Kate team is therefore hoping to regain the grip that he was sorely lacking at the Nürburgring, but had enabled him to win the two races in the United States high on the ground 15 days earlier … will heat of the track help ?
Regarding the Italian heatwave, Carlos is not chickened: "I like to run in hot conditions", assures the fiery bullfighter who aims for the podium, even if he knows that in the SBK World"everything can happen" !
Ultimately this weekend, Checa – the eldest – intends to reinvest the very first roles: "if I can quickly find the right settings during the qualifying sessions, I will be able to secure a good place on the grid. I still have to improve my starts, but I’m confident: I can fight for a good result this weekend !", concludes the ex-GP star.
Neukirchner 3rd with 176 points
Only 12 points behind Carlos – so 51 behind Troy Bayliss – Max Neukirchner has gone from being an outsider to that of a major challenger in just a few months! "Last year in Misano I finished 10th and 9th, but I know I can do a lot better this year", reasonably remarked the young German.
Because this season, the n ° 76 driver of the Suzuki Alstare team has never left the top 10, except in Valencia where Checa was responsible for getting him off the track! Better still, he and his GSX-R 1000 only finished twice outside the top 5 and collect the podiums.
Third of his two home races, Neukirchner regrets not having heard the Deutschlandlied – the German anthem – but knows that it is only a postponement … "Obviously, the factory Ducatis will be very strong here", notes the new" Max the threat ", before adding maliciously that"So it would be really good to steal a victory from them at home !"
Unconditional supporters of Schumacher for years, how would the tifosis react if the German driver deprived Bayliss or Fabrizio – not to be underestimated because he is at home – of one or two victory (s)? Answer Sunday…
Haga 4th with 172 points
Noriyuki Haga would he start yet another thunderous second half of the season to return – too late – to the leader of the championship? "There is half a season left and being 55 points behind the leader is not so bad", explains the Japanese who last year at the same time was only 23 points behind Toseland, titled at the end of the season with 2 points ahead of Haga…
Author of a double in the last event despite his broken collarbone, the Japanese is a very serious candidate for victory this weekend: "everyone around me was telling me "do not fall !". So I wasn’t attacking too hard, but we still got some great results", remembers the n ° 41 of the Yamaha Santander team.
"The Misano event was a turning point last year, it will be an important race again this year and I will have to be careful not to make mistakes", explains Nitro Nori, who was hit during the first round of 2007 by a rather discourteous Max Biaggi (read).
Two weeks after his success in Germany, Haga will be in better shape again this Sunday and could well complete a list of "doubles at Misano" on which, curiously, he does not appear….
Corser 5th with 154 points
Fifth in the championship, Troy Corser held Olympic health two weeks ago. It came close to that – the intervention of the rain, in fact! – so that the Australian does not deprive his teammate of a second straight victory at the Nürburgring !
Last year, the Croco Corser had "replaced" on the second step of the podium of the first round his colleague Haga, torpedoed by Biaggi. Then in the second round, he used his mule which had been particularly rebellious: the n ° 11 failed in 5th place…
However, after the parade they performed in the second race two weeks ago, it is difficult to see the Yamaha R1s complicating the task of the double world champion in the discipline. "Misano should be fine and the bike is fine", predicts Corser who still has not won a race on the handlebars of his R1.
Xaus at BMW in 2009 !
Behind, Fonsi Nieto (141 points) will try to regain his speed at the start of the season to return to the top 5 in the world. Ruben Xaus, meanwhile (6th with 110 points), is already assured of "success" this weekend since BMW Motorrad has just announced that the Spaniard will drive the S1000RR next year !
"We know that the Superbike World Championship is a series at a very high level, but we do not integrate it to make the extras: we want to win !"exclaimed Peter Mueller, executive vice president" development and product lines "at the Bavarian manufacturer.
"Of course we start off with a brand new motorcycle, but with Ruben Xaus we believe we can progress quickly and maybe surprise a few people.", adds the German manager. Capable of the worst as well as the best, the Spaniard n ° 111 is naturally delighted to take part in this project. Let’s hope for the show that it will spark more on the podium than on the track !
Laconi can finally fight
Régis Laconi, for his part, will seek to pursue the right path which finally seems to open to him: "I could really fight at the Nürburgring and we definitely found more grip at the rear", rejoices the n ° 55 of the Kawasaki PSG-1 Corse team.
"I have to thank all the team members for that, Kawasaki, my chief engineer, the technicians, those from Öhlins, everyone", continues the French as if he had won a race! However, Régis is still far from it: he was 26 seconds behind Haga in the first round and 13 seconds in the second…
Author of a memorable double in 2005 (read), Laconi must dream of being able to glean 13 new seconds on the leader on Sunday … He could then thank his team, based in San Marino. Hope brings life !
GMT 94 is progressing
Sébastien "Starsky" Gimbert and David "Hutch" Checa will of course be at the rendezvous this weekend, at the controls of their R1s prepared by Christophe "le bon" Guyot’s team.
"We crossed the 210 hp bar on the bench and we still gained a few grams on the chassis", announces besides the official site of the team val-de-marnais. Excellent news for the GMT94 and its two pilots, who remain conscious however"that all teams work to progress"…
Two weeks ago, Sébastien took part in his first Superpole event of the season. We hope that he will be able to do the same on Saturday, in order to leave in good conditions on Sunday. For his part, David Checa "still has pain in his knee"and will undoubtedly have to wait for Brno to be at 100% of its capacities … Too bad, we remember that in 2006 in Misano, the n ° 94 had obtained a superb 4th place.
Loic Napoleone, the 3rd French, throws the glove
His results were inconclusive, the French rider Loïc Napoleone will no longer race in the World Superbike: "its start to the season was not easy and that is why the Yamaha Grillini team – in agreement with the rider – preferred to end this collaboration after the Nürburgring round", announces the official press release.
Loïc will therefore be replaced this weekend by the 2005 Italian Superbike champion: Norino Brignola. The opportunity for the Grillini team to pocket its first point? Answer Monday on Site … Stay connected !
Forest versus Australians…
Supersport side, with a total of 88 points, another Australian driver leads the world championship: Andrew Pitt. Riding his CBR600RR prepared by the Ten Kate team – world champion in the category for six years! – the aussie already has three victories and does not want to stop there !
"We made up for the two wasted races at the start of the season, now it’s a question of accumulating points to confirm our first place.", program n ° 88, which has never run on the" new "Misano.
Behind him, just 4 points away, is our national n ° 99: Fabien Foret! Fourth in the last race, the n ° 99 of the official Yamaha team hopes that the one in Misano will go better: "this is one of my best tracks ever", assures the Charentais.
As proof: in 2005 on "the old" Misano, we remember that Fabien (then on Honda Megabike) had assisted the future double world champion Sébastien Charpentier (read). And before that, in 2002 on Honda Ten Kate and in 2003 on Kawasaki, Fabien had won the victory !
"It’s a good track for Yamaha and it should be less hard for me on this bike than it was last season on the other (ZX-6R, Editor’s note) ", guarantees the current number two from which we expect a good race … and a number one place in the provisional ?
Lagrive against the Europeans…
But besides Pitt, two other Australians will be happy to make the task even more difficult for Foret: Joshua Brookes and Broc Parkes, respectively 3rd (with 83 points) and 5th (81) overall….
The first on his Honda Stiggy wishes "stay in the Top3 and continue to put pressure on the two guys in front", while the second, tied on points with the Spaniard Lascorz – in decline at the moment – will try to keep his official R6 in the lead … until the end this time !
Sixth and seventh in the provisional classification, the British Craig Jones and Jonathan Rea could also give Foret a hard time … As for Matthieu Lagrive, he remains for the moment in 9th place behind Harms – yes the one who is unfortunately crashed in the last test … – and we hope he can score big points on Sunday to distance Vizziello (tied with 28 points), Walker (27) and Roccoli (20) … and s ‘approach Australians !
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