Rome (Italy), Tuesday 25 June 2013 – Round 7 of the eni FIM Superbike World Championship will take place this weekend at Imola's Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari. After six events and twelve races, the "Master of Consistency" Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia Racing Team) heads to the second Italian Round of the season with a 28 points advantage over Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) and an extraordinary average of 17.75 points per race – despite his only win so far in the first race of the year - and no DNF.
Speaking of consistency, Carlos Checa (Team Ducati Alstare) has won 5 of the last 6 races held on the iconic track near Bologna. The 40 year old Spaniard, who is almost back to full fitness, after the shoulder issues that have been hampering his performance since Round 2 at Aragon, will be riding an air restrictor free Ducati 1199 Panigale R, as per FIM regulations about the performance balance between twin and four-cylinder machines (article 126.96.36.199.3.).
Fond memories but no win yet at Imola for Tom Sykes, who scored a surprising first pole position of his career in 2010 onboard the previous model of ZX-10R. With the current Ninja, Sykes has finished twice second last year, after dominating for half the race and eventually surrendered to race winner Checa.
No love lost between Imola and Eugene Laverty (Aprilia Racing Team), who always finished no higher than 4th and, as Sykes and former team mate Marco Melandri (BMW Motorrad GoldBet), is back from a mixed feelings Portuguese Round. Melandri never had good results on his home track in WSBK, but he's looking forward to a strong performance to keep himself in contention for the World Title.
Leon Camier (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) climbed on the podium in 2011, when he crossed the line 3rd in race 2 behind winner Checa and Noriyuki Haga. The Japanese star will make a one-off return to WSBK after 20 months since his last appearance, as he will be riding a Feel Racing BMW S 1000 RR run by Team Grillini Dentalmatic.
Jonathan Rea (Pata Honda World Superbike) has been the only rider, apart from Checa, to win a race at Imola in the last three Seasons (2001, race 1). The Ulsterman was close to get a well-deserved double win, but an electrical problem forced him to a disappointing retirement, leaving the winning spot to the Spaniard. Rea's team mate Leon Haslam is continuing his recovery to be as fit as possible for the Italian Round, despite the still injured left tibia.
World Supersport is back to business at Imola for race number seven of 2013. Mahi Racing Team India Kawasaki duo of Kenan Sofuoglu and Fabien Foret is on a mission to slow down the impressive momentum of Sam Lowes (Yakhnich Motorsport Yamaha), winner of the last four races and current Championship leader with a 39 point gap on both riders.
The three WSS stars had a key role, although in different wa39 ys, in last year's race at Imola: the Reigning Champion, who moved off well from second place on the grid, missed the brake point at the last chicane on the opening lap, while he was leading the race, and did not return to the track in the correct way. The 28 year old was penalised by Race Direction first with a ride-through, and then, as he didn't make his way back to the pit-lane, he was disqualified with a black flag. A disappointing retirement for the Turkish rider, who was taking part in the race despite a multiple injury.
Once Sofuoglu was out of the timing screens, the battle for first place was a matter of tenths of a second between Foret and Lowes: Frenchman was able to achieve the race win, despite the tenacity of young Brit, who did everything he could to fill the small gap with the front. Following the encouraging performance at Portimao, Michael van der Mark (Pata Honda World Supersport) is aiming to be in the mix up front again, while team mate Lorenzo Zanetti is looking forward to redeeming the poor results of the last two rounds. Irishman Jack Kennedy (Rivamoto Honda) is training hard to improve his stamina in order to keep his pace competitive for the whole race distance, after showing some positive form in the early stages of the previous races.