World Superbike returns to Imola for three days of testing
The modified Autodromo Enzo & Dino Ferrari circuit at Imola will echo to the sound of top-class motorbikes next week for the first time since 2006 as the World Superbike, Supersport and Superstock teams and riders take part in a three-day official test session in preparation for the race there on the weekend of September 27th.
The tests, organized by Infront Motor Sports, will take place from Tuesday 14th thru Thursday 16th July, with the two Superstock categories taking to the track on the first day and the other two days reserved for Superbike and Supersport. Almost twelve hours of track time has been set aside for Superbike, while Supersport has six hours of testing scheduled.
The Imola circuit, which last hosted a World Superbike race in 2006, has since then undergone a series of changes, including the addition of a new chicane on the main straight. The chicane has been approved by Claude Danis, the FIM delegate for circuit homologation, and it will help to slow down the bikes in the former Variante Bassa area shortly before the finish line. Teams and media will also find a completely modernized circuit, with new pit garages and an international standard media centre.
A total of 22 Superbike riders will be present for the tests, with the major focus being on the return of Max Neukirchner (Suzuki Alstare BRUX) and Makoto Tamada (Kawasaki World Superbike Racing Team), both injured in the first corner crash at Monza. The Ducati Xerox Team will be present with just one rider, Michel Fabrizio, as the injured Noriyuki Haga is set to return at Brno. Other teams present include Yamaha World Superbike (Ben Spies and Tom Sykes), Ten Kate Honda (Carlos Checa, Jonathan Rea and Ryuichi Kiyonari), BMW Motorrad (Troy Corser and Ruben Xaus), Aprilia Racing (Max Biaggi and Shinya Nakano) and Stiggy Racing Honda (Leon Haslam and John Hopkins), the latter three teams also having benefitted from further recent private testing.
Seventeen Supersport riders are on the entry list, with all the major contenders present for their first taste of action at the revised Santerno circuit. These include Yamaha World Supersport's points leader Cal Crutchlow and his close rivals Eugene Laverty (Parkalgar Honda) and Kenan Sofuoglu (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda), while Joan Lascorz misses the test for Kawasaki Provec. Australian Jason O'Halloran gets a run for the Honda Althea team, with Sheridan Morais wild-carding a third Triumph 675 for the ParkinGo squad alongside Garry McCoy and Gianluca Nannelli. Thirty Superstock riders share the track on Tuesday, with all the leading contenders present in both the 1000 and the 600 category.