Tom Sykes is looking to return to his previous winning form.
Barcelona (Spain) – The penultimate round of the 2014 eni FIM Superbike World Championship will take place this weekend at Magny-Cours. The stakes are high for this year’s title as series leader Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) heads to France with a 31 point advantage with Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia Racing Team).
The reigning champion is looking to return to his previous winning form to seal what would be his second title in a row after being a little bit on the back foot at Jerez, where aboard his ZX-10R he struggled to keep the pace of the two factory Aprilia machines of Guintoli and Melandri.
Last year the 29 year Briton dominated in France by taking pole position, winning both races and setting the fastest lap in each of the two encounters. In 2012 Sykes won the second race on the 4411m, challenging venue located in the heart of France only to miss the ultimate price by half a point.
Other title contender Guintoli came out victorious in wet conditions at Magny-Cours two years ago in race one, while in 2013 he crossed the line second and third. On his home track he has never finished below sixth and has always stepped onto the podium in the last two editions of the French Round.
Last time out at Jerez Guintoli missed a great opportunity to further narrow the gap to the top as he was twice edged out for the win by teammate Marco Melandri, who got his second double of the year and proved once more to be the man to beat in the closing part of the season. The Italian rider currently sits fourth in the standings only 18 points away from third place Jonathan Rea (Pata Honda World Superbike). The Ulsterman, who was fourth and fifth in the two Spanish races, was able to step on the podium at Magny-Cours twice before, in 2009 and 2012 (race 2).
Looking for a strong performance
With two rounds left, many riders are looking for a strong performance to improve their position in the overall standings. Local rider Loris Baz (Kawasaki Racing Team) and the Ducati Superbike Team duo of Chaz Davies and Davide Giugliano are yet to step atop the podium this year and have never made it into the top 3 at Magny-Cours before, meaning the French Round will be very important for all three riders.
The Voltcom Crescent Suzuki Team will face the penultimate round with both sides of the garage knowing their 2015 plans. Eugene Laverty is officially heading to MotoGP, while rookie Alex Lowes recently agreed to extend his partnership with the squad for one more year.
MV Agusta Reparto Corse’s Claudio Corti and Team Hero EBR’s Geoff May and Aaron Yates will have another chance to improve their performance as the season enters the final stretch. A second MV Agusta F4 RR will be run by the Dream Team Company and ridden by 27 year old Nicolas Salchaud.
Three more Ducati 1199 Panigale R machines will line-up on the grid at Magny-Cours as Team 3C Racing will take part in the French Round with 2014 German Superbike Champion Xavi Fores and his IDM teammates Max Neukirchner and Lorenzo Lanzi.
The EVO class sees David Salom (Kawasaki Racing Team) with one hand on the trophy having a 41 point lead over Niccolò Canepa (Althea Racing Team Ducati), while local riders Jeremy Guarnoni (MRS Kawasaki) and Sylvain Barrier (BMW Motorrad Italia) are third and fourth respectively with a lot of ground to make up in the standings. However expect them fighting to uphold their honor at home.
After 15 years of racing spent in the WSBK paddock, Fabien Foret will contest his final race in the series by joining regular Team Pedercini rider Alessandro Andreozzi and replacing the still injured Luca Scassa.
Standings (Round 10 of 12)
1. Sykes 352; 2. Guintoli 321; 3. Rea 285; 4. Melandri 267; 5. Baz 262; 6. Davies 188; 7. Laverty 154; 8. Giugliano 153; 9. Elias 151; 10. Haslam 150; 11. Lowes 126; 12. Salom 95; 13. Canepa 54; 14. Guarnoni 41; 15. Camier 37; 16. Barrier 32; 17. Morais 24; 18. Andreozzi 21; 19. Scassa 16; 20. Foret 14; 21. Corti 14; 22. Staring 12; 23. Allerton 6; 24. Bos 5; 25. Goi 5; 26. Russo 5; 27. Rizmayer 3; 28. Pegram 2; 29. Toth 2; 30. Fabrizio 2; 31. Lanusse 1.
Manufacturers: 1. Kawasaki 369; 2. Aprilia 368; 3. Honda 285; 4. Ducati 249; 5. Suzuki 220; 6. BMW 69; 7. MV Agusta 21; 8. EBR