Imola again the decider in 2010's penultimate WSBK round? The hectic and always entertaining 2010 HANNspree FIM Superbike World Championship enters its final two race weekends of the year this week, with the penultimate round about to...
Imola again the decider in 2010's penultimate WSBK round?
The hectic and always entertaining 2010 HANNspree FIM Superbike World Championship enters its final two race weekends of the year this week, with the penultimate round about to take place at the classic Italian venue of Imola, between 24 and 26 September and the final round held one week later at Magny-Cours on 3 October. Imola is a crucial event for all the riders to get into position to achieve their ultimate 2010 season ambitions.
For long-time championship leader Max Biaggi (Aprilia Alitalia) Imola could well present his personal goal to him one round early, as he arrives at his third home round of the 2010 season with a handsome lead of 58 points over Leon Haslam (Suzuki Alstare). Should Biaggi finish race two at Imola with 50 points or more of an advantage over Haslam, the championship will be decided with one round to go. Currently Biaggi has scored nine race wins to Haslam's three.
In third place in the rankings, Jonathan Rea (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) cannot catch Biaggi, but he has already overhauled Haslam's win total, having secured four victories, his most recent in Germany in round ten.
Carlos Checa (Althea Racing Ducati) is now looking to defend his current fourth place in the championship, after the fabulous recent run put in by double Silverstone race winner, Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha Sterilgarda). Noriyuki Haga (Ducati Xerox) made a resurgent push to the top step of the podium in Germany earlier this month, and he sits sixth in the overall rankings. Between Checa in fourth and Haga in sixth, there are only 22 points, and behind Haga, James Toseland (Yamaha Sterilgarda) is only 15 points adrift. Toseland is looking for his first win for Yamaha, but has four podiums so far, the last coming at Monza.
Sylvain Guintoli (Suzuki Alstare) has found a rich seam of form recently but a first podium in WSBK racing has eluded him so far. Leon Camier (Aprilia Alitalia) is currently ninth, having missed the previous round through a wrist injury. He hopes to be declared fit for the final two rounds of the season. Michel Fabrizio (Ducati Xerox) is tenth and Troy Corser (BMW Motorrad Motorsport) is 11th, but the latter is only a single point behind Fabrizio with four races to go. Shane Byrne (Althea Ducati) sits 12th and is the last rider with over 100 points to his credit, and he lags Corser by 23 points.
Ruben Xaus (BMW Motorrad Motorsport) is a former Imola winner with lots of motivation to succeed, as he is still looking for his first podium of 2010. He is also trying to hold off the push from privateer Aprilia rider, Jakub Smrz (PATA B&G Aprilia) and the steadily improving factory Kawasaki of Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team). Once more Sykes will be joined by substitute rider Ian Lowry, standing-in for the injured Chris Vermeulen.
Luca Scassa (Supersonic Team) and Lorenzo Lanzi (DFX Corse Ducati) will be running a home race for themselves and their teams, as Max Neukirchner (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) returns to the scene of a heavy accident he suffered in testing at Imola last year.
Pedercini Kawasaki team-mates Roger Lee Hayden and Matteo Baiocco are hoping to make a big impression at their team's final home round, as Fabrizio Lai (ECHO CRS Honda) has his second taste of Superbike power at his home round.
Another intense season in the Supersport World Championship class will culminate with Kenan Sofuoglu (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) and Eugene Laverty (Parkalgar Honda) fighting it out for the title over the next two rounds. Crucially for Laverty, the exclusion of Gino Rea (Intermoto Czech Honda) from the previous round means the points gap up to Sofuoglu is now 12 points. Therefore, the incredibly fast and consistent Sofuoglu need only follow Laverty home - even if the Irish rider wins both remaining races - to be crowned champion again. If ParkinGO Triumph BE-1 rider Chaz Davies finishes even third in each remaining race he will just overhaul Joan Lascorz (Kawasaki Motocard.com) for third place, by a single point. The injured Lascorz will not be racing at either of the final rounds, as he continues his recovery from a big crash at Silverstone. David Salom went past Robbin Harms (Harms Benjan Racing Honda) to take fifth place overall last race weekend, with Rea just behind those two and Michele Pirro (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) eighth, ahead of the resurgent Fabien Foret (Lorenzini by Leoni Kawasaki) and Triumph rider Matthieu Lagrive.
Ayrton Badovini (BMW Motorrad Italia STK) has been utterly perfect on every raceday so far in the Superstock class, winning all eight races and taking the championship title with two rounds ago. Maxime Berger (Ten Kate Racing Junior Honda) is second, Michele Magnoni (Bevilacqua Corse Honda) still a battling third, Andrea Antonelli (Team Lorini Honda) fourth. The fight for second is still very much on, with only 17 points covering the riders behind Badovini. Davide Giugliano (Team06 Suzuki) is six points ahead of Loris Baz (MRS Yamaha).
Only bad luck will deprive Jeremy Guarnoni (MRS Racing Yamaha) of the 600 class Superstock title in 2010, as Florian Marino (Ten Kate Junior Racing Honda) is now 43 points off the lead, meaning Guarnoni only has to score seven points in the final two rounds to secure the title. Berardino Lombardi (Martini Corse Yamaha) is third, with Federico D'Annunzio (Martini Corse Yamaha) just behind.
FIM E-Power International Championship
Imola hosts an innovative FIM E-Power International Championship race this weekend, the final round of the 2010 championship following outings at Le Mans, Albacete, laguna Seca and Magny-Cours. The class is designed for electrically powered machines, and has been instigated to -- literally -- speed up development of environmentally-friendly electric vehicles via the medium that always pushed the bounds of motorcycle technology, racing. Current leader is Thomas Betti (Betti Moto) from Italy, 13 points in front of Belgium's Thijs de Ridder (Crystalyte Europe).
At almost 5 km long the Enzo e Dino Ferrari circuit is nothing short of an asphalt rollercoaster, a true test of a rider's commitment and skill at a track where any competitive machine should feature a wide-ranging balance of attributes. The uphill sections need a strong engine, the constant changes of elevation require good bike balance, and manoeuvrability at high and low speed is also required, as Imola provides huge contrasts along its 4.936km length. I features both ultra-fast curves (like Piratella) and slow chicanes (like the Variante Alta) while the track surface is also a mix of relatively smooth and bumpier areas