America the halfway point of the 2010 World Superbike Season The HANNspree FIM Superbike World Championship will soon arrive at the Miller Motorsports Park in Utah, USA, for its annual American adventure. This year the meeting will be unique as...
America the halfway point of the 2010 World Superbike Season
The HANNspree FIM Superbike World Championship will soon arrive at the Miller Motorsports Park in Utah, USA, for its annual American adventure. This year the meeting will be unique as raceday takes place on Monday May 31st - the Memorial Day Holiday - rather than the usual Sunday, with first practice on Saturday 29th and Superpole qualifying on Sunday 30th. As round seven of a 13 round season, Miller will be the halfway point for what has already been a thrilling period of competition in the Superbike class. Once again the Supersport World Championship will run alongside the bigger bikes when action gets going on Saturday.
Seven different manufacturers will once more be represented by official teams this coming race, with several other top-flight privateers also capable of race wins, in what is turning out to be an intensely competitive season. From double World Champions like Troy Corser and James Toseland to complete rookies in the class like American Roger Lee Hayden, World Superbike in 2010 is a massive melting pot of rider experience and machinery, making predictions about possible winners a difficult business week-to-week. So far six riders have won races in 2010, and few think that total will not increase before the end of the year. At Miller, a track virtually no one has tested at or ridden on since last year's race, the uncertainty about who will be in a position to win come raceday is all the more intense.
At the top of the World Championship fight since the first round, Leon Haslam (Suzuki Alstare) reasserted his victorious pace in South Africa during round six, winning race two after fighting to a podium finish in race one. He extended his lead over Max Biaggi (Aprilia Alitalia) to 15 points in the process. Double race winner at Assen, Jonathan Rea (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) and Phillip Island race winner Carlos Checa (Althea Ducati) are third and fourth now on identical points scores. Checa is the only current WSB rider to taste victory at Miller, scoring a double when he was a Honda rider in 2008.
We had a new 2010 race winner at Kyalami, Michel Fabrizio for Ducati Xerox, while Noriyuki Haga (Ducati Xerox) is looking to get back to his best, having won in Valencia but still struggling by his own high standards elsewhere. Currently Haga is sixth and Fabrizio eighth overall. All the Ducati riders will have a three kilogramme weight reduction to their machines from the Miller round onwards, after a recent change in the balancing rules between the 1200cc twins and the 1000cc four-cylinder machines.
It can surely only be a matter of time before James Toseland (Yamaha Sterilgarda) and his team-mate Cal Crutchlow take their first wins of 2010, as each has scored more than one podium already. They sit fifth and ninth respectively. Toseland being in that position means that there are five different manufacturers' machinery inside the top five places - Suzuki, Aprilia, Honda, Ducati and Yamaha. Two Aprilia Alitalia machines feature in the top ten, with full season rookie Leon Camier having already scored a podium on his way to a current ranking of tenth.
The BMW Motorrad Motorsport team, led by riders Troy Corser and Ruben Xaus, has already had a 2010 podium finish for Corser to celebrate, at Monza, as they work their way to full competitiveness. Kawasaki Racing Team riders Tom Sykes and Chris Vermeulen are working hard on getting further up the leader board, with a fifth place for Sykes at Monza the high water mark so far.
Many other top name regulars are fired up for Miller, including Sylvain Guintoli (Suzuki Alstare), Max Neukirchner (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda), Shane Byrne (Althea Ducati), Jakub Smrz (Pata B&G Ducati), Luca Scassa (Supersonic), ECHO CRS Honda rider Broc Parkes, plus Roger Lee Hayden and Matteo Baiocco (both Pedercini Kawasaki).
In the Supersport World Championship a whole five points separate leading trio Kenan Sofuoglu (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda), Eugene Laverty (Parkalgar Honda) and Joan Lascorz (Kawasaki Motocard.com) on the eve of the Miller race weekend. Despite having won four races so far, Laverty finds himself second in the rankings, with Sofuoglu leading by one point only. Both Sofuoglu and Lascorz have won a race apiece in 2010, while last year Sofuoglu won the Miller round of the series. ParkinGO Triumph BE-1 rider Chaz Davies has scored two podiums this year, in Spain and South Africa, helping put him fourth; one place up on his team-mate David Salom. No fewer than five home-grown wildcard or one-event riders will be present at the Miller round; Melissa Paris (who raced here last year), Tyler Odom, Dylon Husband, Chip Yates and Jason Farrell.
THE CIRCUIT: Miller Motorsports Park is a fascinating venue, built near Salt Lake City in the high desert of Utah. It should be completely flat in layout, but in fact there were several points of elevation built into its original design, making it a real challenge for riders in all classes. The 4.907km track skirts around the perimeter of the facility for the World Superbike meeting, but nonetheless it is one of the longer circuits on the 2010 calendar.
Miller is, like Kyalami last time out, a high altitude circuit (elevation 1341m) which means the awesome WSBK machines will be down on power in the thin air of the Utah plains. This is the third visit of World Superbike to Miller in three years, and Miller is the most recent of three American venues to host World Superbike racing.
Note to Editors: Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May (May 31 in 2010). Formerly known as Decoration Day, it commemorates US men and women who died while in the military service. During the Lucas Oil Utah USA Round of the FIM Superbike World Championship presented by HANNspree, Miller Motorsports Park is expanding upon that theme to also honour all active-duty and veteran military personnel, as well as civilian-service personnel such as policemen, firemen, paramedics and teachers, who serve and protect American communities. There will be a significant display of military exhibits and hardware, a Tribute Field of 2,010 American flags erected in the track's infield and military flyovers during opening ceremonies on both Sunday and Monday.