WorldSBK, Misano Preview: Superbikes, Supersport & Superstock 1000
Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli lies on the Riviera di Rimini in Italy, surrounded by the beaches of the glittering blue Adriatic coast. Now renamed in honour of fallen local hero and former 250 World Champion Marco Simoncelli, the circuit was remodeled in 2006 and the layout now winds clockwise around its 4km length, through the 10 turns before the final Misano corner that leads back onto the sun-bleached start-finish straight.
In 2015, the Italian track saw KRT pairing Tom Sykes and Jonathan Rea split the wins down the middle, with Sykes victorious in the first and Rea in the second. The year before saw Sykes do the double, giving the man with 3 wins from the last 4 Races in 2016 good reason to be confident ahead of Round 8. With a full fifty points from Donington, Sykes is now the chaser on his teammate’s tail too, having overtaken Chaz Davies in the fight for P2 in the title. The Yorkshireman has momentum on his side.
Chaz Davies heads back to Ducati homeland after two rockier Rounds since he took an impressive and decisive double at Imola. With a DNF in Donington Race 1 and a P4 in Sepang Race 2, the Welshman’s deficit to leader Jonathan Rea went from falling to once again looking like a difficult mountain to climb. The Ducati is a machine to be reckoned with however, and the leaps forward in development for the homecoming marque mean Davies cannot be discounted anywhere. One of the most impressive performers on the grid this season, Chaz may need to take more chances to bridge the gap to Rea – but he may also be willing and able to pull them off.
Davide Giugliano is another man flying the home flag at Misano, not only for himself in his home nation but for his Aruba.it Racing – Ducati team. After a more difficult few Rounds, in Malaysia and Donington the Italian came back with a bang, proving a real challenger for victories with pace to match and rival that of British teammate Davies. With a new setup and more confidence, Giugliano will be ready to push when back on home soil on the Adriatic Coast.
Pata Yamaha are another party with a vested home interest in Misano success, with title sponsors Pata looking for glory in their home country. After a few difficult races marred by injuries for both Alex Lowes and Sylvain Guintoli, the Pirelli Riviera di Rimini Round sees Lowes back on track and hoping to be back up in the hunt; the Brit has already tested at Misano ahead of the Round as he pushes through the pain barrier after his collarbone-breaking crash in Sepang. Teammate 2014 Champion Guintoli, after a highside crash in Imola, has a longer window of recovery and will be at Misano to support his team, but won’t yet be back on track.
Honda World Superbike Team’s Nicky Hayden will be another force to be reckoned with. A first podium in Assen was soon followed by his first victory in Sepang, and the veteran American legend also counts on a legion of experience at Misano World Circuit. His teammate Michael van der Mark is another rider who has scores to settle not with the Italian track but with the record books, as the Dutch podium-contender chases his first victory and takes on Davide Giugliano in the quest to be the first of the next first time winners.
Althea BMW head to their home track as top BMW team looking to bounce back from a difficult Donington, as rivals MV Agusta and IodaRacing Aprilia instead look to build on their UK results. With both MV Agusta and compatriot rivals Aprilia heading back home in the wake of results to have equaled their season bests – with Leon Camier and Lorenzo Savadori respectively – the fight in the top ten will as always be close. After many teams having taken the opportunity to test at Misano ahead of Round 8, some could find the odds changed somewhat in their favour as the battle to catch Kawasaki and Ducati rages on.
As the odds change behind him, the man with no need for loaded dice at Misano undoubtedly remains Jonathan Rea. On the podium in every Race and with 5 wins by the halfway point, the Northern Irishman may not count on the same steamrollering momentum as he did in 2015, but his advantage is such that he can afford to keep one eye on the long game as one podium leads to another. Points are what is counted towards titles, and Rea always scores big whilst his rivals keep increasing their bets. The reigning Champion holds.
Make sure to catch both WorldSBK Misano Races at 13:00 local time (GMT +2) on the 18th and 19th June, as the Riviera di Rimini hosts the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship for another high octane weekend of racing.
Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli is the venue for Round 8 of the 2016 season, and Italy awaits with open arms as the WorldSBK paddock pays its second visit to the famous track. But gelato and pasta on the Adriatic is the furthest from what the grid ordered, with the points leaders in the 2016 Championship hungry only for the victory – and the points.
Kawasaki Puccetti Racing duo Kenan Sofuoglu – reigning Champion – and Randy Krummenacher – rookie – are the two men to beat in WorldSSP running up to the Pirelli Riviera di Rimini Round. Title defender Sofuoglu once again heads the points table, and rookie Krummenacher is the first chaser in the fight to catch the Turk. In 2015, Sofuoglu was on the way to a podium finish, before succumbing to the pressure and seeing a third place slip away, meaning the reigning Champion has scores to settle with Misano World Circuit. That could prove motivation more than nerves for the Turk, as the most successful rider in Supersport history does not count on many tracks on which a big haul of points have escaped him.
Krummenacher may be a WorldSSP rookie, but the Swiss rider is in fact the most experienced in the field when it comes to Misano. After a long history in the Grand Prix paddock, the man who currently sits P2 has experienced some of his best results in the World Championship at the Italian track, including a rookie P6 in 2007 in the 125 World Championship. With a good feeling with the bike and hopes that the normally glistening sun of the Adriatic will greet the WorldSBK paddock, Krummenacher may prove the man to beat.
Last year’s victor at Misano was Jules Cluzel. Taking a commanding victory from pole position, the French Supersport veteran gained a big margin on Sofuoglu in the title and again proved his skill on his MV Agusta. Despite the bike having had to adjust more than some of its contemporaries to the new technical regulations introduced for 2016, the MV is now back up at the front and a consistent challenger once again. Cluzel, although back on the grid and already a winner in 2016, is still suffering effects from his season-ending crash in Jerez in 2015 and will need to call on the mental strength that has seen him able to return if he is to fight once again for another win. Having shown both the will and ability however, his record at Misano alone is enough for his rivals to ill afford being able to count him out, with two victories in the last two years at the track.
Honda World Supersport Team rider PJ Jacobsen is another man with a good record at Misano, having climbed on the podium in the last two Race weekends on the Adriatic coast. After a bumpier start to the season and some costly losses of points, American Jacobsen is now on a good roll of momentum as the second half of the year begins, with podium finishes more often than not. Last time out in Donington saw the number 2 bike move up into the top 3 in the title too, as Jacobsen held off Krummenacher to cross the line in second on race day. Going one better for the first time this season will be the goal, with a track he likes and a bike that is working well, and the American will be pushing hard to start cutting the gap at the top of the table.
Veteran Alex Baldolini, rookie Federico Caricasulo and Sepang winner Ayrton Badovini will be the riders leading the home charge in Italy, taking on their international rivals and each other for home glory. Lorenzo Zanetti, Jules Cluzel’s MV Agusta Reparto Corse teammate, could also be one to watch as the race winner tries to bounce back from a difficult start to the season. The FIM Europe Supersport Cup charge will be led by another local – Alessandro Zaccone – as the young Italian continues to impress and top the category for his San Carlo Team Italia squad, and sits 14th overall in the broader WorldSSP ranking – one place ahead of his teammate and compatriot Axel Bassani.
Young guns and experienced hands are sure to attack Misano World Circuit in much the same way as the riders battle for position at a track well known to many, and WorldSSP begins practice on Friday 17th June ahead of the Race at 11:20am (GMT +2) on Sunday 19th, for Round 8 of the 2016 season.
Italy’s Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli, set to stage the Riviera di Rimini Round of the 2016 season, has welcomed the FIM Superstock 1000 Cup every year bar one since the category was inaugurated in 1999. Only the historic and legendary TT Circuit Assen has hosted more STK1000 races than Misano, which will stage its 17th this weekend.
It all started in 1999, as Italian Ivan Sala won at Misano on only his second outing in the class (it would also prove to be his last), while Lorenzo Savadori has been the man to beat in recent times with two wins in the last two years. The popular venue has become known as a traditional mid-season stop-off, almost always hosting its race in June; the only exception to this was the April gathering of 2004 – only the second of the campaign that year – while the track did not feature on the schedule at all in 2013.
The 2016 season is proving to be fervently contested. To date there have been four races, four different riders on pole position and as many riders have led races. However, the wins have been equally divided between two names: Leandro ‘Tati’ Mercado and Raffaele de Rosa. The former was the Cup title winner in 2014, while the latter is the man with the momentum as he enjoys a string of nine consecutive podium finishes dating back to the Donington Park race of May 2015. Italy’s De Rosa (Althea BMW Racing Team) has a five-point advantage over Argentina’s Mercado (Aruba.it Racing – Junior Team) while Michael Ruben Rinaldi is 35 points behind De Rosa but engaged in closely-fought combat with Kevin Calia for third overall.
Suprisingly, De Rosa is the oldest rider to have raced in the class so far this season, at the age of 29. At Misano, he will also be joined by a couple of fellow Italians serving as wildcard riders: Matteo Ferrari (DMR Racing Team) will race for the second time this season following his Imola appearance, while Fabio Marchionni (Speed Action) will start his fourth race in the category but his first in 2016; both riders are racing in the Italian Supersport Championship this year. Elsewhere, Lucas Mahias hopes to rejoin Donington podium finisher Niccolo Canepa in the PATA Yamaha Official Stock Team, after the Frenchman was declared unfit in the UK.
Once again, there is movement up and down the grid. At Berclaz Racing by MotoXracing, Tiziano Amicucci has been named as a permanent replacement for Marco Sbaiz, who in-turn takes the ride of Alessandro Simoneschi at BWG Racing.
Superstock 1000’s opening Free Practice at Misano will commence at 09:15 local time (GMT +2) on Friday, with the race following at 14:20 on Sunday afternoon.