It’s time for the MOTUL FIM Superbike Championship to head to the final European Round of the season, and it could be time to see Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) wrap up his fourth world title. Heading to the historic Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours, the 4.4km track already holds a lot of history for Rea and could be the setting of even more. But is also a strong track for many of his rivals and it won’t be an easy ride, it will be a round to remember.
Gunning for the title this weekend, Rea can become the 2018 world champion on Saturday under a few circumstances; one of which seeing him win the race and Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) finishing in third. The Northern Irishman has a long history of racing in France, with seven podiums to his name – three of which he has stood on the top step. Riding at one with his ZX-10RR, Rea is seemingly on rails and at his most comfortable with the bike, so it will take a lot to stop him on Saturday. 2017 saw him win race one and finish off the podium in race two, what will 2018 bring?
The man standing in Rea’s way is Chaz Davies, who is still riding injured after he sustained a collarbone injury over the summer break. Putting on a superhuman performance last time out in Portugal to secure two fourth positions, it will be a big battle for him in France. But with the added rest, it won’t be a surprise to see him fighting at the sharp end this weekend. The 31 year old has a littered record in France, but with three wins in the last four races held here, he will be out to stop Rea taking the title.
Mathematically in with a chance of stopping Rea this weekend, Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) could affect his title chances. The young Dutchman has had an impressive second season with his Yamaha team, and heads to a circuit which holds some special memories. But the only thing on van der Mark’s mind will be securing second position in the world championship standings. Pulling 10 points on Davies in Portugal, he sits 20 points off the runner-up spot, so with consistency in the final three rounds, it might not be so out of reach.
It’s set to be a homecoming for Frenchman Loris Baz (GULF Althea BMW Racing Team) as he will make his first appearance around Magny-Cours for the first time since 2014. Competing in four WorldSBK races here in the past, he has a top five finish to his name and will be hoping to repeat that this weekend. Gradually making steps with his BMW, his return to WorldSBK has been a steady one but with the boost of the home support, he will be worth keeping an eye on.
Fresh off the back of a tough round for the Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team in Portugal, there was one man in the garage who was happier, as Jake Gagne put in a strong performance at a circuit he had four days testing around. Returning to Magny-Cours this weekend, it will be interesting to see how the American performs. Racing here last season in only his second race in WorldSBK; the knowledge of the track will help him to improve his pace with the CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2. A 12th position here in 2017, and two top 13’s in Portugal puts him in a strong position this weekend.
Poleman from Portugal, Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) suffered even more bad luck throughout the weekend at a track he is so familiar with. Starting from pole after a sensational lap, he was then taken out on the opening lap of race one and struggled with tyres in race two. But putting this behind him, the Irish rider heads to France hoping to put on strong show for the final European round of the season. Out of ten race starts at Magny-Cours, Laverty has taken three podium finishes and a top six last year. Continuing to search for the rear feeling they secured in America, it will be another busy weekend for Laverty.
Jordi Torres (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) has become a busy man in recent weeks, with the Spaniard stepping in for Tito Rabat over in MotoGP™, meaning he went straight from Portugal to the Aragon GP, before then coming back to France. It was a positive round last time out for Torres, who made some big steps in the official test with his team, and he put in some strong performances. Struggling to get above the top 8 in France in the past, it’s been a strong circuit for his team – who secured top sixes last season – so he will be pulling out all the stops this weekend.
Don’t miss out on history in the making at the Acerbis French Round from 28th – 30th October, with FP1 kicking off at 09.45LT (+1 GMT), before Superpole action on Saturday at 10.30. All eyes will be on race one at 13.00LT on Saturday, as Sunday’s revised schedule welcomes race two as the final race of the day once again at 15.15LT.
The FIM Supersport World Championship is renowned for its sensational racing and high levels of drama, but no one could have predicted what would happen last time out in Portugal. From the outside, it seems that Federico Caricasulo (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) took his second consecutive victory and his championship rivals had a tough race, but that was far from the case. Now heading to France for the final European round of the season there is a lot on the line for the top six championship fighters, and the battle will be one worth watching.
Sensational rookie Sandro Cortese (Kallio Racing) now has a 16 point lead in the standings after a heroic comeback in Portugal. Coming together with his main title rival Jules Cluzel (NRT) on the opening lap of the race, the fight was on as he got back on his Yamaha and fought through the field to redeem as many points as possible. With a sensational display of racing action, the German rider was able to get up to sixth position over 15 laps, but took fifth in the overall result. Now heading to another unknown circuit, will he keep a calm head? It remains to be seen.
Putting the championship fight to the back of his mind, Cluzel is still suffering heartbreak from Portugal as he was unable to rejoin the race after being the victim of a crash with Cortese. Losing a handful of points on Cortese, which is pivotal at this time of the year, he will head to his home round with winning on his mind. Out of four WorldSSP appearances here in Magny-Cours, the Frenchman has won three times meaning he will certainly be the main target this season. But keeping a cool head will be key to a strong weekend.
After a steady start to the season, the GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team have catapulted to the front of the field in recent races. Caricasulo is fresh off the back of two back to back race wins and is now well and truly back in the championship fight – 20 points off the top. But the Italian has a lot of work to do if he wants to get the title, and with a sixth and a second position secured at Magny in the past, he will be searching for those final updates.
Whilst on the other side of the garage, Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) experienced heartache in Portugal as he led his first race since Imola and was showing everyone he was back to his best. But tyre woes forced him to end his race one lap early, and the reigning champion thought his race was run. But he was thrown a final lifeline as a red flag on the final lap meant he had the chance to get back to pit lane before the five minute time limit and take the win. In a sensational lap, heartbreak fell on the team as he cut the final corner of the lap, meaning he was ruled him out of contention and therefore meant he scored no points. With a third and a fourth secured in front of his home fans in the past, he will certainly be out for revenge with the support of the French behind him.
Whilst Rafaelle de Rosa (MV Agusta Reparto Corse by Vamag) continues to put on a sensational show for the Italian manufacturer, taking his sixth podium finish in a row but still missing out on that fight for the win. Despite a tough record in France in the past, he will be searching for the seventh podium in a row.
Follow all the sensational WorldSSP action from Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours from 28th – 30th September with the build up throughout the weekend, ahead of the race kicking off at 13.45LT on Sunday.
The Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours hosts the grand finale to this season’s FIM Supersport 300 World Championship after what has been a tantalizingly close championship race, ending with four riders eligible to take the title. In the seven previous races we’ve had six different race winners and thirteen riders on the podium. Most importantly, four of those riders can still take the title back home in what promises to be twelve laps of nerve wrenching excitement.
Ana Carrasco (DS Junior Team) remains in control of the championship standings with a ten point advantage, however that same lead has shrunk after every round since her extraordinary Donington Park win. The Spanish rider missed a first chance to write her name in the history books at Portimao, where she could only cross the line in eleventh position (reviewed to tenth after Sanchez’s penalty). Third time lucky will not be an option for Carrasco: it’s all or nothing at Magny-Cours for the WorldSSP300 trailblazer.
Few riders left Algarve happier than Scott Deroue (Motoport Kawasaki) and fewer still with as much momentum. After a string of bad results and awful luck, the Nolan Portuguese Round seemed to mark a change in fortunes for the Dutchman: he dominated proceedings at Portimao and stands just ten points behind Carrasco. Last season his title challenge fell apart at Magny-Cours – will the 2018 Acerbis French Round bring redemption for Deroue?
Mika Pérez (Kawasaki ParkinGO Team) is yet to win a race this season, yet through sheer perseverance and showing the consistency of a champion he finds himself eighteen points behind Carrasco with one round to go. He’s finished second in the last two races and whilst his options are slim, have no doubt that the youngest of the four contenders will give it his all until the checkered flag.
Fourth in the title chase is Luca Grunwald (Freudenberg KTM WorldSSP Team), 22 points behind the leader. The KTM rider was unfortunate at Portimao, crashing in the final laps following an incident with another rider and leaving the seventh round of the season with no points, after battling inside the front group. It might take a minor miracle now for the German to win the championship, but if we know one thing for certain it’s that nothing is certain in WorldSSP300 until the checkered flag comes down.
Find out who can take the crown at 12.40LT (+1 GMT), and enjoy the 12 lap thriller from Magny-Cours.
Seven down, one to go: the 2018 season of the European Superstock 1000 Championship faces its last stop at the Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours with three riders still alive in the title hunt. Just like last year it will all come down to the final turns: who will leave France as the new European champion?
Markus Reiterberger (alpha Racing-Van Zon-BMW) has led the championship since day one: from Free Practice at MotorLand Aragon to this day, the German has been an unstoppable force in STK1000, leading the standings and showing every weekend the qualities of a true champion. Yet the title is still not his to keep: third place last round at Portimao means that he still needs seven points to secure the title win, one which seemed all but ensured. One single faux pas after an impeccable season, and Reiterberger will be at the expense of what his two main rivals do in France.
At Portimao, Roberto Tamburini (Berclaz Racing) not only won his first STK1000 race in three years, he also kept his title chase alive against all odds. The 27 year old sits 18 points behind his fellow BMW rider in the standings – anything other than first or second would not be enough for Tamburini, and even then he depends on Reiterberger’s performance. Nonetheless, the Italian has hit form at just the right time: do not count him out just yet.
Out of the three title contenders, Maximilian Scheib (Aprilia Racing Team) suffered the most at Portimao, crossing the finish line in fifth position and losing ground with Reiterberger. The Chilean now faces the final round 19 points behind the leader and one behind Tamburini and faces an uphill battle for Magny-Cours. Considering the grit Scheib has shown this season however, expect him to give it his all right until the checkered flag drops.
Several riders will also travel to Magny-Cours with a point to prove, determined to be more than an afterthought to the title race. Federico Sandi (MOTOCORSA Racing), Florian Marino (URBIS Yamaha Motoxracing STK Team) and Alessandro Delbianco (GULF ALTHEA BMW Racing Team) have all managed podium finishes this year and will undoubtedly play an important part in the season’s denouement.
The European Superstock 1000 Championship race kicks off the day’s action at Magny-Cours, as the lights go out at 11.40LT (+1 GMT) and it won’t be one to miss!
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