The MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship heads back to Italy, at Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli, for the first of three rounds inside four weeks. The season is moving forward at breakneck pace and mistakes are becoming costlier than ever. Just ask the two championship frontrunners. Before Jerez, there were few visible cracks in Álvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) or Jonathan Rea’s (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) respective armors, as they waltzed onto the rostrum in every single race so far.
But then there was Spain. One rider crashed whilst leading, unopposed; the other was forced into an uncharacteristic mistake that very nearly ruined his weekend. Is the tension of the title race getting to the top men? Or was Jerez a one-off, a two-pronged lightning bolt which won’t strike again? They have both visited Misano more times than they can remember, but then again, that was the case for Jerez too. Continued issues and misfortune for teammates Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) and Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) will be another cause for concern for both teams as we edge closer to do-or-die time.
Either way, Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) was the person who profited the most from the other two’s woes, yet it would be foolish to think that he needed any assistance. The Dutchman was on another level at the Spanish circuit and broke his duck for the year, just over twelve months since his Donington double, by simply riding perfectly all weekend. The YZF R1 itself was also up for the challenge, highlighted by Alex Lowes’ (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) equally admirable pace – unfortunate incidents aside. If the blue bike is capable at last of beating the Ducati and Kawasaki week in, week out… Then who said the fight for the championship will be a two-horse race come Autumn?
Conversely, after Thailand, many thought that the Independent Riders’ championship would be decided between a pair Yamahas, Marco Melandri and Sandro Cortese (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK). It was a bold assumption to make and one that Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) seems committed to proving wrong, as he sits just seven points behind the rider from Ravenna and twelve ahead of the German rookie. After taking third in Imola’s Race 1, the Turkish starlet stated that he needed more podiums. Well, he’s got two now, and we’re just six rounds in. At this rate, Razgatlioglu will be shifting his focus towards a greater goal very soon, perhaps as soon as this weekend.
The fact that it’s a home round for the Puccetti squad may help his case, but in fairness, Misano is a home round for a large share of hungry challengers, including a long-time rival of Razgatlioglu’s: Michael Ruben Rinaldi (BARNI Racing Team). The 23-year-old scored his personal best WorldSBK result in Jerez (4th in Race 2) and is growing each and every race on the V4 R. Squad resources will be split at Misano, however, as Michele Pirro joins Rinaldi inside the BARNI squad. Experience versus youth, national champion versus world stage hopeful – another thrilling duel to look out for in Italy.
And then there’s the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team, who – whisper it – are edging ever closer to the top positions. Jerez was a relatively quiet weekend for Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team), yet that was perhaps more down to other teams’ ups-and-downs and overall chaos than to the Yorkshireman’s performances themselves. In fact, Sykes scored more points than at any other Round this year, a sign that the project is chugging along according to plan. The 2013 World Champion seems happy and with more updates for the S1000 RR potentially arriving in the near future, it may become hard to rub the smile off his face.
BMW have been edging further and further away from Honda in the Manufacturer’s Championship, as the Japanese manufacturer endured a weekend of disappointment in Jerez. With Leon Camier’s (Moriwaki Althea Honda Team) status still uncertain, it could be up to Ryuichi Kiyonari (Moriwaki Althea Honda Team) to once again guide the HRC-backed outfit into the battlefield in search of a breakthrough.
It’s all about to kick off again in Italy! Summer officially starts for our Northern Hemisphere fans on June 21st and so does the Pata Riviera di Rimini Round, with FP1 and FP2 set for Friday. The Tissot Superpole will decide the grid for the next two races in Italy: Race 1 on Saturday 22nd (14:00 local time, GMT+2) and the Tissot Superpole Race on Sunday 23rd (11:00 LT), before Race 2 pulls down the curtain on
With the 2019 FIM Supersport World Championship kicking up another gear at the Circuito de Jerez – Angel Nieto, the title race is well and truly on as Misano beckons in Italy. The Misano World Circuit “Marco Simoncelli” has been a regular fixture on the calendar in the WorldSBK calendar and is steeped in history for WorldSSP, but who will write their name in the record books this time?
Randy Krummenacher’s (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) championship lead was whittled down at Jerez, back to 17 points after finishing second to his ever-improving teammate, Federico Caricasulo. The Swiss rider has never finished on the podium at Misano, having been fifth last season and fourth in 2016. However, he is also yet to finish outside of the top two positions this season; will Krummenacher keep his title lead after the Pata Riviera di Rimini Round?
It was a mesmerizing final two laps that gave Federico Caricasulo (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) a second victory of the 2019 WorldSSP season. The 23-year-old romped home for his second win at the Jerez circuit and will look to repeat that statistic at Misano, a circuit he won at in 2018. With his strong current form and a positive history at Misano, will the title fight continue to swing in the Italian’s favour at his home round?
Back on the podium at Jerez for the first time since he won at Buriram, Jules Cluzel (GMT94 YAMAHA) is back in the title fight, with an inspired ride at the Acerbis Spanish Round. The Frenchman, who currently sits 41 points behind Randy Krummenacher, will need to find his race-winning form if he is to have realistic hopes of clinching that elusive first title. Having won at Misano in 2015 and 2016, the 30-year-old knows what it takes to succeed at the Italian venue.
Once again featuring prominently at the sharp end, Hikari Okubo (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) holds fourth in the championship after a sixth top-ten finish of the season at Jerez. The Japanese sensation arrives at Misano where in 2018, he achieved ninth. Besides a retirement at Losail last season, Okubo has been inside the top ten in every race since then and will look to continue his strong form this weekend. Is a first podium in the offing?
It was another positive showing from Raffaele De Rosa (MV AGUSTA Reparto Corse), as the Italian continues his quest for a first WorldSSP victory. Heading to Misano onboard the MV Agusta, the partisan crowd will be cheering De Rosa on for his first win at a circuit where he was second last year and in Superstock 1000, back in 2015. Will De Rosa deliver the goods at home?
Fighting tooth-and-nail to remain in the championship battle and the battle for his first race win, Thomas Gradinger (Kallio Racing) was back in the leading group last time out at Jerez, finishing fourth. The Austrian rider, who is sixth in the championship, heads to Misano, where he suffered his only DNF of the 2018 WorldSSP season. With just six points covering fourth, to sixth in the standings, it could be all change again after Misano.
Keep an eye on other riders too, starting with 2017 WorldSSP Champion, Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing), who led a race for the first time this season at Jerez. Isaac Viñales’ (Kallio Racing) consistency has kept him in the top eight overall, ahead of Corentin Perolari (GMT94 YAMAHA) and Peter Sebestyen (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda) who secured another top ten at Jerez. Massimo Roccoli (Team Rosso Corsa) is one of eight wildcards in the class.
The WorldSSP300 championship battle is beginning to take shape, with both former champions joining champion-elect Manuel Gonzalez (Kawasaki ParkinGO Team) at the front of the title fight. Jerez proved a pivotal round for the likes of Scott Deroue (Kawasaki MOTOPORT), as he failed to score points, meaning that Gonzalez has momentarily been let off the hook – but Misano always throws up a surprise.
It has been an impressive start to the season for Manuel Gonzalez, who before the start of his 2019 campaign, had never won a WorldSSP300 race. Now with three wins from the opening four races, the 16-year-old heads to Misano, where he picked up his first career podium last year. With this being the fifth round, it is the second half of the season and Gonzalez could certainly put one hand on the championship trophy.
However, that is if everything goes to plan – which in WorldSSP300, is a rarity. Chasing him down in second position is Scott Deroue, with the Dutchman losing lots of ground on Gonzalez after being taken out in the first start of Race 2 at Jerez and not climbing through the order. The Dutchman has a mountain to climb to claw back the lost ground from Jerez but Misano could be the place – although he’s never achieved a podium at the circuit.
A return to the top in Jerez Race 1 for Marc Garcia (DS Junior Team) saw him launch up the order to third in the standings and just six points back of Deroue. The 2017 WorldSSP300 champion finally showed some of his 2017 form at the track which he clinched the championship at. Garcia’s form at Misano isn’t as fruitful, having only managed a sixth in 2017. Can he come good again for a second round running?
Fourth place sees Jan-Ole Jahnig (Freudenberg KTM Junior Team) sitting pretty, with a consistent start to 2019 meaning he remains in contention. The German teenager, who has a best result of third in 2019, will be hoping to get back on the podium for only the second time in his career. He was 20th on the grid at Misano but strong race craft saw him carve his way into eighth.
Completing the top five is French rider Hugo De Cancellis (Team Trasimeno Yamaha), who has also enjoyed a consistent start to the 2019 season, finishing every race in the top eight and with a podium at Aragon. At Misano in 2018, the 17-year-old scored his first points of his career and will be hoping to vastly improve on that in 2019, in a bid to stay in the title fight, with just nine points covering second to fifth.
Keep an eye out for Ana Carrasco (Kawasaki Provec WorldSSP300), as the reigning champion made a return to the podium at Jerez, whilst Galang Hendra Pratama (Semakin Di Depan Biblion Motoxracing) took his best result of the season. Victor Steeman (Freudenberg KTM Junior Team) was in the leading battle at Jerez, whilst the winner of the 2018 race at Misano, Manuel Bastianelli (Prodina IRCOS Kawasaki), will look to do it all again. There’s plenty of wildcards to keep an eye out for too, with six in the WorldSSP300 class.
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