WorldSBK heads to newly built South American track
Built in the province of San Juan, in the Cuyo region at the foot of the Andes mountains the new circuit El Villicum is not far from the border with Chile. The San Juan El Villicum circuit, created by Argentine designer Leonardo Stella, presents a 4267 metres layout and a width of 16 metres with 19 curves, eighy right handers and 11 left. The start/finish straight measures more than one kilometre even if the longest straight, where the riders will reach significant speeds, is the one between the curves 7 and 8. The circuit is counterclockwise.
The province of San Juan, where the circuit is located, is in fact at the foot of the Andes at an altitude of about 650 metres above sea level and is subject to a large temperature range between the early hours of the morning and the late afternoon, so having tyres in different compounds is of fundamental importance.
Heading to the Circuito San Juan Villicum for the first time, the WSBK runner-up position still remains in contention. The brand new circuit brings new battles, with 2018 World Champion Jonathan Rea on a winning streak of eight in a row and sure to be on form.
“I am really excited; firstly to go to a new track and to visit South America for the first time. It is great for the championship and also really nice to visit a new country with WorldSBK. Of course, since Magny Cours I have not had much time to digest winning the championship but I am extremely happy and proud of our efforts to date this season. But the season is not over and we are going to attack this race weekend like any other. We will try to put celebrations on ice until the end of the season. We won’t have too much set-up data this weekend so we will start FP1 with a blank sheet of paper. Fortunately our Ninja ZX-10RR has a great base setting so it is up to me to learn the track fast, and hopefully enjoy it. I am looking forward to meeting all the Argentinean fans.”
Still riding injured, Chaz Davies put in a sensational performance to take a podium last time out in France, pushing through the pain barrier to secure second position after an early race hussle. With even more time to rest before heading to Argentina, the British rider will once again have his eyes on the runner up spot in the championship, and the left handed nature of the new Circuito San Juan Villicum will only play into his hands. If Davies takes a podium finish, he will secure the 888th rostrum finish for Ducati in WorldSBK, or will it be team-mate Marco Melandri who takes that milestone?
Heating up the battle out on track is Michael van der Mark, as the Dutchman is the man hoping to stop Davies taking the overall runner up spot. Sitting 26 points behind Davies with four races to go and 100 points on the table, van der Mark has his eyes on another victory this season. Taking four podiums from the last five races, the Dutchman is preparing to put up a strong fight.
Continuing to struggle with the rear grip issues thought solved mid-season, Eugene Laverty and his Milwaukee Aprilia team will be hoping to end the season on a high. Despite some strong lap times in Superpole, Laverty and his British-based team are still searching for the solution throughout the race. One of the few riders to have raced in Argentina before – at Autodromo Termas de Rio Hondo – and winning the first ever race at Istanbul Park in 2013, the Irishman has a good history at new tracks and will be hoping it will be the same five years on.
Leon Camier continues to struggle with his CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2, after a tough round last time out in France. With two top 11 finishes around Magny-Cours, the British rider will be hoping to find the pace he had back in Thailand or more recently at the four day Portimao test. Heading into unknown territory, the even ground might come as a help not a hinderance to the Red Bull squad, with team-mate Jake Gagne continuing to learn the tracks on the calendar.
Fresh off the back of a tough weekend at his home track of Magny-Cours, Loris Baz took home two top ten finishes as the European season came to a close and will be hoping for improvements in Argentina. Heading to South America on even footing with the rest of the field, the tall Frenchman will be the third rider on the grid who has raced in Argentina before, so the experience won’t fully be a new one.
Three new faces will be welcomed onto the WorldSBK grid in Argentina as Maximilian Scheib steps in as a replacement for Jordi Torres at MV Agusta Reparto Corse, whilst Gabriele Ruiu takes on the Team Pedercini Racing Kawasaki in place of Yonny Hernandez and Florian Marino will don the TripleM Honda World Superbike Team leathers, in place of PJ Jacobsen.
Scheib is a race winner from the European Superstock 1000 Championship, finishing runner up this season and will be racing on his home continent as he hails from Chile in South America.
18 year old Ruiu has been impressing in STK1000 with top eight finishes this season, and sticking with the same team he will already be comfortable in his surroundings. Frenchman Marino is a consistent top six finisher in STK1000 and brings vast amounts of experience.
WorldSBK Standings after Round 11
- Jonathan Rea 470
- Chaz Davies 335
- Michael Van Der Mark 309
- Tom Sykes 273
- Marco Melandri 250
- Alex Lowes 213
- Xavi Fores 194
- Eugene Laverty 134
- Lorenzo Savadori 125
- Toprak Razgatlioglu 120
In one of the most anticipated battles out on track each weekend, the FIM Supersport World Championship is preparing for the penultimate round of the season at Circuito San Juan Villicum, and with the first chance for the title to be won, there’s a lot on the line. But as they head into the unknown at the new 4.2km circuit, the warriors are heading in on an even battleground and it could be even more unpredictable than ever.
For main title protagonist Sandro Cortese a new track will put him on equal footing to his rivals, as he has spent the season learning new tracks in his rookie year. With an 11 point lead in the standings, a win with Jules Cluzel finishing in sixth would be enough for him to secure the title, but a lot needs to happen before the German can get to that point. Unable to match the pace of Cluzel in France, Cortese’s six podiums and two wins will stand him in a strong position for a fight in Argentina.
Heading back from his home round on a high, Jules Cluzel was on sensational form at Magny-Cours and still has the title in his sights. Heading into the penultimate round of the season as determined as ever, the Frenchman has had a turbulent season but has taken six podiums and four wins so far. Facing a new challenge in Argentina, he will have the title in the back of his mind throughout.
Third in the championship standings, Randy Krummenacher was strong in the last flyaway round of the season – winning the Thai race. But the visits to Europe have been a struggle for the Swiss rider, as he last finished on the podium at TT Circuit Assen back in May. With a string of top five finishes, he has always been close to the top, but has missed that final stretch. Looking for redemption this season, he is still in with a shout for the crown and could throw up some surprises.
Following a recent surge in form, Federico Caricasulo has been able to take two back to back wins in WorldSSP, but faced heartbreak in France. Crashing on the final lap after an overtake from his team-mate, he was able to re-join and take 13 thposition in the race, which keeps him in the championship battle. Heading into the unknown, he will be out to regain his form after a difficult final European Round.
WorldSSP Championship Standings
- Sandro Cortese 169 Yamaha
- Jules Cluzel 158 Yamaha
- Randy Krummenacher 140 Yamaha
- Federico Caricasulo 132 Yamaha
- Raffaele De Rosa 128 MV Agusta
- Lucas Mahias 119 Yamaha
- Kyle Smith 67 Honda
- Thomas Gradinger 61 Yamaha
- Luke Stapleford 53 Yamaha
- Anthony West 51 Kawasaki