Aragon beckons WorldSBK 2018

Three different winners from four races have treated us to sensational MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship action, and now 2018 heads into the third corner and accelerates into Europe as MotorLand Aragon is the host of the third round of the season.

Davies, Rea and Melandri - Aragon WorldSBK 2017
Davies, Rea and Melandri – Aragon WorldSBK 2017

Last season Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) took the victory in race one, but Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) came back fighting to win race two.

Jonathan Rea leads Sykes at Aragon
Jonathan Rea leads Sykes at Aragon 2017

Taking back the hold of the championship lead after a tough race two in Thailand, Jonathan Rea prepares for a big fight as he heads back to his home continent. Continuing to work on the set-up of his ZX-10RR with the new regulations, the Northern Irishman will be focusing on gearing around the 5.07km circuit this time around. Coming out on top of a scintillating battle in 2017’s race one, his record here is varied but he hasn’t finished off the podium since 2013 meaning he will be pulling out all the stops to continue this into 2018.

Jonathan Rea
Jonathan Rea

Chasing down the all-time Superpole record this weekend, Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldBSK) is another rider with a strong record around MotorLand, finishing over half of the races he has competed here on the podium.

A firm favorite around MotorLand, Chaz Davies will be hopeful of taking his first double victory of the season on-board his Panigale R machine, around a circuit in which he has dominated in the past. Painting Aragon red on more than one occasion, the 31 year old has an impressive history here – with six victories to his name – but with the changes made to his bike for 2018, it will be an interesting challenge to see if he can get back on top. Italian team-mate Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) won the first WorldSBK race held around MotorLand and with two podium finishes last season, he will be one to keep an eye on throughout the weekend.

Marco Melandri
Marco Melandri

Impressing in the WorldSBK paddock this season is Xavi Fores (Barni Racing Team), as the Spanish rider currently sits in third position in the world championship standings and has been threatening to take a victory in the opening rounds of 2018. Heading to his home circuit, in which he has finished all races between fourth and sixth in the past, he will be looking to impress his home fans and will be pushing to make it onto the top step for the first time of his career. Putting his battle with flames last season behind him, it will be a big weekend for Fores.

Xavi Fores
Xavi Fores

Fresh off the back of a double podium in Buriram, Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) and Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) will be gunning to continue their success and take home some European silverware. As they continue to make some steps with the YZF-R1 – including an electronics update – the duo will be looking to get a good advantage at the start of the back to back. Lowes has had a tough history around MotorLand in the past, with only four top tens out of eight appearances. Whereas van der Mark secured his best result around Aragon so far in 2017 – with two top five finishes, on top of two second position finishes here when competing in WorldSSP.

Alex Lowes

“It’s always nice to get the European season started and now the races come more frequently, which I enjoy. I feel like I have had a solid start to 2018 but, honestly, I have been missing some confidence and that last bit of feeling I need to ride at my best. Aragon is a track I really enjoy! It’s a long circuit with a variety of corners that contain some slower sections that are quite technical and also some faster corners, which really suit me. I honestly can’t wait to get there, work hard with the guys through the practice sessions and fight for more podiums during the races!”

Alex Lowes
Alex Lowes

Continuing to turn heads with the Fireblade CB1000RR SP2, Leon Camier (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) sits in eighth position in the world championship standings but this doesn’t show the full story. Narrowly missing out on a podium finish in Buriram last time out, the British rider is beginning to build a strong momentum on his Honda. Scoring points with four different manufacturers around MotorLand, he has the experience behind him and is prepared for a tough fight.

Leon Camier
Leon Camier

Making his return to the WorldSBK championship, Loris Baz (GULF Althea BMW Racing Team) has been taking his time to adjust back to the Pirelli tyres as well as get used to his German machine. The Frenchman sits in ninth in the standings, and will be hoping to make it into the top six as he returns to Europe – visiting MotorLand with MotoGP he has the experience in both series. In six WorldSBK appearances here, he has two top six finishes as well as two podiums in 2014, so will no doubt be looking forward to returning.

Loris Baz - Image by TBG
Loris Baz – Image by TBG

Recovering from a huge crash in Thailand, Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Apilia) will sit out of the next three races, hoping to make his return at the end of May around Donington Park. Replaced by Davide Giugliano, it will be an interesting weekend for the Italian. Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia) missed out on last season’s Aragon Round through injury, so the Italian will be hoping to make a strong impact this weekend in the third round.

Eugene Laverty - Image by GeeBee
Eugene Laverty – Image by GeeBee

Jordi Torres (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) brings his Italian machine into Europe, and as he heads to his home circuit he will look at impressing his home fans. Last season he struggled with the BMW, but with a solid record to his name around MotorLand – consistently finishing between fourth and seventh – it will be interesting to see how he develops the machine.

Jordi Torres
Jordi Torres

WorldSBK takes to the track at 1745 (AEST) on Friday 13th April, before lights go out for race one at 2100 on Saturday, and bikes rev into action for race two at the same time on Sunday.

2018 WorldSBK Standings

  1. Jonathan Rea 69
  2. Marco Melandri 67
  3. Xavi Fores 60
  4. Chaz Davies 57
  5. Alex Lowes 48
  6. Michael Van Der Mark 45
  7. Tom Sykes 43
  8. Leon Camier 42
  9. Loris Baz 21
  10. Toprak Razgatlioglu 18

WorldSSP: Takes more than two to tango

Two races of 2018, two final lap battles and two different winners has been the story for the FIM Supersport World Championship machines so far, and the riders head to MotorLand Aragon with plenty to play for this season. Just 16 points spilt the top four riders of the championship, and this is clear out on track. Last season Aragon threw up a big curve ball but also some stunning racing, and with the reigning world champion Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) looking to fight back, there’s set to be a storm brewing.

Anthony West was sixth in the Supersport race
Anthony West was sixth in the Supersport race in Thailand

Frenchman Mahias is on a roll this season, with an electrifyingly consistent pace that he was unable to turn into a victory in Thailand, he will not be slowed down. Beginning his title defense in the best way possible – with a victory – he has an 100% podium rate so far this season but will be hungry to be back on the top step in Europe. The victor around MotorLand Aragon last year – his debut win in WorldSSP – he will no doubt bring forward the confidence gained from the memories of last season and bring a strong fight.

Fellow Yamaha rider Randy Krummenacher (BARDHL Evans Bros WorldSSP Team) took a sensational victory in Thailand and has slipped back into the WorldSSP series very swiftly, putting up a strong battle after a year away in WorldSBK. Clearly comfortable with his new team he will be looking forward for the return to Europe and putting on a good show for the fans. His past pace around MotorLand took him to second position on the podium in 2016, and with two points scoring finishes last season he will no doubt be keen to get racing underway.

Krummenacher pips Mahias to the line for the Supersport win
Krummenacher pips Mahias to the line for the Supersport win in Thailand

Stepping in for the injured Kenan Sofuoglu is Sheridan Morais at Kawasaki Puccetti Racing, with the South African set to make two appearances – at MotorLand Aragon and Assen – it will be a good challenge out on track. Certain to be fighting at the front, the experienced 33 year old put up a strong battle at the front of the field last season, and taking a second position in 2017 and a third in 2012 around MotorLand, he will no doubt be a strong contender on the ZX-6R.

Andrew Irwin (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda) looks set to continue his debut season in WorldSSP after being sidelined with injury in Australia, and will be on the hunt for his first points scoring result of the season. Yet to visit MotorLand Aragon, he will relish the challenge ahead.

Raffaele De Rosa (MV Agusta Reparto Corse by Vmag) will return to MotorLand with WorldSSP, as he sticks with the series for 2018, making steps with the Italian manufacturer. His record around MotorLand is a mixed one, with a sixth position secured in 2014 and he will hope to impress with his new team for 2018.

On top of the full WorldSSP field, excitement will be added as the European Supersport Cup is welcomed back into the series with the European leg of the championship beginning. With six riders, including WorldSSP300 runner-up Alfonso Coppola (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Junior Team), there will be even more on track action to keep an eye on.

2018 WorldSSP Standings

  1. Randy Krummenacher 45
  2. Lucas Mahias 45
  3. Federico Caricasulo 29
  4. Sandro Cortese 29
  5. Raffaele De Rosa 19
  6. Luke Stapleford 17
  7. Niki Tuuli 12
  8. Thitipong Warokorn 11
  9. Thomas Gradinger 11
  10. Anthony West 10

WorldSSP300 Returns with a bang

Tom Edwards and Reid Battye on the world stage

Tommy Edwards shakes on the deal with Rob Vennegoor, a Dutchman with a massive history backing young Australian talent in Europe.
Tommy Edwards shakes on the WorldSSP 300 deal with Rob Vennegoor, a Dutchman with a massive history backing young Australian talent in Europe.
New Ninja 400 against YZF-R3, KTM RC 390 R and CBR500R

Australian youngsters Tom Edwards and Reid Battye will join a grid of 40 riders in the Pirelli Aragon Round for the debut FIM Supersport 300 World Championship race of 2018. Last season’s opener saw the top four riders be covered by one second over the line and with new bikes, new riders and new teams, this season will likely be no different.

Reid Battye - Image by BeeGee Images
Reid Battye – Image by BeeGee Images

Kawasaki’s new twin-cylinder Ninja 400 will be up against smaller Yamaha YZF-R3 machines and larger CBR500R Honda twins, while KTM’s single-cylinder RC390 R battles the wins. This first round will see the first shakedown to see how the parity measures taken by organisers work out…

Spanish sensation Daniel Valle returns this year alongside rookie Maria Herrera in the BCD Yamaha MS Racing team, and the duo have a wealth of knowledge in the world of racing. On-board the championship winning YZF-R3, they will no doubt set the field alight with their competitive racing, as Herrera will be gunning to be the second woman to take a world championship race victory.

Maria Herrera, KTM RC250 Moto3
Maria Herrera, KTM RC250 Moto3 in 2016

Dutch duo of Robert Schotman and Scott Deroue will take on the new Ninja 400 machine with Motoport Kawasaki, as the two rising stars look to make an impact on the 2018 season. Deroue was the debut winner in the category last season but had a tough end to his campaign, so he will be looking for a more consistent year, whilst Schotman continues to learn and develop his riding.

Scott Deroue
Scott Deroue

Indonesian star Galang Hendra Pratama secured a permanent ride with Biblion Yamaha Motoxracing for 2018, and will be hoping to repeat his stunning victory at Jerez last season. With two seasons in the Asian Production 250cc behind him, he will be competitive on the YZF-R3 and will be one to watch as the season gets underway.

Galang Hendra Pratama
Galang Hendra Pratama

Another rider to switch colours this season is Ana Carrasco, as she moves over to the DS Junior Team but sticks with Kawasaki, the same manufacturer with which she made history with in 2017 after becoming the first woman to win a world championship race. Heading into her second full time season, she will be no doubt be building on her confidence to repeat this.

Ana Carrasco topped the World Supersport 300 podium
Ana Carrasco topped the World Supersport 300 podium in Portugal last year

Welcoming the successful Racedays team into WorldSSP300, South African Dino Iozzo will be at the helm of the CBR500R this season as he looks at making his debut in the class. With a short amount of experience in national championships, it will be a learning curve season for the 16 year old.

KTM are bringing in a strong force this season, with six RC 390 R machines on the grid, all hoping to be fighting up at the front in the highly competitive class. Signing Glenn van Straalen, who secured a podium finish in his wild card appearance last season, they are preparing for a strong year with their vast array of riders.

KTM RC390
KTM RC390

STK1000: No defender of the Crown

As Aragon approaches so does the debut round of the FIM European Superstock 1000 Championship, and 21 riders will line up in front of the lights on Sunday with a big battle on their hands, and a lot to play for. 2017 champion Michael Ruben Rinaldi departs to WorldSBK this season, leaving no reigning champion and no target for the riders this season. Nine nationalities, six manufacturers and fourteen teams, you won’t be short of variety in STK1000 this season.

French rider Florian Marino sticks with a Yamaha for 2018, this season with URBIS Yamaha Motoxracing STK Team as the 24 year old looks at taking his debut victory in the class. Mr consistency in 2017, he will be keen to secure a victory early on this season as the class is a competitive one. Without his main rivals of 2017, he will be confident he can put on a good show this season and go one step further than the second position he secured here last year.

European Superstock 1000 - Rinaldi 1st - Marino 2nd - Tamburini 3rd
Aragon 2017 European Superstock 1000 – Rinaldi 1st – Marino 2nd – Tamburini 3rd

Roberto Tamburini and Luca Salvadori will be taking on the BMW S 1000 RR machines with Berclaz Racing Team SA, as both former podium contenders will look at putting up a strong fight this season. The Italian duo’s history around MotorLand stretches back to Tamburini securing a victory in 2015, whilst Salvadori has a more difficult past and they will be a strong force into 2018.

Previous STK1000 race winner Markus Reiterberger secures a full season deal with alpha Racing-Van Zon-BMW, as he comes off the back of taking the IDM title in 2017. Stunning the crowds around Lausitzring in his wild card appearance last year, he moves over with a familiar team and bike, meaning his pace will no doubt be strong from the opening round.

Markus Reiterberger
Markus Reiterberger

Italian up and coming star Gabriele Ruiu takes on the Team Pedercini Racing ZX-10RR this season, as the 17 year old is set to make his debut on the world scene. Competing in CIV and CEV in the past, he comes to MotorLand understanding the circuit and his riding talent is strong enough that he will no doubt shine.

Chilean talent Maximilian Scheib (Aprilia Racing Team) returns to the STK1000 field this season with Aprilia, and after 2017 full of points scoring finishes and three podiums he will be looking to progress and improve into 2018. Whilst Alex Schacht (EAB SCHACHT Racing Team) will be at the helm of the other Italian machine on the grid with the Ducati 1199 Panigale R.