2021 FIM Superbike World Championship
Round Three – Misano
WorldSBK returns to the hallowed ground that is Misano this weekend for the third round of the 2021 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship.
Along with circuits such as Phillip Island, Assen and Donington this is one of the ‘classic’ WorldSBK venues with the championship having visited the Italian track very consistently over the decades. The first time WorldSBK raced at Misano was in 1991 with Doug Polen winning both races from pole on his Ducati en route to the first of his two World titles. Troy Bayliss and Colin Edwards also had some of their titanic battles at the Italian venue.
The late Marco Simoncelli was from the nearby town of Cattolica and the local region has produced a number of the sport’s top names, including Valentino Rossi, Andrea Dovizioso and Marco Melandri.
The 2021 Championship fight is only just beginning with 36-points between the top three, Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) leading Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with BRIXX WorldSBK). Misano was the scene of their first final lap showdown for victory back in Race 2 in 2019, so will we see more of the same again?
The Northern Irishman is a maestro of Misano, it’s the scene of his first win; Jonathan Rea’s relentless records tend to be evident at most of the circuits which are a staple feature on the calendar, but Misano has an air of magic around it. Countless victories and a strong circuit for the ZX-10RR, Rea could well be on to create more Misano memories and extend his Championship advantage.
“I am excited to go to Misano especially after we missed the race there last year. It is a track that I really enjoy riding at; both for the circuit itself and the Italian hospitality. The area is incredible and I always enjoy spending time there with my family, by the beach and the sea. The food, the fans, it has got absolutely everything, especially this weekend as we got some fans back trackside which is going to make it even more special. The first few races have been good. We have been able to change the characteristics of our Ninja ZX-10RR at Estoril and it really improved the size of the ‘window’ and we will continue to try these ideas. We are right into the thick of the summer months now and I think all the work we have been doing last season and during the off-season, focusing on the hot temperatures and being easy on the tyre, is really coming into its own. Misano is a quite flat track and with it being resurfaced a few years ago it gave me a strange feeling when we tested there last year. But, we were still able to be fast. I’m looking forward to the challenge this weekend and seeing all our great fans back trackside again.”
On the other side of the KRT garage is team-mate Alex Lowes, who suffered a difficult Estoril Round, blighted by bad luck. He’s got a good record at Misano, but it’ll be his first experience of the track on the Kawasaki in racing terms.
“With not having a normal calendar last year I have not raced for Kawasaki at all the tracks coming up this year but I know Misano really well and I know that Kawasakis have gone well there in the past. I am actually excited to challenge myself by racing at Misano on the green machine. We have a good set-up on the bike, which we have arrived at in the winter tests. It has worked at quite a lot of tracks so I am quite confident that it will also work at Misano. I am looking forward to getting back into action. It is going to be important to work hard and well on Friday. I know the track was resurfaced last year so we need to check tyre life and which tyres we like, especially on the front because that can be critical at Misano. It is just great to be going back to Italy. Misano is always a fantastic round and one we missed last year so I am really looking forward to going back and getting stuck in this weekend.”
It was the setting for one of his first attacks on WorldSBK victory and he gave it everything, although you get the feeling in 2021 that Toprak Razgatlıoğlu is going to live no stone unturned in his quest for a first win of 2021. Razgatlioglu’s podium from Race 2 in 2019 may seem a distant memory, but the last time WorldSBK raced at Misano, it was the headlining duel with Rea that stole the show and got the fans on their feet. After three podiums at Estoril and nothing but top six finishes so far this year, Toprak wants to taste victory.
“For me it will be the first time racing with the Yamaha R1 WorldSBK at Misano and I am looking forward to it. In the past I had some good battles with Jonathan for the win and I like this track, but we will see where we stand on Saturday afternoon. We are quite strong this year so far and we also had two days testing at Misano in the winter, which felt really good with the new bike. It is not easy to say now where we can be, the race is the important part so we will see on Saturday. The goal is always for the podium and to fight for the win, and I think the R1 will be a good race bike at this track.”
Local hero Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha with BRIXX WorldSBK) heads for his first home event in the WorldSBK paddock after a best race finish of fifth in Race 2 at Estoril and is top Italian in the standings – could he be a strong outside bet of a good result?
“It’s very nice for me to return on track at Misano in Italy – it’s the home race for me and it’s always nice because we can also have some fun during the weekend. It’s important to have some balance! I am feeling good because we had a really good Race 2 at Estoril, I understand more about the bike and the setup that helped me to make another step. I am sure that with this we can do very well at Misano because we have been improving every race. Also Superpole qualifying will be important and I want to improve and to understand the best way to get maximum performance on the Q tyre. Of course the aim is to try to be in the front group and try for a good result because our way now is to improve every race and I know the Misano track very well. We will see, but we’re ready.”
Heading home and eager to strike back after bitter disappointment in Estoril’s Race 2, the factory Ducati team of Scott Redding (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) and team-mate Michael Ruben Rinaldi will aim to utilise all of their pre-season testing at Misano to make it count come race action. Redding, who crashed out in the heat of the battle with title rival with seven laps to go at Estoril in Race 2, has never raced a WorldSBK bike at Misano, so it will be a voyage of discovery this weekend; team-mate Rinaldi has WorldSBK experience and the warmth of the home fans cheering him on. After a mixed Estoril, will it be a Misano masterclass?
“The mistake in Race-2 in Estoril was a serious one. But there is still time to recover. It’s clear that we can’t make any more mistakes, in fact, it will be necessary to be perfect in order to recover the disadvantage. I’m curious to see what will happen in Misano because I’ve never ridden on this circuit with temperatures as high as the ones we will find. It’s an important event, the home race for the team and for Ducati and for this reason I’m determined and sure I can do well”.
“We arrive in Misano with high morale: despite the incident in Race-2, the Estoril weekend was a very positive one, with a constantly growing feeling. It’s clear that this is a very special weekend for me. I’m really happy that the circuit will be open to a good number of fans and it will be great to feel their warmth after so many months of races without a public. I like the circuit very much, the sensations were positive during the pre-season tests. There are the basis to obtain important results“.
Michael van der Mark (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) has been in the thick of the action so far this year and inside the top six on occasion. Continuing his adaptation to the bike from his Yamaha of previous years, he has so far had the racing edge over his team-mate Tom Sykes. Sykes himself returns to Misano, a happy territory for BMW, after he gave them their first podium in 2019 when they returned as a factory effort to the Championship. Both van der Mark and Sykes have good records in the Adriatic, something that they’ll hope to strengthen in the coming races.
Michael van der Mark
“Misano is one of my favourite tracks. I really missed going there last year. I love the circuit, I love the layout and I am looking forward to it. It’s a completely different track again compared to Aragón and Estoril but I think it will suit the BMW very well and especially the way the bike is working now. After some good results at Aragón and Estoril a very different track and I think we can do really well there. Regarding goals for the weekend, I think it is still difficult to say where we expect to be but I think we should be close to the top five. We had some good results, the gap is still a little bit too big but I think the way the Misano track is we can do really well.”
“I am obviously looking very much forward to the Misano round of the WorldSBK calendar. It’s a circuit I really enjoy. It will certainly be tight in terms of lap times as it is quite small and twisty so we’re really looking to be competitive. We’ve had some strong results there in the past with the BMW S 1000 RR so hopefully with the updated M RR we can improve on those. That’s certainly my target and it would be fantastic. We’ve had a podium success there so if we could do something similar this weekend it’s what we need. Overall, it’s a fantastic location and I am looking forward to getting out there.”
It’s another new experience for Team HRC and the Honda Fireblade CBR1000RR-R SP, with it being the first time that the bike and the factory team have visited Misano. After a disastrous start to his weekend at Estoril with three crashes on Friday, Alvaro Bautista managed to rekindle good feelings with the bike throughout the races as he came through from 18th on the grid for a hat-trick of top ten finishes. He took his first premier-class MotoGP podium at Misano in a final lap showdown back in 2012 and was a race winner in WorldSBK for Ducati in 2019.
“The last race weekend left us with mixed feelings, a tough Friday followed by improved performance and confidence throughout the weekend, despite the extra challenge of having our qualifying time cancelled on Saturday. Still, we feel we left some of our potential untapped there and are looking forward to improving this weekend. We approach Misano with a strong mentality and will work to find the feeling that we had at Aragón. Our main target is to have a bike that is well balanced to suit all conditions and every track. I’m so happy to return to Misano after missing it last season. It’s a track that I really enjoy, and it’s definitely very different to both Aragón and Estoril so we will try to find a good set-up with the electronics, the chassis and everything in order to get closer to the front. One thing that makes me really happy is that we will finally have some fans back in the grandstands. A limited number, sure, but it’s a first step and one we have been looking forward during this long closed-door period”.
For Leon Haslam (Team HRC), he’ll hope for a return to being a firm fixture inside the top ten after a relatively unassuming first two rounds.
“Misano is always a special race. I’ve heard we are going to have some fans watching and that will be fantastic because the atmosphere is always great in Italy. In the past, we always used to spend some days at the beach with Frankie Chili and everyone there, so I have some very good memories of the place. I really like the track of course and was on the podium last time we raced there in 2019. I’m now looking forward to riding the Fireblade there and working to try and find the good feeling we had this winter”.
Always thriving off the support of the Ducatisti and the Italian passion, Chaz Davies (Team GoEleven) returns to Misano aboard the Ducati Panigale V4 R, with the aim of building on his first podium of 2021 from last time out at Misano. He’s locked in combat however, with Garrett Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) taking it to him as they fight it out to be top Independent. Although Gerloff’s looked like he’s had a stronger pace, mistakes have cost him dearly. They’re also not just battling for top Independent but for the title overall, with Gerloff in particular showing a sparkling pace in the opening two rounds. One rider who is in some sort of form is Eugene Laverty (RC Squadra Corse), who really showed good potential at Estoril. Having never taken the BMW to Misano, it’ll be a new experience and a new learning curve this weekend in Italy.
“I’m heading to Misano feeling very optimistic. I set modest goals for myself last time out due to the fact that Estoril was the toughest track on the calendar for us last year. However, I far exceeded my expectations so my confidence is high going to a track that I really enjoy. The new BMW M 1000 RR has made a huge step forward this year and I’m very thankful for the hard work done by everybody at BMW Motorrad Motorsport during the winter months. I have gelled very well with my new team RC Squadra Corse and we’re ready to begin moving up the order. The first two rounds were like pre-season testing for us. I feel that our season begins properly at round three at Misano.”
Leading the rest of the battles for the Independents and mainly the rookies, Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) aims high and wants to shine at home, whilst off the back of two top ten finishes, Tito Rabat (Barni Racing Team) also hopes to continue to figure it out in WorldSBK at a circuit he knows well.
Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) put in a stunning Gaerne Estoril Round and will hope to emulate this at Misano, a circuit he has a good record at with podiums in WorldSSP.
Kohta Nozane (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) has tested at Misano and has been quietly impressive in the opening two rounds, whilst behind him are the likes of Jonas Folger (Bonovo MGM Racing), Isaac Viñales (ORELAC Racing VerdNatura) and Christophe Ponsson (Alstare Yamaha).
In 2015 Misano was completely resurfaced with a specific asphalt formulation aimed at counteracting the effects of salt and humidity. The rather abrasive asphalt and the high temperatures typical of that area can compromise the precision of the trajectories (holding a line) making it a fairly demanding track for the tyres, especially in the long right-hand corners which require a high mechanical and thermal stress for tyres when the bike is on the tyre’s shoulder. Pirelli have brought two new tyres to Misano. A development SCX rear in A0557 specification and the front development SC1 in A0508 specification.
WorldSBK Championship Points
Michael Van Der Mark
Michael Ruben Rinaldi
There is an intense battle developing at the top of the standings between Steven Odendaal (Evan Bros. Yamaha WorldSSP Team) and Dominique Aegerter (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha), the only two riders to have won in the four races ran so far in 2021, with just six points separating the pair despite Odendaal taking three wins to Aegerter’s one. A retirement for Odendaal last time out in Estoril coupled with Aegerter’s emotional victory meant the Swiss rider was able to close in at the top of the standings.
Both Odendaal and Aegerter have experience of the Italian circuit from their respective Moto2 days, with Odendaal taking a best result of 17th in 2018 while Aegerter has a best result of fifth, in 2013, but three other top-ten finishes between 2010 and 2014. It will be both their first races at the circuit on WorldSSP machinery, with Jules Cluzel (GMT94 Yamaha) hoping he can take advantage of their inexperience on their Yamaha YZF-R6 machines at Misano to close the gap; the French rider claimed two victories in 2014 and 2015, when WorldSSP ran to one race per weekend, and a double victory for Cluzel in 2021 would mean he becomes the most successful rider at Misano in terms of wins in WorldSSP, going ahead of five-time Champion Kenan Sofuoglu.
There are two other winners of a WorldSSP race at Misano on the 2021 grid with Randy Krummenacher (EAB Racing Team) the winner last time the Championship visited Misano in 2019 and then-teammate Federico Caricasulo (GMT94 Yamaha) who won in 2018. Both have had ups-and-downs to their return to the Championship and will be hoping a previous happy hunting ground will mean they can step back on the podium.
Philipp Oettl (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) currently sits third in the Championship after a double podium at the Circuito Estoril but has experience of Misano from Moto3 where he took a best of fourth in 2017 although he still chasing his first WorldSSP victory. He sits just ahead of Luca Bernardi (CM Racing) with the Sammarinese rider getting to enjoy a home round on the world stage; the town of Misano Adriatico is around an hour away from San Marino. Bernardi has been one of the surprises of 2021 so far, including a podium last time out, while he also experienced this circuit in the Italian championship last year, picking up a race win here.
Just behind Bernardi in the Championship standings is Estonian rider Hannes Soomer (Kallio Racing), who has raced at Misano in WorldSSP before with a best result of seventh, Manuel Gonzalez (Yamaha ParkinGo Team) who has stood on the podium at the Italian venue in WorldSSP300 on two occasions, with a best result of second, and heads into the third round of the season on the back of his best-ever WorldSSP result at Estoril, and Raffaele De Rosa (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) with the Italian still searching for his first WorldSSP victory and looking to bounce back after crashing out from the lead at Estoril. De Rosa has stood on the podium at Misano, in 2018, and will be hoping he can repeat that feat and claim his first victory at the Italian venue.
In the WorldSSP Challenge, Leonardo Taccini (Orelac Racing VerdNatura), Kevin Manfredi (Altogo Racing Team), Luigi Montella (Chiodo Moto Racing) will all have their home race with Maria Herrera (Biblion Iberica Yamaha Motoxracing), Shogo Kawasaki (G.A.P. MOTOZOO Racing by Puccetti) and Stephane Frossard (Moto Team Jura Vitesse) all racing.
There will be two wildcard riders taking to the circuit during the Made In Italy Emilia-Romagna Round with Massimo Roccoli (Promodriver Organization) taking to the field for the first time since 2019 and Roberto Mercandelli (Team Rosso e Nero) on the grid for the first time since 2018; Roccoli already having made 110 starts in WorldSSP.
Five One Event riders will also join the Championship at Misano with Armando Pontone (Bike e Motor Racing Team) and team-mate Matteo Patacca, Filippo Fuligni (D34G Racing), Davide Stirpe (Extreme Racing Service) and Luca Ottaviani (RM Racing) on the grid, bringing the total number of competitors to 35. All but two of the seven additional riders will ride on Yamaha machinery, with Stirpe on the MV Agusta F3 675 and Ottaviani competing on a Kawasaki ZX-6R.
Raffaele De Rosa
Can Alexander Oncu
Galang Hendra Pratama
Tom Booth-Amos (Fusport – RT Motorsports by SKM Kawasaki) comes into the second event of 2021 with a four-point lead at the top of the Championship but faces his first event on WorldSSP300 machinery at Misano although the British rider has taken part in the Italian championship at Misano, claiming two victories. He will be hoping to use his recent experience and success to maintain his Championship lead.
Spanish rider Adrian Huertas (MTM Kawasaki) has made a strong start since moving to his new team with 41 points out of a possible 50 so far in 2021. Huertas gives up some experience at Misano compared to his rivals but will be hoping his quick adaptation to the MTM Kawasaki outfit will keep him in good stead for the weekend.
Unai Orradre (Yamaha MS Racing) is another rider who has not raced at Misano in WorldSSP300, with the 17-year-old not yet having raced in an Italian championship. Orradre will be looking to continue his strong start to the season after he challenged for victory at MotorLand Aragon as he builds a title challenge.
MTM Kawasaki have two riders in the top six with Japanese star Yuta Okaya on 29 points, four behind Orradre, after he was able to challenge for victory at MotorLand Aragon. Okaya raced at Misano when WorldSSP300 last visited the Italian circuit and came home in 19th place. Will his experience on WorldSSP300 machinery at the Italian venue pay dividends for the Pirelli Made in Italy Emilia-Romagna Round?
Samuel di Sora (Leader Team Flembbo) currently is fifth in the Championship with 19 points, level with Ton Kawakami (AD78 Team Brasil by MS Racing). Frenchman di Sora has claimed a points finish at Misano in WorldSSP300 before, in 2019 when he finished 13th, while Aragon polesitter Kawakami finished outside the points in the same race when he finished 16th. Kawakami has proven his one-lap pace on a few occasions throughout his WorldSSP300 career, and di Sora has shown he can claim podium finishes, so both will be hoping they can use these to their advantage as WorldSSP300 returns to Misano.
2018 Champion Ana Carrasco (Kawasaki Provec WorldSSP300) will continue her comeback from seventh in the Championship at a venue she won at last time out in 2019 and will be looking to close the gap at the top of the Championship by repeating that success. Carrasco sits two points clear of reigning Champion Jeffrey Buis (MTM Kawasaki) but, unlike Carrasco, this is a circuit that Buis is yet to secure a top-ten finish at, having finished 15th in 2019.
There will be one wildcard rider for the 2021 event with Chilean Isis Joylin Dellanira Carreño Avila (Gp3 By Pa.Sa.Ma) joining the grid for Misano. Alejandro Carrion (Kawasaki GP Project) was declared unfit at MotorLand Aragon and will need to undergo a medical check before his participation is confirmed, while Alfonso Coppola (Team Trasimeno) was declared unfit following a crash in the Italian championship; the Italian missed the Aragon Round following that crash.
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