With the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship title wrapped up last time out in France, the paddock now heads to Southern Spain and Circuito de Jerez for the final European round of the season, and there is still plenty to play for.
British riders have won the last 10 races run on Spanish soil – the sequence started in Aragon two years ago. The wins are split as follows: Davies 7, Rea 2, Sykes 1. The last non-British winner in Spain is Marco Melandri, with a double here in Jerez in 2014.
Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) sits in second position in the championship, but Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) has been slowly creeping up on his compatriot and the British fight is on. Davies dominated around Jerez last season, so can the green machines stop him in 2017?
Winning the last three races held around the Circuito de Jerez, Davies clearly feels comfortable with his Panigale’s pace around the Southern Spanish circuit, and will be a force to be reckoned with this weekend. Coming off the back of a dominant victory in race two at Magny-Cours under tricky conditions, when the Welsh rider has clear track ahead of him he’s practically unstoppable.
“We had good results at Jerez. I feel our package has worked quite well there in the past couple of years, especially in terms of tire wear. In the past, it was tricky to preserve the rear and get the best feeling with the front, especially in the heat. The track has been resurfaced anyway, so that will be the first thing to understand. Usually this changes things quite a lot, so that shall be interesting because we spent so many years riding the same tarmac and basically getting used to it. We’ll start from the setup we used in the last races, and adapt it to what we find out about Jerez. The goal is to have another solid weekend and come home with as many points as possible”.
Always pushing to get the most out of his Panigale R, Jerez holds the potential for Davies to take hold of the runner-up spot in the championship. Taking five podium finishes out of the last six races – three of which a victory – he will certainly be the man to catch.
Freshly crowned 2017 World Champion Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) is yet to win around the 4.4km circuit, meaning he will have a fresh challenge ahead of him this weekend. Just one more podium finish would see the Northern Irishman equal Carl Fogarty’s record; and despite being crowned champion he will be hoping to bounce back from a tough race two in France, which was only his second DNF of the season after he was caught up in Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia)’s second lap crash.
“It’s been a whirlwind couple of weeks after Magny Cours and winning my third World Championship. Feelings are finally starting to sink in. I’ve been enjoying these weeks doing a lot of PR back in Belfast and visiting the Monster Energy Cup Supercross in Las Vegas as guest of Kawasaki and Monster. I’m very much looking forward to getting back to business and although I have never won a WorldSBK race in Jerez, I’m fired up for the challenge. The circuit has been resurfaced recently so Friday will be very important to understand our base setup. The latest feelings with the ZX-10RR have been great so I expect a strong weekend, where I’m expecting a lot of travelling support from Northern Ireland.”
Fighting to hold onto his second position in the championship is Tom Sykes, who is continuing to recover from injury following his monster crash in Portugal which saw the British rider undergo surgery on his left hand and wrist.
“We still have things to do before the end of the season and I am looking forward to riding again at Jerez. We have won there before and done a lot of testing there. I am definitely looking forward to getting on the bike again, even though I am not 100% yet with my hand injury. In my eyes, I am considerably better than I was at Magny Cours in the previous round. So that gives me extra confidence and motivation. Hats off to the team of people who have looked after me and helped me to get to this stage. It is unbelievable how far we have come with the injury in such a short space of time. In the approach to Jerez we need to do what we did in France again because I was pleasantly surprised in our pace there. It worked out nicely for me.”
Taking two victories so far this season, Sykes holds the pole position record around Jerez and took the victory in race one back in 2015, so he is no stranger to success around the track. Putting in an impressive performance in race one last time out, tyres hindered the Yorkshire rider in race two, so he will be back and fighting this weekend.
Italian Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) is nearing the end of his first year back in the WorldSBK paddock, and was able to make history as he took Italy’s 100th WorldSBK victory. The penultimate round of the season holds a lot of potential for Melandri, as he took the double victory at Jerez in 2014 with Aprilia, and has 14 years of experience from his years in the MotoGP paddock.
“Jerez has always been one of my favourite tracks, and for sure it’s where I clocked more kilometers with the Panigale R. The resurfacing has been somewhat of a surprise for me, because the tarmac was already among the best in the calendar. This will mix things up further, and I can’t wait to ride and find out how it has changed. In the past, temperatures had a key role in the overall performance, as the heat slowed the track down and you had to focus on tire preservation rather than pure speed. Now we could find more grip, similar to what we have during winter tests. We made more steps forward at Magny Cours, despite missing a big chance on Sunday. I feel this is a good time for us to reap the best fruits of our labor.”
In all three of the races he has started in Southern Spain, Melandri has never finished outside of the top two in WorldSBK. Once he has adapted the feeling of his Panigale R to the circuit, his consistent pace is hard to beat.
Sitting in fifth position and just 11 points ahead of his team-mate, Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) heads to Jerez with a tough record behind him, his best result around the circuit being a top seven finish.
Coming off the back of a second position around Magny-Cours two weeks ago, as well as a private test, Lowes will be bringing confidence in his R1 forward to the final European round of the season, and will hope to continue his strong pace to end the year on top.
One of just four riders on the current grid to have won a WorldSBK race around Jerez, Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) continues to search for that podium finish following his return to the series. Currently sitting in 10th position in the championship standings, he will hope to convert his strong Superpole pace into race pace, as himself and his British-based squad have been working on the rear grip of his RSV4 RF.
Taking the double win in 2013 on an Aprilia, and another rider with experience around the circuit from MotoGP, he will be one to watch this weekend.
Heading into his second home round of the season, Jordi Torres (Althea BMW Racing Team) has been slowly progressing with his S 1000 R, and has had a varied range of results around Circuito de Jerez, but boasts a podium finish in 2015’s Race Two in his achievements.
Taking some solid results towards the end of the 2017 season, the Spanish rider will hope to make some bold steps in the penultimate round of the season, and impress his home fans around the 4.4km circuit.
Joined by Takumi Takahashi once again, Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team are welcoming the support of the Honda factory, as they continue to build and improve the pace of the new Fireblade CBR1000RR SP2.
“I have tested with MotoGP at Jerez before so I already know the track, which is without a doubt a massive help heading into my second-ever WorldSBK round. Last time out at Portimão I got to know this version of the Fireblade and started to understand the behaviour of Pirelli tyres, so now I’m looking forward to getting back on track. The team works really hard and their support is great, so I’ll be giving my very best and hopefully we will get a good result together.”
Bolstered by the addition of Davide Giugliano, who continues to make appearances for the Red Bull team, Honda will be hoping to put in some solid final races of a tough 2017.
Making a name for himself as one of the most impressive riders of the season, Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) has a fairly solid record around Jerez to his name, only finishing outside of the top ten on one occasion out of six – the last race run around the circuit.
Edging ever closer to that all important podium finish in WorldSBK since the summer break, the British rider is looking for that final push to get that taste for Prosecco DOC, and with the news announced last week that he will take a step over to Honda for 2018, he will be looking to leave MV Agusta with a bang.
Aussie Anthony West was to on board the Kawasaki Puccetti Racing ZX-10R but the squad has instead drafted 2014 FIM Superbike World Champion Sylvain Guintoli for the final two rounds of the 2017 WorldSBK season
“I am very happy to be back in the FIM Superbike World Championship for the last two rounds of the season. Jerez and Doha are fantastic race tracks and I have many memories related to these layouts. I can’t wait to try the ZX-10RR machine and I would like to thank both Manuel and Kawasaki for this great opportunity.”
Championship Standings after Race 2, Round 11
Jonathan Rea 456 Kawasaki
Tom Sykes 336 Kawasaki
Chaz Davies 327 Ducati
Marco Melandri 281 Ducati
Alex Lowes 200 Yamaha
Michael Van Der Mark 189 Yamaha
Xavi Forés 169 Ducati
Leon Camier 146 MV Agusta
Jordi Torres 140 BMW
Eugene Laverty 127 Aprilia
Lorenzo Savadori 104 Aprilia
Leandro Mercado 103 Aprilia
Román Ramos 95 Kawasaki
Stefan Bradl 67 Honda
Randy Krummenacher 50 Kawasaki
Raffaele De Rosa 45 BMW
Nicky Hayden 40 Honda
Alex De Angelis 32 Kawasaki
Markus Reiterberger 29 BMW
Ayrton Badovini 26 Kawasaki
Sofuoglu battles to make a return while Mahias chases glory
The FIM Supersport World Championship has seen the main protagonists see their highest and lowest point of their career so far, with plenty of drama on offer throughout the 2017 season.
Training crashes, scintillating races, highsides, mechanical problems and retirements, this year has seen it all and with three championship leaders across the season, the fight is set to come down to the wire. With Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) back in Turkey nursing a broken hip and Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) riding injured, it’s all to play for as the title protagonists fight through the pain.
Lucas Mahias is in the position of achieving his dream around Circuito de Jerez, as the French rider could take the world title for the first time this weekend. After thinking the title was over following a Superpole crash in France just over two weeks ago, he was able to put in a heroic performance to cross the line in fourth in front of his home fans, and is now in the position to take the title.
“I’m really happy to arrive at Jerez. I like this track a lot and I won my first race outside of France here in the CEV Moto2 European Championship. The layout suits my riding style and I enjoy riding here, I cannot wait to hit the track on my R6. There is a lot of talk about the championship and what can and can’t happen, so I will just try to approach the race weekend in the normal way and give it everything to win!”
With main rival Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) aiming to return after suffering an injury to his hip in France, if Mahias can score 17 points whilst Sofuoglu does not score any, he will be crowned champion. The 28 year old is no stranger to success around the 4.4km circuit, as he took a sensational second position in the last years STK1000 race, meaning he will be ready to fight this weekend.
Over at Kawasaki Puccetti Racing garage, five-times World Champion Kenan Sofuoglu has been ruled out of the action through injury. And with Kyle Ryde announcing that he will split from the team for the final two rounds, means we will see two different riders on the ZX-6R in Southern Spain, with Axel Bassani and Anthony West competing for the Italian based team.
Still mathematically in with a chance of taking the WorldSSP title this season, Sheridan Morais (Kallio Racing) will be hoping to repeat his performance shown in Germany. Sitting 32 points behind Mahias, with the addition of the 2017 YFR-R6, the South African is now in a better position to put up a strong fight.
Finishing in the top 13 in every race he has entered around Jerez – both in WorldSBK and WorldSSP – Morais doesn’t have a stunning record at the 4.4km circuit but he has been able to put in consistent runs in Southern Spain. Beginning to feel more comfortable with his team, he will be putting in his best efforts to ensure he brings a strong fight to Mahias.
Now out of the title chance, regular podium finishers Jules Cluzel (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda) and PJ Jacobesen (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) could be the men to throw a spanner into the works for the title fight. French rider Cluzel was unable to take a podium finish in front of his home fans, but after taking a top six finish around Jerez last season it will be interesting if he can return to the podium.
Jacobsen has a much stronger record around the circuit, and will be looking to continue this pace into the penultimate round of the season, with two second positions achieved, as well as a top four last year. Still searching for that all important victory in 2017, he will be one to watch.
Australian Lachlan Epis (Response RE Racing Kawasaki ZX-6R) will head to Jerez further hoping to add to his Championship tally.
Three STK1000 riders prepare to battle it out for glory in Spain
After eight rounds of on track battling, it all comes down to the final round as three riders are in the running to be crowned European Superstock 1000 Champion for 2017. Heading to the ever popular circuit of Jerez for the Pirelli Spanish Round, the atmosphere will be intense and the on track action even more so. Fans have been treated to some stunning battles around the 4.4km of tarmac, and this year will be no different.
Despite a tough couple of rounds, Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Junior Team) continues to lead the STK1000 championship standings by eight points, and faces his last chance to take the title in Spain this season. Coming off the back of two top ten finishes, the Italian will be hoping to revisit his form found at the beginning of the season.
Taking a top two finish in every race he finished prior to Portimao, Rinaldi has been a forced to be reckoned with. But a tough two rounds for the Italian on the Panigale has meant he has been unable to clinch the title and the fight continues to Spain. Taking eighth position last season, and the victory in European STK600 back in 2015, the 21 year old has enough background knowledge of the Andalucían circuit to make it count.
Mr Consistency for 2017, Florian Marino (Pata Yamaha Official STK1000 Team) has only finished outside of the top five on one occasion – around Imola back in May. Sitting just eight points behind Rinaldi in the standings with one race remaining of 2017, the fight will be on for the Yamaha rider. Despite missing out on racing around the Jerez circuit in the STK1000 class, the French rider has a podium under his belt from his time in the WorldSSP series back in 2014.
The third and final contender for the STK1000 crown is Turkish rider Toprak Razgatlioglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing), who after a steady start to the season was able to find a strong pace with his ZX-10RR and secured three dominant victories so far this season.
The young rider is only 14 points behind Rinaldi at the top of the standings, and in the ever competitive class anything can happen. Razgatlioglu took third position here last season, but will be returning from injury sustained in France to his shoulder, meaning he will have to dig deep to battle at the front.
Australia’s Mike Jones (Aruba.it Racing – Junior Team) will also be aiming to stay at the pointy end, sitting sixth in the standings, and having taken sixth at the previous round in France. Jerez is a circuit the Queenslander has knowledge of, unlike the previous outing at Magny-Cours.
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