Biaggi champion again after closest ever finish

The closest ever finish in the history of the Superbike World Championship came today at Magny-Cours when Max Biaggi (Aprilia Racing) ended the second race in fifth place and in doing so he ended up the season 0.5 points ahead of Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team).

Biaggi had fallen in the first eni FIM Superbike World Championship race of the day, leaving open a path of opportunity for Sykes and race one second place finisher Marco Melandri (BMW Motorrad Motorsport). With Melandri crashing out in spectacular style in race two it was down to Sykes to make the running and he did it in style after putting in his fourth race win of the year. Biaggi, receiving pit signals from his crew, had worked his way far enough forward to take the overall win and score his second SBK championship, adding to his 2010 season win, again for Aprilia.

Biaggi now has two world titles, 21 race wins, 70 podiums and five pole positions to his credit, and four 250GP titles to boot.

Max Biaggi: “This is the fourth world championship out of six that I have won at the final race, I seem to like difficult challenges! The 2012 season went right down to the wire: we started well with a win at Phillip Island after totally renewing my team and we also had some difficult moments. We had to work hard to win the title, and maybe for this reason it’s even better. A big thanks to the Team, Aprilia and the Gruppo Piaggio, from President Colaninno to every factory worker, because my success is the result of the work of a great Italian company. Thanks also to my family, my fiancée and my two children, as well as Marino Laghi who is always present with me”.

In the final championship rankings in 2012, Biaggi has 358 points, Sykes 357.5 and Melandri 328.5. Aprilia also won the Manufacturers’ Championship today, by 23.5 points from BMW.

Race 1 – An amazing penultimate race, held in wet conditions, saw early contender Biaggi fall on lap two and his two remaining championship rivals, Melandri and Sykes score podiums for second and third respectively. Guintoli continued his amazing form in privateer guise with a clear win, by over six seconds from Melandri and by over 16 seconds from Sykes. This was Guintoli’s third win of the year.

Sylvian Guintoli: “What a race, It’s been a great weekend for me, obviously with a wet race I knew I had a big chance, then got into my rhythm. When Marco came past it woke me up and I found some extra pace and then managed to pass Tom. I’m really happy to win in France after this crazy season with lots of ups and downs.”

Results: 1. Guintoli (Ducati) 23 Laps/101.453 km in 44’06.299 average 138.016 kph; 2. Melandri (BMW) 6.127; 3. Sykes (Kawasaki) 16.595; 4. Berger (Ducati) 21.857; 5. Haslam (BMW) 25.149; 6. Badovini (BMW) 32.778; 7. Laverty (Aprilia) 34.311; 8. Giugliano (Ducati) 47.269; 9. Corti (Kawasaki) 49.720; 10. Baz (Kawasaki) 50.192; etc.

Race 2 – Sykes did all he could in winning race two, impressively by 1.354 seconds despite pressure from behind for the whole race distance on a largely dry track. Jonathan Rea (Honda World Superbike Team) was second in the 23-lap race, with Guintoli third. Biaggi’s team-mate, Laverty was fourth in the race, but Melandri crashed out of contention. Maxime Berger made it a happy day for the French with fourth on his Red Devils Roma Ducati.

Tom Sykes: “It’s difficult to accept that half a point separates us in a full season, but that’s all credit to World Superbike and how close it is. Max did a great job, but for me and my season I’m very happy, everyone gave me a full package to do something with and this weekend I was very strong. Overall we had a pole position, circuit record, two podiums and I’d like to dedicate that to Joan Lascorz, I’ve had some help from him this weekend. To close 30 points on Biaggi was magical. Now we’re all signed and sealed for next year, hopefully we can deliver!”

Results: 1. Sykes (Kawasaki) 23 giri/101.453 km in 38’15.725 media 159.092 km/h; 2. Rea (Honda) 1.354; 3. Guintoli (Ducati) 2.393; 4. Laverty (Aprilia) 13.122; 5. Biaggi (Aprilia) 13.955; 6. Giugliano (Ducati) 18.229; 7. Checa (Ducati) 18.430; 8. Davies (Aprilia) 26.648; 9. Badovini (BMW) 33.809; 10. Camier (Suzuki) 37.217; etc.

Points: 1. Biaggi 358; 2. Sykes 357,5; 3. Melandri 328,5; 4. Checa 287,5; 5. Rea 278,5; 6. Laverty 263,5; 7. Guintoli 213,5; 8. Haslam 200; 9. Davies 164,5; 10. Giugliano 143; etc. Manufacturers: 1. Aprilia 444,5; 2. BMW 421; 3. Ducati 416; 4. Kawasaki 397,5; 5. Honda 293,5; 6. Suzuki 136.5.

World Supersport

Jules Cluzel (PTR Honda) took his fourth win of the year today at Magny-Cours as he made the best of a wet track and then a drying line around the 4.411km circuit. The French rider underlined his second place in the championship with Sam Lowes (Bogdanka PTR Honda) third overall in the points after finishing second today. Third place at Magny-Cours eventually went to Dan Linfoot (MSD R-N Team India Kawasaki) after he was knocked off by an attempted pass from new champion Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Lorenzini). Linfoot restarted to finish fourth but Sofuoglu was penalised 25 seconds and thus Linfoot was eventually third and Sofuoglu fourth. In the final championship table, Sofuoglu has 231 points, Cluzel 210, Lowes 172 and Fabien Foret (Kawasaki Intermoto Step) 171. Honda won the manufacturers’ Championship by 14 points from Kawasaki.

Results: 1. Cluzel (Honda) 22 Laps/97.042 km in 42’20.985 average 137.487 kph; 2. Lowes (Honda) 1.591; 3. Linfoot (Kawasaki) 27.615; 4. Sofuoglu (Kawasaki) 27.854; 5. Foret (Kawasaki) 31.601; 6. Baldolini (Triumph) 46.745; 7. Scholtz (Honda) 50.820; 8. Antonelli (Yamaha) 50.934; 9. Talmacsi (Honda) 53.090; 10. Metcher (Yamaha) 55.664; etc.

Points: 1. Sofuoglu 231; 2. Cluzel 210; 3. Lowes 172; 4. Foret 171; 5. Parkes 135; 6. Morais 96; 7. Baldolini 96; 8. Quarmby 84; 9. Iannuzzo 60; 10. Antonelli 60; etc. Manufacturers: 1. Honda 287; 2. Kawasaki 273; 3. Triumph 125; 4. Yamaha 110; 5. Suzuki 6.

Superstock 1000

Sylvain Barrier (BMW Motorrad Italia GoldBet) survived a wet track and the pressure of racing for the championship at his home round to finish second at Magny-Cours and give himself an eventual clear championship win. His French countryman Jeremy Guarnoni (MRS Kawasaki) rode with confidence and pace in the wet to win the race, but main championship challenger Eddi La Marra (Barni Racing Team Italia Ducati) fell very early and lost his chance to get back into the race. Another potential champion Bryan Staring (Team Pedercini Kawasaki) fell early and rode hard to try and get back into contention. He finished fifth in the race and eventually fourth in the championship. The final points read Barrier 153, La Marra 130, Guarnoni 123, Staring 122.
Results: 1. Guarnoni (Kawasaki) 14 Laps/61.754 km in 28’12.230 average 131.374 kph; 2. Barrier (BMW) 9.862; 3. Savadori (Ducati) 20.703; 4. Lussiana (Kawasaki) 34.445; 5. Staring (Kawasaki) 37.916; 6. Bergman (Kawasaki) 39.886; 7. Jezek (Ducati) 43.775; 8. Millet (Kawasaki) 49.227; 9. Pagaud (Kawasaki) 49.678; 10. Reiterberger (BMW) 1’03.515; etc.

Points: 1. Barrier 153; 2. La Marra 130; 3. Guarnoni 123; 4. Staring 122; 5. Savadori 107; 6. Reiterberger 91; 7. Bergman 88; 8. Massei 71; 9. Coghlan 68; 10. Baroni 56; Manufacturers: 1. Kawasaki 193; 2. Ducati 181; 3. BMW 181; 4. Honda 71; 5. Aprilia 22.

KTM European Junior Cup

The final race of the year went to local rider Guillaume Raymond (Valliance Racing) but the championship win was still taken by Lukas Wimmer (MSC Schalchen), who crashed out and then remounted to finish third. Ilya Mikhalchik (Wind Racing) was second in the race, Gaston Garcia (KTM Espana) fourth. Wimmer took the title with 136 points to 111 for Garcia.

Results: 1. Raymond; 2. Mikhalchik; 3. Wimmer; 4. Garcia; 5. Demoulin; 6. Haquin; 7. Mettam; 8. Scarcella; etc.

Points: 1. Wimmer 136; 2. Garcia 111; 3. Orellana 81; 4. Vidal 73; 5. Wielebski 72; 6. Pasek 65; 7. Patterson 59; 8. Demoulin 59; etc.

Official Tyre Supplier
“With the Magny-Cours round Pirelli closes out an important season, the ninth in a row as sole supplier of all the World Superbike Championship classes. But today was above all a day for the participants to celebrate, that is, the riders and the teams. Pirelli congratulates first and foremost Max Biaggi and the Aprilia Racing team who have achieved a splendid double win in a 3 year period in confirmation of the excellent work done by the entire team in the Championship these past few years. It would be impossible, however, not to mention Biaggi’s two fiercest rivals, Tom Sykes on his Kawasaki and Marco Melandri on his BMW, who contributed to making this year an exciting championship down to the last race. This was a Superbike Championship which was marked by an extremely battle between riders from various teams throughout the season. In fact, riders from five different motorcycle manufacturers placed in the top five, demonstrating the excellent work Pirelli has done in developing solutions which work well on different brand bikes. Our compliments also go once again to Kenan Sofuoglu and the Kawasaki Lorenzini team for their win in World Supersport, as well as to Sylvain Barrier and Michael VD Mark for their respective victories in Superstock1000 FIM Cup and Superstock600 UEM European Championship. Also, this year (as in 2011), Pirelli decided to provide incentive for our rising stars in European motorcycling who participate in the national Superstock 600 championships: this is why the Pirelli Superstock 600 Series was established last year, a Pirelli initiative which once again provided the most talented riders from the various European STK600 Championships with the opportunity to take part as wild cards in the last European Superstock 600 Championship race held here in France. The 3 riders who placed the highest in the race standings were Italian Franco Morbidelli who races in CIV, Brit Lee Jackson who races in British Superbike and Austrian Marco Nekvasil from IDM. These riders were awarded a memorial tag and also received a monetary price as an incentive for their growth and careers. In closing, we are very satisfied with the work done this year in the factory derivative Championship and we are ready to take on the next season where we will be faced with a new challenge: the new 17 inch tyres which will replace the 16.5” format which have been used until now in the World Superbike Championship.” – Giorgio Barbier, Racing Director Pirelli Moto

— Kawasaki Report

Finishing third and first in the Magny-Cours races Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) only lost the world championship by half a point, in the closest finish the series has seen in all its 25 years. Super Sykes Only Half A Point From The Title On His Ninja ZX-10R!

Sykes and his team had to overcome the wet conditions that suddenly showed up on raceday morning with little time for preparations by his crew, but despite this Tom rode his Ninja ZX-10R with style in race one, only giving best to rain specialist Sylvain Guintoli and Marco Melandri. Eventual champion Biaggi fell and no-scored in race one and gave Sykes an opportunity to win the title in race two.

Tom led with conviction and pace for the whole of race two, seeing off an early challenge from Eugene Laverty to record his fourth race victory of the season. Biaggi was fifth in race two and that was enough for the Italian rider to win his second world championship by only half a point.

Sykes, wearing a Joan Lascorz tribute helmet this weekend in honour of his injured team-mate, won the hearts of the crowd with his brilliant determination and spirit to be champion against the odds, having made up 30 points on Biaggi and only losing the chance of overall victory by half a point because of a quirk of the championship scoring rules.

Tom had known after winter testing that he would have the chance to challenge in 2012, but his and the entire team’s performance had exceeded all expectations. He has taken four wins, 13 podiums in total, nine pole positions and three fastest laps.

Loris Baz, Sykes’ team-mate had a tough home weekend, going tenth in race one then falling hard at high speed in race two. He was taken to hospital for tests afterwards but was later released, suffering just extensive bashes and bruises. He finishes his season as a replacement for the injured Joan Lascorz in 13th place, having only joined the series in Donington.

Team Pedercini Kawasaki rider Claudio Corti was ninth in race one, and then 12th in race two, strong results that put him 24th overall after only one round. His Magny-Cours team-mate Alexander Lundh had a heavy crash in practice and injured his T7 and T8 vertebra, although not seriously. He missed the Magny-Cours races as a result.

The title deciding Superstock 1000 FIM Cup race was held in wet conditions on Sunday morning and the race was won by Jeremy Guarnoni (MRS Kawasaki). Bryan Staring (Team Pedercini Kawasaki) lost his outside chance of the world title when series leader Sylvain Barrier finished second and took enough points to win the crown. Staring was fifth in the race after falling early on and working his way back up, and fourth in the championship, one place behind Guarnoni. Leandro Mercado fell and no-scored today.

Tom Sykes: “We were on pole, took a new circuit record, got a podium and then a win and pulled back 30 points on Max Biaggi. Not easy against a rider of his level. Yes, obviously there is a massive disappointment on one hand because we were only half a point from the world championship! But on the other hand, being realistic, we are very happy and we have – by far – overachieved on expectations this year. We have been very strong and I think this weekend we have been particularly strong; partly because of this Joan Lascorz replica helmet I am wearing. I have had massive support here from my family, friends and the Kawasaki fans so to sum up my year it has been fantastic. I really appreciate that Kawasaki, Provec; all the team our sponsors, Motocard, Leo Vince and all of them have put us in the situation of fighting for the world championship. Hopefully next year we can be very consistent from the start.”

Loris Baz: “It was not the kind of home race weekend I wanted but we got a bit unlucky when we lost some track time early in practice. I got sick on Saturday as well so it was not easy to ride but felt a bit better today. I started off confident to have a good result in the wet race one but I just did not have the same feeling as I had in warm-up. Had I not run-on I think I had the pace for about seventh or eighth. Following Max in race two I just hit a slippery patch and had a very big highside crash. I had a bad pain in my back and ribs but nothing was broken and then I developed a sore head. We went to hospital for tests just to check but everything is OK. We have some testing on the bike again soon so it is good to not have any injuries and although I am not 100% fit right now, I will be OK for testing which will really help our preparations for next year.”

Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Lorenzini) finished third across the line today but he was relegated to fourth, leaving Dan Linfoot (MSD R-N Racing Team India) in third place for his first Kawasaki podium.

With Sofuoglu fourth after a 25 second time penalty Fabien Foret (Kawasaki Intermoto Step) was a top five race finisher and he also finished fourth in the championship overall. Florian Marino (MSD R-N Racing Team India Kawasaki) was 11th today at his home race.

Sheridan Morais (Kawasaki Lorenzini) had a difficult race after he could not get the correct settings for the conditions dialled in during morning warm-up and alternate settings did not work so well for most of the 22-ap race. Romain Lanusse was 28th.

Kenan Sofuoglu: “The only problem for us today is that we did not have any wet set-up and it looks like ours was a bit too hard on a wet track. When it started to dry it got a bit better and I could go faster but it was too late and there was a very big gap. I needed a couple of laps more and I tried too much. In the end we bumped and another rider fell. This was the third time I have been penalised in 2012 but in the end I am the World Champion even with these things. I wanted to win today but the main thing is that we won the world championship last time out in Portugal.”

Sheridan Morais: “Not a good race and this morning in warm-up we were not terribly happy with the bike so the guys tried a new rear shock setting and unluckily in the race it was way worse. At the beginning when it was really wet it was difficult to ride. The track dried a bit so I could come back and get some points but it was pretty horrible out there. Not what I wanted to end the season with. I have to thank the team for letting me get sixth on the championship, for my rookie year that was not bad.”

Dan Linfoot: “It was a very aggressive race and I have to say a massive thank you to my team and everybody involved. It has been a tough end to a season and of course we only stared at Silverstone. We got here and were quite on the pace in qualifying and the rain helped, it was a good leveller. I am really happy and really grateful to be a part of this team in this class.”

— BMW Report

At the season finale of the 2012 FIM Superbike World Championship, Team BMW Motorrad Motorsport experienced an exciting race day, which at the same time was an emotional rollercoaster ride. The team challenged until the very last race of the season for both the Riders’ and the Manufacturers’ titles but was missing the necessary luck in the end. Factory rider Marco Melandri (ITA), who rode with two broken ribs, finished second in the first race. Therefore he kept his title chances alive as well as BMW’s chances of winning the Manufacters’ crown. But in the second race, a wet patch on the track, which made Marco lose control of his BMW S 1000 RR, ended all hopes. Leon Haslam (GBR), who at Magny-Cours (FRA) was competing in his last round as a BMW Motorrad factory rider, finished fifth in the first race but also crashed in the second heat.

In the Manufacturers’ championship, BMW claimed its best ever result by finishing second with 421 points, 23.5 points behind winner Aprilia. In the Riders’ classification Marco finished the season in third with 328.5 points, so becoming the highest placed ever BMW rider in this championship. Leon is eighth with 200 points. Max Biaggi (ITA) claimed the title 0.5 points adrift of Tom Sykes (GBR) and 29 points adrift of Marco. BMW Motorrad congratulates Biaggi and Aprilia.

It was raining throughout the night and the morning. Even though the rain stopped before the first race, the track was still wet and the conditions tricky. Both Marco and Leon, who were fourth and seventh respectively on the grid, started steadily into the first heat, so not to risk too much in the treacherous conditions. Marco slipped back a few positions but made his way up towards the front by overtaking competitors and benefitting from several riders’ crashes. Halfway through the race, Marco was already third, on lap 13 he improved to second. He then fought an exciting battle with Sykes and Sylvain Guintoli (FRA) for the top position. The French local hero took the lead in front of Marco and was able to build a gap during the remaining laps. Marco comfortably secured second. Leon lost a few positions when he rode off track for a short time on lap four, but regained the places afterwards and crossed the line in fifth.

For the second race the track had mostly dried out, but was still damp in places. Leon had a good start and improved to fourth immediately and was fighting for the podium positions on the following laps. Marco slipped back to sixth but kept up with the front runners, and was preparing to work his way back to the top. But on lap seven he lost control over his rear wheel and crashed. Shortly afterwards Leon rode off the track and rejoined in eighth, losing four positions. On lap 17 his race also was ended by a crash. The second heat was won by Sykes. Ayrton Badovini (ITA) of the BMW Motorrad Italia GoldBet SBK Team finished the races in sixth and ninth, his team-mate Michel Fabrizio (ITA) was 12th in the first heat but crashed in the second one.

BMW Motorrad Motorsports congratulates Sylvain Barrier from the BMW Motorrad Italia GoldBet STK Team to his best ever success. The French BMW S 1000 RR rider was crowned 2012 champion of the FIM Superstock 1000 Cup by finishing today’s race second on the podium.

Marco Melandri:
Result Race 1: 2nd / Gap to 1st: 0:06.127 min / Fastest Lap Race 1: 1:54.081 min
Result Race 2: DNF / Fastest Lap Race 1: 1:39.430 min
“It felt good to finish a race on the podium again after the last two unfortunate race weekends. My BMW S 1000 RR was working very well. In the first couple of laps of race one I was still struggling a bit with warming up the tyre, but once the tyre was working I could go at quite a good pace. Anyhow, it was a tough race and I did not want to overpace and risk too much. Unfortunately the track dried up more and more, which did not play into my hands. When I finally passed Tom the track was not really wet anymore, and in these conditions I had no chance to follow Sylvain who really showed a strong performance today.

“The track conditions were very difficult in race two. I pushed 100 per cent but I could not change direction quickly. When I crashed I must have hit a wet patch, and I lost the rear of my RR. My back and my leg are very sore now. Overall, this was a great season for us. We can be proud of what we have achieved. When we started the season we were quite far from the top guys. We closed the gap quickly and fought with them for the rest of the season. We won races, but we also had some bad luck and I made mistakes. Everything was possible this year, and we can be happy. I hope to start from that point next year. A big ‘Thank You’ to all the team in Germany and at the track.”

Leon Haslam:
Result Race 1: 5th / Gap to 1st: 0:25.149 min / Fastest Lap Race 1: 1:54.646 min
Result Race 2: DNF / Fastest Lap Race 1: 1:39.594 min
“In race one I had a few issues with the grip and the electronics, and on top of that I made a few mistakes. Finishing the race in fifth is a bit disappointing as I know a podium would have been possible. I had a good start in the second race, but struggled getting into first gear in a few corners. I also got a false neutral coming down the hill in the last stadium section. I had to release the brakes so as not to hit Eugene Laverty and ran off the track. I came back in eighth and tried to follow the group around Max Biaggi when I hit a wet patch. This put me down again. I am a bit disappointed about finishing the season this way, and I am also disappointed for my crew and the team who did an outstanding job all season long. Thanks to all of them guys. Max Biaggi again was Mister Consistent, congratulations for another World Championship. Anyhow, I feel a bit sorry for Tom who did some great racing this year. Losing the World Championship by only half a point is hard to take.”

Bernhard Gobmeier (BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director):
“The final race Sunday of the 2012 season was really a day of mixed emotions for us. In race one, Marco cleverly managed the race – like he had done more than once this season. This was impressive. Leon finished the race in a solid fifth position. In the second race lady luck was not on our side once more. Both Marco and Leon crashed on wet parts of the track and could not finish the race. This result does not reflect the season for BMW Motorrad Motorsport: Until the very last race of the year we fought for the World Championship. At the start of the season one of us would have dreamt of this. We are all proud of having finished the riders’ standings in a very good third position and the constructors’ standings in a fantastic second place. These results are due to the efforts of the entire team. Everybody involved has played their part and can be proud of this outcome. That’s why I would not only like to say Thank You to just Marco and Leon, but to all the team members in Munich, Stephanskirchen and at the track. Congratulations to Tom Sykes and his team who showed an unbelievable will to win and to the 2012 World Champions Max Biaggi and Aprilia.”

Sylvain Barrier: FIM Superstock 1000 Champion on the BMW S 1000 RR.

Another title win for the BMW S 1000 RR: French rider Sylvain Barrier was crowned champion at the season finale of the 2012 FIM Superstock 1000 Cup at Magny-Cours (FRA). For his BMW Motorrad Italia GoldBet STK Team it was the second title win in three years competing in the series, after the triumphant season with Ayrton Badovini (ITA) back in 2010.

In the season’s ten races, 23-year old Sylvain celebrated four victories, which was more than any other rider. In total, the Frenchman rode his RR to six podium finishes and claimed seven pole positions. Over the course of the year, he also showed his spirit to never give up. He fought his way back to the top after a setback halfway through the season when he suffered a severe shoulder injury that put him a long way back in his title campaign. At the penultimate round two weeks ago at Portimão (POR), Sylvain retook the lead by finishing the race in second. He arrived with an advantage of three points to his closest rival at the season finale on home soil. At the last race of the year he secured the title by claiming another podium and finishing second. The first to congratulate him straight after the finish line was his mentor, double Superbike world champion James Toseland (GBR).

“I still cannot believe I won the title,” Sylvain enthused. “The hard work done with the team throughout the season has paid off and I want to thank the guys, my family, James, the Clinica Mobile and everyone who supported me during the year. It was a tough race, but I was feeling very comfortable on the bike from the warm-up. I rode very carefully on the first two laps because the rear tyre was not warmed up properly and also Eddi La Marra and Bryan Staring had already crashed. I tried to maintain the gap I had with the following riders and at the same I concentrated on making the tyres work properly and did not push to the limit. It’s been a fabulous week-end and I am over the moon!”

“The result achieved today in the FIM Superstock 1000 Cup is amazing,” said Andrea Buzzoni, General Manager BMW Motorrad Italia. “We built on our success from 2010 and won the title again thanks to a very high-level team, a rider of unquestionable talent – who was able to grow and mature even more – and a bike that proved once more to be the best not only in the worldwide market but also on track.”

“We’re extremely happy about Sylvain’s Superstock 1000 Cup title win, especially if we consider the fact that three rounds ago we were 31 points behind in the standings,” commented Serafino Foti, BMW Motorrad Italia GoldBet Superbike Team Sporting Director. “The credit for this achievement goes to all the people who supported us, to our sponsors, to BMW and especially to the team that has done an incredible job. Sylvain brilliantly kept total concentration in both tough and important times and very well deserved the title.”

— Suzuki Report

FIXI Crescent Suzuki racer Leon Camier picked himself up from a huge crash in the first race of today’s eni FIM Superbike World Championship race at Magny-Cours in France to record a brave 10th place in race two.

Camier had made his way up to sixth place by the end of lap nine in race one, despite the treacherous conditions caused by heavy rain around the 4,411m French circuit. He then suffered a huge crash which resulted in him being catapulted off his Yoshimura-powered GSX-R and into the gravel. The Englishman was pinned under his machine and could only get to his feet once the marshals had removed his bike, made his own way back to the pits, but was obviously in a lot of pain.

Camier was passed fit for the second 23-lap race and lined up in the drier conditions in ninth on the grid. He made a poor start as he tried to adapt to the battering his body had suffered – mostly down his left-hand side – and because of a problem with the electronics, probably due to the crash in the first race, which made the bike very hard to ride. By the end of the second lap he was down in 17th, but Camier re-grouped and began to pick off riders in-front of him throughout the race. He made his way up to 10th by the start of the penultimate lap and held the position to the end of the race, despite being in considerable discomfort.

John Hopkins wasn’t on the grid today after withdrawing from the weekend’s proceedings yesterday following a re-occurrence of his hip injury. He made the announcement today that he will be taking the 2013 season off to get himself back to full fitness and then re-assess his options once he is back to strength.

Today’s first race victory was taken by Sylvain Guintoli on a Ducati on his home soil, with Tom Sykes racing to victory in the second event to push the title battle right to the wire. Italian Max Biaggi crossed the line in fifth place in race two, which was enough to give him the championship crown by the smallest margin in Superbike history. Biaggi took his second WSBK title – the sixth World Championship in his career – by just 0.5 points from Sykes.

FIXI Crescent Suzuki will have a test at Aragon later this month and will also make the announcement of Camier’s team-mate for next year very soon. The provisional date for the first round of 2013 is Sunday February 24th at the Phillip Island Circuit in Australia.

Leon Camier: “I am really happy with our performance in wet conditions, but race one was neither wet, nor dry and that is the worst possible scenario. All was going OK until I came out of turn 11 and was high-sided. I was flipped into the air and came down heavily on my left arm and head and then the bike landed on top of me and I couldn’t move. It seemed ages before it was removed and I was able to get up. I felt pretty sore, but luckily I hadn’t broken anything, even though my left arm had taken a right old battering.

“The FIXI Crescent Suzuki was in a bit of mess, but the boys did a great job to get it ready in time for race two and we lined up on the grid OK. Right from the start, I felt that the bike wasn’t quite right – not surprising really after its big crash – and it was difficult to ride. The electronics didn’t feel quite right and I didn’t get a great start, but I was determined to bring the bike home and that’s what I did. Although the season didn’t end the way I hoped, the progress the team have made with the FIXI Crescent Suzuki makes me feel very optimistic about the future. The bike has come on leaps-and-bounds since the beginning of the season and I’m already looking forward to my next time on it – once I’ve rested my left arm a bit!”

Jack Valentine – Team Manager: “It has been probably the strangest season I’ve known, but the good news is that, thanks to all the hard work the team have done, we’ve shown that the FIXI Crescent Suzuki can be a competitive bike and run with the best. It was a pity that the conditions were so treacherous in the first race, making life hard for everybody – but that’s how racing is sometimes. Leon took real hammering in the crash and it took a lot of guts for him to get on the bike in race two and, all things considered, I think he did really well to get a top-10 finish.”

FIXI Crescent Suzuki racer John Hopkins will be taking a sabbatical from professional motorcycle racing for 2013 as he prioritises a return to full fitness before considering the next steps in his career.

Hopkins has been struggling with injuries for the whole 2012 season and was forced to withdraw early from this weekend’s World Superbike event in France due to a re-occurrence of his hip injury. He initially had to have a finger-top amputated in January, due to the after-effects of an injury from 2011, and then crashed heavily in a pre-season test in Australia and broke the same hand. He had to undergo six surgeries, including failed corrective surgeries, suffered a severe infection and eventual amputation of the finger in a span of four months. Then the same hand was badly broken only six weeks after the amputation, which resulted in the 29th surgery of his career – at only 29-years-old! Hopkins made a return to the Suzuki GSX-R at the Imola round, but then crashed heavily two events later in Monza, a massive high-side that resulted in him severely injuring his hip.

Hopkins again returned to competitive action after a one-race lay-off, but has battled against the damage to his hip for the remainder of the season. He has shown glimpses of the talent that led him to fourth place in the MotoGP World championship in 2007 and to the fantastic performances in BSB in 2011, but has been unable to produce the form he knows he needs to be as competitive on the world stage. Hopkins will return home to America to have further tests and repair evaluations on his injured hip and will then decide what his next course of action will be.

John Hopkins: “I have really struggled with my hip since the crash at Monza and I know that it is a priority to get my health sorted before I can even think about racing again. I didn’t want to pledge myself to the FIXI Crescent Suzuki team for 2013 and then not be able to give 100% because the injury is a constant worry, so although this is a difficult decision it is the correct one. I will be going back to America for a bunch of tests and then we’ll decide what the best course of action is. If that is a hip replacement or something similar, then that is what I am prepared to do to make sure I can get my health and fitness back. At the moment the injury is influencing everything I do in my home, personal and racing life, so I need to get it sorted out properly. I still have the desire and passion to race against the world’s best riders but every time I have pumped myself up to go for it this season, the hip has quickly and painfully reminded me that I need to be careful – and that’s no way to go racing.

“Everyone at the team has been very supportive this year, because they know what I’ve been through, so I want to send my thanks to them for all their encouragement and backing. I’d like to also thank all the racing fans and my personal sponsors – in particular Arai, Alpinestars and Monster who have been with me for so long – they have all been so positively behind me, I’m sorry that it’s not worked out this year, but I really do hope to be back!”

Paul Denning – Team Principal: “We all saw what a formidable competitor John Hopkins is throughout 2011 – in BSB, the Silverstone WSBK wildcard race and on the Suzuki MotoGP machine. He’s not a prolific crasher by any means – nearly every rider on the grid crashed in the Philip Island tests! – but John has just suffered ridiculous bad luck and has managed to create new injuries or severely aggravate old ones every time there has been an incident. It’s an indication of his talent that John has been somewhere close to the best riders on lap times in WSBK even with the restrictions he’s had to cope with.

“John needs to get himself fully healthy, allow his body to recover in the proper timescales and refresh his mind from the constant pain caused by these injuries. He’s been racing at the top level since he was 16 years old, and it’s time to give himself the chance to recover. If, following that process, John feels motivated and ready to return to racing he knows he only has to call and we’ll be at the track straight away with a bike for him to test. On behalf of the whole Crescent Suzuki family – thank you John and we really hope that 2013 is the beginning of a great future.”

— HRC Report

The FIM Superbike World Championship has now delivered Jonathan Rea (Honda World Superbike Team) 29 career podiums in 98 individual career races after he finished second in race two today, making up for the disappointment of crashing out of race one while leading, and then limping home to finish 13th. Rea completed his latest SBK season in overall fifth place, with two race wins to his credit. He was only nine points from a top four finish in the points table.

The 25-year-old rider from Northern Ireland, who has combined MotoGP duties with his full-time SBK commitments, recently was going through his fifth consecutive race weekend at the SBK season finale. He fell in the first 23-lap race at the 4.411Km Magny-Cours circuit in wet and very slippery conditions that saw many top riders fall or run wide. He was lapping two seconds faster than his closest rivals for some time, but fell on lap 13 when his rear snapped out while he was almost upright. He was lucky to walk away with just bashes and bruises and was all ready to start race two.

He was glad he did when he ran eventual race two winner Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) a close second. Sylvain Guintoli had won race one, in wet conditions on his privateer Ducati. In the championship Max Biaggi (Aprilia) won his second SBK title by finishing fifth in race two, winning the crown by an impossibly small margin of 0.5 points over Sykes. This was the closest ever finish in SBK’s 25 year history.

Hiroshi Aoyama (Honda World Superbike Team) qualified 18th at Magny-Cours and completed his rookie season in the same 18th place overall. He was a retiree in the first wet race today, but 14th and in the points in race two, in largely dry conditions.

Jules Cluzel (PTR Honda) made the break at the front of the field in the FIM Supersport World Championship race at Magny-Cours that proved eventually decisive, finally winning his home race by1.591 seconds from a chasing Sam Lowes (Bogdanka PTR Honda). Cluzel finishes the season second overall and Lowes is back up to third.

The combined efforts of many Honda riders gave the Manufacturers’ Title to Honda, for the ninth time.

After two dry days of practice a wet warm-up was the only chance the WSS riders had to put good settings in their machines. Some succeeded and some did not, with fortunes changing for many riders on the final raceday of the 13-round 2012 season.

New champion Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki) was third over the line in today’s race, but was finally penalised back the fourth after colliding with eventual podium finisher Dan Linfoot (Kawasaki) and knocking him off.

Held in damp yet slowly drying conditions the 22-lap race was a tricky one for all and particularly for Broc Parkes (Ten Kate Racing Products Honda) who raced with a rear tyre that had too much pressure in it. Despite starting from pole he dropped back to pit and then get going again and finished 27th. Parkes is fifth in the final points table.

South African riders Ronan Quarmby (PTR Honda) and Mathew Scholtz (Bogdanka PTR Honda) had very different fortunes today, with Sholtz having his personal best race of the year in seventh after qualifying 16th, but Quarmby was fighting rear grip issues to go 26th. In the championship Quarmby finished eighth, Scholtz a much-improved 16th.

Roberto Tamburini (Team Lorini Honda) was 25th in the tricky conditions,p but overall he was 12th in the final rankings, the fifth Honda overall. Gabor Talmacsi (PRORACE Honda) returned to form and was ninth, placing him 13th overall despite only competing in a few races this year. He had been an impressive sixth in qualifying.

Imre Toth (Racing Team Toth Honda) was one place behind his team-mate Balazs Nemeth (Racing Team Toth Honda) in France, with Nemeth 12th and Toth 13th. They were the last Honda riders in the points today.

Martin Jessopp (Riders PTR Honda) finished his season 18th in the order in France and 40th overall in points. Danilo Marrancone (Kuja Racing Honda) had a DNF at Magny-Cours.

Miguel Praia (Ten Kate Racing Products Honda) went 22nd today and Valentin Debise (SMS Racing Honda) retired.

Jonathan Rea (Honda World Superbike Team): Race result: 13th / 2nd Championship position: 5th
“I needed some wings in race one because I really got caught out by the conditions and had a highside. My team gave me a really good bike to ride this weekend in the dry and in the wet, so I felt like such an amateur when I ended up in the gravel, because even when I picked the bike up I was still in the lead. So I felt for the guys in the team. In race two I did my best and was not so aggressive in the beginning, but later on I was able to bridge the gap back to the front. To be honest Tom Sykes never made any mistakes and did a superb job in race two. I am really happy to be part of this championship this year because it has been up and down for everybody, not just me, and it has excited me that so many different riders could win races.”

Hiroshi Aoyama (Honda World Superbike Team): Race result: DNF / 14th Championship position: 18th
“My last race was also a tough one in the championship season. It was not such an easy racetrack here as well, and we also had some issues with the shaking of the bike and grip problems. It was a nice experience for me to race in Superbike in 2012 and it was a new challenge for me. It did not work very well sometimes and I suffered sometimes, but I have to thanks to the team because they worked very hard to solve the problems. Also big thanks to the sponsors and everyone around the team.”

Jules Cluzel (PTR Honda): Race result: 1st Championship position: 2nd
“I am really happy. I have won at home. I had nothing to prove today as the Championship was already finished so I just tried to enjoy myself. This morning my feeling with the bike was bad, but my PTR team did a great job with my bike so I was able to lead and control the race. It was great with my family and friends here. Thanks to my PTR team, it has been a great year for me. I finished the season strong. I need to learn more about the first five races for next year.”

Sam Lowes (Bogdanka PTR Honda): Race result: 2nd Championship position: 3rd
“The conditions were not perfect, but I knew we had a good chance this weekend because I was quietly working for the race. We’ve been a little bit unlucky with the weather today as I had a really good pace in the dry, but the team did an awesome job and again gave me a great bike for the wet today. I’m very happy to get second in the race and third in the championship. Thanks to the team, as the whole squad worked fantastic all year long. We didn’t quite do the job we wanted to do this year, but we’ve managed to get third in the championship and I’m happy with that.”

Broc Parkes (Ten Kate Racing Products Honda): Race result: 27th Championship position: 5th
“I got a good start and I had felt very confident in the warm-up in the rain. Kenan Sofuoglu passed me early on and in the early laps in the first corners it just kept losing the rear and spinning up. I thought I may be just because it was the first lap, but it was so bad I could not ride it, then I started to go back, back and back. I pulled in and I think there was the wrong pressure in the rear tyre. Then I went back out again to finish the race.”

Ronan Quarmby (PTR Honda): Race result: 26th Championship position: 8th
“I was really going for it in the race; I felt good. Then I had a big moment going into a corner and ran off the track. I got back on track, but lost confidence – the conditions were very difficult with the track wet and dry and I felt I had little grip. I am pleased to finish eighth in the World Championship, my best ever result.”

Mathew Scholtz (Bogdanka PTR Honda): Race result: 7th Championship position: 16th
“My start wasn’t very good and I didn’t have a lot of feeling. I was sliding a lot and dropped down to around 19th. After a few laps I got the feeling back and started to make my way up. I got up to eighth and Talmacsi was quite far in front, but I managed to catch and pass him to get my best result of the season. I’m very happy with how we’ve ended the year. The first half of the season wasn’t very good for me but I got to finish better in the second half, with a few top ten results and now seventh today.”

Gabor Talmacsi (PRORACE Honda): Race result: 9th Championship position: 13th
“I was expecting a little bit better, but the tyre dropped down so quickly and our set-up was not the best for the wet in general. But, anyway, eight times I have started races and eight times we have taken points, which is good, and I hope that next year we can expect more.”

Martin Jessopp (Riders PTR Honda): Race result: 22nd Championship position: 40th
“I went backwards on the first four laps when it was still wet and I had no confidence. As the track dried I came back quite strong and made up a lot of places and set good lap times. I learned a lot this year and enjoyed riding in WSS, it is a great class and I’ve enjoyed being part of this paddock.”

Miguel Praia (Bogdanka Honda PTR): Race result: 22nd Championship Position: N/A
“The conditions were really tricky today. I dropped towards the back of the pack at the start but got the feeling and started making my way up. In the end, I’ve finished in 22nd which wasn’t what I was hoping for, but considering how tricky the conditions were today, it’s good to be at the finish and it’s an OK result.”

— Althea Ducati

A bittersweet ending to the 2012 SBK championship for Althea Racing and its riders Carlos Checa and Davide Giugliano at the French circuit of Nevers Magny-Cours today. Despite high expectations and the desire to send the Ducati 1198 into retirement in the best possible way, the races were far from easy; Checa crashed out in the first race, while Giugliano finished eighth, while in race 2 the Althea pair crossed the line together, Davide in sixth, Carlos seventh.

Race 1 – Carlos made a fast start and was in third position at the end of the first lap, behind Rea and Sykes. Giugliano lost a couple of positions at the start and was down in 17th place but immediately fought back, passing a couple of riders with the passing of each lap to place himself tenth by lap three. Unfortunately the wet conditions conditioned Carlos’ race and a crash on lap seven put a premature end to his fight; he was unable to return to the track. Davide’s impressive pace allowed him to pass several more riders and he was in fifth place by lap eight. A couple of small errors meant that he lost valuable time, and positions, but he continued to battle hard all the way to the line, closing race 1 in final eighth position.

Race 2 – at the end of the first lap Davide was lying eighth, followed by Carlos in ninth. Lap five saw Giugliano record the fastest lap of the race (1m39.237), which gave him the Pirelli fast lap award for the first time. Both Ducati riders were lapping with a strong pace during the first half of the race, and were up in fifth (Carlos) and sixth (Davide) position by lap ten. In the final phase the gap between the leaders and the chasing group, composed of Biaggi, Checa and Giugliano, increased. Despite the best efforts of both riders they were unable to reach the rivals immediately ahead of them and crossed the finish line in final sixth (Davide) and seventh (Carlos) position.

The 2012 final championship standings see Checa in overall fourth place with 287.5 points. Giugliano, having gained some useful points today, moves up to final tenth position, with 143 points. Ducati closes the manufacturer’s championship in third place with 416 points, behind BMW (421) and Aprilia (444.5). The Ducati 1198 raced for the last time today and after five years of competition in the SBK series will now go into retirement, to be replaced by the new 1199 Panigale that will make its debut in the 2013 Superbike championship.

Carlos Checa: “It was a strange weekend. A pity for the crash in race 1 but conditions were difficult and the track was very slippery, these things happen. Then in the second I didn’t have the same feelings that I’d had yesterday, the bike seemed different and was moving a lot more. This made it hard and I couldn’t lap with the kind of times that I expected. Anyway the season is over, it was long and we had highs and lows along the way. I’m happy to close in fourth overall because considering the problems we’ve had I don’t think the final result is bad.”

Davide Giugliano: “The first race was pretty unlucky for us. We knew we had good pace and I think we had the potential to finish perhaps third but I had some small problems that prevented me from achieving that – first I had an issue with the gears and then I made a couple of small mistakes, meaning I lost a lot of time. In the second race, to tell the truth, I had this dream of winning it. Unfortunately I lost a lot of time when Melandri crashed in front of me and I knew it wouldn’t be possible. But anyway I finished ahead of my team-mate and I also won my first Pirelli award for having made the fastest lap, so I’m happy about that.”