World SBK 2011 – Round Seven – Aragon
World Superbike heads to fresh pasture in Spain’s new Aragon circuit
The Superbike World Championship heads into uncharted territory this weekend, when round seven is held at road racing’s newest centrepiece – Motorland Aragon in Spain.
And the fresh surroundings may have just come at the ideal time for Australia’s Troy Corser, who is now in the middle of a rocky road which has seen him finish just one of the last four races, for a best result of 13th.
The last round at Misano was particularly a bitter pill to swallow for the two-time world champion, who came out all guns blazing in practice on his factory BMW only to crash in opening qualifying, which left him with heavy bruising. The Wollongong ace tried to race, but he just wasn’t in a fit enough state for battle.
Corser has fallen to 15th in the championship during the slump, and is looking forward to adding some confidence-boosting points on the board at Aragon.
“The Motorland Aragón circuit reminds me a little bit of Portimão in Portugal, with lots of blind crests and corners, long off-camber corners and up and down sections,” said Corser. It is a quite technical track to get the bike to work at. I am looking forward to going there.
“Unfortunately my last race day in Misano was short, due to my injuries. But now I have nearly one week to rest and recover. And with that, I am confident that all will be okay in Aragón.”
While Misano was a forgettable one for Corser, it was something of a watershed for his Kawasaki-backed countryman Chris Vermeulen, who completed a full race weekend — albeit with a shortened race two – for the first time this year, scoring points in both races.
The outing certainly stretched the former world Supersport champion’s endurance, but he’s at least now racking up plenty of miles as he begins the slow process of returning to peak form and fitness.
And Vermeulen tested at Aragon the other week while his contemporaries were racing in America, so he should be ready to push hard from opening practice on Friday morning.
“We did alright at Misano with a couple of point-scoring results,” said Vermeulen. “We did get a bit lucky with a few guys going down, but the team did a really good job.
“I was a bit sore after the races, and it wasn’t easy getting through the whole program. But it’s onwards and upwards from here. If we can improve from this, we’ll be looking good by the end of the year.”
At 5.345km long, Aragon is the second longest circuit on the calendar, and lap times for the top riders are expected to be around the one-minute 53-second mark.
And the huge crowd – Spanish interest in WSBK is growing all the time — will be expecting to witness the continuation of local hero Carlos Checa’s all-conquering season, which has already seen him roll the opposition in eight of the 12 races.
The Troy Bayliss-like output already has Checa 72pts in front on his Ducati, with world champion Max Biaggi (Aprilia) leading the chasing pack from Marco Melandri (Yamaha), Eugene Laverty (Yamaha) and Leon Haslam (BMW).
Other Aragon aspirants will include Leon Camier (Aprilia) and Michel Fabrizio (Suzuki), while Honda’s star turn Jonathan Rea will miss after breaking his arm and collarbone at Misano last Sunday.
WORLD SUPERSPORT – NEWCASTLE’S BROC PARKES HOLDS CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD INTO ARAGON
Australian Broc Parkes (Kawasaki) will head into Aragon galvanised by his first victory of the year at Misano, which saw him move into the championship lead on 85 points, five points ahead of Yamaha’s Chaz Davies.
Parkes defeated Honda pair Fabien Foret and Sam Lowes last Sunday, and both will again be in the thick of it at Aragon, as well as Davies and his Italian team-mate Luca Scassa.
— Circuit Information
This season the FIM Superbike World Championship travels to Motorland Aragón for the first time. The circuit is located near Alcañiz in Aragón, an autonomous community in north-eastern Spain. Alcañiz has about 16,000 residents and is located approximately 99 kilometres from the capital of Aragón, Zaragoza.
Motorland Aragón is regarded as one of the most modern motor racing facilities in the world. It was designed by German architect Hermann Tilke, in cooperation with the British architectural office of Foster and Partners, and was opened in September 2009. Formula One driver Pedro de la Rosa was involved in the planning of the layout in an advisory role. As well as the racetrack itself, the complex also boasts a karting circuit, a technology centre and a leisure centre.
The circuit has two different lengths: one version is 5.077 kilometres long, and the other 5.345 kilometres. The races in the FIM Superbike World Championship are held on the longer variant. The track is between twelve and fifteen metres wide and the longest straight is 1.726 kilometres long. Motorland Aragón also boasts two paddocks, as the circuit can be divided into two separate circuits, each of which is almost three kilometres long.
A motor cycle grand prix was held there for the first time in 2010, and the track was added to the FIM Superbike World Championship calendar from this year. The circuit is used all year round for testing purposes by a diverse range of automobile and motorcycle series.
The circuit’s features pose some real challenges for the teams and riders, with blind crests, descending corners, and up and down sections. There are also a lot of flowing sections, the key to which is finding the right line on which to enter the following curve whilst still exiting the present one. A number of slower sections complete the mix.
The combination of corners seven and eight is based on the infamous “Corkscrew” at Laguna Seca (USA). The final corner is also interesting: here, the drivers must accelerate early in order to take momentum into the uphill start-finish straight, at the end of which awaits a 90-degree left-hander – one of many overtaking opportunities.
— Results from previous round
|SBK Race 1||SBK Race 2||SBK Series Points|
|1 Carlos Checa|
2 Max Biaggi 0’00.984
3 Marco Melandri 0’17.124
4 Tom Sykes 0’18.652
5 Eugene Laverty 0’18.929
6 Leon Camier 0’21.003
7 Sylvain Guintoli 0’22.942
8 Ayrton Badovini 0’23.117
9 Joan Lascorz 0’31.729
10 Maxime Berger 0’34.466
11 Ruben Xaus 0’36.683
12 Matteo Baiocco 0’37.692
13 Alessandro Polita 0’37.984
14 Chris Vermeulen 0’41.016
15 Lorenzo Lanzi 0’43.514
|1 Carlos Checa|
2 Max Biaggi 0’01.484
3 Noriyuki Haga 0’07.772
4 Ayrton Badovini 0’07.865
5 Leon Haslam 0’09.714
6 Michel Fabrizio 0’10.777
7 Sylvain Guintoli 0’10.875
8 Ruben Xaus 0’13.483
9 Joan Lascorz 0’13.576
10 Chris Vermeulen 0’17.962
11 Lorenzo Lanzi 0’22.768
12 Roberto Rolfo 0’24.535
13 Eugene Laverty 0’51.895
14 Tom Sykes 1’04.134
|1. Carlos Checa Ducati ESP 245|
2. Max Biaggi Aprilia ITA 173
3. Marco Melandri Yamaha ITA 150
4. Eugene Laverty Yamaha GBR 123
5. Leon Haslam BMW GBR 106
6. Leon Camier Aprilia GBR 101
7. Michel Fabrizio Suzuki ITA 95
8. Jonathan Rea Honda GBR 94
9. Jakub Smrz Ducati CZE 83
10. Sylvain Guintoli Ducati FRA 72
11. Ayrton Badovini BMW ITA 72
12. Noriyuki Haga Aprilia JPN 70
13. Tom Sykes Kawasaki GBR 65
14. Joan Lascorz Kawasaki ESP 53
15. Troy Corser BMW AUS 49
16. Ruben Xaus Honda ESP 44
– Althea Ducati Preview
Spaniard Carlos Checa (Althea Racing) is even more enthusiastic about the upcoming round at new SBK track Motorland Aragon this week; having scored the double win at Misano last weekend, he heads to Spain with a 72 point lead in the classification.
The Althea Racing team’s home track of Misano proved to be another successful hunting ground and Carlos snatched a full quota of 50 points which helped boost his championship advantage over second-placed Biaggi and third-placed Melandri. The Althea Racing team, under the guidance of Genesio Bevilacqua, has won eight of the twelve races run so far this season and has finished on the podium in a further two. All eyes will be on Carlos, in the form of his life, as he races at his home track of Aragon this weekend.
Although this will be the first race event to be hosted by Motorland, several riders have already tested at the track and during those tests Checa demonstrated his strength and determination, setting the fastest times on that particular day. The Spanish rider, who comes from Sant Fruitos de Bages, will understandably be looking for a win at Motorland this Sunday.
Althea’s Superstock 1000 riders, Davide Giugliano and Lorenzo Baroni, will also be racing at Aragon. Davide, having won two of the three races held so far in 2011, leads the standings with a 17 point advantage.
“I really liked the track when we tested there last winter and we now travel there in the best possible circumstances. It is a left-handed track and as you know I prefer those, though I’m also getting to grips with right-handers too! I’m really enthusiastic and happy to race in my home country. It’s the first time that Superbikes come to Aragon and I would love to give the Spanish public two great races. Spanish interest in the SBK championship is on the rise and so I hope that this event can help promote the championship from a media point of view. I think the fans will really enjoy themselves this weekend. I thank everyone that has worked to make the Motorland Aragon event a reality.”
– Team BMW Preview
The Team BMW Motorrad Motorsport enters uncharted waters this coming race weekend. From 17th to 19th June the FIM Superbike World Championship will visit Motorland Aragón (ESP) for the first time. The ultra-modern facility is located near Alcañiz in the region of Aragón in north-eastern Spain. This is the venue for the seventh round of the 2011 season, just one week after round six in Misano (ITA).
The Team BMW Motorrad Motorsport and works riders, Leon Haslam (GBR) and Troy Corser (AUS), tested in Motorland Aragón during the winter. This gave them the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the circuit and collect important data in preparation for the race. For Leon and Troy, the coming days are all about getting back to 100 percent fitness and recovering from the injuries received last weekend in Misano. Leon’s injuries included a broken toe, while Troy suffered a bruised hip and a cracked rib.
In this season’s Riders’ Championship, Leon is in fifth place on 106 points, while Troy is currently fifteenth on 49 points. Over the course of the first six race weekends of the season, the pair has already scored 155 points for the Team BMW Motorrad Motorsport. In the Manufacturers’ Championship, BMW lies fourth with 138 points. Only the best result from each race counts towards this championship.
Leon Haslam: “Aragón is quite interesting for us. A few of the teams selected it as their test circuit. We tested there once in the winter and did not do too badly. I feel that we have made some progress now with the BMW S 1000 RR, so I am actually looking forward to returning to a circuit where I have done some testing. And on top of that it is a new circuit for everyone, so it is quite exciting to see how it will all pan out. The circuit is quite technical. In a lot of corners the radius hangs on to you, it is always an issue with grip over there, and on top of that you have some high-speed straights leading into very, very tight corners. It has a mixture of everything and a lot of different elevations. I think it will make for good racing.”
Troy Corser: “The Motorland Aragón circuit reminds me a little bit of Portimão, with lots of blind crests and corners, long off-camber corners and up and down sections. It was good that we tested there to learn the circuit. It is a quite technical track to get the bike to work at. I am looking forward to going there. Unfortunately my last race day in Misano was short, due to my injuries. But now I have nearly one week to rest and recover. And with that, I am confident that all will be okay in Aragón.”
Bernhard Gobmeier, BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director: “We tested at Aragón in the winter, just after Leon joined the team, and we had a very positive outcome, although the low temperatures meant we did not get any really conclusive information about the interplay between tyres and chassis. Obviously the BMW S 1000 RR has been developed and evolved considerably since then, and definitely for the better, so we are looking forward to going there. It is a track that seems to favour the characteristics of our machine. The Superbike World Championship has never raced there before so everyone is going in on the same level. With that anything is possible. The track itself is very abrasive with high grip levels, so tyre management and conservation will be the key to a good race in Spain.
Fortunately neither of our riders suffered really bad injuries in Misano. However, the bruises and fractures are obviously painful – that much is clear. Our two boys are currently in extremely good physical and mental condition, so we assume that they will be fully fit again in time for the weekend. All in all, we are hoping everything runs more smoothly again in Aragón.”
– HRC Preview
Ruben Xaus (Castrol Honda) will be the lone representative of the official Honda Superbike World Championship squad after his team-mate Jonathan Rea suffered injuries at last weekend’s Misano round. However Xaus will be far from alone, as he will have thousands of his Spanish countrymen cheering him on at a circuit which is a new to the championship trail this year.
Motorland Aragon was the site of Ruben’s first ride on his 2011 CBR1000RR machine, although cold and wet winter conditions ensured he could only do a relatively small number of laps. Ruben has made great strides since then, on a machine that has been modified and extensively developed to suit Xaus and Rea’s needs in the intense competition inherent in a race category that features seven competing manufacturers. All seven with official teams of some kind, plus a solid core of top quality privateers that have proven capable of podium finishes already.
Rea is about to undergo a restorative operation to fix the clean break he suffered to his right radius in his high speed warm-up crash at Misano, but his other injuries are not causing him any real concern, other than understandable discomfort. Rea is hoping to be ready to return at the eighth round of the championship, at Brno in the Czech Republic on July 10. Brno was where Jonathan won his first world championship race, for Honda, in the Supersport World Championship class in 2008.
After the Misano round Rea is now eighth in the championship standings and Xaus 16th. Ruben and Jonathan will face the Brno race on July 10th, with practice and qualifying commencing on Friday 8th July.
WSBK Rider Comments
Ruben Xaus, Castrol Honda says: “Hopefully we can step up at Aragon now. It is a new track for me there, so no ‘real’ test so far, which means it will be difficult. We did 20 laps in the winter, but it was my first time on the Castrol Honda, so I did not know the set-up at all. The set-up of the bike then and now is completely different. The best thing is that we are getting out of Misano with a good rhythm and the race is next weekend, so very quick, and that is going to help. Hopefully we will find a weekend with no rain. But most important is that Johnny will be OK and come back soon.”
– Yamaha Preview
With little time to rest after the challenging weekend just past in Misano, the Yamaha World Superbike team gears up for the Spanish stop off on the 2011 World Superbike Championship in Aragon. Round seven, marking the beginning of the second half of the season, will take place this weekend in Aragon Motorland, known locally as Ciudad del Motor de Aragòn, located just 5 km from the city of Alcaniz.
Marco Melandri and Eugene Laverty came away from Misano just last weekend disappointed with the results of a difficult race day. Melandri took a podium in race one and was aiming to replicate in race two before crashing after just 10 laps, causing the race to be red flagged and unable to participate in the following 14 lap race. Laverty was also misfortunate crashing out in race two from his third place position. Both Yamaha riders will be looking to be on top form in Aragon and make up for points lost in Misano. Just last month Melandri and Laverty successfully completed two days of tests on the Spanish circuit and are now confident their R1s can adapt well to the high speed track allowing them to be on top form and make amends for the disappointment of Misano.
Aragon Motorland is the new addition to the 2011World Superbike calendar but the city of Alcaniz hosted the legendary Alcaniz street circuit for many years. The desire to continue this long standing tradition, the popularity of motorsports and the enthusiasm it sparked off both on a local and national level gave way to the creation of Aragon Motorland. This year the World Superbike is heading to Aragon for the first of the three contracted years. Designed by well-known German architect Hermann Tilke in collaboration with Formula One driver Pedro de la Rosa, the 5.344 km track incorporates three main zones – a technology park, a sports area and a leisure and culture area. From a spectators point of view, the biggest advantage is that you can see a lot of the track from any one position.
Melandri and Laverty begin the second part of the 2011 season in third and fourth place in the World standing with strong potential to further climb the ladder.
Marco Melandri / Yamaha World Superbike Team
“I really like the track. It’s fast flowing and rides very well. I’m glad we had the chance to test there last month but the conditions were’t ideal. The track was cooler than usual for the time of year and there seemed to be traces of rubber, so it wasn’t as fast as it should be and I’m not sure what to expect now. I was in Aragon last year with MotoGP but the track layout they use is also a little different. After the difficulties I experienced in Misano I’m not really sure what awaits me in Aragon. I’ll do my best and hope to be in the condition to perform to my potential.
Eugene Laverty / Yamaha World Superbike Team
“I’m really looking forward to Aragon. We tested there after Monza and it went pretty well. It’s a new track most riders haven’t raced before so hopefully this will be an advantage for us. I had a tough weekend in Misano but I intend bouncing back in Aragon, pushing forward to try and gather more valuable points for the championship.”
Aragon technically speaking according to Silvano Galbusera – Marco Melandri’s crew chief
“I’m pretty sure it will be very warm in Aragon so we’ll have to work hard on tyre wear which will be critical on the hot track. We need to improve our chassis settings due to the problems Marco had in Misano with the front of the bike. We’ll start with the base set up we used in last month’s tests and see where to go from there. We’ll do our best on Friday and Saturday to find the ideal set up for Sunday’s races and hopefully be able to fight for a victory.”
Aragon technically speaking according to Frankie Carchedi – Eugene Laverty’s crew chief
“Aragon is another technically difficult track. We found a good chassis setting for handling and grip in the tests last month. We’ll use a similar setting and find a way of keeping the front of the bike down so Eugene doesn’t lose so much time on straights, which was a problem in Misano. At the moment Yamaha is faster than everyone except Checa and Biaggi, we need to find a way to close that gap.”
Andrea Dosoli – Yamaha World Superbike Team Manager
“It’ll be fundamental to make up for points lost in Misano. Both Marco and Eugene have the potential to be battling with Checa and Biaggi at the top of the standings and need to close the gap between them. We have some useful data we gathered during the tests there last month and this time the track will be decisively warmer. Aragon is not an easy track, it has a very fast straight and a few tight corners. We’ll use Friday morning’s free practice to test the base set up used during the tests and hopefully improve from there. We have the potential to have both riders back on the podium this weekend.”