World Superbike: from the Cathedral to the Temple of Speed
With Max Biaggi (Aprilia Racing) at the top of the points table, the eni FIM Superbike World Championship returns to Italy for the second of three events, this time at Monza, the fastest round of the calendar. The production-based racing series will be celebrating its 25th anniversary at the fourth of its 14 rounds, with a glittering array of riders and bikes present throughout the four days. The legends of then and now will be present on Saturday and Sunday in the SBK Paddock Show and for Italian fans it will be a unique opportunity to get close and personal with the men and machines who have contributed to the success of the championship over the past quarter-century.
Monza is the venue for a championship round for the 21st time: the first edition was held in 1990 and it saw a double win for Fabrizio Pirovano on a Yamaha. This will also be the 301st World Superbike round, which will reach the 600-race mark next time out at Donington the following weekend.
2010 champion Biaggi is back at the top of the points once again despite struggling to get on the podium at a rain-disturbed Assen. Last year’s champion Carlos Checa (Althea Racing Ducati) lies just one point behind, but the top of the table is a tightly-fought affair with eight riders (Biaggi, Checa, Sykes, Guintoli, Melandri, Rea, Haslam and Laverty) on five different manufacturer machines separated by just 36 points. Each one of the remaining 22 races will assign 25 points for the winner.
Aprilia are present with their latest-spec engine that may help Biaggi to increase his points lead and improve on last year’s record top speed of 334.8 km/h and average lap speed of 204.405 km/h he set during Superpole. The Italian rider has started from pole in the last two Monza rounds and also scored a double win in 2010. Twelve months ago he finished second and eighth on what became Eugene Laverty’s incredible day of success for Yamaha. The 25 year-old Irishman, who is now his team-mate, is another Monza specialist, having also won the Supersport race the previous year.
Ducati have a great tradition at Monza (18 wins, 40 podiums), but their twin-cylinder bike has not won there since 2009. Checa’s best result is eighth place in 2008, when he was with Ten Kate Honda, while another competitive Ducati machine will be in the hands of Frenchman Sylvain Guintoli (Effenbert Liberty Racing), who is on a roll following his maiden win in the Netherlands. Honda World Superbike Team’s Jonathan Rea also broke the ice at Assen and will be aiming to continue his move up the points table after his first win of the year.
Monza’s long straights should help to boost the chances of the other four-cylinder machines present in this year’s championship, starting with Kawasaki. The phenomenon of the season so far, at least in the Tissot-Superpole challenge where he has a perfect 100% record, has been Britain’s Tom Sykes, and it will be interesting to see how well the ZX-10R goes this time around. At the time of press, no replacement has yet been slated in for the injured Joan Lascorz.
After twice throwing away a first win at Assen, BMW are extremely confident things will go well this time around; Marco Melandri scored two seconds in 2011 when racing for Yamaha, while Leon Haslam is always up amongst the front runners. BMW scored the first of its eight podiums here in 2010 and the time is right for a first historic triumph. In the Italian-run BMW Motorrad Italia GoldBet squad, both Ayrton Badovini (who crashed at Assen while in the lead) and former Monza winner Michel Fabrizio will again be entrusted with the task of improving on their difficult start to the season. While over at Suzuki, Crescent FIXI men Leon Camier and John Hopkins also showed a true competitive nature following a disappointing opening couple of rounds.
Points (after 3 of 14 rounds): 1. Biaggi 92; 2. Checa 91; 3. Sykes 79; 4. Guintoli 66; 5. Melandri 66; 6. Rea 65; 7. Haslam 58; 8. Laverty 56; 9. Smrz 39; 10. Giugliano 37; etc. Manufacturers: 1. Ducati 136; 2. Aprilia 100; 3. BMW 86; 4. Kawasaki 85; 5. Honda 69; 6. Suzuki 20.
— World Supersport
The World Supersport battle for supremacy is looking to be pretty evenly-balanced as Kawasaki and Honda have taken the wins in the first three races. At the top of the table two former title holders are equal on 45 points: Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki DeltaFin Lorenzini) and Fabien Foret (Kawasaki Intermoto Step), but Sam Lowes (PTR Bogdanka Honda) is just 14 points behind, despite his crash at Assen, where the 22 year-old Brit started from pole. A Honda did manage to win in the wet at Assen, the Prorace version of Lorenzo Lanzi, but this exploit by the former WSB winner for the moment probably remains a one-off appearance. One of the title favourites Broc Parkes (Ten Kate Racing Products Honda) has yet to take a win this year, while Vladimir Leonov (Yakhnich Motorsport Yamaha) became the first Russian to score a world championship podium at Assen, moving into a very impressive fifth place in the overall championship standings. Raffaele De Rosa, who started off the season amidst the World Superbike ranks, makes a one-event debut for Lorini Honda.
Points (after 3 of 13 rounds): 1. Sofuoglu 45; 2. Foret 45; 3. Lowes 31; 4. Parkes 29; 5. Leonov 26; 6. Lanzi 25; 7. Quarmby 25; 8. Baldolini 24; etc. Manufacturers: 1. Kawasaki 70; 2. Honda 61; 3. Yamaha 31; 4. Triumph 30; 5. Suzuki 6.
— Superstock 1000
BMW Motorrad Italia’s ultra-successful run continues in the Superstock 1000 category reserved for under-26s. In 2010 the Italian squad wiped the floor with Ayrton Badovini, and last year they had Lorenzo Zanetti in their ranks; both now race in the top class. Now it’s the turn of the 23 year-old Frenchman Sylvain Barrier, who prepared for Sunday’s race in the best possible way by notching up another win last Sunday in the Italian series on the same track. Barrier has 50 points after two wins in two races, and is followed on 32 by Eddi La Marra (Barni Racing Team Italia), with the Ducati 1199 Panigale that came very close to the win both at Imola and Assen.
Points (after 2 of 10 rounds): 1. Barrier 50; 2. La Marra 32; 3. Baz 30; 4. Savadori 28; 5. Reiterberger 26; 6. Coghlan 14; 7. Baroni 12; 8. Staring 11; etc. Manufacturers: 1. BMW 50; 2. Ducati 36; 3. Kawasaki 30; 4. Honda 10; 5. Aprilia 5.
— Superstock 600
The weekend programme also sees the third round of the European Superstock 600 Championship for under-22 year-olds. By winning at his home track, Dutchman Michael van der Mark (EAB Ten Kate Junior Team Honda) took over at the top of the table, and he now leads from Spain’s Nacho Calero Perez (Team Trasimeno Yamaha) with Riccardo Russo (Team Italia Yamaha) in third. Monza is sure to offer more high-speed action as any number of riders, including the seven-strong Italian one-event and wild-card contingent aim to mix it with the best European Championship regulars.
Points (after 2 of 10 rounds): 1. Van Der Mark 41; 2. Calero Perez 40; 3. Russo 36; 4. Egea 24; 5. Duwelz 22; 6. Morrentino 13; etc.
— KTM European Junior Cup
The second round at Monza will see appearances from two Italian wildcards. Giovanni De Pera is the lucky rider to be chosen for the Moto Vudu / Bikeracing.it competition which bases selection on the achievements and promise of a young local rider, while Kevin Chili is the son of World Superbike legend Pierfrancesco Chili and looks to have inherited his father’s great talent. Both youngsters will be seeking to challenge the EJC regulars on Italian home turf, but it won’t be easy as Poles Adrian Pasek and Artur Wielebski are sure to be strong and there are any number of other riders with the speed to be challenging for the lead.
Points (after 1 of 8 rounds): 1. Pasek 25; 2. Hartog 20; 3. Wielebski 16; 4. Demoulin 13; 5. Patterson 11; 6. Lewis 10; etc.
— Statistics – Facts & Figures for Monza – Statistics compiled by Michele Merlino
Three top-10 placements for Leon Camier in Monza: his best result is a fourth in 2010, race two. Last year he fell in race two when he was running second
Poleman of the last two editions (the 2010 one was his maiden pole), Max Biaggi dominated the races two years ago, scoring a double, while last year he had a troublesome Sunday. In race one a mistake at the first turn set free Laverty, and Max was second. In race two an off-track excursion at the first turn forced him to take a ride through penalty and he was only eighth at the flag;
Carlos Checa climbed on the podium in all the circuits of the 2012 Superbike calendar, but never in Monza: on the Italian track his best result is an eighth in his debut year, 2008. Last year’s race was the last one with Carlos outside the top-10 grid spots: he was eleventh in grid, like two years ago;
Last year Mark Aitchison was able to score points in race two, fourteenth. In the 2007 Superstock race he lost out to Matteo Baiocco for only 0”004 at the flag;
Chaz Davies last year dominated the Supersport weekend, scoring pole, win, fastest lap and leading from lights to flag;
Marco Melandri was fourth and second in last year’s races: in race two he lost the lead on the last turn, passed by Eugene Laverty;
Last year, in the Superstock 1000 class, Davide Giugliano started from pole, but was beaten by Lorenzo Zanetti for only 0”065. He was second also in Superstock 600, in the 2006 race, beaten by Xavier Simeon;
Two years ago Leandro Mercado nearly took a sensational win in Superstock 600. He entered as a wild card and was able to fight for the lead up to the final lap, when he was hit by Florian Marino and crashed out at the Parabolica turn;
David Salom in the 2009 races wasn’t able to score points, while in the four Supersport races run here from 2007 to 2011, he obtained in his last two appearances his best result in Monza: an eighth;
Two seventh places, obtained in the second races of 2010 and 2011, are the best result for Sylvain Guintoli in Monza: the French never qualified on the top-10 here, last year he was twelfth in grid;
Eugene Laverty is the reigning champion in Monza: he took his maiden win in race one and swept away the opposition scoring the double last year. Eugene won also in 2010, in Supersport, before Kenan Sofuoglu and Joan Lascorz. Considering also Biaggi’s wins, the Aprilia riders won the last four superbike races held here;
In the Superstock 1000 championship, Niccolò Canepa didn’t enjoy much luck, qualifying outside the top-10 in both races run here: his best race result was a ninth last year. In 2006, in Superstock 600, he started from pole and fought for the win with Xavier Simeon, but fell on the last lap while leading. His best result across all classes here is a fourth, in Superstock 600 in 2005;
Alternating fortunes for Jonathan Rea in Monza: he always qualified between third and sixth and he equally finished between fourth and sixth. He counts three retirements though, two falls two years ago and a clash with Checa last year;
The polesitter of the last three races, Tom Sykes, is called for a major improvement in Monza, as his best qualifying spot here is an eighth, scored two years ago. Tom always scored points in his six races in Monza, with a fifth in race two, 2010. Nevertheless an amazing performance, considering that no one else in the last ten years was able to put a Kawasaki in the top-five in Monza;
Lorenzo Zanetti won the Superstock 1000 race last year from Davide Giugliano and Michele Magnoni: it was his maiden win in the series;
Michel Fabrizio won here his maiden Superbike race in 2009, when Ben Spies ran out of fuel in front of him exiting Parabolica. In race two he was second behind the American. He was back on the podium in Monza last year, with a third in race two. Michel scored points here ten times out of twelve, retiring twice for falls. Michel won the 2003 Superstock 1000 race before Ilario Dionisi and Lorenzo Lanzi;
Sixth in race two last year, Ayrton Badovini won the Superstock 1000 race two years ago;
Two podiums out of eighth races run for Leon Haslam in Monza, second in race two in 2010 and third in race one last year. If we exclude two retirements (a fall and a mechanical failure), Leon always finished between the second and seventh spot here;
Five top-10 finishes in ten races for Jakub Smrz, whose main problem are his qualifying results: he never fared better than fifteenth, in 2008 and last year. His best result at the flag is an eighth, scored in 2009 and 2010;
Maxime Berger was fourteenth in race one last year, while in Superstock 1000, despite two front row spots, he never climbed on the podium. Maxime was on the podium in third in the 2005 Superstock 600 race: third behind Claudio Corti and Yoann Tiberio. That was his maiden Superstock 600 podium, at fifteen years and ten months;
Aprilia scored the double from pole two years ago with Max Biaggi: the Italian was on pole also last year, but wasn’t able to turn that into wins and the best result for Aprilia was a second by the same Biaggi in race one and a fourth by Haga in race two;
BMW climbed on the podium twice in Monza: in 2010 and last year, in third, respectively with Troy Corser and Leon Haslam. The 2010 one was their maiden Superbike podium;
Eighteen wins and forty podium placements for Ducati in Monza, but in the last two years the Italian bikes always missed the podium here. Their last win dates back 2009, in race one with Michel Fabrizio;
Honda situation looks like Ducati’s, but their last win here dates back 2005, race two (Chris Vermeulen) and their last podium came in 2009. In three of the last four races held here, Honda wasn’t able to put a bike inside the top-10;
Kawasaki never won in Monza: their last podium placement here dates back 2001, when Akira Yanagawa was third in both races;
Suzuki won here for the last time in 2008 in race one with Max Neukirchner: theyclimbed on the podium last year with Michel Fabrizio, third in race two;
1995 – first win for Pierfrancesco Chili and first podium for Colin Edwards;
1998 – first win for Colin Edwards;
1999 – 150th win for Ducati by Carl Fogarty in race two;
2003 – 200th win for Ducati by Neil Hodgson;
2005 – 10th pole position and 25th fastest lap for Suzuki (Kagayama), 25th podium for James Toseland;
2008 – Max Neukirchner scored his maiden win in race one, the first for Germany. First podium for Ryuichi Kiyonari;
2009 – maiden win for Michel Fabrizio in race one;
2010 – maiden pole for Max Biaggi, maiden podium for BMW.
2011 – Max Biaggi recorded the highest average speed in qualifying, lapping at 204.405 km/h, beating the record of Colin Edwards in Hockenheim (203.723 km/h) which dated back to 2000. Eugene Laverty scored his maiden Superbike win, scoring a double.
– BMW Preview
Team BMW Motorrad Motorsport is preparing for its second Italian outing in the 2012 FIM Superbike World Championship. The fourth race weekend of the season is scheduled for this weekend (4th to 6th May) at the “Autodromo Nazionale di Monza” (ITA). After three strong opening rounds, the team is looking to challenge at the very front of the field again with its two factory riders, the Italian local hero Marco Melandri and Britain’s Leon Haslam.
Marco finished runner-up on his BMW S 1000 RR at the season-opener in Australia. At the first Italian job, in Imola at the beginning of April, Leon finished third in both races to claim two podium finishes. When the series arrived in Assen (NED), both Marco and Leon came within touching distance of the first victory for BMW Motorrad in the Superbike World Championship. However, they just lacked that vital little bit of good fortune in perilous conditions. The team and both factory riders have good memories of the Royal Park in Monza: in 2010 the circuit was the scene of the team’s first podium in the World Championship. Last year, Marco finished runner-up in Monza, while Leon finished third on his RR to claim his place on the podium.
Three race weekends into the 2012 season, Marco currently lies fifth in the Riders’ Championship with 66 points, level on points with fourth-placed Sylvain Guintoli (FRA). Leon is not far behind in seventh place with 58 points. Together, the pair has already scored 124 points for Team BMW Motorrad Motorsport this year. In the Manufacturers’ Championship, BMW is third with 86 points. Only the best result from each race counts towards this championship.
Marco Melandri: “I think that Monza can be a good track for us. It is a very nice circuit and has a completely different characteristic to normal motorcycle tracks. It is very, very fast, very high-speed and requires very hard braking. I like all the corners, but the ‘Ascari’ corner is something special. It is the only combination of three corners in a row, so it is good fun. And the last corner is very important to get a good result. I hope that the weather will better than at Assen.
We just have to keep working hard and try to be consistent during the race. The championship is very open and it is easy to make mistakes, especially under tricky conditions. So we need to be very focused and try to give our best in every race.”
Leon Haslam: “We are making big, big steps. In Imola we had a double podium and, had things gone a little bit differently, we could have challenged Carlos Checa for the win. In Assen we definitely had the chance to win in both races – if we had chosen the right tyre and I had not crashed. These are a lot of ‘ifs’, but at least we now can say ‘if’ when we are talking about victories.
Monza is a track I like. I got made it onto the podium there last year. It would have been a double podium if I had not been taken out in the first corner in race two, when another rider crashed and my bike was hit, causing me to fall too. On this circuit you have a lot of heavy braking and you need to get the bike balanced as you brake. You mostly have chicanes leading onto the long straights, so you need your bike to accelerate well out of these chicanes. Obviously Aprilia is going to be the bike to beat there, but our RR is fast and strong. I am hoping for a good race and to challenge for the win again.”
Andrea Dosoli (Head of Race Operations): “We showed in Assen that we are competitive in all conditions, but returned home with fewer points than we could have. To get these points is the target for the next race in Monza. It is a very special race track with long straights, where we will be able to make best use of the powerful engine on our BMW S 1000 RR. However, we must also be ready for the slow chicanes with their changes of directions and the famous ‘Lesmo’ and ‘Parabolica’ corners.
Both of our riders have good memories from last year’s races in Monza, as both were on the podium. Even last year, Leon was one in contention for the win. And our bike has been continuously further developed since then. As such, we are confident that our talented riders will compete for the top positions again. In preparation for the races we will work on the set-up, trying to get the maximum from all the new parts we have introduced during the most recent tests.”
Monza from Pirelli’s point of view: Monza is Pirelli’s home race, since the company’s headquarters are just a few kilometres from the “Autodromo Nazionale of Monza”. This track is historically probative for tyres: the extreme length of the straight stretches, the sustained high speeds and the violent braking zones stress the central part of the tyre section in a way that no other track in the Superbike World Championship does. Basically, the thermal energy developed at null lean angle both in acceleration and in braking is about 5 times more than that developed at Assen. And then there is the thermal stress on the right shoulder where, especially in the “Biassono” curve, the tyre stays leaned over for a long time at high speeds during acceleration, reaching thermal energy values on the shoulder that approach the record values of Phillip Island.
For this reason, Pirelli has decided to bring four solutions for the rear for the riders to choose from: an SC0 and an SC1 with an oversized 200 profile like the ones already seen during the Australian round. The third solution is also SC1 and last, but not least, the fourth solution is an SC2, both of which are in the standard size. The SC0 and the two SC1 solutions have a reinforced central section, which uses an SC2 compound, precisely for the reasons described above.
Background: The Royal Park in Monza has played a major role in the history of motor racing. For 90 years the “Autodromo Nazionale di Monza” has hosted thrilling automobile and motorcycle races, and the track has witnessed its fair share of motorsport history. The high-speed circuit was opened in 1922, and the mere mention of the names of its infamous corners, including “Parabolica”, “Lesmo” and “Ascari”, is enough to set the pulses of fans around the world racing. The town of Monza has a population of about 120,000 residents, and is situated in the region of Lombardy in the north of Italy, between Milan and Lake Como. The town’s history dates back to the sixth century, but it has achieved fame thanks to motorsport. Since the 1920s, the “Autodromo Nazionale di Monza” has been the venue of the Italian Grand Prix, which has belonged to the Formula One World Championship since 1950. The Superbike World Championship has also been coming to Monza since 1990.
The high-speed circuit is not particularly demanding from a rider’s point of view, but is a real challenge for the bikes. The layout combines long straights, ultra-quick corners and slow chicanes. On the one hand, the top speed and performance of the bike is absolutely essential. On the other hand, the chicanes – the first of which is particularly slow – provide a real test for the brakes. The bike must be stable and react well to braking, even at low speeds. At the same time, the bike must also accelerate well out of the slow chicanes, allowing the riders to take plenty of speed into the subsequent long straights. The “Lesmo” corner is one of the key spots on the circuit: it is important to find the right braking point here, in order to avoid losing valuable time. The combination of high-speed sections and stop-go passages also put the tyres under extreme strain.
Team BMW Motorrad Motorsport achieved its first major milestone in Monza in 2010, when the team claimed its first podium finish in the Superbike World Championship with Troy Corser (AUS). In 2011, Leon Haslam (GBR) presented the team with another Monza podium. After Imola, Monza is the second home race of the season for BMW Motorrad factory rider Marco Melandri (ITA).
– Suzuki Preview
Crescent FIXI Suzuki is on its way to the fourth round of this year’s World Superbike Championship which takes place at Monza in northern Italy this weekend with both riders targeting good results.
Leon Camier heads to the Italian circuit in a positive frame-of-mind and is sure that his knowledge of the track will enable him to push his Yoshimura-powered Suzuki GSX-R1000 on towards a decent finish.
John Hopkins is travelling to the Monza circuit to race for the first time in his career. He will need to spend some time acquainting himself with the 5.755m long track, but the 28-year-old is certain that he will get to grips with the circuit quickly and be up to speed as soon as possible. Hopkins has spent the time since the last race at Assen working on his fitness and has reported no problems from his injured hand.
The Autodromo Nazionale Monza is located north of Milan and is often referred to as the ‘Temple of Speed’ and is famous for its 1.195 kilometre-long front straight, which sees the riders achieve speeds of over 320 kph. Its mix of very long straights and tight chicanes make good braking stability and traction as important as the high speeds that the bikes can attain.
Camier and Hopkins will take to the track for the first practice session on Friday morning as they begin their preparations for Sunday’s two races; the first of which is scheduled to get underway at 12.00hrs local time (11.00hrs BST).
Leon Camier: “Monza is going to be a tough one for sure. The track is all about speed, but you also have to understand the corners as well. It’s a place where slipstreaming is very important and it is possible to be fourth going into Ascari and still win the race. For that you need to be in front going into the Parabolica because the finish line is much nearer to the last corner than it used to be. Last year I was faster than my team mate in the second race, but a crash ruined everything.
“Because of the changing weather conditions in the last round, we didn’t get a chance to try as many things as we would’ve liked, so we’ll use the first practice as a kind of test session. I am looking forward to Monza and would like three days of dry weather so we can get all our work done at the beginning. If we do that, I feel positive we can come away with good results.”
John Hopkins: “Funnily enough, I have never ridden at Monza before, so I will have to start the weekend learning the track. Normally I am a quick learner and, because I have watched a lot of TV footage of the track, I don’t see any big problems. Apart from the chicanes, it looks pretty straightforward. As long as it’s dry, I reckon I can get it dialled-in pretty easily.
“After the last race, I had absolutely no problems with my hand at all. Since then, I’ve been mountain biking and doing some Motocross and the hand has been good. I felt very comfortable on the Crescent FIXI Suzuki in Assen and was just happy to be out there riding and getting to know the bike better. Now I’m looking forward to Monza and getting my best results of the season so far.”
– HRC Preview
Jonathan Rea (Honda World Superbike Team) approaches the fourth round of the Superbike World Championship this coming weekend, to be held at the classic venue of Monza in Italy, buoyed up by the fact that he won the most recent race at Assen on his CBR1000RR.
Rea is currently sixth in the rankings, but as he is only 14 points from third place in the overall points, two good results at Monza could put him well into contention for a top three place going into his first home round at Donington, one weekend after Monza. With 14 rounds on the calendar in 2012 and the usual two races per weekend format in this category of racing in place, Rea has virtually a full season of competition in front of him.
Monza is a circuit that often rewards sheer horsepower and slipstreaming so Rea will be hoping that he has an engine package that will allow him to stay in the leading group, which will eventually enable him to use his experience to make a move in the later stages of the 18-lap races.
For Hiroshi Aoyama (Honda World Superbike Team) Monza will be another new test in his rookie season in SBK racing. The former 250 Grand Prix champion has now scored four times in six races, no mean feat for even the most experienced riders in a stupendously competitive championship this year, particularly in the midfield. Aoyama has 22 points so far but has yet to qualify for Superpole, so that will be his first aim in Italy, so that he can try to make a good start from further up the field.
The 5.77km Monza circuit is one of the most iconic motorsport venues in the world and, in the modern idiom at least, utterly unique. Its long straights, unrivalled heavy braking areas and largely flat layout make it a virtual speed bowl compared to most modern circuits. The absolute top speed record in this class is expected to be broken once again this weekend, one that takes place against the backdrop of celebrations to mark 25-years of the Superbike World Championship. Honda has provided race-winning machinery to 16 different riders so far, who have collected a total of 112 individual race wins between them. Honda is the only manufacturer to have won the Riders’ Championship using three different engine configurations – a vee-four, a vee-twin and an inline four. Fred Merkel (twice), John Kocinski, Colin Edwards (twice) and James Toseland (one of his two SBK crowns) have all won the championship on Honda machinery, making a grand total of six Riders’ Championship in 24 seasons to date. Honda has won the Manufacturers’ Championship four times.
In the 2012 FIM Supersport World Championship unpredictability has been king so far and at the superfast Monza in round four there look to be few certainties to write down before qualifying and practice starts on Friday 4 May..
In the previous round at Assen replacement rider Lorenzo Lanzi stunned the paddock with a wet-weather win for the PRORACE Honda team. It was the first Honda race win of the season and now a first race victory is overdue for Sam Lowes (Bogdanka PTR Honda), a British rider who is now third in the overall championship rankings. All top three riders, Kenan Sofuoglu and Fabien Foret for Kawasaki plus Lowes for Honda, have had one no score, which contributes to the fact that Sam is only 14 points from the joint leaders. At time of press, it is not known if Lanzi will continue to ride for PRORACE at Monza.
Broc Parkes (Ten Kate Racing Products Honda) splashed his way to fourth at Assen last time out and also took over fourth place in the rankings, only two points back from Lowes. The Australian rider has settled back into his old WSS team and is back in the hunt for not just more podium success but the championship he is so keen to win after so many years of being a top competitor in this class.
A first podium at Imola for Ronan Quarmby (PTR Honda) has helped put him seventh in the rankings. All of the top seven riders in the championship have taken at least one podium finish of only nine available so far, showing just how open things are in a class which pitches experience against youth throughout the field of over 30 regular riders.
The speed of new WSS rider Jules Cluzel (PTR Honda) has been evident since his arrival in the class and he will be out to improve on his personal best finish of fourth at Monza. The French rider is now ninth in the points, just one place ahead of Roberto Tamburini (Team Lorini Honda). Along with his team-mate Andrea Antonelli, Tamburini has made a bright start to his 2012 campaign in his new team. Antonelli is 13th currently, having scored good points in the past two races.
Balazs Nemeth (Racing Team Toth Honda) has taken points only once but as he rode to a seventh place at Imola he is still inside the current top 15. His team-mate Imre Toth (Racing Team Toth Honda) is yet to score despite showing some real flashes of speed.
Thomas Caiani (KUJA Racing Honda) recorded his first 2012 points at Assen, and is now 23rd in the overall standings, one point ahead of Patrick ‘PJ’ Jacobsen (Bogdanka Racing Honda) and two ahead of South African rider Mathew Scholtz (Bogdanka PTR Honda). Martin Jessopp (Riders PTR Honda) is yet to got off the points scoring mark, while injured Pawel Szkopek may well be out until Misano now. French rider Valentine Debise (SMS Racing Honda) will be back in the mix at Monza.
Immediately after the Monza weekend, the paddock will pack up and head across the English Channel to Donington Park, for the fifth round of the championship on May 13.
Jonathan Rea (Honda World Superbike Team): “I am now looking forward to the weekend at Monza especially after the win at Assen because that boosted the confidence of everyone in the team. As we all know, Monza is a horsepower contest between the manufacturers so we will see where we stack up. I like the circuit and I enjoy going there. We should have the pace to fight. Having two races back-to-back now, Monza and then Donington, just means less time at home but to be honest it does not change anything in my approach to the races. We have been moving the bike into new area with balance and wheelbase, so the one drawback seems to be that it affects my feel on the front. For me Monza it is another racetrack to race at and I do not know all the history of the circuit. But it is unique and I get a real thrill of the speed. I love the Italian culture and in general it feels like a second home. I always go to the old banked section of the circuit and remember how people used to race around Monza. I’ve been involved in a couple of first turn crashes in the last two years – it’s always difficult funnelling everyone into that tight chicane at the end of the straight.”
Hiroshi Aoyama (Honda World Superbike Team): “Monza is another new track for me and I have heard a lot of history about the place. I have also heard that it is very fast with an average speed over 200kph! So, there is a lot for me to learn and, even though I have seen a little bit on Playstation, I will start to learn the way round bit by bit. We had a problem with rear grip at Assen and this will be important to get on to the fast straights at Monza. So I will sit down with my crew on Wednesday and Thursday and work out a strategy. But I am looking forward to riding the Monza racetrack for the first time on Friday morning.”
Sam Lowes (Bogdanka PTR Honda): “Monza is a track I like so I’m looking forward to getting there and starting the weekend. Whatever the weather’s going to be like, I’m looking forward to the race and want to make up for Assen and put in a solid performance. Monza is a bit of a strange track. The lap starts with a tight chicane followed by some fast, flowing corners, a long straight leading into the fast right hander and another long and fast straight. It’s a place with a lot of history and with the long straights and slipstream it always produces some good, close racing.”
Broc Parkes (Ten Kate Racing Products Honda): “Monza is always a unique place and it is completely different to pretty much any other track we have on the calendar. My preparation is the same for Monza as anywhere else but I just try to make sure I keep my weight down because it makes a difference to your acceleration up to top speed. Slipstreaming is a big thing at Monza, as is horsepower, but I think a lot of people forget that there are so many fast and slow chicanes that you can make up or lose time in those also. If you can get in and out of them quite quick it makes a big difference at the end of the straight. Monza has always been one of my favourites but I am not sure what will happen with the weather. When it rains at Monza it tends to say a bit wet under the trees, so it can be half and half depending on where you are on the track. But it will be the same for everybody.”
Ronan Quarmby (PTR Honda): “I believe I am going to go into this round really strong, also for Donington. I know the tracks from last year and I have been visiting a sports psychologist to help me get my head right and I think it is better than ever. My bike should be good at Monza. There are a lot of riders in the garage this year, but when we are all set-up we are basically on our own. You have all the data from all the riders and you get looked after well, because our pits are really sorted. I want to be consistent and at Monza I want to get into the top five, so I can get some good points.”
Jules Cluzel (PTR Honda): “Another track I have never been to but it looks nice and fast. I want to learn another new track, it is always fun to discover a new one; I like that aspect of racing. I have found a fast bike and at Monza it is good to have that. The chassis is nice and I think we could have a great result in Monza. The weather does not look so good for the weekend but for everyone it will be the same, and it could not be worse than Assen! It should be warmer and the grip should be better if it rains there.”
Roberto Tamburini (Team Lorini Honda): “I think it is possible to have a good race at Monza. I hope the weather is good and if it is I feel a good connection with the motorcycle. I am sure we will work well when we get there. Our bike is quite fast and we have worked to improve the bike all the time. There is a lot of slipstreaming at Monza because the speeds are so high.”
Andrea Antonelli (Team Lorini Honda): “Monza is a difficult race but it is a very important one for the team, our sponsors and myself, because we are an Italian team. I am not sure what is possible but our target is to finish inside the top ten.”
Mathew Scholtz (Bogdanka PTR Honda): “This will be my first time at Monza so I don’t really know what to expect but the team told me that it’s a really fast track so it seems it could be a lot of fun. Let’s see how things go once we’re there but I’m definitely looking for a good result because we have good pace. We just need to put it all together now. The tight chicanes can be a bit tricky, because you can easily out brake yourself but I hope to get faster and faster over the weekend and challenge for a good position on Sunday. I don’t mind if it’s wet this weekend and I’m sure we’ll have a positive weekend regardless of the weather.”
Martin Jessopp (Riders PTR Honda) – “I am really looking forward to Monza, it is a track I have never been to or seen before but it is all about getting out of corners and slipstreaming – and that is what I am good at. I may be a bit heavier and taller than some other riders but this is the sort of track that should suit me and the Riders PTR Honda is very fast. On paper it could be really good for us. The weather may be interesting again, but Monza looks like a mega fun track to ride.”
– Althea Ducati Preview
After a double podium for Althea men Carlos Checa and Davide Giugliano at a very wet Assen circuit ten days ago, the team now returns to Italy, and Monza, for round 4 of the 2012 World Superbike Championship.
The Monza track is one of the most difficult for the Ducati due to its 1195m straightway, along which the four-cylinders have the chance to demonstrate their superior top speed. One year ago at the Monza track, Carlos, on board the 1198, closed the two Superbike races in ninth and tenth position. Davide, competing in the Stock 1000 category, finished second in a race that was red-flagged and subsequently restarted.
Ten days ago, at the Dutch TT circuit of Assen, Checa and Giugliano stepped up to the podium together for the very first time. While Carlos crossed the line in third position, his team-mate Davide closed just in front of him, securing his first ever Superbike podium finish, with both earning significant championship points in the process. Race two was more complicated for both Althea Racing riders: Davide battled hard to finish in ninth place, while Carlos did not reach the points zone, as a result of an incorrect tyre choice.
Going into the fourth Superbike event of fourteen, Checa lies in second place in the championship, just one point behind leader Biaggi, while Giugliano is tenth, two points from Smrz.
Carlos Checa: “We know that Monza will probably be the hardest round on the calendar for us and the Ducati, something we have also seen in the last two seasons. We will do our best to take as many points as possible but realize that this weekend will be mainly about containing the damage. Two top ten finishes would be good, and closing inside the top five would feel like a win for us here!”
Davide Giugliano: “Reaching the podium at Assen has really boosted my confidence. I realize that a similar result will be almost impossible at Monza as the bike is disadvantaged at tracks with long straights but I’ll be fighting to improve my position in the standings with a good performance in the two races on Sunday. It’s always great to race at ‘home’ so I’ll be doing my best to please the Italian crowds!”