WorldSBK is back on track at Lausitzring as the last four rounds of WSBK 2016 get underway
WorldSBK returns this weekend as the paddock heads back from summer to take on Lausitzring, in the east of Germany. The venue has hosted WorldSBK before, but not since 2007 – meaning 2016 will be the first look at the track for the majority of the grid. Only Milwaukee BMW rider Josh Brookes has lined up on the Lausitzring before at world level – and that was in World Supersport.
At the 2007 WorldSBK round at Lausitzring the opening race was won by Noriyuki Haga on a Yamaha, while Troy Bayliss was the victor in race two on the Xerox Ducati 999R.
Troy Bayliss after the race in 2007
“These wins are hard to get but when you do take one they are very enjoyable, so I’m very happy with that second race today” declared Troy. “I’ve been racing against Nori since year 2000 and we’ve had some great battles over the past, they’ve all been very memorable. Sometimes he takes the win or I do but I love having a dice with Nori. Honestly there wasn’t much difference between the bikes in the two races, sometimes you have a problem and it goes like that.
“We weren’t happy with the first race and you could tell the difference in the second race because the bike was better to ride. It did look like the same was going to happen as I opened out a lead of 2 and a half seconds, and I did wonder that but it didn’t and I could push the whole race. I did make one mistake and that allowed Nori to come past. I was on the limit trying to gap Nori and it wasn’t easy.
“It was nice to have my electronics engineer Alessandra on the podium with me, she does all the stuff with the computer and she did a great job as always!”.
Troy Bayliss won four times at the Lausitzring from 2001 to 2007: he is the only rider who has claimed more than one win at the German circuit.
The experience of those who have ridden in the IDM could make a difference – chiefly Althea BMW’s Markus Reiterberger and Barni Racing’s Xavi Forés, who have both won previously at the eastern German circuit – but the 4.2km track should prove a clean slate for the majority of the grid. It’s not quite a start from zero however, since most of the WorldSBK teams have tested at the track. With four Rounds to go, the final countdown begins here.
The man left frustrated after Laguna Seca was an impatient reigning Champion, as Kawasaki Racing Team rider Jonathan Rea failed to finish the second Race with a mechanical problem, and found himself staring down the summer break with Germany and the chance to get back on track seeming so far away. Out but not down was the title defender’s mood however, as the Northern Irishman was philosophical in the face of the retirement and kept some perspective on his title lead, which remains substantial. With only four Rounds to go, Rea is in not only a good position, but the best one by far.
Tom Sykes, his teammate, seems to be the man who is now most likely to be able to stop Rea. The 2013 WorldSBK Champion has been blindingly fast in many Races in 2016, but has lacked some consistency. A win last time out when Rea was unable to score opened the door to glory once again however, and the Yorkshireman will be out to take as many points from his teammate as possible in the last 8 Races of the year. Whether that will be enough remains to be seen…
“I rode at the Lausitzring recently on my own road bike Ninja ZX-10R. It was good to get some track time at a new track to me. Our rivals had tested there so it was important. It has been such a long summer break. For a few weeks at the start I enjoyed just being at home and after that I knuckled down to be in ideal condition for the last few races. I really put some effort in at the gym, riding motocross and my bicycle. The last four rounds are an important time and they come along in quick succession. It is important to be razor sharp to give myself the best possible chance through to the end of the year. My focus now is to increase the championship lead. Personally, I am looking at the last four races as one block because it is going to go by so fast.”
“I lapped the Lausitzring on a Ninja ZX-10R roadbike in a session that Kawasaki organised recently, during the summer break. I think I won a Lausitzring race that was part of a one-make roadbike series, which was some years ago now. After the long break I am happy to get back into racing and go back to Germany again. I have some good memories of the Lausitzring. The track itself is good as I like the layout but I think there are some areas where the width of the track is quite narrow. I have had a good summer but I am really looking forward to getting back onto the Ninja ZX-10R and really trying to capitalise on the pace we had before the break.”
Ducati’s Chaz Davies recovered some form in Race 2 in Laguna, and some points on reigning Champion Rea. The Welshman also now has a brand new Ducati contract in his pocket, and with his future decided some of the pressure should be eased on the Aruba.it title challenger. Although almost too far back to now be considered a threat to leader Rea, never in motorcycle racing can the word ‘never’ be used – until the maths says otherwise. Davies had an extremely good test at Lausitzring ahead of his summer break, too, and can never be counted out.
“We had a long summer break, but I’ve always stayed active and I feel more than ready to get back to racing. Physically I feel good, and I think we’ve made a clear step forward in the last couple of tests in Lausitz and Misano. In both, I got the feeling I was looking for and left the track happy, but racing is always different. The Lausitz track is quite challenging and bumpy, so it will be crucial to work well on the setup. It’s a new track for everyone, so it’s impossible to make predictions, but I’m confident and motivated.”
“We’ve been inactive for almost too long and, despite having trained on a bike almost everyday between motocross and motard, I can’t wait to get back on my Panigale R. We head to Germany with high goals, and first of all we want to further stretch the positive streak that saw us claim a podium throughout the last four rounds. The Lausitz track is very bumpy and it is not among my favorites in terms of layout, but we’re ready to give our best after collecting some important data during the tests. Misano has some characteristics in common with Lausitz and, during our last test there in August, we found a good balance and left with positive feedback.”
The big news in the paddock will definitely belong to Sylvain Guintoli, however, as the French veteran and 2014 WorldSBK Champion prepares his return to racing after a highside in Tissot-Superpole 2 in Imola. Expecting to be 100% healed and fit, Guintoli will be looking to make waves with Yamaha in the final four Races of their partnership, before Dutchman Michael van der Mark takes over the seat for next season to partner Alex Lowes. Lowes’ PATA Yamaha machine will be one to watch in Germany too as the Brit returns to WorldSBK fresh from victory in the Suzuka 8H on the YZF R1, and two outings on the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machine in MotoGP after subbing for injured Bradley Smith. Although the Suzuka 8H is under different regulations, the extra experience and working alongside Yamaha Japan can only prove a positive for the 2013 British Superbike Champion, as the PATA squad set about pulling themselves to the front.
“Lausitz is a new track for me and most people in WorldSBK but I’m looking forward to this weekend and getting back on the YZF-R1. I think it’s going to be a difficult race for everyone, as it’s a technical track with some tricky sections but we had a good test there last month. My goal for the final four rounds is to up our game a bit and finish the season well so I’m looking forward to getting started.”
“Obviously I have been out of competition for a few months now so I’m really looking forward to getting back into the mix and getting stuck in. You can’t replace racing – there is nothing that gets anywhere near the feeling it gives you to compete and to race so I am very much looking forward to this weekend. Hopefully I can rebuild my speed quickly, find the feeling with the YZF-R1 and enjoy the end of the season. I think everyone agrees that Lausitz is not the most exciting track and is very bumpy but we have to do the best we can there to get a strong result.”
Honda WorldSBK Team’s line up of Michael van der Mark and Nicky Hayden also come back to WorldSBK from Suzuka, but were sadly unable to finish the race due to a mechanical problem. The Ten Kate squad is another who have tested at the German track before Round 10, and will be hoping to hit the ground running and get more podiums and wins to add to their 2016 tally before welcoming new rider Stefan Bradl to the squad over winter, while Michael Van Der Mark is off to Yamaha in 2017. With all the riders rookies of the 4.2km ribbon of asphalt, WorldSBK newcomer Nicky Hayden will be at no disadvantage and will be hoping that work on the electronics over the course of the season’s tests will begin to give a big pay off.
At Althea BMW, rookie Markus Reiterberger is another rider who will be back from injury at Lausitzring. The German is hoping to be fully fit for his home Round after a big highside crash in Race 2 at Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli saw him break vertebrae. The two-time IDM Champion does have experience of the track to help him get back on the great pace he has often shown in his rookie year, and he and his fellow BMW riders – teammate Jordi Torres, and Milwaukee’s Josh Brookes and Karel Abraham – will be keen to get some good results at the home Round of their manufacturer.
“I must say that, despite the enforced break, I’m feeling really good. I’m really looking forward to Lausitz as it’s my home race of course, with many fans and my family, friends and sponsors all coming so it should be great. The last weeks have not been easy for me. It’s the most serious injury I’ve had so I’ve done a lot of physio and have worked with the doctors to be able to come back as soon as possible, after 2.5 months. I don’t feel exactly as I did before the crash but I feel good and think I can do two good races this weekend. First I have to get the feeling back with my BMW and then, step by step, improve over the course of the weekend. I’m a little bit nervous, and it won’t be easy after such a long break, but I’m really looking forward to it.”
After a season of some incredible results, MV Agusta’s Leon Camier will be another rider who will be hoping that the test sessions in Germany will facilitate an easier start to the race weekend. Camier, who has finished in the top 4 more than once in 2016, will be looking to start off well in the final run of four Races in 2016. Looking to spoil the MV Agusta Reparto Corse party will be IodaRacing Aprilia’s Lorenzo Savadori too, who has often emerged as another contender for the top 5 in some moments of impressive rookie outright pace, and some of well-planned opportunism.
The unfortunate rider is Fabio Menghi, the Italian having had to undergo further surgery to tendons following his heavy pre-season testing crash at Phillip Island. This means he misses the rest of the season, with the family-run VFT Racing team now set to draft in Luca Scassa for the remaining German, French, Spanish and Qatari Rounds.
Anthony West also will be on the grid this weekend on the Pedercini Kawasaki.
With the grid back to full strength, the summer break over and testing in Germany complete, all that remains for WorldSBK at Lausitzring is for the lights to go out and the final countdown of the 2016 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship to begin on the 16th September, as the season finale in Qatar awaits.
Looking at the weather forecast it is likely that at least one of this weekend’s two WorldSBK races will be staged in damp conditions. Changing weather conditions at the Lausitzring in the 2007 qualifying session meant that Fonsi Nieto recorded pole with an advantage of 3.878 seconds over his nearest rival, his team-mate Regis Laconi. That is the largest margin in the entire history of the Championship. That would remain the only pole in Nieto’s career.
WorldSBK 2016 – World Championship Points Standings
Jonathan Rea Kawasaki 368
Tom Sykes Kawasaki322
Chaz Davies Ducati 260
Davide Giugliano Ducati 185
Michael Van Der Mark Honda 185
Nicky Hayden Honda 173
Jordi Torres BMW 155
Leon Camier MV Agusta 110
Lorenzo Savadori Aprilia 110
Xavi Fores Ducati 97
Alex Lowes Yamaha 94
Markus Reiterberger BMW 68
Roman Ramos Kawasaki 60
Sylvian Guintoli Yamaha 58
Josh Brookes BMW 58
Alex De Angelis Aprilia 56
Anthony West Kawasaki 50
Karel Abraham BMW 32
Niccolo Canepa Yamaha 30
Matteo Baiocco Ducati 12
WorldSSP: A Return to Lausitzring – and Experience May Count
Title defender Sofuoglu looks to keep momentum
It has been a long summer break for World Supersport, with the grid last lining up to fight for 25 points at Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli. With Kenan Sofuolgu taking the win at the Italian track, the last four Rounds of the season give his title rivals a big challenge as the season first to Lausitzring for the next battle.
Kawasaki Puccetti Racing rider Sofuoglu is the only title contender to have raced at the eastern German circuit, and set the fastest lap in 2006 on his way to taking the victory. The milestone was the Turk’s first fastest lap in WorldSSP, and he followed it up in 2007 with another, coming home P2 that year. The wealth of experience the reigning Champion has in the category, added to the experience of the track, surely makes Sofuoglu the favourite as the paddock heads to Germany.
His biggest rival, on track and in the Puccetti garage, has proven to be teammate Randy Krummenacher. After a run of more difficult results for the former Moto2 rider, the Swiss rookie will be heading to the Pirelli German Round after shoulder surgery to fix a broken cuff sustained on Friday in Assen. With so many Rounds having been hindered by the injury, a full-strength Krummenacher should prove a strong rival on the WorldSSP grid once again – and will be ready to take the fight to his teammate once again.
Honda’s PJ Jacobsen is the third placed man in the title standings, and the American has shown a great run of form since a slightly more difficult start to the season. Leading the way for much of the Race in Misano, last year’s runner-up is still searching for his first win on the Ten Kate machine – but is always a frontrunner and a threat to victory. With the points gap to Sofuoglu making the title a long shot, it’s not yet impossible, however – and Jacobsen has nothing to lose in putting everything into defeating the Turk.
One man who will no doubt be answering questions in Germany is Jules Cluzel, as the Frenchman – 11 times a WorldSSP race winner and twice championship runner-up – has yet to announce his plans for the 2017 season. In the meantime, the MV Agusta Reparto Corse rider is placed fifth in the standings behind GRT Racing Team’s Gino Rea, who was pleased to declare himself the quickest rider when he recently tested at the Lausitzring.
Another hot battle in the ranks of World Supersport is the FIM Europe Supersport Cup, with Puccetti-backed San Carlo Team Italia riders Axel Bassani and Alessandro Zaccone going head to head for the honours at the top of the table. Zaccone, after being the leading ESS rider more consistently than his teammate, suffered last time out in Misano with a DNF – giving Bassani the points lead for the first time. Germany is the first of the last three dates for the ESS in 2016, and the battle should go down to the wire in Jerez de la Frontera at the last European race meeting of the season, with three memorable contests to count on.
A couple of familiar Finnish faces are set to be on the grid as One Event riders; Niki Tuuli and Eemeli Lahti both raced in the Superstock 600 category last year and now they are reunited. This will be Tuuli’s second start in World Supersport, as he raced at Donington last season and finished in ninth position. Lahti is yet to compete in the category, although this year he has been competing in the Superstock 600 class of the German IDM series, finishing on the podium in his most recent race at Assen. The third and final One Event rider this weekend will be Estonia’s Hannes Soomer, who first raced in WorldSSP at Magny-Cours last year. Tuuli and Soomer are Yamaha YZF R6 team-mates this weekend at Kallio Racing – the squad run by former World Supersport racer Vesa Kallio who is the older brother of Moto2 star Mika – while Lahti is competing with Team Suzuki Stoneline-Mayer on a Suzuki GSX-R600.
Over the summer break, the WorldSSP grid have certainly been busy – with Sofuoglu breaking records, Krummenacher training back to full strength, and a number of riders – including PJ Jacobsen and Gino Rea – taking part in the Suzuka 8H endurance race. Now, however, the focus moves back onto the World Supersport Championship and Lausitzring, as the final countdown towards the season finale in Qatar begins and Germany kicks off the final part of the season – with defending Champion Sofuoglu in the lead, and his rivals ready and refreshed to stop the charge.
Both Glenn Scott and Aiden Wagner will not be continuing in World Supersport for the remainder of the year.
Over the last 5 months, Australia’s Glenn Scott has been suffering from a compound fracture to his left leg after another rider collided with him during practice at Round 3 of the World Supersport Championship in Aragon, Spain. After residing in Spain for the most part of the recovery, Glenn decided to return home for the summer break to continue his rehabilitation and recovery process whilst having his eyes set on making a comeback at round 9 of the championship in Germany in September. Unfortunately, due to complications and what his Australian surgeon has called a ‘non-Union’ (an infection has occurred early after surgery and has prevented healing for a period of time), Glenn has had to make the toughest decision of his career, to not return for the end of the 2016 season.
“I have my head in my hands, it’s absolutely heartbreaking and I’m extremely sad to be forced to sit out the rest of this season due to injury. It has definitely been a life changing experience, I have good and bad days but my main focus right now is to walk properly again and eliminate the pain I feel every day and get back to 100% fitness for the 2017 season”.
As for Aiden Wagner, the Queenslander has been frustrated by a lack of pace with the GRT machine this season and has been unable to arrive at a set-up that enabled him to be competitive. Thus himself and the team have decided to go their separate ways.
“Unfortunately I won’t be continuing in World Supersport with GRT Racing Team. At the German test we decided on a mutual agreement to no longer continue together. It was a hard decision for myself but will work now to secure a seat hopefully in the FIM STK1000 class for 2017, so until then I will be training Motocross flat out until someone can give me a ride. Its a long road but i wont quit i would like to thank all my sponsors who have backed me this season i will make you guys proud
Thus the only Australian in the World Supersport event this weekend will be 16-year-old Lachlan Epis.
“With more sad news this week about the decline in Australian racers in the paddock, I am even more grateful that we are already confirmed to be here again in 2017. Our goal of an all-Australian team is gaining some traction back home after a strong local showing in the ASBK at Morgan Park, QLD.
“We came to Europe to start a racing apprenticeship, giving ourselves 5 years to be fast enough with a good bike and great team to be fighting at the front in WorldSSP, we are really happy with our progress to date, more so due to having to jump up to WorldSSP two years earlier than planned, and look forward to learning much more these next few years.
“Our bike for this round has had a few upgrades which should help with our development to have a front running bike ready for the start of the 2017 season. Our goal for this year was to finish 15th in a race, and to be fighting for 18th in Qualifying, I am hoping that with the improvements and additions to the team, bike and rider that we achieve that a bit early, hopefully this weekend in Germany.”
World Supersport Championship Points Standings
STK1000: The Fight for the Cup Continues at Lausitzring
Only five-points separate De Rosa and Mercado heading into the Pirelli German Round
While a number of the Australians are out of World Supersport for the remainder of the year, Bryan Staring is returning to the paddock after sustaining significant leg injuries sustained in April during a MX training session in Italy, Bryan Staring is now ready to return to racing this weekend at Eurospeedway Lausitzring. Together with his FIM Superstock 1000 team, Agro On-Benjan-Kawasaki, Staring successfully tested last Saturday on the TT Circuit in Assen.
Before the interruption of the summer break, the FIM Superstock 1000 Cup left its main protagonists immersed in a climatic edge-of-the-seat battle leaving the championship open by five points.
The last race at the Pirelli Riviera de Rimini Round saw the leader Raffaele De Rosa defend a tight five-point lead against his main rival, Leandro “Tati” Mercado. Althea BMW Italian and the Argentine of Aruba.it Racing- Junior Team were engaged in an intense battle for victory that ended dramatically with the fall of both in the last lap when De Rosa tried a very forced overtake to regain the top spot.
Luckily the unfortunate absence of points did not affect their positions in the overall standings, where they occupy first and second position. However it did give chance to their immediate pursuers to chip away at the points gap where previously first and second points were divided equally between the leading pair in the previous four races.
The fierce battle between the Italian BMW rider and the Argentinian on the Panigale R will resume this weekend with two factors to consider: De Rosa is penalised three positions on the grid at Lausitzring because of his race-ending maneuver at the last round, and both will enter the race with equal knowledge of the track as a result of their summer tests at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz.
Italians Kevin Calia (Nuova M2 Racing) and Michael Ruben Rinaldi(Aruba.it Racing-Junior Team), have been given an opportunity to continue fighting for the Cup after the leaders wiped out in Misano. Calia, who came second in Misano is now third place overall, only 16 points behind De Rosa, while rookie Rinaldi is fourth overall, 23 points behind first place.
Behind the top four, the Superstock 1000 top ten are only separated by a mere seven points: Andrea Mantovani, Toprak Razgatlioglu, Jeremy Guarnoni, Roberto Tamburini, Marco and Luca Vitali Faccani respectively.
German riders Marc Moser and Toni Finsterbusch, after a tough race for the pair in Misano look ahead to the Pirelli German Round where they look to impress in front of a home crowd.
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