Round Seven Misano Preview
World Superbikes now head to Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli, for the first of three rounds inside four weeks, with the season now moving forward at breakneck pace and mistakes becoming costlier than ever, Bautista maintains the series lead ahead of defending champion Jonathan Rea.
The Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli, designed in 1969, currently has a length of 4226 metres, of which 1850 are straight with a run to the finish line of 510 metres, with 10 right-hand and 6 left-hand corners.
In 2015 the circuit was completely resurfaced with a specific asphalt formulation aimed at counteracting the effects of salt and humidity. The rather abrasive asphalt and the high temperatures typical of that area can make it a fairly demanding track for the tyres, especially in the long right-hand corners which require a high mechanical and thermal stress on the tyres.
Before Jerez, there were few visible cracks in Álvaro Bautista or Jonathan Rea’s respective armors, as they waltzed onto the rostrum in every single race so far. But then there was Spain. One rider crashed while leading, unopposed; the other was forced into an uncharacteristic mistake that very nearly ruined his weekend.
“It was a pity about my crash at Jerez, but as I said at the time, that’s racing, so there’s no point in dwelling on it too much! Now we look forward to the next race in Misano, where we did some tests a few weeks ago. Although the conditions weren’t great, we managed to get some references for this weekend. I’m looking forward to trying to keep the same feeling with the Panigale V4 R and continue the good work we’ve done so far. Misano is a second home race for the Aruba team and Ducati, and we will for sure have a lot of fans to support us.”
Is the tension of the title race getting to the top men? Or was Jerez a one-off, a two-pronged lightning bolt which won’t strike again? They have both visited Misano more times than they can remember, but then again, that was the case for Jerez too. Continued issues and misfortune for teammates Chaz Davies and Leon Haslam will be another cause for concern for both teams as we edge closer to do-or-die time.
“We tested at Misano before Jerez, but conditions were a lot different to what we expect this weekend, so we’re not under any illusions that it’s going to be particularly easy there. Despite the results, I feel like with the knowledge from Jerez, we made a little step forward. We finally found something in the longer and faster corners which Misano also has so I’ve got to be optimistic. Before the crash, I was in the fight for the podium again so I feel it’s getting better. It’s still taking longer than I would have liked to get to grips with the Panigale V4 R but hopefully from Misano we can keep progressing.”
Either way, Michael van der Mark was the person who profited the most from the other two’s woes, yet it would be foolish to think that he needed any assistance. The Dutchman was on another level at the Spanish circuit and broke his duck for the year, just over twelve months since his Donington double, by simply riding perfectly all weekend.
Michael van der Mark
“We had a great weekend in Jerez with two podium finishes and our first race win of the season, so we head to Misano now with a really good feeling. We tested in Misano less than a month ago and, although the weather wasn’t ideal, we got enough dry track time to make things a little easier for us to get up to speed quickly this weekend. We have a really good package now, as we saw in Jerez, so I’m pretty sure we can enjoy another great weekend in Misano and fight once again for podium finishes in all three races.”
The YZF R1 itself was also up for the challenge, highlighted by Alex Lowes’ equally admirable pace – unfortunate incidents aside. If the blue bike is capable at last of beating the Ducati and Kawasaki week in, week out… Then who said the fight for the championship will be a two-horse race come Autumn?
“After a good test in Misano a few weeks ago, and with speed we showed in Jerez, I’m looking forward to getting back on track this weekend. We didn’t get the results we were hoping for in Jerez, but rather than going into Misano looking to make amends, I’m going to stick to the working process with my guys that has worked so well for us all year. We showed we had the pace to challenge for the podium in Jerez, so we know we can do the same this weekend in Misano. It’s always a great atmosphere when you race in Italy and, unlike the test, this weekend looks like it’s going to be a scorcher!”
Last time out in Jerez Rea took his 18th career pre-race Superpole win, and challenged for podium positions in the two longer races. He scored a second place in race two in Spain but aims for much more in Italy; ideally to add to his all-time race winning tally of 73.
Rea has recorded six race wins at Misano in previous seasons, including his first ever WorldSBK victory, way back in the 2009 season. He has already got his 2019 winning score off the mark, with two wins in the only to races that took place at Imola in May.
“Misano is a race weekend that I always look forward to. It is the scene of my first ever SBK win in 2009 and the whole atmosphere of being in Italy, and right by the beach, means it has a great feeling to it. And people always come out and watch as well. After a really difficult Jerez it is the perfect place to go to and try and get back the feeling we had in Imola and some previous races. We had a really strong test at Misano just a few weeks ago, where I was both fast and consistent, so we have a really good idea where to start FP1 from, and then build forward from there. I will work with all my crew to maximise our potential.”
After two strong podium places at Phillip Island in the opening round of the year, Haslam has been tantalisingly close since then on several occasions. After a recent private test at Jerez and an earlier one at Misano he approaches this round ready to challenge for top three places once again.
“The atmosphere at Misano is always fantastic. Jerez was a tough weekend last time out but we did a private test after the race weekend and in my opinion we made some really big steps. The whole year I have been trying to adapt my style to how this bike needs to be ridden, especially with the electronics. At that test in Jerez, however, we got to explore the bike a bit more and try to make it work more for my natural style. Straight away we made a big step so I want to take that on to the next round in Misano. We did a test there a few weeks ago too, although it was a little bit hampered by the weather. I like the circuit there and hopefully we can restart my season and try to get back on that podium.”
The Independent Riders’ championship is expected to be decided between a pair Yamahas, Marco Melandri and Sandro Cortese.
“I am looking forward to Misano, as it’s one of my favourite tracks and it’s where we made a significant step forward with the R1 during the recent test, identifying a set-up that works really well with my riding style. After Jerez, where my both my confidence and pace were improving day by day along, the whole team is full motivated to keep working and to keep improving. The weather is going to be hot; I’m feeling good and I’m sure it’s going to be a great weekend.”
“I’m feeling confident and looking forward to returning to Misano, where we tested a few weeks ago. The updates we received from Yamaha at the test were a big help and allowed me to secure my best result to date in Jerez last time out. My confidence in the bike is increasing and the smaller fuel tank has allowed me to be more relaxed on the bike, as well as improving my feeling. Misano, like Jerez, is a racetrack I know well and while I’m confident we can continue our run of top ten finishes there, the goal has to be to start closing on the top five. The weather forecast looks good, the track is very beautiful, and I can’t wait to race there once again.”
Toprak Razgatlioglu is committed to beat Melandri and Cortese to top independent, as he sits just seven-points behind the rider from Ravenna and twelve ahead of the German rookie. The Turk has scored two podium finishes in the past two rounds, at Imola and Jerez.
After taking third in Imola’s Race 1, the Turkish star stated that he needed more podiums. Well, he’s got two now, and we’re just six rounds in. At this rate, Razgatlioglu will be shifting his focus towards a greater goal very soon, perhaps as soon as this weekend.
The fact that it’s a home round for the Puccetti squad may help his case, but in fairness, Misano is a home round for a large share of hungry challengers, including a long-time rival of Razgatlioglu’s: Michael Ruben Rinaldi. The 23-year-old scored his personal best WorldSBK result in Jerez (4th in Race 2) and is growing each and every race on the V4 R.
Squad resources will be split at Misano, however, as Michele Pirro joins Rinaldi inside the BARNI squad. Experience versus youth, national champion versus world stage hopeful – another thrilling duel to look out for in Italy.
And then there’s the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team, who – whisper it – are edging ever closer to the top positions. Jerez was a relatively quiet weekend for Tom Sykes, yet that was perhaps more down to other teams’ ups-and-downs and overall chaos than to the Yorkshireman’s performances themselves.
In fact, Sykes scored more points than at any other round this year, a sign that the project is chugging along according to plan. The 2013 World Champion seems happy and with more updates for the S1000 RR potentially arriving in the near future, it may become hard to rub the smile off his face.
“I am very much looking forward to the Misano round of the Superbike World Championship. It’s always a pleasure to race in Italy and of course it’s on the back of a two-day test there. It was certainly worth doing the test in preparation for the race and obviously I have quite high expectations with the BMW S 1000 RR chassis. I really hope we can have a very consistent weekend and the target is to try to finish in the top five in all three races. I am certainly trying my best along with the entire BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team to try and secure some podiums now and hopefully get the one that we were so close to at Imola. That would be great for the whole team.”
BMW have been edging further and further away from Honda in the Manufacturer’s Championship, as the Japanese manufacturer endured a weekend of disappointment in Jerez.
Leon Camier requires a little more time to regain sufficient strength and movement in his left shoulder, after being injured in a blameless collision with another rider during the Superpole qualifying session at the Italian World Superbike round at Imola one month ago. Leon will therefore sit out this seventh round of the season with the aim of being back in shape for the British round, set to take place over the weekend of 5-7 July at Donington Park.
“I’ve made some good progress with the shoulder over the past month but ligaments are not a quick fix. My doctor is happy with the recovery so far, and the level of movement is better but I’m lacking a lot of strength especially in certain positions. I am working daily with my physio and trainer to get back to full strength as quickly as possible. This has been a frustrating year because I’ve had two injuries sustained after getting caught up in other riders’ crashes, in Thailand where I broke the top of the tibia and in Imola breaking the ligaments in the AC joint in the shoulder. I just want to get back on the bike again and see if we can make some progress. I want to thank Honda and the team, I’m very grateful for their support and I will be back as soon as possible!”
Yuki Takahashi will join Moriwaki Althea Honda’s Ryuichi Kiyonari for Misano this week end, as he once again stands in for the recovering Leon Camier.
“First of all, I’m sorry Leon cannot be back with his team at Misano and I hope he can return as soon as possible. I quite like Misano, though it’s not among my favorite tracks on the calendar. I had the chance to complete a few laps there in May and that will be useful in preparation for the weekend. And then the experience we gained in Jerez is very important of course, helping us to make work in the garage as efficient as possible. I’ll continue to try and provide the team with useful feedback on the bike while also striving for the best possible results on Saturday and Sunday”.
WorldSBK Standings 2019
|3||Michael Van Der Mark||Yamaha||188|
|12||Michael Ruben Rinaldi||Ducati||63|
Randy Krummenacher’s championship lead was whittled down at Jerez, back to 17 points after finishing second to his ever-improving teammate, Federico Caricasulo. The Swiss rider has never finished on the podium at Misano, having been fifth last season and fourth in 2016. However, he is also yet to finish outside of the top two positions this season; will Krummenacher keep his title lead after the Pata Riviera di Rimini Round?
It was a mesmerizing final two laps that gave Federico Caricasulo a second victory of the 2019 WorldSSP season. The 23-year-old romped home for his second win at the Jerez circuit and will look to repeat that statistic at Misano, a circuit he won at in 2018. With his strong current form and a positive history at Misano, will the title fight continue to swing in the Italian’s favour at his home round?
Back on the podium at Jerez for the first time since he won at Buriram, Jules Cluzel is back in the title fight, with an inspired ride at the Acerbis Spanish Round. The Frenchman, who currently sits 41 points behind Randy Krummenacher, will need to find his race-winning form if he is to have realistic hopes of clinching that elusive first title. Having won at Misano in 2015 and 2016, the 30-year-old knows what it takes to succeed at the Italian venue.
Once again featuring prominently at the sharp end, Hikari Okubo holds fourth in the championship after a sixth top-ten finish of the season at Jerez. The Japanese sensation arrives at Misano where in 2018, he achieved ninth. Besides a retirement at Losail last season, Okubo has been inside the top ten in every race since then and will look to continue his strong form this weekend. Is a first podium in the offing?
It was another positive showing from Raffaele De Rosa, as the Italian continues his quest for a first WorldSSP victory. Heading to Misano onboard the MV Agusta, the partisan crowd will be cheering De Rosa on for his first win at a circuit where he was second last year and in Superstock 1000, back in 2015. Will De Rosa deliver the goods at home?
Fighting tooth-and-nail to remain in the championship battle and the battle for his first race win, Thomas Gradinger was back in the leading group last time out at Jerez, finishing fourth. The Austrian rider, who is sixth in the championship, heads to Misano, where he suffered his only DNF of the 2018 WorldSSP season. With just six points covering fourth, to sixth in the standings, it could be all change again after Misano.
Keep an eye on other riders too, starting with 2017 WorldSSP Champion, Lucas Mahias, who led a race for the first time this season at Jerez. Isaac Viñales’ consistency has kept him in the top eight overall, ahead of Corentin Perolari and Peter Sebestyen who secured another top ten at Jerez. Massimo Roccoli is one of eight wildcards in the class.
WorldSSP Standings 2019
|5||Raffaele De Rosa||MV Agusta||58|
|17||Glenn Van Straalen||Kawasaki||9|
|18||Jaimie Van Sikkelerus||Honda||6|
|19||Federico Fuligni||MV Agusta||6|
The WorldSSP300 championship battle is beginning to take shape, with both former champions joining champion-elect Manuel Gonzalez at the front of the title fight. Jerez proved a pivotal round for the likes of Scott Deroue, as he failed to score points, meaning that Gonzalez has momentarily been let off the hook – but Misano always throws up a surprise.
It has been an impressive start to the season for Manuel Gonzalez, who before the start of his 2019 campaign, had never won a WorldSSP300 race. Now with three wins from the opening four races, the 16-year-old heads to Misano, where he picked up his first career podium last year. With this being the fifth round, it is the second half of the season and Gonzalez could certainly put one hand on the championship trophy.
However, that is if everything goes to plan – which in WorldSSP300, is a rarity. Chasing him down in second position is Scott Deroue, with the Dutchman losing lots of ground on Gonzalez after being taken out in the first start of Race 2 at Jerez and not climbing through the order. The Dutchman has a mountain to climb to claw back the lost ground from Jerez but Misano could be the place – although he’s never achieved a podium at the circuit.
A return to the top in Jerez Race 1 for Marc Garcia saw him launch up the order to third in the standings and just six points back of Deroue. The 2017 WorldSSP300 champion finally showed some of his 2017 form at the track which he clinched the championship at. Garcia’s form at Misano isn’t as fruitful, having only managed a sixth in 2017. Can he come good again for a second round running?
Fourth place sees Jan-Ole Jahnig sitting pretty, with a consistent start to 2019 meaning he remains in contention. The German teenager, who has a best result of third in 2019, will be hoping to get back on the podium for only the second time in his career. He was 20th on the grid at Misano but strong race craft saw him carve his way into eighth.
Completing the top five is French rider Hugo De Cancellis, who has also enjoyed a consistent start to the 2019 season, finishing every race in the top eight and with a podium at Aragon. At Misano in 2018, the 17-year-old scored his first points of his career and will be hoping to vastly improve on that in 2019, in a bid to stay in the title fight, with just nine points covering second to fifth.
Keep an eye out for Ana Carrasco, as the reigning champion made a return to the podium at Jerez, whilst Galang Hendra Pratama took his best result of the season. Victor Steeman was in the leading battle at Jerez, whilst the winner of the 2018 race at Misano, Manuel Bastianelli, will look to do it all again. There’s plenty of wildcards to keep an eye out for too, with six in the WorldSSP300 class.
WorldSSP300 Standings 2019
|5||Hugo De Cancellis||Yamaha||47|
|10||Galang Hendra Pratama||Kawasaki||23|
|24||Enzo De La Vega||Yamaha||3|
AEST Time Schedule
|2315||WSSP300||Last Chance Race|