High stakes for the penultimate WSBK round at Magny-Cours
The penultimate round of the 2014 eni FIM Superbike World Championship will take place this weekend at Magny-Cours. The stakes are high for this year’s title as series leader Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) heads to France with a 31 point advantage with Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia Racing Team). The reigning champion is looking to return to his previous winning form to seal what would be his second title in a row after being a little bit on the back foot at Jerez, where aboard his ZX-10R he struggled to keep the pace of the two factory Aprilia machines of Guintoli and Melandri.
Last year the 29 year Briton dominated in France by taking pole position, winning both races and setting the fastest lap in each of the two encounters. In 2012 Sykes won the second race on the 4411m, challenging venue located in the heart of France only to miss the ultimate price by half a point.
Other title contender Guintoli came out victorious in wet conditions at Magny-Cours two years ago in race one, while in 2013 he crossed the line second and third. On his home track he has never finished below sixth and has always stepped onto the podium in the last two editions of the French Round.
Last time out at Jerez Guintoli missed a great opportunity to further narrow the gap to the top as he was twice edged out for the win by teammate Marco Melandri, who got his second double of the year and proved once more to be the man to beat in the closing part of the season. The Italian rider currently sits fourth in the standings only 18 points away from third place Jonathan Rea (Pata Honda World Superbike). The Ulsterman, who was fourth and fifth in the two Spanish races, was able to step on the podium at Magny-Cours twice before, in 2009 and 2012 (race 2).
With two rounds left, many riders are looking for a strong performance to improve their position in the overall standings. Local rider Loris Baz (Kawasaki Racing Team) and the Ducati Superbike Team duo of Chaz Davies and Davide Giugliano are yet to step atop the podium this year and have never made it into the top 3 at Magny-Cours before, meaning the French Round will be very important for all three riders.
The Voltcom Crescent Suzuki Team will face the penultimate round with both sides of the garage knowing their 2015 plans. Eugene Laverty is officially heading to MotoGP, while rookie Alex Lowes recently agreed to extend his partnership with the squad for one more year.
MV Agusta Reparto Corse’s Claudio Corti and Team Hero EBR’s Geoff May and Aaron Yates will have another chance to improve their performance as the season enters the final stretch. A second MV Agusta F4 RR will be run by the Dream Team Company and ridden by 27 year old Nicolas Salchaud.
Three more Ducati 1199 Panigale R machines will line-up on the grid at Magny-Cours as Team 3C Racing will take part in the French Round with 2014 German Superbike Champion Xavi Fores and his IDM teammates Max Neukirchner and Lorenzo Lanzi.
The EVO class sees David Salom (Kawasaki Racing Team) with one hand on the trophy having a 41 point lead over Niccolò Canepa (Althea Racing Team Ducati), while local riders Jeremy Guarnoni (MRS Kawasaki) and Sylvain Barrier (BMW Motorrad Italia) are third and fourth respectively with a lot of ground to make up in the standings. However expect them fighting to uphold their honor at home. Bryan Staring will line up for Grillini Kawasaki as the only Australian in the WSBK field.
After 15 years of racing spent in the WSBK paddock, Fabien Foret will contest his final race in the series by joining regular Team Pedercini rider Alessandro Andreozzi and replacing the still injured Luca Scassa.
Tom Sykes is the man to beat in Magny-Cours, having won the last three races run here and having scored pole in the last two editions. Only Noriyuki Haga won more than Sykes here, with five wins from 2004 to 2009. Last year Sykes dominated both races pulling away early and reaching the flag in race two with more than ten seconds over his rivals, posting also the two fastest race laps. Tom adds to these wins a third in race one 2012: before these, he had never climbed on the podium in the six races run here from 2009 to 2011.
Sylvain Guintoli posted excellent results in his home track: winner in race one, 2012, in his last four races here he always climbed on the podium. Last year he was second behind Sykes and third behind Sykes and Laverty. Sylvain qualified twice second here (2010 and last year) and twice fifth (2011 and 2012) and he was never beaten in qualifying by a teammate. When he finished the races, seven times out of eight, Guintoli was never classified below sixth here (he was disqualified in 2010 in race one because he didn’t serve a ride-through penalty after cutting a chicane).
Only two podiums out of seven races run here for Jonathan Rea: third in race two in 2009 and second, always in race two, in 2012. Jonathan was very unlucky so far in Magny-Cours: he recorded an off-track excursion in 2009 in race one while second and then his engine failed; in 2010 he had to withdraw from race two for pain in his wrist; in 2011 he was on pole but he wasn’t able to see the chequered flag for a fall in race one and an injection problem in race two. This list is closed by a highside in race two in 2012, when he was leading with a ten seconds advantage over his rivals.
Marco Melandri finished three times second out of six races, but never won in Magny-Cours and doesn’t count other podium finishes. His second places date back 2011 behind Checa in both races and in 2012 in race one behind Sylvain Guintoli. Last year he was fifth in race one: in race two he went off track, slipping to sixteenth before climbing back to seventh at the flag.
Loris Baz raced here in Superbikes only in 2012: he was suffering for a flu and was only tenth in race one and fell in race two while tenth. He raced here also in Superstock 1000, three times, finishing the race only in 2009, in third. In 2008, in Superstock 600, he was second behind Dan Linfoot.
Chaz Davies in both his Superbike weekends in Magny-Cours qualified in eighth, falling in both first races. In the second races he finished eighth two years ago and fifth last year. He raced three times in Supersport in Magny-Cours, finishing third in 2010 behind Eugene Laverty and Kenan Sofuoglu.
Three podiums for Eugene Laverty in Magny-Cours, a track in which he always finished his races (six) in the first seven. He was third in race two in 2011 behind Checa and Melandri and third and second last year, in both cases beaten by Sykes and in race two also by his team-mate Guintoli. In qualifying he was second in 2011, third in 2012 and fourth last year. Eugene won the 2010 Supersport race from Kenan Sofuoglu and Chaz Davies.
In all his four Superbike races in Magny-Cours, Davide Giugliano finished between fourth and eighth. Last year his best results: two fourth places from third in grid. Two years ago, in race two, he scored his maiden fastest race lap. Four Superstock 1000 races for him here: in the last two, run in 2010 and 2011, he was able to qualify on the front row with the fourth and the second time, finishing sixth and fifth in the races.
Last year Toni Elias clashed with Vincent Philippe in race one, causing the retirement of both, while in race two he was eighth.
Leon Haslam ran no less than fourteen races in Magny-Cours. He finished eleven times in the top-ten, was able to climb on the podium in second in race one in 2010 behind Cal Crutchlow and third in race one in 2011 behind Checa and Melandri. He didn’t score points only three times, when he was victim of mechanical failures (2003 race one, 2012 race two, last year in race two).
The last race for Alex Lowes in Magny-Cours dates back 2009, when he was ninth in grid and sixteenth in the Superstock 1000 event.
Three races in the points out of four for David Salom here: he was sixteenth and fourteenth in 2009 and twice eleventh last year. The ones from 2009 were his maiden points.
Four Superstock 1000 races for Niccolò Canepa in Magny-Cours, which resulted in two podiums: third from pole in 2007 and second behind Jeremy Guarnoni last year. Niccolò ran here also in Supersport and in Superstock 600, in the latter he was second from pole, beaten by Yoann Tiberio, in 2005.
Jeremy Guarnoni last year won from pole the Superstock 1000 race from Niccolò Canepa and Lorenzo Salvadori, leading all the way. That was one of his two wins of the season, he would have won also in Jerez. In 2012 Jeremy scored here his maiden Superstock 1000 win, starting from third and also in that occasion he led from lights to flag.
Sylvain Barrier raced here in Superstock 1000 six races from 2008 to last year, climbing four times on the podium. Last year he was second in grid, and in the race he settled for fourth, a result which was enough to grant him the championship.
Sheridan Morais was fifth in grid and in the race last year in Supersport here. For him also three Superstock 1000 and two Superbike races in Magny-Cours. In the last two, in 2009 he retired in race one and was nineteenth in race two.
Alessandro Andreozzi was tenth in grid and twelfth in the race in Superstock 1000 last year in Magny-Cours.
Claudio Corti raced here for the last time in 2012, in the Superbike championship, finishing ninth and twelfth. For him also four Superstock 1000 races, in which he finished in each of the first four places: winner in 2006, second in 2007, third in 2008 and fourth in 2009. In 2005, in Superstock 600 he was seventh, a place which nevertheless granted him the title with eight points over Yoann Tiberio.
The last race of Bryan Staring in Magny-Cours dates back 2012, when he was fifth in Superstock 1000.
Only one win for Aprilia in Magny-Cours: in race two in 2010 with Max Biaggi. Last year both works riders climbed on the podium in both races, however always behind Tom Sykes. Aprilia never started from pole in Magny Cours and only once they were able to start from second: last year with Sylvain Guintoli. The Italian manufacturer however is the one to have placed at least one bike on the front row from 2009 onwards: in this timeframe no one else was able to do it.
Two podium placements for BMW in Magny-Cours: a third by Haslam in race one in 2011 and a second by Melandri in 2012, always in race one.
Ducati scored two years ago in Magny-Cours their last win to date, in race one with Sylvain Guintoli. 49 races have passed since then, marking this as the longest drought in the history of the team. Ducati won thirteen times here, more than the sum of its rivals (Yamaha 5, Kawasaki 3, Honda 2, Aprilia 1). Last year the best result for a Ducati in both races here was the sixth in race one by Michele Pirro. Only one pole for Ducati on the french track: in 2003 with James Toseland. At the time Ducati locked out the first six grid spots (behind Toseland: Neil Hodgson, Regis Laconi, Ruben Xaus, Frankie Chili and Chris Walker).
Two wins for Honda in Magny-Cours: in 2005 and 2006 in race one with Chris Vermeulen and James Toseland. Since then they scored only two podiums with Jonathan Rea: third in race two in 2009 and second in race two in 2012. Without Jonathan, last year, the best-placed Honda rider was Michel Fabrizio, seventh in race one. Honda, with Kawasaki and Yamaha, holds the record for most poles here, three, the last one scored by Jonathan Rea in 2011.
Kawasaki, thanks to Tom Sykes, won the last three races held here. Tom is one of the two riders to have scored podiums for the Japanese manufacturer (four times), the other one being Fonsi Nieto, which was third in race two in 2007. Kawasaki started from pole with Tom Sykes in the last two editions.
A cursed track for Suzuki, who finished in second six times here but never won. The last of their seven podiums here was a second from Leon Haslam in race one in 2010. Last year their best result was a sixth from Vincent Philippe in race two. Statistics by Michele Merlino
After clinching his first World Title last time out at Jerez and being confirmed as a new WSBK rider for the Pata Honda team in 2015, Michael van der Mark will continue with his usual World Supersport duties as a champion in France.
With the ultimate prize already sealed, the battle for the runner-up spot sees Frenchmen Florian Marino (Intermoto Ponyexpres Kawasaki) and Jules Cluzel (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) separated by only two points at 109 and 107 respectively, while the other Pata Honda rider Lorenzo Zanetti (90) heads a tight pack that includes Kev Coghlan (DMC-Panavto Yamaha), PJ Jacobsen (Intermoto Ponyexpres Kawasaki) and Kenan Sofuoglu (San Carlo Puccetti Racing), who are all within 5 points of each other.
Irishman Jack Kennedy (CIA Insurance Honda), who has been performing well in the recent rounds, will be joined by Colombian rider Martin Cardenas, who steps in for Raffaele De Rosa, as he looks to return to the podium in the penultimate race of the year.
Kevin Wahr (RS Wahr by Kraus Racing) will be back in action after missing from the WSS grid since the Riviera di Rimini Round at Misano, while Ferran Casas and the Team Torrento Yamahawill take part in their second consecutive round after making their World Supersport debut at Jerez. Vladimir Leonov (Rivamoto Honda) and the sole Australian in the class, Matt Davies (AARK Racing Honda) will also be part of the show, as will local riders Lucas Mahias (MG Competition Yamaha) and Cédric Tangre (Yohann Moto Sport Suzuki).
The FIM Superstock 1000 Cup is set for a thrilling season finale at Magny-Cours, as the only two riders left in the title race will square off for one last exciting battle. With two race wins each, series leader Leandro Mercado (Barni Racing Ducati) and Lorenzo Savadori (Team Pedercini Kawasaki) are separated by only five points, meaning the Kawasaki rider will aim for the win at any cost to secure the title, hoping to get the better of his strong Argentinean rival.
Given the points situation, the other potential podium finishers could play a crucial role this weekend: Mercado’s teammate Ondrej Jezek, Fabio Massei (EAB Racing Ducati), David McFadden (MRS Kawasaki), Matthieu Lussiana (Team Garnier by ASPI Kawasaki) and Kyle Smith (Agro-On Wil Racedays Honda) will try their best to get in the mix for the top 3 in what is expected to be an exciting finale to the year.
Team Pedercini Kawasaki will be back to the early season’s five rider line up with the returning Simone Grotzkyj Giorgi, whilst the six additions in terms of wildcard and one event riders will bring the number of entrants for the round to a rounded 30. Jed Metcher will line up for EAB Racing onboard a Ducait 1199 Panigale R as Australia’s sole representative in the Superstock 1000 category.
An impressive total of 40 riders (32 regulars and 8 one off riders) will take part in the last round of the 2014 FIM Europe Superstock 600 Championship this weekend at Magny-Cours. New champion Marco Faccani (San Carlo Team Italia Kawasaki) will try to add yet another race win to his impressive tally with no more pressure on his shoulders having wrapped up the title in Spain, before taking on the next step of his career.
Wayne Tessels (Wayne Racing Team Suzuki) leads the battle for the runner-up spot with 15 and 17 points over Andrea Tucci (San Carlo Team Italia Kawasaki) and Federico Caricasulo (Evan Bros. Racing Team), who scored an impressive second last time out at Jerez (second STK600 podium of his career).
One point stands between Augusto Fernandez (Wil Sport) and the 2014 Pata European Junior Cup crown, ahead of the final round of the year at Magny-Cours. The young Spaniard, who has a 24 point advantage to compatriot Javier Orellana (Europ Food SL), only needs to finish 15th in Sunday’s final encounter but as the EJC has already shown this year, many potential winners could spoil the party for the runner up last year as Fernandez aims to go one better this time around.
Brandon Demmery joins the European Junior Cup ranks this weekend alongside countryman Lachlan Epis.
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