World SBK Preview: Race 5 & 6 Valencia
The motorcycle racing Circuito Ricardo Tormo is a well-established pit stop for the WSBK paddock in its global wanderings, with this year’s Spanish World Superbike race weekend the 3rd in a 13-round of double-headers this season.
After two very close racing events so far, in Australia and more recently in Portugal, there have been three different race winners in four individual races. Of the seven motorcycle manufacturers involved in WSB in 2010, three have scored a victory already, and two more have podium finishes to their credit. With the 4.005km circuit Valencia being a different type of challenge to either Phillip Island (venue for round one) or Portimao (round two) there are some new possibilities for all involved this coming weekend.
There have been 20 individual points scoring races at Valencia in recent WSBK seasons, with winners including current riders Noriyuki Haga, Lorenzo Lanzi, James Toseland, Ruben Xaus and Troy Corser. Haga did the double here in 2009 and Valencia is a circuit that throws up double wins more than most; six in total in ten previous visits.
OPENING SALVOES HIT THE SPOT
The 2010 entry list, running to 14 official entrants from seven manufacturers, plus top quality privateers throughout, promised a lot of close competition and variety during the off-season. And even at this early stage of the year that promise has been delivered, over and over again. So far, the margins of victory in the four SBK races have been 0.004 seconds, 0.307 seconds, 0.200 seconds, and 0.191 seconds. A cumulative 0.702 seconds separating all of the first and second place riders, after two hours and 24 minutes of intense racing. Our understanding of close competition has been redefined in the Superbike World Championship of 2010.
BIG SEVEN SBKs IN ACTION AGAIN
The seven competing manufacturers this year – Aprilia, BMW, Ducati, Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha – all have proven winning riders and strong overall efforts to their credit as they approach Valencia. Suzuki, Ducati and most recently Aprilia have won races this year, thanks to Leon Haslam (Suzuki Alstare), Carlos Checa (Althea Ducati) and Max Biaggi (Aprilia Alitalia). Appropriately enough, these three riders now lead the championship table, with Haslam on 85, Portimao double winner Biaggi on 69 and Phillip Island race two victor Carlos Checa on 60.
Behind the leading bunch, Michel Fabrizio (Ducati Xerox) and Noriyuki Haga (Ducati Xerox) hold fourth and fifth respectively, while top Honda rider so far is Jonathan Rea (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) in sixth place after scoring one podium and one DNF in Portimao last time out.
One new WSB sensation Sylvain Guintoli (Alstare Suzuki) leads another Leon Camier (Aprilia Alitalia), in seventh and eighth places. The top BMW rider in the rankings so far is Troy Corser, ninth, with Ruben Xaus regaining his footing in the championship table last time out. Now 14th overall on his BMW Motorrad Motorsport machine, Xaus is another home favourite. Tenth placed rider Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha Sterilgarda Team) took his first podium for Yamaha at Portimao and he shares 25 points with his team-mate James Toseland and another British force to be reckoned with, Shane Byrne (Althea Ducati).
WSBK TESTING FOR TOM, HOPES FOR OTHERS
Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) has already tested at Valencia recently, and made progress towards the top ten as his team-mate Chris Vermeulen continues his fight for race fitness after a knee injury he picked up in Australia. Max Neukirchner (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) is another rider hoping to get back to his best at round three.
Privateers riders are many and varied in 2010, with Roland Resch (Reitwagen BMW) scheduled for a return after breaking his collarbone in Australia, Jakub Smrz (B&G Pata Racing Ducati) looking to get back into the points in Spain, while Luca Scassa (Supersonic Ducati) is searching for some good luck in only his second meeting of 2010. Broc Parkes, injured in pre-season training, will miss this round, meaning that South African hope Sheridan Morais will ride for ECHO CRS Honda once again.
2010 World Superbike Points (after 2 of 13 rounds)
1. Haslam 85; 2. Biaggi 69, 3. Checa 60, 4. Fabrizio 46; 5. Haga 43; 6. Rea 39; 7. Guintoli 33; 8. Camier 32; 9. Corser 29; 10. Crutchlow 25. Manufacturers: 1. Suzuki 85; 2. Ducati 71; 3. Aprilia 69; 4. Honda 40; 5. Yamaha 32; 6. BMW 29; 7. Kawasaki 7