Official teams will once again represent seven different World Superbike manufacturers this Memorial Day weekend for the 7th round of the 2010 World SBK racing series coming to America.
As well, several other top-flight motorcycle racing privateers, also capable of race wins, add to what is turning out to be an intensely competitive season.
From double World Champions like Troy Corser and James Toseland to complete rookies in the class like American Roger Lee Hayden, World Superbike in 2010 is a massive melting pot of rider experience and machinery, making predictions about possible winners a difficult business week-to-week.
So far six riders have won races in 2010, and few think that total will not increase before the end of the year. At Miller Motorsports Park, a track virtually no one has tested at or ridden on since last year’s race, the uncertainty about who will be in a position to win come race day is all the more intense.
Leon Haslam says: "Kyalami was a tough one and I’m looking forward to Miller because it is an easier circuit to deal with. Having said that, the altitude will make our bikes feel slow and we need to get them dialled-in as soon as we can for the track and then push hard. Last year Miller was not such a good event for me, so I am really looking forward to showing what I and the Suzuki can do and hopefully get another couple of podiums. Max Biaggi is a threat and I want to make sure I either beat him or at least leave USA still in the championship lead. May is a busy month for us, with three races on three different continents, so it will be good to end it on top of the standings – with a good lead maybe? – and have a good break before the next round."
Sylvain Guintoli says: "Obviously I need to improve, especially in practice and qualifying and be in a better position on race day. I have never been to Miller before, so it will be another new track for me to learn. But it looks less difficult than Kyalami in the last round, so I think I will be able to get on with it much better on the first two days of practice and qualifying and then be on the first two rows of the grid on race day. As I said before, this Championship is so competitive that the smallest of errors in qualifying can make a big difference to your grid position come. Starting from way down the gird is never easy, but with so many good riders and good bikes it is almost impossible to get a good result if you begin from the third or fourth row. Hopefully, this time I will not be in that position!"
Noriyuki Haga says: "I’ve had some bad luck at Salt Lake and so I can’t say it’s my favourite track. Two years ago I broke my collarbone and then I crashed again there last year, hurting my back that made the races difficult. I hope we can do better at Miller this season as we need to make up lost ground at this point."
Michel Fabrizio says: "I’m looking for a great weekend at Miller as I like the track and the American crowds and I’d love to be back on the podium there, maybe even on the top step this time! I don’t know why but the track seems to suit my riding style and I’m really looking forward to going back there again. I’m in eighth position but with good points I hope to be able to catch the riders immediately ahead of me in the standings."
Jonathan Rea says: "I’ve had a good few days acclimatising in America – staying with my manager Chuck Aksland in a town called Copperopolis, near San Francisco. It’s in Copper Valley, so you can probably imagine what they mined here. I’ve been playing some golf and watched the AMA Motocross at Hangtown last weekend. Now it’s time to get back to business at Miller which quite I’m optimistic about. We know the bike works well there and I really enjoy riding at the circuit, so we’re going with the intention of at l east two podium finishes. We lost our way a bit on the Saturday at Kyalami but still managed to grind out two decent results. We’ll keep working around the good base setting that we’ve found this year, which is the one we usually end up going back to, but I definitely need to qualify well at Miller to ensure that I get away near the front in Monday’s races."
Max Neukirchner says: "After the promise of Assen the races at both Monza and Kyalami were disappointing. But after South Africa we had a good meeting and the team told me not to spend too long thinking about things and that I should try to relax and refresh a little. I know the guys have got a plan together for Miller, which we will go through on Friday at the circuit and then we will try to find a good base set-up – I’ll just concentrate and work as hard as I can through the weekend. I finished second and fourth at Miller two years ago but I missed l ast year’s races. I’ll try to get up to speed again as quickly as possible, while working on the new style that focuses on corner exit and getting on the throttle as quickly as possible. I’m actually feeling really optimistic, though, and looking forward to the weekend very much."
Ronald ten Kate (Team Manager) says: "The bikes went immediately to America from Kyalami so most of the guys have had some time off over the last week. We’ve had a good look at all the data from Kyalami, however, and we know that Miller has been good for us over the last couple of years. In fact, America has been pretty good generally, because we had quite some success at Laguna Seca before. Of course, results from the past don’t mean much for this weekend, but we’re certainly confident that Jonathan can be fighting up at the front again. We also have a plan of attack to get Max back on the rails and will start him wi th two clear settings. Once we’ve found that base, he’ll hopefully be no more than a couple of clicks away. But at least Miller’s grippy surface and characteristics are very different to the bumps of Kyalami."
Genesio Bevilacqua (General Manager of Althea Racing) says: "Morale is high as we arrive in Salt Lake City." "In Kyalami, at the end of a race to remember, we achieved a great second place with Carlos. The team is determined and everything is working perfectly in the garage. If we consider the fact that in 2008, right here in America, Checa took the double, we can be confident ahead of this weekend. Shakey also has the will to do well. At Kyalami he didn’t bring home the results he hoped for but at Miller his goal is to reach the positions that count. We are ready…"
James Toseland says: "I’m really looking forward to Salt Lake City," said James Toseland. "It’s a brand new track for me. I got to drive a couple of laps in one of the Miller Racing School’s Mustang’s this week which has given me an idea of the track layout, but there’s nothing like actually riding it on a bike to understand it. I’ve always enjoyed coming to American tracks to race, I love Laguna Seca and Indianapolis so I’m looking forward to the challenge of learning this one and getting up to speed as quickly as possible. I hope we don’t have the grip level problems as we did in Kyalami."
Cal Crutchlow says: "It’s great to be back here again," said Cal Crutchlow. "I loved racing here last year on the Supersport bike; it’s a great track so I’m really looking forward to getting stuck into it on the R1. I know the bike works well here, so I’m confident we can get up there and fight to be at the front to finish the weekend on the podium."
Frankie Carchedi (James Toseland’s Crew Chief) says: "Kyalami proved to be a tough weekend for the team, but James gained some valuable points towards the championship. Miller is a new track for James, so the key will be for him to do as many laps as possible in the first few sessions and learn the track. The second day we will work hard on the setting so that James can again fight for the top three places. Miller racetrack is very different to Kyalami and has hardly any change of elevations. We will work hard on making sure we can also maintain good grip levels for the whole race, as this is a key factor for us. We have some good data from last year and we will use this to our advantage to work towards an optimum set up as quickly as possible."
Marcus Eschenbacher (Cal Crutchlow’s Crew Chief) says: "The circuit has two or three different characters, and at least two different tarmac surfaces to deal with. You have the fast flowing part and then the last part that is more twisty with a different tarmac surface so we have to see what the grip situation is and what our level of traction is. We will start with one bike on our base set up and the second bike we will try something new. We want to have more dynamic transfer on the bike so we will adjust the bike to achieve this, which will hopefully give us more traction without compromising steering. We will also try a new clutch to see if we can improve on our starts."
Massimo Meregalli (Yamaha Sterilgarda World Superbike Team Manager) says: "Miller Motorsports circuit seems to be one of the good circuits for us, last year we ran very well here with no problems so we’re preparing for the weekend with confidence and determination, we believe we can achieve good results. After South Africa we haven’t worked on our bikes as they came directly from Kyalami to here but we are ready with a good base set up to begin on Saturday with the first session."
Troy Corser says: "Last year we didn’t have our best weekend in the States. We just couldn’t keep pace with the top riders and teams. Salt Lake City lies at a higher altitude than all the other circuits on the calendar, and that has an impact on engine output. But that’s not our main problem. The area we need to work on most is the chassis. The key here is to be clever with our chassis settings to increase mechanical grip, so that the electronics have to cut in as little as possible. I’ve got a few ideas which I’m keen to put into action at Salt Lake City."
Ruben Xaus says: "I’m looking forward to Salt Lake City. I’m feeling good on the bike, and that makes it easy for me as a rider. I hope that we can take another step forward in America. I’ve only raced here twice before, so we don’t have as much experience of this track as we do of other places. Plus, we don’t test here."
"This circuit is very long and has some interesting corners. However, its altitude means the engines lose some of their power, and no rider likes that. The track is technically very demanding and it’s very important to find a good set-up for the bike."
Berthold Hauser (BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director) says: "The race weekend at Miller Motorsports Park marks the halfway point in the season, and we can be pleased with our record so far in 2010. We celebrated our first podium at Monza, and both riders have a lot more points than at the same stage of last season. Indeed, Troy has collected more points than he managed over the whole of 2009. And in the manufacturers’ standings we already have 108 points, 49 more than after the sixth race weekend last year."
"Following the weekend in South Africa, the races in the US will also take place at a higher than usual altitude. The lower air density here causes the engines to lose around 20 per cent of their output. In our rookie season last year we weren’t able to make the most of our relatively high engine power on the long straights. In order to compare the calculated drop-off in output with actual values, we tested the BMW S 1000 RR in the altitude test facility at the BMW Energy and Environmental Test Centre in Munich. We are expecting to line up at Salt Lake City with a good bike for our riders."
World Superbike Rider Points (after 6 rounds of 13): 1. Haslam 222; 2. Biaggi 207; 3. Rea 141; 4. Checa 141; 5. Toseland 125; 6. Haga 106; 7. Corser 105; 8 Fabrizio 95; 9. Crutchlow 86; 10. Camier 82.
World SBK Manufacturer Points: 1. Suzuki 222; 2. Aprilia 213; 3. Ducati 185; 4. Honda 150; 5. Yamaha 135; 6. BMW 108; 7. Kawasaki 39.
WSBK Race Circuit: Miller Motorsports Park is a fascinating venue, built near Salt Lake City in the high desert of Utah. It should be completely flat in layout, but in fact there were several points of elevation built into its original design, making it a real challenge for riders in all classes. The 4.907km track skirts around the perimeter of the facility for the World Superbike meeting, but nonetheless it is one of the longer circuits on the 2010 calendar.
Miller is, like Kyalami last time out, a high altitude circuit (elevation 1341m) which means the awesome WSBK machines will be down on power in the thin air of the Utah plains. This is the third visit of World Superbike to Miller in three years, and Miller is the most recent of three American venues to host World Superbike racing.
Special Race Event Notes: Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May (May 31 in 2010). Formerly known as Decoration Day, it commemorates US men and women who died while in the military service.
During the Lucas Oil Utah USA Round of the FIM Superbike World Championship presented by HANNspree, Miller Motorsports Park is expanding upon that theme to also honour all active-duty and veteran military personnel, as well as civilian-service personnel such as policemen, firemen, paramedics and teachers, who serve and protect American communities.
There will be a significant display of military exhibits and hardware, a Tribute Field of 2,010 American flags erected in the track’s infield and military flyovers during opening ceremonies on both Sunday and Monday.