As the 2010 World Superbike Championship travels to the Czech Republic for Round 9, Aprilia’s Max Biaggi is the biggest threat to field. The 39-year-old Italian, who is currently the oldest rider competing in WSBK, arrives at Brno after taking back-to-back doubles at Salt Lake City and Misano.
But there is extra threat, considering he took Race 1 there last year (Ben Spies took Race 2), and in a recent interview Biaggi says that Brno is his favorite track.
Max Biaggi told UltimateMotorcycling.com “Everyone has got some favorite track, as you know. There is the one always I can’t wait to go there is the Brno track, in the Czech Republic. That’s one of my favorites.”
The 3.35-mile track containing 14 turns is most likely a favorite due to his dominance there. Including last year’s victory, Biaggi has eight wins at Brno: one in MotoGP, four in the 250cc Class and one in the 500cc Class.
Added to his back-to-back doubleheader wins this season, Biaggi also took double victories at both Portimao and Assen. His total wins on the second-year RSV4 give him 307 points with five out of 13 rounds remaining.
Trailing the Roman Emperor by 37 points in the championship is Suzuki Alstare rider Leon Haslam, who won only three races, including the season opener at Phillip Island, but has eight podium finishes, including seven second places.
Although running in a comfortable second in the standings, the 27-year-old Brit knows Biaggi will be the biggest challenge to him and his Suzuki GSX-R1000.
Leon Haslam says: “I like Brno circuit because it has a bit of everything really. There are a lot of ups and downs and it is a challenging track to ride and one that requires a good bike set-up. Max Biaggi is obviously the rider to beat at the moment because he and his bike are working really well together. But, I’m going to fight all the way this weekend and hopefully claw some of the points back.”
“It has been very hectic recently because after the San Marino race, we had a two-day test in Imola and then the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Unfortunately I had a couple of get-offs at Imola and bashed a delicate area of my body, but it will not affect me on the bike. I’m fit and ready to battle Brno and Max and I want to start my summer holiday with some more podiums.”
Last year at Autodromo Brno, the 27-year-old Haslam had 7-12 finishes on his then-current ride, a Stiggy Racing Honda CBR1000RR.
Sitting in third place, 98 points behind Haslam, is privateer Ducati rider Carlos Checa. The 38-year-old Spaniard will be hungry to place his Althea Racing Ducati 1198R on the podium for the fifth time this season, Checa already having four this year.
His latest podium was a second-place finish during Race 1 at Round 8 in Misano, finishing behind Biaggi. And his luck last year at Brno was similar. Checa finished in second place behind Biaggi in Race 1, and took fifth in Race 2.
Genesio Bevilacqua (general manager of Althea Racing) says: “Brno is a track on which our two riders (Checa and Shane Byrne) have taken some great results in the recent past and for this reason I am very confident ahead of the coming weekend’s races. In Misano, Carlos demonstrated once again that he is capable of fighting against the two championship leaders and I also expect a strong performance from Shane, in line with his recent results at this track. The team is ready, as are the bikes and the riders can’t wait to get on track. We’re fully prepared for the next battle.”
The HANNspree Ten Kate Honda piloted by Jonathan Rea sits in fourth with 158 points. The 23-year-old Northern Ireland native didn’t have much luck at the series’ last round in Misano, finishing 13-12. But Rea has hope due to his better results at Imola testing last week, where he finished fourth fastest.
Rea had a 4-3 finish during last year’s Brno meeting, giving him some added incentive. Plus Brno and Rea have a history together; this is the same circuit where Rea scored his debut world championship victory during 2008 while competing in World Supersport.
Jonathan Rea says: “I’m hoping that my team will be able to take the information we got from Misano and then at the Imola test last week and translate that into a strong package that will allow us to challenge at the front again. We worked a little more outside the box at Imola to learn more about the bike and tried some fairly radical things. It gave us a small step forward but, at this level and in this environment, it’s really difficult to find big chunks of time. I’m happy that the team has been changed around slightly to help us maintain our challenge and it’ll be good if we can start at Brno on Friday with the same feeling we finished with at Imola last week.”
The other Ducati in the top five of the points standings is the factory Xerox 1198R ridden by Noriyuki Haga. The Japanese rider has three podium finishes this year, including a win at Valencia. But he struggled last year at Brno with an 8-6 finish while riding with a fractured scapula from an accident at Donington Park.
Noriyuki Haga says: “I like the Brno track and don’t really know why I haven’t done better. I have won a race there but that feels like a few years back now! Last year was especially hard work after the accident at Donington, I needed lots of painkillers in order to get through race day and all in all the results were not so bad; of course we want to do a lot better than that this year though.”
Rounding out the top 10 point leaders going into Brno are BMW Motorrad’s Troy Corser (149 points), Sterilgarda Yamaha’s James Toesland (138), Xerox Ducati’s Michele Fabrizio (131), Alitalia Aprilia’s Leon Camier (130) and Sterilgarda Yamaha’s Cal Crutchlow (120).
According to World SBK, Brno in its most modern guise is a 3.35 mile (5.403 km) track that weaves its way through the forests and the hills above the Czech Republic’s second city, Brno. It is the asphalt and gravel embodiment of the idea that a modern, safe circuit does not have to be tight and cramped, and the real proof that Brno worked right first time is that it has hardly been changed at all since it was first built in 1987, despite huge advances in engine outputs and corner speeds in that time. The power sapping last hill takes the riders up a gradient of over 7 percent, making this a place where the true worth of any engine is proved in the toughest test of all, real racing.
World Supersport (according to WorldSBK’s official press):
The championship lead changed hands at Misano as Eugene Laverty (Parkalgar Honda) won and Kenan Sofuoglu (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) scored third, but there are only three points in it. Joan Lascorz (Kawasaki Motocard.com) is only 13 points off a share of the lead with five rounds remaining, including Brno.
All of the top three have won races so far, Laverty five, Sofuoglu two and Lascorz a single. ParkinGO Triumph BE-1 rider Chaz Davies sits fourth, 33 points up and away from his team-mate David Salom. Davies is 36 away from both Robbin Harms (Harms Benjan Honda) and Michele Pirro, Sofuoglu’s team-mate.
This will be a home race for the Intermoto Czech Honda team that fields Gino Rea and Massimo Roccoli, and they will also have one of a total of eight one event riders swelling the ranks of this division this weekend, Czech rider Tomas Holubec.