World Superbike: Nurburgring Preview

World SBK

When World Superbike riders and teams arrive at Nurburgring, Germany’s popular 3.191-mile circuit, they begin the final rounds of the 2010 Championship, this weekend’s race being the first of the final three.

Heading into Nurburgring, Round 11 of the WSBK Championship, after a summer break, Aprilia Alitalia Racing rider Max Biaggi leads the championship 373 points, 60 ahead of Suzuki Alstare rider Leon Haslam.

Max Biaggi says: “I can’t wait to get back on the track! The holidays are important and pleasant, of course, but the call of the race is always irresistible. We’ll be on the Nurburgring, a nice track, I’d say less disagreeable to our RSV4 than Silverstone, and the last leg of the season, the decisive leg, awaits us. Obviously I’m happy with what I’ve done so far, but you only count up the points at the end, so don’t talk to me about strange strategies or point calculations.”

“We have two first places to defend and that is not a simple thing: you’ve seen how easy it is to lose points. Our opponents are ready to take advantage of every false move we make. There are still six races and that’s 150 points up for grabs, so mathematically anything is still possible. For the entire team this is the time to find maximum concentration again. Each race from here on out can be decisive.”

Leon Haslam says: “Last year I managed a sixth and a fifth on a privateer bike, so I am looking forward to this year’s round and challenging for the podium in both races. For sure I would like to win both races and put pressure on Max, but there are a lot of good riders and good bikes out there and it’s not going to be an easy weekend. But, I wouldn’t be out there if I didn’t like the battle and I get a real buzz mixing it with the rest of the top riders.”

“We’ve had a good, long break and although I have been training hard and doing a lot of riding – mainly off-road – there is nothing like being on the track and racing flat out. All I can do is the best I can, beat Max in both races and hope he gets a couple of poor results.”

With six races remaining in the final three rounds, 150 points are up for grabs, so Haslam has a good chance of robbing the title from the Italian Biaggi. But so does Hannspree Ten Kate Honda rider Jonathan Rea (243 points), and Althea Ducati rider Carlos Checa (204).

Both leaders weren’t on the podium last year, but Rea shared a win with last year’s champion, MotoGP rider Ben Spies, and Checa took third in both races.

In fifth with 188 points is Yamaha Sterilgarda rider Cal Crutchlow, who arrived at the spot after two dominating wins at the last round of WSBK racing at Silverstone. Spies won on the YZF-R1 last year, so Crutchlow and his teammate James Toseland will be looking for a victory. Toseland sits in sixth in the championship.

Cal Crutchlow says: “I can’t wait to get back on the bike again. Finally winning two races at Silverstone was the result of lots of hard work by the team and I, I want to get straight to Germany and hope to do it again. I always find the summer break too long and really miss racing so I’m happy it’s time to go again. I had a brilliant result at the Nurburgring last year, it would be perfect to repeat the success I had on the R6 Supersport bike on the R1 Superbike. I managed to dislocate my knee riding my bicycle over the holiday but it is pretty much back to normal now and will be fine for the races!”

James Toseland says: “The last time I was at the Nurburgring I was 18 years old, so it’s been a couple of years! Since then I’ve been to Oschersleben in Germany but not back to the ring so I’m really looking forward to it. There are only three rounds left now, we were close to the podium at Silverstone but due to my unfortunate fall in qualifying I was held up. I have had a good holiday and I’m now raring to go to get on with it. I can’t wait to get to the track and get stuck in on Friday morning.”

WSBK says the fight for the last few top ten places is already at fever pitch, with Noriyuki Haga, Leon Camier (Alitalia Aprilia), Michel Fabrizio (Ducati Xerox), Troy Corser (BMW Motorrad Motorsport) and Sylvain Guintoli (Suzuki Alstare) closely packed together, from seventh to 11th in the rankings. Even from Crutchlow in fifth to Guintoli in 11th, there is a spread of only 37 points, making almost anything possible in the midfield before season’s end.

WSBK says since the last round in Silverstone, Max Neukirchner (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) has won a race at the IDM Superbike championship. At his home circuit in Germany he will be particularly keen to make a move back up the championship rankings from his current 18th place. Shane Byrne (Althea Ducati) is a lonely 12th at present; over 50 points clear of Jakub Smrz (PATA B&G Aprilia) and Ruben Xaus (BMW Motorrad Motorsport). Ducati privateer Luca Scassa (Supersonic Team) is the last rider inside the top 15 so far, but works Kawasaki Racing Team man Tom Sykes wants to be on the march forward at this round.

He will, in his turn, have Lorenzo Lanzi pushing hard to get ahead of him on his DFX Corse Ducati. Sykes has another new team-mate in the KRT squad this time out, Northern Irish rider Ian Lowry, who is standing in for the injured Chris Vermeulen. Pedercini Kawasaki team-mates Roger Lee Hayden and Matteo Baiocco will be back in the mix in Germany. Replacing Broc Parkes in the Echo CRS Honda team will be Italian WSB debutant Fabrizio Lai.

World Superbike Points (after 10 rounds of 13): 1. Biaggi 373; 2. Haslam 313; 3. Rea 243; 4. Checa 204; 5. Crutchlow 188; 6. Toseland 179; 7. Haga 177; 8. Camier 164; 9. Fabrizio 160; 10. Corser 155. Manufacturers: 1. Aprilia 385; 2. Suzuki 334; 3. Ducati 297; 4. Yamaha 256; 5. Honda 254; 6. BMW 174; 7. Kawasaki 57.