The 12th and penultimate race weekend of the 2010 season takes the FIM Superbike World Championship teams to the renowned Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari circuit outside Imola. Team BMW Motorrad Motorsport is keen to demonstrate the potential of the BMW S 1000 RR once again at the Italian track.
As the season enters its closing stages, Troy Corser (AUS) and Ruben Xaus (ESP) are aiming to notch up more podium finishes for the recently formed Bavarian team.
Both BMW Motorrad Motorsport riders have very special memories of Imola. Ruben and Regis Laconi (FRA) are currently the most successful Superbike riders here, having recorded three wins apiece at the track. Indeed, Ruben won the series' first ever race at Imola back in 2001, with Troy crossing the line in second place.
In 2003 Ruben claimed his first Superbike pole position at Imola and went on to celebrate the race double that weekend. Troy, meanwhile, wrapped up his second Superbike World Championship title here in 2005.
Returning to the 2010 season, Troy's 159 points put him 11th in the drivers' standings, while Ruben is lying 13th on 85 points. In the manufacturers' table BMW is in sixth place on 190 points.
Troy Corser says: "After the poor luck I had at the Nürburgring I'm looking to turn our potential into race results at Imola. Under normal circumstances we'd have secured a podium finish at least at the Nürburgring. Imola is a very different kind of race track, but I'm confident that, with our bike, we're in the position to compete at the front of the field again. My aim is to clinch a place on the podium."
Ruben Xaus says: "I really can't wait for the races at Imola. The track is one I like very much and I always enjoy riding there. Indeed, I would go as far as describing it as my favourite track in Europe. There's absolutely no time to take a breather here. It's a circuit with a lot of character, like the Hockenheimring and, in the past, the long course at Assen. There are a lot of fast chicanes and corners, and the track is always going up and downhill."
"We were able to set consistently fast times in both races at the Nürburgring, which makes both me and the team very optimistic. We still have to work on one or two small things which have so far prevented us from challenging the leading guys. But I know that my team will give everything so than we can make further improvements to the bike. We just have to find that extra half a second and we'll be up there at the front. At Imola it's important that the bike works well through the two tight corners and the chicane; if you get that right then a good result is possible. I'm really looking forward to riding there."
Berthold Hauser (BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director) says: "We're determined to finish the season with two successful race weekends at Imola and Magny-Cours. At the same time, we're already focusing on preparing for next year. We know we have good speed, and we've shown that already. At the Nürburgring we were up there with the leaders until midday on Saturday. But then our fortunes took a turn for the worse, and it was partly just bad luck that stood between us and a place on the podium in our home races. Now our task is to turn our speed and performances into good points on a consistent basis. We know we're capable of getting some top results in the last few races of the season, so we're travelling to Imola in highly motivated mood."
The history of motor racing in Imola - population 66,000 - stretches back to the 1940s, when the first races here were held on public roads. The foundation stone for the first purpose-built circuit was laid in 1950, and the track hosted its inaugural races in 1952. On 7th September 1967 the first World Motorcycle Championship race took place at Imola, while the Superbike World Championship made its debut in the Emilia Romagna region in 2001. Extensive modifications were made to the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in late 2006, including improvements to safety.
It is not only the surface bumps that make Imola such a challenge for motorbikes, in particular. The riders are greeted by the first of several chicanes not long after the start/finish straight, putting a premium on the bikes' ability to brake, steer into the corners and accelerate out again as effectively as possible. Added to which, kerbstones lying in wait in almost every chicane unsettle the bikes through the twists and turns. Bike stability is therefore extremely important at Imola.