2011 World Superbike
With only three rounds remain in the 2011 World Superbike championship, one rider could possibly clinch his first title this weekend at Autodromo Dino Ferrari circuit in Imola, Italy.
That rider is Althea Ducati’s Carlos Checa, who leads the championship by 74 points over Yamaha’s Marco Melandri; the Spaniard Checa only needs 26 points this weekend to complete this task at a track where he doubled last season.
This is interesting, considering the Imola track is the same one where Alitalia Aprilia’s Max Biaggi clinched the championship last year, although it was Round 12 of 13 instead of Round 11 of 13.
But Biaggi won’t start this weekend, which will likely ruin his chance at a second consecutive WSBK title.
There are many interesting stats and facts at Imola, which are listed below (riders, teams and Imola World Superbike Milestones).
* Pics above from 2010 Imola World Superbike
Imola World Superbike Rider Stats and Facts:
- Second and fourth in the 2009 races, last year Max Biaggi played a waiting game, covering title rival Leon Haslam. In race one Max was only eleventh, while he was fifth in race two, a position that allowed him to conquer the title. In the 250 cc world championship he won here in 1997;
- First time at Imola for Leon Camier: last year he was injured after his Nurburgring crash;
- Jonathan Rea last year had to withdraw from the races due to a crash: he was coming to Imola on the back of six straight podiums, always first and second. The only Superbike experience for Jonathan was in 2009: third on the grid, seventh and sixth in the races. These results were heavily influenced by a contact with Michel Fabrizio in race one and by brake problems in race two;
- Carlos Checa is the man to beat at Imola, not only for this year’s achievements (11 wins) and his advantage in the championship (74 points), but because last year he managed to score a double despite starting from a lowly ninth grid spot;
- Mark Aitchison last year ran four races in Supersport and obtained his best result in Imola: eighth in grid and seventh at the finish line;
- Troy Corser ran thirteen of the fifteen Superbike races held in Imola. His best result is a second, scored in race one in 2001 and in the only 2005 race, after which he was crowned champion for the second time. Since that 2005 podium, Troy has managed only one top-10 finish here, in race two in 2006. In 2009 he suffered from brake problems and last year he had grip problems: he was starting sixth. Corser never qualified outside the top-10 spots in Imola;
- The last Imola race for Joan Lascorz dates back 2009, in the Supersport championship: he was running second when an oil leak not only put him out of the race, but forced the race direction to stop the race to clean up the track;
- The last race at world-class level for Marco Melandri in Imola was the 1999 125 cc. one, when he won from pole in front of Simone Sanna and Arnaud Vincent;
- Noriyuki Haga obtained excellent results in Imola: he retired only once out of eleven starts, in race two, 2004 for a fall. Excluding that fall he always placed in the top-6 spots. The Japanese was on the podium in both 2009 and 2010, winning race one in 2009. Last year Nori recorded his only qualifying session outside the top-10 here, in fourteenth. That didn’t prevent him to finish third and second in the races;
- Roberto Rolfo raced in Imola in 2006 with the Caracchi Ducati: brake problems slowed him down in qualifying and he started only in 27th, but he eventually managed to recover in the races, finishing fourteenth and fifteenth. In race one Roberto will celebrate his 100th Superbike start;
- Sylvain Guintoli was ninth and eighth in last year’s races, despite starting from the fifteenth grid spot;
- Two podiums in two Supersport races run here for Eugene Laverty: he was second behind Kenan Sofuoglu in 2009 and third last year behind Michele Pirro and Kenan Sofuoglu. In last year’s race, Sofuoglu and Laverty fought all the way until the last lap, Eugene slid on the last chicane, collecting Kenan. The pair ended un the gravel trap and by the time they were back on their bikes, Pirro had already won the race;
- Tom Sykes scored here last year his maiden pole, finishing the races in sixth and fourth. In 2009 starting from the sixteenth spot he managed to score points with a ninth and a twelfth;
- Chris Vermeulen won from pole in 2005, but due to the cancellation of race two, he was cut out from the championship chase. Chris was second also in the first 2004 race;
- Two years ago in Imola Michel Fabrizio had one of his best race weekends, scoring his maiden pole, a third in race one and an unexpected win in race two. It was unexpected because he won in front of his team-mate Haga, taking away from him precious championship points. Last year he was seventh in race one and fell in race two. Michel won here also in 2003 in the Superstock 1000 championship;
- Pole win and fastest lap last year in the Superstock 1000 championship for Ayrton Badovini. In the same series he won also two years ago -from pole- but was excluded for a technical infringment;
- Leon Haslam finished five of his six Imola races in the points. The only time he had to retire was in race two last year: his engine failure gave the title to Biaggi. The best result for Leon here is a fifth, scored in race one last year, posting the fastest race lap;
- Jakub Smrz was always very fast in qualifying in Imola, starting fifth two years ago and second last year. He counts three points finishes out of four, his best result came last year in race one: fourth;
- Ruben Xaus is the most successful rider in Imola, with three wins, the same number of Regis Laconi. The Spaniard scored his wins in 2001, race one, and a double in 2003. In the last two seasons, with BMW, Ruben always scored points, finishing, however, only once in the top-10, in race two last year (ninth). The only races in which he didn’t score points were the 2006 ones: he fell twice;
- Maxime Berger raced twice in the Superstock 1000 championship in Imola, retiring on the opening lap in 2009 for a mechanical problem and finishing third behind Ayrton Badovini and Lorenzo Zanetti last year.
Imola World Superbike Team Stats and Facts
- The only win by Aprilia in Imola is ten years old, scored by Regis Laconi in race two. Two podium places also in 2009 with Biaggi and Simoncelli, while last year Biaggi was busy in controlling the championship standings, finishing distant from the podium places. In all the races run here, an Aprilia always finished among the top-5;
- BMW in his four races here obtained only one top-10 placement, with Ruben Xaus in race two last year;
- Ducati won ten of the fifteen races held in Imola and is unbeaten here since race two, 2006 (string of five wins);
- Four wins for Honda in Imola, the last one in 2006 in race one (Alex Barros’ only Superbike win): last year without Jonathan Rea they weren’t able to finish in the top-10 in both races;
- Last year Tom Sykes scored pole for Kawasaki, a pole awaited for three years by the Japanese manufacturer. In race two Sykes obtained the best result for a Kawasaki in Imola: fourth;
- Suzuki never won in Imola: their best result, a second, was scored by Troy Corser in the only 2005 race;
- The best result for a Yamaha in Imola is a third, scored by Haga in the 2005 race, by Andrew Pitt in race one in 2006 and Cal Crutchlow last year.
Imola World Superbike Milestones
- 2001 – Regis Laconi won his maiden superbike race in front of Ruben Xaus and Tadayuki Okada;
- 2002 – win number 75 for Honda by Colin Edwards. The American won also race two, beating Bayliss and winning his second title;
- 2003 – maiden pole position for Ruben Xaus;
- 2005 – Troy Corser won his second world championship;
- 2006 – Troy Bayliss imported his second world title at the end of race one. Alex Barros won his maiden (and only) superbike race. Troy Corser started his 250th superbike race.
- 2009 – maiden pole for Michel Fabrizio, the 150th for Ducati. 30th podium placement for Max Biaggi;
- 2010 – Max Biaggi won his first championship. Tom Sykes scored his maiden pole, the twentieth for Kawasaki.