2012 World Superbike
Last year, Motorland Aragon debuted on the World Superbike Calendar, the 3.155-mile circuit looking to be a perfect fit for Althea Ducati's Carlos Checa.
But although Checa won last year's World SBK Championship, he didn't win a race at Aragon. Rather, it would be Marco Melandri who took race one while competing on the Yamaha World Superbike YZF-R1, and Aprilia Racing's Max Biaggi who took race two.
As for Checa, he crashed out of his home race on the eighth lap of race 1, but redeemed himself with a third-place finish in race 2.
But as the 2012 World Superbike Championship heads to Checa's home turf this weekend for round eight of 14, the Althea Ducati rider stands in fifth in the championship points. But Checa is just returning from the excitement at World Ducati Week 2012, where he and the team were able to place some additional adjustments on the 1198R that may help his progress this weekend.
Carlos Checa (Althea Ducati 1198 World Superbike) says: "We had chance during WDW to work a little on the settings of my 1198 to be as prepared for this weekend's Aragon races as possible. It's always good to race at home and I hope that the fans' enthusiasm help me to make two great results. Last year didn't go to plan here and so, although it won't be at all easy, I hope to make up for that now at this important point of the championship."
One man who doesn't have to make up much is the current series leader, Max Biaggi. The RSV4 pilot enters Aragon with three wins, including a double at the last round in Misano. Although the Italian is calm after his double at Misano, he does not underestimate the chore at hand.
Max Biaggi (Aprilia Racing Team RSV4 World Superbike) says: "The Misano races left a nice memory. The team is working well and I'm more focused than ever, even though the tests last week didn't go as we'd hoped, so we'll have to get the most out of what we have to work with. Those who were unlucky at Misano will certainly be eager to redeem themselves, so I expect the qualifying sessions and races to be extremely tight, where small details and motivation will make the difference."
Biaggi leads the championship with 210.5 points, 38.5 ahead of Honda World Superbike's Jonathan Rea. The Northern Irishman has been on the podium four times, including two wins (Assen, Donington).
However, Rea missed last year's Aragon World Superbike round and completed just five low-speed laps during an abortive test in January 2011, held in sub-zero conditions. The weather is likely to be dramatically different this weekend, however, with temperatures expected to be in the high 30s (c).
Jonathan Rea (Castrol Honda CBR1000RR World Superbike) says: "I'm really excited about Aragon this weekend because it's new for me and I love the challenge of riding new circuits. I just did a few laps for some photos in really unpleasant conditions in January last year but the layout is really cool and, although I've done no laps at race speed, there are a lot of different characteristics and the track is quite fun.
"We'll need to make the most of each practice session and gather as much data as we can to build a bike for the hot conditions that we're expecting on Sunday. As usual, I'll be trying my hardest to get some good results, and I hope that the improvements we've made over the last few weeks will allow us to challenge at the front again."
In third with 164.5 points is Kawasaki Racing's Tom Sykes, who has five poles this season and a win at Monza. The Brit will be looking to make up some points and return to the podium; during the last two rounds at Misano and Miller Motorsports Park in the USA, Sykes struggled.
In fourth in the 2012 World Superbike Championship, nine points behind Sykes, is BMW Motorrad's Marco Melandri. Melandri not only one race one last year, but also took the pole position at the track.
And at the recent two-day WSBK test, Melandri worked on better setting up the BMW S1000RR, hoping for optimal results this weekend.
In the World Superbike manufacturers battle, the reigning champion Ducati has just a 1.5 point lead over Aprilia, with BMW 25.5 points off the top.
2012 Aragon World Superbike on TV
SPEED TV will broadcast Aragon World Superbike Race 1 at 5:30 p.m. (EDT) Sunday, July 1, and Race 2 at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 3.
2012 World Superbike Championship Point Standings (after 7 of 14 rounds):
1. Max Biaggi, Aprilia RSV4: 210.5
2. Jonathan Rea, Honda CBR1000RR: 172
3. Tom Sykes, Kawasaki ZX-10R: 164.5
4. Marco Melandri, BMW S1000RR: 155.5
5. Carlos Checa, Ducati 1198: 150.5
6. Leon Haslam, BMW S1000RR: 123
7. Sylvain Guintoli, Ducati 1198: 103
8. Eugene Laverty, Aprilia RSV4: 95
9. Davide Giugliano, Ducati 1198: 80
10. Jakub Smrz, Ducati 1198: 75.5
World Superbike Manufacturers Standings:
1. Ducati 222.5
2. Aprilia 221
3. BMW 197
4. Honda 176
5. Kawasaki 170.5
6. Suzuki 56.5