Misano SBK 2015 Commentary

Misano SBK 2015 Commentary | Upside/Downside Rea
Kawasaki Jonathan Rea

Jonathan Rea’s epic 2015 World Superbike season continues as he stretches his lead over closest rival, and teammate, Tom Sykes. Pirelli tire selection created some drama in Race 1 at Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli for round eight, and Rea was not a flag-to-flag leader by any stretch. Other riders at Misano SBK 2015 had good days, and not-so-good days; let’s see who enjoyed Upsides and who suffered Downsides.

Misano SBK 2015 Commentary, Upside

Jonathan Rea – Kawasaki Racing Team Ninja ZX10-R: We’ve pretty much run out of superlatives to describe Rea’s season. Eight rounds in, he has finished no worse than second place in every single race. For a while in Race 1 it looked like him might not make the podium due to an unorthodox rear tire choice, but Rea came strong at the end of Misano SBK 2015 and passed Aprilia’s Leon Haslam and Ducati’s Chaz Davies to take the runner-up spot.

Rea now leads second-place Sykes by a staggering 133 points with five rounds (10 races) remaining. It’s quite possible that Rea could wrap up the WSBK Championship in Sepang on August 2, two-and-a-half months before the end of the season. “Obviously, we have to start to think about the championship now, but I wanted to win today,” Rea admitted. “In Race 2, Davide Giugliano was a good marker to understand my pace and then with a few laps left I made a move to pass. We made a great race and I think at the end we are using our rear tires better than some others. We changed our rear tire choice from Race 1 of Misano SBK 2015, and that was always the plan, as the morning was a bit cooler. Kawasaki has given us a bike to win, and they proved that today with Tom winning Race 1 and me winning Race 2.”

Misano SBK 2015 Commentary | Upside/Downside Giugliano
Ducati’s Davide Giugliano

David Giugliano – Aruba.it Racing- Ducati SBK Team Panigale R: After missing the first four rounds due to injury, Giugliano continues his move to the front. He has already earned more podiums in four races this year than he had in his career coming into 2015. Having ridden only half the races, Giugliano finds himself in seventh place in the World Superbike Championship Standings, and quickly closing in on reigning World Superbike Champion Sylvain Guintoli.

He looked like a possible winner in Race 2 of Misano SBK 2015 before being chased down by Rea. “We were so close to the podium in race 1, and then got there in race 2, but I’m a little disappointed because I wanted to win here” Giugliano said. “Unfortunately, Friday’s session, and the fact I couldn’t work effectively due to my physical condition, didn’t help us. Today, I was missing a little grip in both races, the rear tire was sliding around and that made it difficult to ride as I wanted in the final laps. But all in all, I’m pleased because I was able to hold the lead for many laps in Race 2 and, seeing that I only came back at Imola, this shows that the bike has developed and that we are working really well.”

Max Biaggi – Aprilia Racing Team Aprilia RSV4 RF: Wow! Biaggi comes out of retirement, qualifies fifth on the grid, and then manages two solid sixths (and almost a 5th in Race 2, where he was just a quarter-second shy of Kawasaki’s Sykes). In the first race, after a rocky start due to a collision with World Champion Sylvain Guintoli, Biaggi took advantage of a crash by fellow Aprilia rider Jordi Torres to take fifth.

In Race 2 of Misano SBK 2015, Biaggi beat Torres in a race-long head-to-head battle. Impressive. Biaggi scored more points in one weekend that Troy Bayliss did in two weekends. Biaggi, a two-time World Superbike Champion, retains the title of Roman Emperor. “I’m happy with this weekend,” Biaggi said. “Everything went well and we didn’t make any mistakes. Race 2 went better than the first. I finished about 5 seconds behind the winner, which is really not much at all. This type of return is definitely not easy, but it was a great weekend, tackled with a different spirit than someone who races full-time in the championship. Now I’m hoping for the cherry on the top – Sepang. This round was sort of a running-in, and we can consider it to be truly satisfactory. Next time we’ll be able to do well.”

Chaz Davies – Aruba.it Racing- Ducati SBK Team Panigale R: Despite a horrible qualifying performance that put him 11th on the grid, Davies stormed toward the front early on in both races and took a third (Ducati’s 800th WSBK podium) and fourth, moving him closer to the top three in the World Superbike Championship standings.

Misano SBK 2015 Commentary | Upside/Downside Biaggi
Aprilia’s Max Biaggi

Yes, Davies is 162 points out of 1st in the standings, but he is 73 points ahead of fifth-place Jordi Torres (Aprilia Racing Team). “It’s nice to know that I’ve given Ducati its 800th Superbike podium. Race 1 was really enjoyable. I knew it was important to get away well, considering my grid position, and I was able to do that, before getting into a real battle with Rea.

“We both had good pace and, despite a few hairy moments, it was a clean, fair race, one of the best of the year actually, and so I’m pleased with that result. I’m disappointed that I didn’t reach the podium in Race 2, but I suffered more with a lack of grip and couldn’t find a way past Haslam. Anyway, we have to be pleased with today’s results and now look ahead to Laguna Seca.”

Michele Pirro – Aruba.it Racing- Ducati SBK Team Panigale R: A last-moment replacement rider for an injured Luca Scassa at Misano SBK 2015, Pirro took his Wild Card ride to a pair of eigths. Not bad! “It’s been a great experience to ride the Superbike here with Pirelli tires. I’m just disappointed that my races were both conditioned by my starts because, if I’d got away faster, I could have scored better results. So, that’s a shame, because I know we had good potential. Having said that, considering I only got here on Saturday and had never ridden with these tires or the Superpole qualifying tire, I think the overall outcome is a positive one.”

Misano SBK 2015 Commentary, Downside

Tom Sykes – Kawasaki Racing Team ZX-10R: One the face of it, with a win in Race 1 and a fifth in Race 2, it was not an awful Misano SBK 2015 weekend for Sykes – and it wasn’t. However, he’s not in any position to be losing ground to Rea, and he lost nine points in two races. After taking pole and winning Race 1, and then leading early in Race 2, a double-win looked like a real possibility. However, Sykes had grip problems and started fading mid-race.

“A lot of people would dream about a weekend with a pole position, a win, and a fifth place, but we were just not able to do it in Race 2. I do not think I started very well in Race 2, but from the beginning I was lacking some grip and it was very difficult to recover. When I started fighting with other riders, I was not able to be strong where I needed to be, but we tried everything we could. I knew both races would be difficult today, but we had a great Race 1. We were just not able to repeat it in Race 2. We have had positives and negatives this weekend and we will move on to America now.”

Leon Haslam – Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils RSV4 RF: Despite taking a podium in Race 2 of Misano SBK 2015, the bleeding just won’t stop for a still-injured Haslam. He surrendered another two points in the standings to a charging Davies. Starting in the #2 spot on the grid, many expected Haslam to be battling for a win, but he was never close to victory.

“In Race 2 we took a big step forward, especially thanks to the higher temperature where my Aprilia RSV4 RF performs really well. It was a shame about the first phases. We were all very close, and I lost a few precious meters in traffic. In Race 1, on the other hand, I made a few small mistakes,” Haslam said.

“Grip wasn’t the best and even though I felt fast on most of the track I lost ground at some points. Of the two available rear tire options, we went with the one that gave us more confidence even if the second, used by a few rivals, proved to work well in this morning’s conditions. All things considered I’m pleased with the two results. A podium in front of Italian fans is always a nice feeling. We were able to grow consistently throughout the weekend, improving precisely those critical points of our package. In hotter races like Malaysia and the USA, we’ll be able to do well.”

Jordi Torres – Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils RSV4 RF: Crashing out while being pursued by Biaggi in Race 1 of Misano SBK 2015, Torres is now in danger of losing his top-fie position in the World Superbike Championship Standings.

Misano SBK 2015 Commentary | Upside/Downside Alex Lowes
Suzuki’s Alex Lowes

He has only a 13-point cushion over reigning World Superbike Champion Sylvain Guintoli, and has lost ground at the last two meetings. “In Race 1 of Misano SBK 2015, I made a small mistake and unfortunately I crashed. In the second race, on the other hand, I learned from my mistakes and didn’t repeat them.

“I started well and I wanted to stay with the leaders, but I was hindered by a strange vibration from the front wheel only at maximum lean in the left-handers. That kept me from riding the way I wanted to–taking advantage of my best riding quality, which is the way I ride in turns. In any case, I think it was a positive weekend for me where we took a good step forward to stay with the leaders for the entire race.”

Alex Lowes – Voltcom Crescent Suzuki GSX-R1000: Is it piling on to keep mentioning Lowes each round? Perhaps. He just keeps having problems with his bike, and finished outside the Top 10 in Race 1 at Misano SBK 2015, and DNF’d Race 2 due to clutch issues. Lowes is now also outside of the Top 10 in the standings.

“Misano was a really difficult track for the whole team last year and this year wasn’t any different,” Lowes said. “For the second race, we made a change that should have helped us move forward, but the clutch dragged off the line and overheated, so I stopped in the end. I really feel I’m riding well and the team is doing everything it can to be competitive. Laguna should be better. I love the track, so I’ll arrive there with a positive attitude and we’ll give it 100%.”

2015 World Superbike Standings following Misano SBK 2015 (after 8 of 13 rounds):

1. Jonathan Rea – 375 points
2. Tom Sykes – 242
3. Leon Haslam – 226
4. Chaz Davies – 213
5. Jordi Torres – 140
6. Sylvain Guintoli – 127
7. Davide Giugliano – 106
8. Michael van der Mark – 97
9. Leandro Mercado – 90
10. Matteo Baiocco – 89
11. Alex Lowes – 84
12. Ayrton Badovini – 77
13. Nico Terol – 54
14. Román Ramos – 51
15. David Salom and Leon Camier – 43