News 8 Apr 2010

WSBK: Valencia's third round to continue tight 2010 season

British star Leon Haslam leads the Superbike World Championship into the third round of the 2010 season at Valencia for Suzuki Alstare, topping a wide-open season of contenders in both the form of top riders and competitive machines.

Haslam leads Biaggi, Crutchlow and Checa. He'll again be strong at Valencia.

Haslam leads Biaggi, Crutchlow and Checa. He'll again be strong at Valencia.

The Circuito Ricardo Tormo is a well-established and welcoming stop-off point for the Superbike World Championship paddock in its global wanderings, with this year’s Spanish race weekend the third in a 13-round season.

After two astoundingly close events so far, in Australia and more recently in Portugal, there have been three different race winners in four individual races.

Of the seven manufacturers involved in WSBK in 2010, three have scored a victory already, and two more have podium finishes to their credit. With the 4.005km circuit Valencia being a different type of challenge to either Phillip Island or Portimao there are some new possibilities for all involved this coming weekend.

There have been 20 individual points scoring races at Valencia in recent WSBK seasons, with winners including current riders Noriyuki Haga, Lorenzo Lanzi, James Toseland, Ruben Xaus and Troy Corser. Haga did the double at Valencia in 2009 and Valencia is a circuit that throws up double wins more than most – six in total in ten previous visits.

The 2010 entry list, running to 14 official entrants from seven manufacturers, plus top quality privateers throughout, promised a lot of close competition and variety during the off-season. And even at this early stage of the year that promise has been delivered, over and over again.

So far, the margins of victory in the four SBK races have been 0.004 seconds, 0.307 seconds, 0.200 seconds, and 0.191 seconds. A cumulative 0.702 seconds separating all of the first and second place riders, after two hours and 24 minutes of intense racing. Our understanding of close competition has been redefined in the Superbike World Championship of 2010.

The seven competing manufacturers this year – Aprilia, BMW, Ducati, Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha – all have proven winning riders and strong overall efforts to their credit as they approach Valencia. Suzuki, Ducati and most recently Aprilia have won races this year, thanks to Leon Haslam (Suzuki Alstare), Carlos Checa (Althea Ducati) and Max Biaggi (Aprilia Alitalia).

Appropriately enough, these three riders now lead the championship table, with Haslam on 85, Portimao double winner Biaggi on 69 and Phillip Island race two victor Carlos Checa on 60.

Behind the leading bunch, Michel Fabrizio (Ducati Xerox) and Noriyuki Haga (Ducati Xerox) hold fourth and fifth respectively, while top Honda rider so far is Jonathan Rea (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) in sixth place after scoring one podium and one DNF in Portimao last time out.

One new WSBK sensation Sylvain Guintoli (Alstare Suzuki) leads another Leon Camier (Aprilia Alitalia), in seventh and eighth places.

The top BMW rider in the rankings so far is Troy Corser, ninth, with Ruben Xaus regaining his footing in the championship table last time out. Now 14th overall on his BMW Motorrad Motorsport machine, Xaus is another home favourite.

Tenth placed rider Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha Sterilgarda Team) took his first podium for Yamaha at Portimao and he shares 25 points with his team-mate James Toseland and another British force to be reckoned with, Shane Byrne (Althea Ducati).

Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) has already tested at Valencia recently, and made progress towards the top ten as his team-mate Chris Vermeulen continues his fight for race fitness after a knee injury he picked up in Australia. Max Neukirchner (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) is another rider hoping to get back to his best at round three.

Privateers riders are many and varied in 2010, with Roland Resch (Reitwagen BMW) scheduled for a return after breaking his collarbone in Australia, Jakub Smrz (B&G Pata Racing Ducati) looking to get back into the points in Spain, while Luca Scassa (Supersonic Ducati) is searching for some good luck in only his second meeting of 2010. Broc Parkes, injured in pre-season training, will miss this round, meaning that South African hope Sheridan Morais will ride for ECHO CRS Honda once again.

Eugene Laverty (Parkalgar Honda) and Kenan Sofuoglu (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) have taken one win apiece in 2010 but it is double podium finisher Sofuoglu who leads the championship at present, with 41 points. Only one point behind is Joan Lascorz (Kawasaki Provec who has finished second in each race this year. On home territory, Lascorz will be going for even more.

After crashing and remounting to finish 11th in Portugal, Laverty is now third on 30 points, while Fabien Foret (Lorenzini by Leoni Kawasaki) and his pair of fifths leave him fourth overall. Davide Salom (ParkinGO BE-1 Triumph) is fourth as he enters his home round with an extra sense of expectation. Privateer Honda rider Robbin Harms (Harms Benjan Racing) is a consistent and speedy sixth so far.

The first round of the Superstock 1000 FIM Cup took place at Portimao, and the victor – first time out for BMW – was Ayrton Badovini (BMW Motorrad Italia), from Maxime Berger (Ten Kate Race Junior) and Loris Baz (MRS Racing Yamaha). A good first weekend for BMW saw Garnier Junior Racing’s Sylvain Barrier go fourth. At Valencia, anything could happen in this form of racing, which features competing machinery from eight different manufacturers.

Yamaha riders dominated the podium at Portimao in this star-making class, with Frenchmen Jeremy Guarnoni (MRS Racing) and his team-mate Romain Lanusse taking a 1-2, as Fred Karlsen put his MTM Machine third for Norway. With most of the top riders in 2009 now having moved up a class, more new names should shine out at Valencia, as the young guns go for it once again.

Valencia will be the first round of 2010 to feature a full card of races, as the four traditional classes are joined by a new innovation, the ParkinGO Stars series, running identically prepared Triumph Street Triple R machines. High handlebars and high speeds, the new class is eagerly anticipated.