Three World Championship races at Magny-Cours and three red flags within spitting distance of the chequered flags, some downed riders were classified while others were not, in spite of their causing the flags with downed bikes on the racing line.
“At the time the red flag is displayed, riders who are not actively competing in the race will not be classified.”
2013 FIM Superbike & Supersport World Championship and Superstock Cup Regulations, rule 1.27.1 exception 3.
Clouds loomed over a dry race at Magny-Cours as the last Superbike race of the weekend was started.
World Superbike race one at Magny-Cours started dry, and was planned for 23 laps.
Weather once again dictated a portion of the weekend’s events, ensuring that nobody would have an easy time of it. Two riders in World Supersport ended their weekend yesterday and only one of them was replaced, while World Superbike had replacements for riders injured weeks ago. Fabrizio Lai was in for Max Neukirchner, Davide Salom kept Loris Baz’s bike warm and eight time endurance world champion Vincent Philippe sat in for Leon Camier. Lorenzo Lanzi even turned up on an old Ducati 1098R, still carrying its extra homologation weight, much like its rider.
The future of the World Superbike series is about to undergo a radical change. The EVO class to be introduced from next year onwards is to be the standard for all World Superbike machines from the 2015 season onwards.
As the WSBK grids have dwindled over the past four years, World Superbikes have been looking around at ways to stop the decline of the series. Former owners Infront were unsuccessful at stopping the rot, and now that the series is in the hands of Dorna, the Spanish series organizer has sat down with the manufacturers - previously excluded - and tried to find a way to cut costs drastically and increase participation. In August, they agreed that a new subclass would be created, to be called EVO, which can be summarized as having Superbike chassis rules (which allows extensive modification) and Superstock engine rules (which does not allow much modification).
Unsurprisingly, Magny-Cours was raining and we were given a wet Superpole, with two twenty minute sessions, losing six of the fifteen after the first session. As the rain looked like it would be getting heavier as time went on, an early time could strategically play out as the conditions worsened and the track slowed down.
Davide Giugliano showed that he has the pace in wet conditions, along with Ayrton Badovini, ahead of the four title contenders. Giugliano set the fastest time on his second lap out and then beat his own time four times. The session was red-flagged with a couple of minutes left and abandoned after Vincent Philippe crashed out, uninjured.
While Marco Melandri claimed the fastest lap of the session, not one rider was able to approach their times from yesterday, with the wet track turning the session into a wet practice instead of a qualifying session. Sylvain Guintoli retains provisional pole, ahead of Tom Sykes and Chaz Davies.
Times from this session:
Rain at Magny-Cours could play a part in determining the championship, but it will most likely push the decider to the last round. Sylvain Guintoli on provisional pole, after a title-scuppering brace of fifth places at Laguna Seca, needs to beat both Tom Sykes and his own teammate Eugene Laverty if he’s to lift the trophy at the end of the year, and it’s not easy to see from today’s form if that is on the cards, but his fast time came after only six laps on slicks and it’s not known how his shoulder injury will affect the race. If nothing else, Laverty and Guintoli could clinch the manufacturer’s title for Aprilia this weekend.
Press releases from the World Superbike and World Supersport teams after the first day of practice at Magny-Cours:
In a wet session that only had drops of rain at the beginning, Sylvain Guintoli was fastest by over a third of a second, ahead of Tom Sykes. With unpredictable weather promised all weekend, the championship will likely not be decided this weekend.
Michel Fabrizio ended the wet session fastest, but French Suzuki riders Jules Cluzel and Vincent Phillipe, replacing Leon Camier, both had their times at the top, along with Sylvain Guintoli. The wet track meant the fastest time was still six seconds off what could be done in the dry.
Press releases from the World Superbike and World Supersport teams ahead of this weekend's penultimate WSBK round at Magny-Cours:
Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam will return to the Pata Honda team for the 2014 World Superbike season. Both men have extended their contracts for one more season, giving the aging CBR1000RR what is expected to be its last season before a new bike makes an appearance.
The pairing has been plagued by injury this season, and despite increased support from HRC for 2013, the results have not been as the team had hoped. The problems had caused Johnny Rea to look elsewhere for 2014, the Ulsterman having held talks with Forward Racing about riding one of the Yamaha machines, as well as having spoken to Ducati about replacing Ben Spies in the Pramac team. In the end, the Pata Honda team was his best option for 2014.
One disappointment has been the lack of the expected V4 Honda superbike. Honda had been expected to reveal the bike at the EICMA show this November, but the Japanese manufacturer appears to have postponed the release of the new bike due to the dismal market for sports bikes. Whether the delay will turn into a cancellation is as yet unknown.
The Pata Honda press release appears below:
Pata Honda confirms 2014 SBK line-up
The Pata Honda World Superbike team has announced that it will retain the same rider line-up of Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam heading into the 2014 world championship season.