2012 World Superbike Imola Round Press Release Previews

Press releases from the World Superbike and World Supersport teams ahead of this weekend's WSBK round at Imola:


BMW Motorrad Motorsport - WSBK - Imola - Preview

Munich/Stephanskirchen, 26th March 2012. Having made a successful start to the year at Phillip Island (AUS), Team BMW Motorrad Motorsport now returns for the first European leg of the 2012 season. The second of 14 rounds of this year's FIM Superbike World Championship will be held in Imola (ITA) this weekend (30th March to 1st April). The venue is the iconic "Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari", which this year welcomes the Superbike World Championship for the tenth time.

Going into the second race weekend of the season, factory rider Marco Melandri (ITA) is second in the Riders' Championship with 30 points. His team-mate Leon Haslam (GBR) is currently eighth on 15 points. The duo picked up 45 points for Team BMW Motorrad Motorsport at the season-opener in Australia. In the Manufacturers' Championship, BMW currently lies third with 31 points. Only the best result from each race counts towards this championship.

Last week the team spent two days testing at Motorland Aragón (ESP) in preparation for Imola. The team successfully tested a new engine spec for the BMW S 1000 RR and worked on the chassis and electronics. The test also confirmed that Leon has almost fully recovered from the broken tibia he suffered on 20th February at Phillip Island whilst testing ahead of the opening race weekend.

Imola from the riders' point of view:

Marco Melandri:

"I am excited about racing so close to my home. Imola is a beautiful track and I really like the layout, so I am looking forward to it. I am particularly confident after the good test we had in Aragón. I know that we took a step forward with the bike. The track is very technical, because it has slow and fast chicanes as well as up and down sections.

After the successful season opener in Australia, our target is to fight for a podium again. We do not have too much time to practice before the race, so it is important to get the weekend off to a good start. One thing is certain: the team and I will be giving 100 percent again."

Leon Haslam:

"Between the test in Aragón and the race weekend in Imola I have nearly two weeks of resting and healing, so the leg is going to be even stronger for the race. Imola is a good test for me and the bike. The track has a lot of fast chicanes and you need a bike with a lot of low down power to push you out of the corners. It is a circuit with a lot of characters and always enjoyable to ride.

Last year we had a little bit of misfortune in the first race, but in the second race we were fighting in the top 5 positions. With the improvements we have made, I am confident that we can fight for a podium again."

Imola from a technical point of view:

Andrea Dosoli (Head of Race Operations):

"Imola is a racetrack with a stop-and-go character. It has a few bumps and the grip level changes several times over the course of a lap. After the positive test we carried out in Aragón, we are going to introduce a new engine spec, a new swing arm and updated electronics for Imola. With these latest changes to the bike, we are confident we will be competitive in Imola, and we think that the layout will suit our RR well.

Last year, Marco struggled a bit in Imola, but back then it was a new racetrack for him on a Superbike. We know that he now has the experience to be among the front runners there. As far as Leon is concerned, we are sure that he will be almost fully fit for Imola, so we expect a good race from both riders and think that both are ready to fight for the top positions."

Imola from Pirelli's point of view:

For the Imola race, the first European round of the Superbike World Championship, Pirelli will be bringing two SC1 solutions for the front, one in a soft compound and one medium, along with three solutions for the rear including a completely new one that falls between the SC1 medium-soft and the SC2 hard. The solutions for the front were both already used by the riders during the first round at Phillip Island a month ago with good results. For the rear, on the other hand, Pirelli decided to provide this fresh new solution in addition to the reference SC1 and SC2 compounds. If this new solution turns out to be as efficient as Pirelli thinks it will be, it could be used in various European races throughout the spring season.

Also, on the Monday after the Imola race, riders will be able to test a new tyre for the front and three new compounds that fall between the SC1 and SC2 for the rear. In fact, this time of year is ideal for testing new solutions as the temperature range is wide enough to allow the tyres to be tested at low and medium temperatures during the same day.

Background:

Imola is located in the Northern Italian region of Emilia-Romagna, about 40 kilometres south-east of Bologna. The town has a population of about 70,000. Motorsport has played a major role in Imola for many decades. The first races in and around Imola were held on public roads in the 1940s.

In 1950, work began on a permanent race track on the southern outskirts of the town. This was opened in 1952. Imola hosted its first race in the Motorcycle World Championship on 7th September 1967. The Superbike World Championship made its debut there in 2001. This season sees the series return to Emilia-Romagna for the tenth time.

When the circuit was opened in 1952, it was named the "Autodromo Dino Ferrari" after the son of Enzo Ferrari, who died at an early age. Following the death of Enzo Ferrari in 1988, it was renamed the "Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari". The most difficult weekend in the history of motorsport in Imola came in 1994 when Formula One drivers Roland Ratzenberger (AUT) and Ayrton Senna (BRA) were both involved in fatal crashes during the San Marino Grand Prix. As a result, the circuit was modified in the same year.

In 2006 the site was the subject of extensive renovations, during which the layout was altered and the facilities were modified to meet the latest safety standards. A new pit lane building was erected, as well as a media centre and a tower, which houses the race control. Over the following years, various sections of the track were resurfaced at different times - most recently in 2011. As such, the riders are now faced with four different surfaces.

The chances in surface are just one reason why Imola is particularly challenging for motorbikes. The many bumps are also characteristic of the circuit. Several chicanes, the first coming directly after the start-finish straight, disturb the riders' rhythm. Team BMW Motorrad Motorsport must ensure that the bike is set up to allow excellent braking, turning into corners, and acceleration out of turns. The chicanes are lined with perilous kerbs, which unsettle the bike as the riders cut over them, meaning stability is key. It is also important for the RR to handle well over crests and in the fast, flowing section with the two "Acque Minerali" corners. Overtaking is difficult in Imola, as the track is very narrow in parts. The riders must be very aggressive if they wish to improve their position during the race.

Imola is a home race for BMW Motorrad Motorsport factory rider Marco Melandri, as the Italian lives not far from the circuit.


Confident Cluzel targeting podium at Imola

PTR HONDA'S Jules Cluzel may never have visited Imola in Italy before but that isn't stopping the French ace from targeting a podium finish during his first visit this weekend for the second round of the World Supersport Championship.

Ronan Quarmby ranks Imola as one of his favourite tracks so will be looking to improve on seventh last time out ;while Martin Jessopp is relishing the chance to get racing again as he adapts from a Superbike to Supersport race machine.

The race starts at 1330CET on Sunday April 1st with practice and qualifying sessions on the Friday and Saturday.

Jules: "My feeling is I am really happy to go to Imola as the break was too long from the first to second round. I want to make the same as Phillip Island and challenge at the front. I was very happy on my PTR Honda just that we have had some tyre problems at what was maybe our worst circuit of the season; we hope the problem is finished for the next race. I think we can fight for the podium, I just have to learn very fast and concentrate as it is my first time at the track."

Ronan: "I really enjoy the Imola circuit and cannot wait to get racing again. I have a bike and team that can help me to challenge for the top six this weekend and that is my realistic target. My lap times were close to the front-runners in Australia and I am sure if I can get away with them then I can run and challenge them. I am very fired up and can't wait to get racing."

Martin: "I'm looking forward to Imola so much. We had a teaser round and then a big gap. I rode at Imola nine years ago so I have very little track knowledge. What I do remember is I love the flowing wide corners and enjoyed it. The first session is to learn the track and then I need to get on it in first qualifying. Lee (technician) has had a good look at the data from everyone's (PTR team) bikes and we are right in the ballpark. I just need to ride it properly as a 600 should be, so I am looking for a good result."

Simon Buckmaster, PTR Honda Team Manager: "Jules challenged for the win in Australia until he dropped back with tyre wear problems. Ronan closed on the lead pack from the fourth row before similar problems. We will look to maximise our package in Imola and both riders are confident they can challenge at the front. It's Jules' first time at the track but I am sure by the end of qualifying he will be on the pace. It was a strong track for Ronan last year and he is super confident. After being forced to run off the track at Phillip Island, Martin rode a strong race and we expect to see more of his potential at Imola."


REA AND AOYOMA POISED TO GO FOR EARLY SEASON ADVANCES IN ITALY

Jonathan Rea (Honda World Superbike Team) will start the second round of the 2012 FIM Superbike World Championship season looking for his first podium place on the new Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade, on Sunday 1 April.

Rea, who scored the most recent of his eight career wins so far last year at Imola, has already got good points on the board this season after a seventh and then a fourth place at round one. He sits fifth overall in the standings on 22 points, with a long season of 13 rounds and 26 individual races still to go.

Jonathan has a fast team-mate to join him in the push towards greatness in production-derived racing, Hiroshi Aoyama (Honda World Superbike Team). He will have his second outing in the Superbike World Championship class this weekend coming, after securing two top ten finishes at Phillip Island in round one.

Hiroshi was familiar with the Phillip Island circuit before he approached round one in February, but has never raced at the Parkland circuit in the centre of Imola before. He will be looking to secure two more strong points scores, before he and Rea take part in a Pirelli tyre test on the Monday following race weekend. They will both also test at their designated test track of Assen after the Imola outing, in readiness for the third round of the championship in the Netherlands on 22 April.

Lorenzo Alfonsi (Pro Ride Motorsports Honda) has been signed by the Pro Ride team to complete the remaining rounds of the season, after the departure of Raffaele De Rosa. Alfonsi, a former Superstock champion, is ready for his first race on home soil, as he steps back up again from national racing.

Imola is a circuit very much of the old school, located inside a public park on the fringes of the city of Imola. Many chicanes have been added to the once super-fast circuit since its inception, but the impression is still one of high-speed corners flowing quickly into the next section. The riders get little rest at Imola. There are also frequent and occasionally mighty changes of elevation as the track wends its way past private houses and public spaces.

Some of the most memorable moments in SBK history have played out around the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, including race wins for Honda riders Colin Edwards, Chris Vermeulen, Alex Barros and only last year in race one, Jonathan Rea.

PARKES OUT FOR ANOTHER PODIUM AS SERIES HEADS BACK TO EUROPE

FIM Supersport World Championship rider Broc Parkes (Ten Kate Racing Products Honda) will arrive at Imola for the second round in third place overall in the points standings, having taken a podium in his opening comeback ride with Honda.

Parkes' first race this year was merely to get on the grid at all, but along with his team and Honda he was part of a pedigree effort that earned him silverware despite not having much in the way of pre-season testing.

Jules Cluzel (PTR Honda) had a great introduction to the Supersport class, qualifying third in Australia and then going fourth in the race, one place up on Sam Lowes (Bogdanka PTR Honda).

Lowes, a rookie last year, is now heading back to a circuit he knows well, but for Cluzel Imola will be an all-new adventure. He is already speaking of podium finishes despite his current lack of track knowledge, an ambition which hardly seems beyond him if the cards fall right for him in qualifying.

The long break after the opening round means there have been four free weekends for the riders to endure before the action begins again for real in Italy, with first practice starting on Friday 30 March.

Ronan Quarmby (PTR Honda) had a strong if not spectacular first race with PTR in Australia, in seventh, improving greatly on a lowly 13th place in qualifying.

Czech rider Lukas Pesek (PRORACE Honda) enjoyed a top ten experience in round one, in what was an impressive opening shot from one of Honda's rising stars.

South African Mathew Scholtz (Bogdanka PTR Honda) will be out for more points to add to the two he scored in Australia. Polish rider Pawel Szkopek (Bogdanka Racing Honda) has shown improvement on his 2011 practice form already this year, but is still to get his name on the points board.

Balazs Nemeth (Racing Team Toth Honda) also has no points at present, nor does his team-mate Imre Toth (Racing Team Toth Honda), a situation which the Hungarian duo are keen to rewrite in Italian ink.

Roberto Tamburini (Team Lorini Honda), Andrea Antonelli (Team Lorini Honda) and Thomas Caiani (KUJA Racing Honda) are looking to score points for the first time in 2012.

British rider Martin Jessopp (Riders PTR Honda) has raced at Imola before, despite this being his full rookie season in WSS, but as it was nine years ago he expects to have to relearn the track as well as make the transition from BSB Superbike rider to WSS Supersport rider.

Janos Chrobak (East European Racing Honda) completes the Honda entry for the Imola weekend. Czech rider Ondrej Jezek (SMS Racing Honda) will not make this round and a replacement is still to be announced.

Honda rider comments:

Jonathan Rea (Honda World Superbike Team)

"Things have been good since Australia although we have not tested again. A few of our rivals have been out, but we know Imola is a completely different circuit than Phillip Island, which a pretty unique one for us and for our set-up. Our past results have been good at Imola so I am just excited to be going. We will start from our base set-up that we took away last year. So we'll see where the weekend takes us. We have been working on a few different things on the electronics even since our Qatar test in the winter. We do not have a bad benchmark to work from at for Imola. I hope the weather is as good as it has been on the Isle of Man recently!"

Hiroshi Aoyama (Honda World Superbike Team)

"We were in the top ten each time in the first round at Phillip Island. Two races in one day was a new experience for me and I was a bit nervous about it at first, but finally we ended up in a good way. For Imola I hope we can make a big step. For sure I have never ridden there so it may be a tough weekend, especially the first day. I am sure we can improve the bike and race-by-race I will improve my feeling with the bike."

Lorenzo Alfonsi (Pro Ride Motorsports Honda)

"I am very happy to come back to World Superbike. Both the Pro Ride staff and I are motivated to make everything works well this season. I really want to make it right and I believe in this project. We will work together to get points for the championship. We are already working well and are full of energy to secure a good result in Imola."

Broc Parkes (Ten Kate Racing Products Honda)

"I have been back in Europe for a couple of weeks and I am back to European time now. I am looking forward to Imola after the first race at Phillip Island. I was really excited to finish on the podium because we had not ridden for four months. I am looking to get back into it again now. I have always liked Imola because it is old school. If you make a mistake you go onto the gravel. If you make a mistake on a modern circuit normally you run wide, come back on and get back into the race. You need a lot of concentration at this track. We have a one-day test after the Imola weekend, on the Monday, and then one at Assen before we go there for round three."

Jules Cluzel (PTR Honda)

"My feeling is I am really happy to go to Imola as the break was too long from the first to second round. I want to make the same as Phillip Island and challenge at the front. I was very happy on my PTR Honda just that we have had some tyre problems at what was maybe our worst circuit of the season. We hope the problem is finished for the next race. I think we can fight for the podium, I just have to learn very fast and concentrate as it is my first time at the track."

Sam Lowes (Bogdanka PTR Honda)

"Phillip Island feels like it was ages ago. I was not sure when I saw on the season calendar that Imola came along so early this year, but I do like it there so I am looking forward to it. It is like a fast, flowing track and it was good for me because I got second place there last year. We had good speed at Phillip Island and we should have done better than we did it's just that we had a few other issues. So I am looking to Imola to really kick start my season. For me, Imola is one of our better tracks for the Honda. Our bike should perform well over race distance and I would say we might have a slight advantage over the other manufacturers at this track. I feel good in my fitness and it is a bit different to last year as I am going to the circuits having ridden on them last year. Now it is down to me to get the season going properly now."

Ronan Quarmby (PTR Honda)

"I really enjoy the Imola circuit and cannot wait to get racing again. I have a bike and team that can help me to challenge for the top six this weekend and that is my realistic target. My lap times were close to the front-runners in Australia and I am sure if I can get away with them then I can run and challenge them. I am very fired up and can't wait to get racing."

Martin Jessop (PTR Team Honda)

"I'm looking forward to Imola so much. We had a 'teaser round' in Australia and then a big gap. I rode at Imola nine years ago so I have a very little track knowledge. What I do remember is I loved the flowing wide corners and enjoyed it. The first session is to learn the track and then I need to get on it in first qualifying. Lee my technician has had a good look at the data from the other PTR bikes and we are right in the ballpark. I just need to ride it properly as a 600 should be, so I am looking for a good result."


World Superbike returns to Imola with Biaggi as leader

Imola (Italy), Tuesday 27 March 2012: Following the opening round of the season at Phillip Island in Australia, the FIM Superbike World Championship arrives in Italy for its first appearance on European soil at Imola, one of the most spectacular circuits on the calendar. For the production-based racing series it is also the first of three rounds to be held in Italy this year: Monza on 6 May and Misano on 10 June are the other two. Max Biaggi (Aprilia Racing) scored a win and a second place in the first round and comes to the Enzo & Dino Ferrari circuit as leader on 45 points, 15 ahead of Marco Melandri, BMW Motorrad's new signing, who finished second and sixth at Phillip Island. With two Italians in the top two slots, the massive partisan crowd expected at Imola will surely witness a memorable weekend of racing.

World Superbike has written some of the most outstanding pages in its 25-year history at this famous Italian venue. In 2002 Texan Colin Edwards (Honda) won a terrific battle against Australian Troy Bayliss at Ducati's home circuit in front of 100,000 spectators. Two years ago Max Biaggi clinched the WSB title, becoming the first Italian to do so, but last year he did not take part due to a broken bone in his left foot. The wins in 2011 went to Jonathan Rea (Honda) and Carlos Checa (Ducati) who then clinched the title at the final round.

Since its debut in 2001 this is the first time the Imola round has been held in the spring, but the date evokes memories of the 200 Mile race which in the early 1980s opened up the racing season, with pioneering battles between the American specialists and the European aces. At that time Superbike racing was almost unknown in Europe, now it is a sporting phenomenon that has millions of passionate fans throughout the world.

In the previous nine editions (17 races in total because race 2 in 2005 was cancelled due to pouring rain) Ducati have won 11 races, Honda 5 and Aprilia 1, back in 2001 at the hands of Frenchman R�gis Laconi. The most successful riders, with three wins apiece, are Laconi, Carlos Checa and Ruben Xaus. The only Italian to win at Imola is Michel Fabrizio (Ducati) in 2009. In four races Biaggi has scored a second, a fourth, a fifth and an 11th place, while Melandri only raced here in Superbike last year with a Yamaha, finishing eighth and sixth.

With three wins in the last four races, Checa is again the favourite because his Ducati, which comes out of the Borgo Panigale factory just 40 kms up the road, adapts perfectly to the Imola track. Biaggi however is on superb form and in Australia, where he had never before won, his Aprilia showed a far greater potential than the previous season. It won't be a two-way battle however because some tough customers are looming on the horizon. Riders like Tom Sykes, the 26-year-old Brit from the Kawasaki Racing Team, who was phenomenal in pre-season testing as well as in last week's supplementary test session at Aragon (Spain). Sykes started from pole at Imola in 2010 and in the opening round this year he was on the podium with a third place.

All eyes will also be on BMW Motorrad, who appear to have found in Marco Melandri the talent and experience required to score their first win. Local man Melandri, who lives 40 kms away in Ravenna, scored BMW's best ever result in Australia, a second place, and he and his equally impressive British team-mate Leon Haslam successfully tested an evo-spec engine and a new swing-arm in Spain. Imola is also a turning-point for Jonathan Rea, the talented Honda rider who could only manage seventh and fourth in Australia and who has bitter-sweet memories of Imola: a painful injury in the 2010 warm-up and a magnificent win last year.

Other men to watch will be the returning American John Hopkins (Crescent Fixi Suzuki), who has been given the all-clear by his hand surgeon to make his 2012 debut following his crash at Phillip Island testing, as well as the other Brits Leon Camier (Crescent Fixi Suzuki), Chaz Davies (Aprilia ParkinGO) and Ireland's Eugene Laverty (Aprilia Racing), the latter two both emerging from the injuries they received in their separate Phillip Island crashes.

Proceedings get under way on Thursday with the traditional Open Paddock, during which fans can enter the circuit for free to meet the champions, go autograph hunting and have a look inside the pit garages the day before the action starts on the track.

Points (after 1 of 14 rounds): 1. Biaggi 45; 2. Melandri 30; 3. Sykes 29; 4. Checa 25; 5. Rea 22; 6. Guintoli 16; 7. Smrz 16; 8. Haslam 15; 9. Aoyama 15; 10. Berger 12; etc. Manufacturers: 1. Aprilia 45; 2. Ducati 41; 3. BMW 31; 4. Kawasaki 29; 5. Honda 22; 6. Suzuki 4.

World Supersport

The second World Supersport round takes place between the two Superbike races, with action guaranteed in this mid-sized production-based racing category. Turkish hard man Kenan Sofuoglu blitzed his way to an opening round win in Australia on a Kawasaki Lorenzini machine run by the Italian team. It was the two-time Supersport champion's return to the category after a break of one year. Kawasaki will surely be a force to be reckoned with this year, as demonstrated by an excellent second place in Australia for another former champion Fabien Foret (Kawasaki Intermoto Step). But the Hondas are not far behind, in particular the Ten Kate Racing Products machine of Aussie Broc Parkes, third at Phillip Island. World Supersport rookie Jules Cluzel from France could also spring a real surprise on the PTR Honda machine after going well in the opening round, while British hopes lie in Sam Lowes on a similar PTR prepared Honda in his second full year of Supersport racing.

Points: (after 1 of 13 rounds): 1. Sofuoglu 25; 2. Foret 20; 3. Parkes 16; 4. Cluzel 13; 5. Lowes 11; 6. Morais 10; 7. Quarmby 9; 8. Baldolini 8; etc. Manufacturers: 1. Kawasaki 25; 2. Honda 16; 3. Triumph 8; 4. Yamaha 5.

Superstock 1000

The first European round of the 2012 calendar sees the start of two categories reserved for youngsters from all over the world. The FIM Superstock 1000 Cup is open to riders of under 26 years of age, racing on strictly production-based models, the same as the ones used in Superbike but with more limitations placed on the engine and cycle parts identical to the road bike. Imola will see the debut of the eagerly awaited Ducati 1199 Panigale, the Italian manufacturer's new challenger for future production-based racing. BMW, Kawasaki, Honda and Aprilia are the other manufacturers represented in the 24 permanent rider field, with Frenchman Sylvain Barrier (BMW Motorrad Italia), Australian Bryan Staring (Kawasaki Pedercini), another Frenchman Loris Baz (MRS Kawasaki), Germany's Markus Reiterberger (alpha Racing BMW) and Lorenzo Savadori (Barni Racing Ducati) all out to take over at the top from Italian Davide Giugliano, who has now been promoted to World Superbike with the Althea Racing team.

Superstock 600

The UEM European Superstock 600 Championship also gets underway this weekend. Superstock 600 has a similar flavour to its bigger 1000cc brother, but this time it is open to under 22 year-olds on mid-sized machines (600cc for fours, 750cc for triples) with virtually no modifications allowed from their equivalent road bikes. The series, which has fast machines but with a similar performance and one-make tyres, has been designed to offer a low-cost entry formula for youngsters and it always guarantees spectacular racing. Last year the title went to Jed Metcher, 21 years of age from Australia, who like Giugliano, has now moved up a category into the Yamaha RivaMoto Supersport team. The first round will see a grid bursting at the seams, with 39 riders entered: Italians make up the lion's share with 14, but there are also 12 wild-cards. Men to watch this year will be the Ten Kate Junior pairing of four-time race winner last year, Michael Van der Mark of the Netherlands, and Switzerland's Bastian Chesaux, as well as Stephane Egea from France (Falcone Yamaha) and last year's 2011 European Junior Cup champion Matta Davies from Australia (GoEleven Kawasaki.


Lowes targets podium at Imola

BOGDANKA PTR HONDA's Sam Lowes targets a podium finish in Sunday's round two of the World Supersport championship at Imola having taken a close second at the Italian circuit in his rookie season last year.

Mathew Scholtz on the other Bogdanka PTR Honda will be aiming for another point scoring finish on what will be a new circuit for the South African rookie, while Bogdanka Honda PTR's Pawel Szkopek expects a solid result on a track where he took his best result of last year.

Sam Lowes: "I've been training hard since Phillip Island and feel the fittest I've ever been. I enjoyed Imola last year and had a good result there, a very close second place. At Phillip Island I felt really good. Whatever happened in the race, happened, but I was really happy with my riding and good in myself, so I want to fight for victory and another solid result on Sunday. Imola is a twisty track with a lot of elevation changes and from that aspect it's very similar to the British tracks, which obviously suits me very well. I really enjoyed it last year so I hope we can take it from there."

Mathew Scholtz: "Having done a race on the bike and with the team in Australia, I am now more confident and I'm really looking forward to Imola. I've been training very hard since the first round and I can't wait to get back on my Bogdanka PTR Honda. It will be a new circuit for me but on paper it looks really good so I can't wait to get there and ride. I'm focusing on improving every time I go out on track and this will be my main goal for the weekend. I was happy with how we improved during the weekend at Australia and got up to some good pace. Scoring points at Phillip Island was a good start and I hope to keep improving."

Pawel Szkopek: "I had my first World Championship start at Imola as the first Polish rider back in 2004 so it's a bit of a special place for me. It's not my favourite track but that doesn't really matter. What's important is that it suits my style really well. I was twelfth at Imola last year which was my joint-best result of the season together with Assen and after showing good pace in Australia, I'm really eager to get back on my bike. I know I had a top ten potential for the first race and I'm expecting the same at Imola."

Simon Buckmaster, Bogdanka PTR Honda Manager: "Sam was in contention at the opening round until tyre wear problems dropped him to fifth. He rode a mature race to get as many points as he could. Imola was strong for him in 2011 and we expect him to be challenging on the podium again. Imola is a new track for Mathew and after riding very well at a challenging opening round we will be looking for him to score a strong points finish."


TEAM ALTHEA RACING KICKS OFF THE EUROPEAN LEG OF THE SBK TOUR THIS WEEKEND AT IMOLA

Imola (Italy), Wednesday 28th March 2012: team Althea Racing and its riders Carlos Checa and Davide Giugliano arrived at Imola today, ready to do battle in the second round of the World Superbike Championship, taking place this weekend.

The Althea men have made the most of the month-long break between the first and second events, using the team to prepare, mentally and physically, for the run of upcoming races.

At the opening round of Phillip Island, which took place in Australia one month ago, reigning world champion Carlos Checa experienced highs and lows; after an unexpected crash in race 1, the Spanish rider made up for things by winning race 2, pocketing 25 all-important championship points. Checa arrives at Imola in fourth position in the standings, behind Biaggi, Melandri and Sykes.

Checa's new team-mate Davide Giugliano was racing at the Australian track for the first time. He closed race one in a solid ninth position and the second race of the day in thirteenth, earning himself ten precious points and twelfth place in the riders' standings.

Last season, Ducati's home track awarded Checa a race win and a third place finish while Giugliano was runner-up in his Stock 1000 race. One of the more favourable tracks as far as the Ducati 1198 is concerned, both riders have high hopes for this upcoming Imola race weekend.

Carlos Checa:

"I'm feeling good after a month off. I've been skiing these last days, having a bit of fun, and now I feel ready to get back on track. We have good references at Imola of course but we need to see how we are doing compared to our rivals. I'm feeling confident, because it's a good track for the Ducati and also a track that I really like (I've won three of the last four races). I have some great memories of last year's event - great emotions, great fans - and I hope it is the same again this time around. I always enjoy racing at historic tracks like Imola, and to do well there is always extremely satisfying."

Checa's Superbike form at Imola:

2011: Race 1 - 3rd, Race 2 - winner

2010: Race 1- winner, Race 2 - winner

2009: Race 1 - DNF, Race 2 - 10th

Davide Giugliano:

"I've done what physical training I can for the upcoming race but I'm still suffering from inflammation of the arm, which caused me problems during the Phillip Island round. We'll have to see how that holds up this weekend when I get on the bike. But I really like the Imola track and I love racing at home in Italy, so I hope to be able to make two strong races come Sunday."

CIRCUIT DATA

Country: Italy Name: Autodromo Enzo and Dino Ferrari Imola Length of circuit: 4.959 km Pole Position: left Race distance: 21 laps/103.656 km

LAP RECORDS: Best lap - Checa (Ducati) 1'47.934 (2011). Superpole - Checa (Ducati) 1'47.196 (2011).

2011 RESULTS: Race 1 - 1. Rea (Honda); 2. Haga (Ducati); 3. Checa (Ducati). Race 2 - 1. Checa (Ducati); 2. Haga (Ducati); 3. Camier (Aprilia).


2012

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