2018 Imola World Superbike Preview Press Releases

Press release previews from the teams and series organizer ahead of this week's round of WorldSBK at Imola:


Feel the passion of Imola as WorldSBK heads to Italy

Adoring Italian fans prepare to see if Davies can dominate once more

Steeped in history, Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari di Imola is the setting for the fifth round of the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship and there is no doubt we will see more history made this weekend. In front of the dedicated Ducatisti, 22 riders will battle it out to take victory around one of the most popular tracks on the calendar. Tight, twisty and technical, Imola offers challenges not found on any other circuit this season, and the passion will be unrivalled.

The man to beat in recent years, Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) is heading to Imola as the obvious favourite this weekend, standing on the top step on the last four occasions with his Panigale R machine. Holding the pole, race and circuit lap record, the British rider has been an unstoppable force over the past seasons as thousands of Ducati fans descend on Imola to show their support. However glory hasn’t always come easily to the 31 year old in Northern Italy, with six podiums out of 12 appearances in his WorldSBK career here. Sitting 30 points off the top of the championship standings, there is still plenty to play for on his number seven shod machine.

It can be easy to forget Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK)’s history around Imola, but the British rider has certainly impressed around here in the past. Taking four victories from as many races in 2014 and 2015, the reigning world champion has tasted the special glory of victory in Italy with both Honda and Kawasaki. Taking his first win at Imola back in 2011, championship leader Rea is not short of success and he has his sights set on higher prizes. Just two victories shy of equaling the overall number of WorldSBK victories, he has his first chance of writing his name in even more history books this weekend.

Another victor around Imola, Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) will be heading to Italy with a new feeling of confidence, after his stunning return to the top last time out in The Netherlands. Keeping one eye on the overall Superpole record, Sykes will be hunting down more success this weekend – and with the double win secured here in 2013 he will be poised to take on the tight and twisty circuit.

Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) will no doubt be heading south to Italy still beaming from a stunning double podium at his home round. The Dutch rider put on a show for his fans who ascended on TT Circuit Assen in their thousands, but van der Mark’s thoughts will now turn to Imola as he will hope to retain his top four position in the championship standings. However with a tough record in WorldSBK around the 4.9km track, it will be a challenging weekend with the aim of improving his best result of seventh. But with a spring in his step, it will be interesting to follow his progress.

As Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia) prepares for a battle in front of his home fans, there will be plenty of eyes on the SMR squad as Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) hopes to make his return to the WorldSBK paddock following his horror crash in Thailand. Aiming to be passed fit by the medical team this week, the Irish rider is hopeful of swinging his leg back over his RSV4 just seven weeks after breaking his pelvis.

After a tough weekend in The Netherlands for the Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team with both Leon Camier and Jake Gagne sitting out of the round due to injury, the duo will have their fitness assessed before the Pata Italian Round. But PJ Jacobsen (TripleM Honda World Superbike Team) is set to make his WorldSBK debut at the famous Imola track. With two podium finishes to his name in WorldSSP, the American will be hoping to make strong steps with the CBR1000R as he continues to develop the package with his Italian team.

Loris Baz (GULF Althea BMW Racing Team) sits in the top nine of the world championship standings, and will be aiming to improve his overall pace in round five this weekend. With four starts under his belt here, the Frenchman will be looking forward to returning to the tight and twisty track which has welcomed two top four finishes in the past. Baz has had a steady return to the WorldSBK championship so far, but with a string of consistent points scoring finishes, he will be looking to continue to break into the top 10.

Jordi Torres (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) is continuing his development with his new team, and felt some big steps were made throughout the Dutch Round. Heading to a circuit where he was able to secure a podium in 2015, the Spanish rider has had a mixed history in Italy, but as his team took a strong top six finish here last season, the foundations have been built for a solid weekend.

Not forgetting home hero Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati), who will be searching for his first victory in WorldSBK around Imola alongside team-mate Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Junior Team), as the adoring Italian fans will be out in force for the duo. With Valdimir Leonov (SPB Racing Team) making his second appearance of the season and Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) returning for the first time of 2018, it will not be one to miss.

Catch all the action from 09.45 (GMT +2) on Friday, before riders prepare for the Superpole battle on Saturday at 10.30. Lights go out for Race One on Saturday and Sunday at 13.00LT, and there's plenty worth fighting for.


The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team ready for the home round at Imola

The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team is ready to resume competition at Imola (Italy), which this weekend will host the fifth round of the 2018 WorldSBK Championship, a "home race" for the squad given its proximity with Borgo Panigale's headquarters as well as the massive presence of Ducati fans. The track titled to Enzo and Dino Ferrari triggers many a good memories for the team, which took two doubles in the past couple of seasons with Chaz Davies, and the goal is to extend the positive streak.

Davies, second in the championship with 129 points, took six overall podiums (with four wins) at Imola in his WorldSBK career and is as determined as ever to confirm his competitiveness and close the gap from the top of the rankings, which consists currently of 30 points. Marco Melandri, who took his first WorldSBK podium at Imola last year, is eager to further rewrite his personal stats there, also given the steps forward made during the Brno (Czech Republic) test, and narrow the rankings where he currently sits in third position with 115 points.

To complete the roster, rookie Michael Ruben Rinaldi is also keen to continue his growth process with the Aruba.it Racing - Junior Team on a circuit that suits his riding style and where he has already won last year in the Superstock 1000 class. The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team and the Aruba.it Racing - Junior Team will resume action on May 11th at 09:45 for the first free-practice session.

Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #7)

"Imola is a special place. We've been particularly competitive there in the past two years, even going above our expectations, and it's just been one of those circuits where we've been able to get into a good rhythm quite fast. The track itself has some hard-braking areas that suit my style, and I've always been very motivated since we've been surrounded by all the Ducati people and fans, who have so much passion. But nothing stands still in racing, so we need to keep our head down and be prepared for a battle, as always."

Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #33)

"I think we're heading to Imola at the right time, I'm very excited but also focused and full of energy. I still haven't won at Imola in WorldSBK, but each year is a different story and I'm confident we can be protagonists. The last test has given me a lot of confidence, we made a big step forward and we understood our limitations better. I'm as determined as ever to fight for the win again. Anything is still possible, but we must not waste any opportunities. It'll be a memorable round!"

Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing - Junior Team #21)

"We head to Imola with more experience under our belts, I'm in great shape and eager to keep improving. The Brno test gave us another chance to better adapt to the bike, and personally I really enjoy riding at Imola. I'm confident we can do really well there and aim at a top-five finish, which is not an easy goal but still within our possibilities. Looking at past results, the Panigale R has done really well at Imola, so we just need to head out there and see where we're at."


Undulating Imola The Next Venue For KRT

After KRT riders Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes won a WorldSBK race apiece at the previous round at Assen a very different kind of circuit – Imola in Italy – will offer up two more opportunities for podium success soon. The races at Imola will be held on Saturday the 12th and Sunday 13th of May, at what is the fifth stop on the 13-round championship trail.

With the 2018 FIM Superbike World Championship now well underway three-time champion Rea has scored three race wins. With 2013 champion Sykes now back to race winning ways as well, after his victory in race two in the Netherlands, KRT riders have won half of the races so far. This level of success has been achieved despite the Ninja ZX-10RR having the lowest maximum revs of any of the four-cylinder machines - under balancing rules recently introduced to the WorldSBK regulations.

With both official Ninja ZX-10RR riders already proven double race winners for Kawasaki at Imola (Sykes in 2013 and Rea in 2015) a race weekend at Imola is prospect to be relished. The official Kawasaki duo have also enjoyed two days of fruitful testing at Brno in the Czech Republic, shortly after the previous competitive round at Assen, adding more data and track time to their overall Imola preparations.

Rea’s win and second place finish at Assen last time out see him 30 points ahead of his nearest rival in the championship battle, with Sykes’ victory in race two at Assen putting him overall 5th, and only two points from 4th place.

Each KRT rider can make a little bit of history for himself at Imola over the next few days. If Sykes wins the pre-race Superpole qualifying contest it will make him the stand-alone pole position record holder. He currently shares that top honour with Australian legend Troy Corser, on 43 Superpole wins apiece. Already with 57 individual WorldSBK race wins to his credit, a race-winning double from Rea in Italy would draw him level with top-ranked Carl Fogarty in terms of career victories.

This weekend will be the 16th time that WorldSBK has visited the classic parkland circuit in the centre of the city of Imola. The ‘Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari di Imola’ is a 4.936km long ribbon of asphalt that winds its way through and around what is normally a public park. Its elevation changes and challenging variety of curves are punctuated by four significant chicanes. Evocative corner names like Tosa, Piratella and Rivazza are well known by motorsports fans all over the globe.

Joining the WorldSBK entry this weekend will be current BSB Championship points leader Leon Haslam, who will ride for the Kawasaki Puccetti Racing Team at their home round in Imola, alongside team regular Toprak Razgatlioglu.

After the completion of the Imola race weekend the sixth round of the FIM Superbike World Championship will take place at Donington Park in the UK, between the 25th and the 27th of May.

Jonathan Rea, stated: “It’s been a good to be at home and recharge the batteries after our recent back to back races, and then a test in Brno. I’m feeling good ahead of the Imola weekend. It’s a track that has a fun and challenging layout. It’s also been a circuit where we have just lacked that last piece of the jigsaw in recent years so it would be great to try to improve on our most recent Imola form. It’s such a picturesque circuit, and steeped in history, that’s it’s impossible not to enjoy riding there - especially in front of the Italian fans for the first time in 2018. We will be targeting race wins, let’s see if we can do it!”

Tom Sykes, stated: “It’s always a pleasure to go to Imola as it has a good track layout and great fans. I always enjoy myself on Wednesday, thanks to the Italian food and café culture. The easiest way to describe the feeling after my race win at Assen is that normally a win means a celebration, but this time it was a relief. It was also a gentle reminder that I was world champion for a reason. It has given me some self-confidence back. Since then I have been working well and we are starting to get back on the right track. We have had race-winning levels of pace this year but also some bad luck at times. On track at Imola we will work hard with the bike and try to win again.”


Pata Yamaha Primed and Ready for Imola Challenge

Setup

The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team are prepared to do battle once more as they head to Imola this weekend for Round 5 of the 2018 Motul FIM Superbike World Championship. Fresh from a stunning double podium and his best ever WorldSBK points-haul weekend at his home race in Assen, Michael van der Mark cannot wait to get back on his Pata Yamaha R1 at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari di Imola. His teammate Alex Lowes is looking to bounce back after two tough races and build on the pace he showed in qualifying at Assen to secure his maiden WorldSBK pole position, and the whole team is looking forward to understanding the progress made with the 2018 R1 at this very technical and demanding circuit.

The Pata Yamaha team head to Italy for Round 5 ready for action after the back-to-back races at Aragon & Assen, plus an encouraging two-day private test in Brno. Local hero Van der Mark delighted the passionate Dutch fans at the TT Circuit Assen by storming to second in Race 1 - setting the fastest lap of the race along the way - and then securing a sensational third in Race 2 at his home round. The 36 points he collected for his efforts not only meant it was his best WorldSBK weekend in terms of results but also saw him move up to fourth in the championship standings with 104 points. The 25-year-old Dutch rider will be looking to continue his excellent 2018 momentum and believes he should have a good base setup with his Pata Yamaha R1 at a challenging track, where he finished in seventh and ninth positions respectively in the two races last year.

Lowes had a much tougher time in Assen, despite showing good pace all weekend and putting in a superb lap in SP2 to secure the 27-year-old British rider's first WorldSBK pole position. A tyre fitment error restricted him to 12th position in Race 1, and an unfortunate crash when battling inside the top six in Race 2 saw Lowes re-mounting in last place and mounting a fightback, charging through the field to cross the line in 14th. This means Lowes is now seventh in the championship with 76 points and, having made good progress at the Brno test, the 2013 British Superbike Champion is determined to be back fighting for the podium at Imola, where he recorded an eighth and sixth-place in 2017.

The Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari di Imola first hosted a motorcycle race in 1953 and is a firm favourite amongst supporters and riders alike, due to its fast but technical nature. Located 40km east of Bologna the 4.936km circuit is named after the Ferrari founder Enzo Ferrari and his son Dino. The layout of the track has changed considerably over the years and it is one of the few tracks on the calendar that runs anti-clockwise. It now consists of 22 corners and combines high speed turns along with a number of chicanes and the Tosa Hairpin, with a longest straight of just 358m.

Looking to build on their encouraging start to 2018 and after a strong performance at the Brno test, the Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team will take to the iconic track for Free Practice on Friday at 9:45 am (CEST) local time, with both races taking place at 1:00 pm on Saturday and Sunday.

Michael van der Mark

Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team - 4th - 103 points

"After a good race weekend at Assen and a positive test at Brno, I'm really looking forward to Imola. It's going to be interesting to see how the bike will work, as Imola is such a different track than the places we have been to this year, but I believe that the base package of the YZF-R1 should also be good at Imola!"

Alex Lowes

Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team - 7th - 76 points

"I feel refreshed and ready to go to Imola. It's a track that always delivers an amazing atmosphere. The last round wasn't great for me in terms of results but my speed was very strong and, also, at the Brno test I found some steps forward with the bike so I'm expecting some good results. Really looking forward to the weekend and getting back going with the whole crew!"


Camier and Gagne return to WorldSBK action at Imola

Italian Round

Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, Italy

The Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team is looking forward to welcoming back Leon Camier and Jake Gagne to WorldSBK action this weekend at round 5 of the 2018 FIM World Superbike Championship season at the revered Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola, Italy.

After both Camier and Gagne were unable to participate in the races at the previous round at Assen, both riders have made the trip to Imola with the aim of returning to action on their CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2 machines.

Camier has been cleared by medical staff to take part in tomorrow’s Free Practice 1 session and his condition will be reviewed after the session to determine whether he will continue for the rest of the race weekend. In case Camier is unable to continue after FP1, the Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team has drafted in Australian rider Jason O’Halloran as a reserve rider for the remainder of the race weekend.

The good news on Gagne’s side of the garage is that the American rider has recovered from the injuries sustained at Assen and has been passed fit giving him the opportunity to race for at the iconic Imola circuit for the first time.

What awaits both riders on their return to action is the challenging Imola circuit which features a mix of slow chicanes, fast corners and elevation changes over 22 corners comprising its 4.936 kilometre length.

The first session of the Imola WorldSBK round is Free Practice 1 at 0945 local time (GMT +2) tomorrow with the twenty-three lap races starting at 1300 local time on Saturday and Sunday.

Leon Camier 2

It's been a long road but my recovery has gone really well and the medical staff have given me the all clear to ride the bike tomorrow in Free Practice 1. In some ways, the recovery has been more tiring than doing normal race weekends as I've tried every kind of treatment to give myself the best chance of being ready for this round and hopefully all the hard work has paid off. I'm still in a bit of pain and although I've been given the all clear to participate in FP1, the real test will be going out on the bike so we'll review my condition after the session to see if I can continue for the rest of the race weekend. I've had a good recovery to this point and made it to Imola, so I'll see how I get on tomorrow!

- Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team

Jake Gagne 45

I'm really excited to get back on the bike for Imola. After a tough weekend at Assen it was a shame to miss the races but I feel fully fit and motivated to get back on the Fireblade. Imola is a new circuit for me but it looks to be unique and fun, I've been watching previous WorldSBK races to get an idea of the track and I look forward to getting practice underway. I'm sure we'll be able to make some good progress again this weekend!

- Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team

Kervin Bos

Team Manager

It's good to have both our riders back for Imola this weekend and it's always a pleasure racing at this famous circuit. Although Leon has been cleared to ride in Free Practice 1 on Friday" we will monitor his situation closely and the medical staff will review his condition after that session. If he's unable to continue, we have Jason O'Halloran with us on standby as a reserve rider who has lots of experience on the Fireblade. For Jake, he's had a good rest at home to recover after his crash at Assen and he has passed his medical check and will get to have his first experience racing at Imola so that is good news for us. With both riders returning from injury, it will be a rebuilding weekend for us, our goal is to get our riders comfortable on the bike again, make progress and then we can resume our push for results at Donington and beyond.


Gulf Althea BMW ready to fight on home turf at Imola

Rome (Italy), Tuesday 8 May 2018

The Gulf Althea BMW Racing Team does not have far to travel for the upcoming Superbike World Championship event, with round 5 of the series, as well as round 3 of the European Superstock 1000 championship, taking place on Italian soil, at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola.

The Italian squad is of course keen to do well at its home track and so, in order to best prepare for the event, it took to the Magione track last week for two days of private testing. Unfortunately, during those test sessions, Stock rider Alessandro Delbianco suffered a crash that left him with a compound fracture of the right shoulder. Doctors successfully operated on the Italian on Monday and he now hopes to be back on his BMW already this Friday. It won’t be easy of course, and the rider will need medical consent before trying to ride again so soon after surgery.

Last on track at Assen in The Netherlands, almost three weeks ago, Loris was able to close the weekend’s Superbike races in seventh and eighth position. Delbianco, riding at the Dutch track for the first time, crossed the line eighth in the Superstock 1000 race to score his first championship points.

After the first four rounds, Baz is lying ninth in the standings with 44 points, while Delbianco is twelfth in the Stock1000 category with 8 points. Both Gulf Althea BMW riders hope to be able to boost their points tally on Italian soil this weekend.

Loris Baz

“We had a positive test last week and I’m pleased with the progress made in terms of the electronics and the swing-arm. Now we need to see how things work at Imola. We’ve also made some improvement in terms of the wheelie-control, which will be important this weekend, so I’m pleased with the work completed with the team and the BMW technicians. I’m looking forward to seeing how much we can reduce the gap, it will be interesting, also because I haven’t ridden at Imola since 2014.”

Alessandro Delbianco

“I had surgery on Monday and, to be honest, though I’m not physically fit of course, I feel very strong mentally and really want to try and race this weekend. I’ll arrive at the track on Thursday and then we’ll see, together with the Clinica Mobile doctors, whether it is do-able or not. I really like Imola. I’ve only raced there once but I’d say it’s one of my favourite tracks as it’s very technical. We’ll see what we can do.”


Everything to play for in WorldSSP

Imola is the host for round five with nothing to split the top

Renowned for its nail biting racing action, the FIM Supersport World Championship is preparing to serve up another round of memorable racing as the series rolls into Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari di Imola. With one point splitting the top two in the championship standings, the passionate Italian fans are in for a stunning on track battle around a circuit where the passion of racing runs through the tarmac.

Reigning world champion Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) heads to Imola with a podium finish in his sights after tough back to back rounds. Missing out on the podium finish on both occasions, the Frenchman hoped to spend his time between Assen and Imola working on his bike and set up. Taking a podium finish last season, Mahias could go one further as it’s clear the YZF-R6 is a strong bike in WorldSSP this season. With dedication and motivation, Mahias is looking forward to a strong weekend.

Swiss rival Randy Krummenacher (BARDAHL Evans Bros. WorldSSP Team) stunned the paddock after he made up 27 positions in the Dutch race, and is showing no signs of slowing down. With a one point deficit in the world championship standings, Krummenacher has a big battle on his hands this weekend with a tough record around the 4.9km track. Relishing every battle out on track so far this season, he has only finished outside of the top two once with an 11th at MotorLand Aragon. Not afraid to fight at the front, you can always guarantee entertainment from the 28 year old.

Keeping the championship battle tight at the top are Sandro Cortese (Kallio Racing) and Jules Cluzel (NRT) who each took a victory in the back to back rounds at MotorLand Aragon and TT Circuit Assen respectively. German rookie Cortese sits seven points from the top, whilst Cluzel is 21 off the championship leader, but in the unpredictable nature of the series they will certainly be involved in the battle this weekend.

Britain’s Luke Stapleford (Profile Racing) has put up a strong start to his season at the helm of the Triumph machine. With three top six finishes – and a top ten in Thailand – he sits in an impressive sixth in the world championship standings. No doubt building on his confidence and feeling with the bike, the British rider has a top 13 and top 18 finish to his name around Imola and if recent results are anything to go by, there is always room for improvement.

Aiming to be swinging his leg over his Kawasaki this weekend, Anthony West (EAB West Racing) is recovering from a right wrist injury which required surgery, after a fast crash around TT Circuit Assen which forced him to sit out of the race. Heading straight to Barcelona for an operation, the Australian rider has been recuperating ready for the Italian Round this weekend. Securing 17 points so far this season, West will be hoping to break into the top five as the season continues into Europe. But, Imola has been a tough circuit to West in the past so it will be a big challenge.

Rob Hartog (Team Hartog – Against Cancer) has been impressing in the European Supersport Cup this season, getting a top seven overall in front of his home crowds whilst topping the ESS standings in both rounds so far. With two top tens under his belt this season, Hartog is making the most of his ESS opportunity in the competitive WorldSSP field.

Don't miss the nail biting WorldSSP action as everything leads to lights out at 11.30 (GMT +2) on Sunday.


KENAN SOFUOGLU WILL RIDE THE LAST RACE OF HIS CAREER IN IMOLA

Kenan Sofuoglu will race the fifth round of the FIM Supersport World Championship this weekend at “Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari” in Imola for the last time in his career.

The Turkish rider has officially declared his intention to retire after the Italian round this weekend, which will coincide with his 20th year racing anniversary.

On many occasions this year the Kawasaki Puccetti Racing’s rider has declared that there was a possibility for him to retire after the terrible crash he suffered in Australia that left him with additional issues apart from the those he sustained in the accident at Magny Cours last year.

For Sofuoglu 2017 was marked by many injuries. After injuring his right hand during training just before the start of the season, Kenan missed the first two rounds. His come back in Aragon saw him being forced out of the race while he was fighting for the victory finishing again with no points. In the following encounters, the five-time world champion achieved 5 victories and a second place reopening the battle for the championship title.

But after a dramatic crash in France, which left him with a hip bone injury, the chance of winning the sixth WorldSSP title of his career seemed to have vanished. The tough Turkish rider didn’t give up and decided to attempt to race in the final 2017 round in Qatar - less than a month after a crash that would normally require a 12-week recovery time. Sofuoglu performed at his very best to finish in third place, which unfortunately wasn’t sufficient to secure the championship title.

Because of these continuous injuries the Turkish rider decided together with his family to end his career sooner as was expected.

After having won the Supersport world championship title five times in 2007, 2010, 2012, 2015, 2016 (the two last ones with the Kawasaki Puccetti Racing team) and having become one of the most successful riders ever with 45 victories overall (43 of that in WorldSSP) Sofuoglu made the difficult decision with no regrets.

Kenan has been a great fighter both in life and on track. He is a modest rider but with a great experience, talent and professionalism. He will now focus on his riding school where he has been training many Turkish young riders who are already showing their talent on the international stage. Among them there is Toprak Razgatlioglu, WorldSBK’s rookie rider on board the Kawasaki ZX-10RR machine with the Kawasaki Puccetti Racing team this year.

After Imola, Sofuoglu will keep working with the team supporting and helping his rider to grow in the main category of the championship. From 11th to 13th May Kenan Sofuoglu will be out on track for the last time in his career at the team home round in Imola.

The Kawasaki Puccetti Racing team and its staff would like to thank Kenan for his precious collaboration in the last few years and wish him all the best in his life and lot of success for the future.

Manuel Puccetti, Team Principal:

“We are really sorry to lose such a talent like Kenan in the team, but we understand and respect his decision. For us it has been an opportunity working with one of the most professional and strongest riders in the Supersport category. It has been an honour having him in the team. We would like to thank him because we really grow a lot thanks to him and his collaboration. With Kawasaki we made a fantastic group and for sure we will keep working together in the future. Kenan is the manager of our current rider in WorldSBK and in the future we will probably have other talents from his school and we will keep working together with Kawasaki and the Turkish Motorcycle Federation. There are many different best moments of our seasons together, but I will never forget the feeling when we won our first title in Magny Cours. I think that it is really difficult to forget”.

Kenan Sofuoglu, #54:

“As how the President wishes I am going to retire from racing this weekend. I will celebrate my 20 years of racing anniversary this weekend! Last couple of months I had a few injures which made my family very afraid, also our President. We decide to retire from racing earlier then what I was thinking. I can’t say I am sad because I have already a few Turkish riders which I trained to race and carry our flag. Twenty years ago I started my racing career with a goal to race in the world championships. We won five times the world title. I am very thankful for that. Many people supported me while winning these titles I want to thank everyone for that. For Kawasaki Puccetti Racing Team and for my fans I will be last time on the track on 12-13 May in Italy."


Fond Farewell For Sofuoglu As Okubo Continues

The final WorldSSP race for five times champion Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) takes place this coming weekend at Imola but for his team-mate Hikari Okubo (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) it will be just his fifth race since he joined the team at the beginning of this year.

Sofuoglu’s career sign off, in his team’s home country of Italy, will be a focus of incredible attention as he is the most successful WorldSSP rider in history. His five FIM Supersport World Championship titles – three for Kawasaki in all and two for his current Kawasaki Puccetti Racing team – total three more than any other rider has secured.

All being well in practice and qualifying, the 33-year-old Sofuoglu will take part in his 126th WorldSSP race this weekend. He holds all the major statistical records in the class. He has scored a total of 85 podiums, of which 43 have been race wins. He has taken 34 pole positions and has started from a front row grid position 100 times.

Okubo, who joined the Kawasaki Puccetti Racing team this year, has experienced some misfortune so far but also demonstrated pace for top six finishes at times. He sees the Imola weekend as the ideal moment to re-boot his championship ambitions. He is currently 26th overall, thanks to the two points he scored in the opening round in Australia.

The historic Imola circuit features seemingly endless elevations and sudden drops, with a mixture of incredibly fast curves and slower sections, including four chicanes. The race itself is scheduled for Sunday the 13th of May.

Kenan Sofuoglu stated: “Twenty years ago I started my racing career with a goal to race in the world championships. We won five times the world title. I am very thankful for that. Many people supported me while winning these titles I want to thank everyone for that. For Kawasaki Puccetti Racing Team and for my fans I will be last time on the track in Italy.”

Hikari Okubo, stated: “I think I can have a good race weekend in Imola because I like this track. The Kawasaki Puccetti Racing team is also an Italian team, so I need get my best result possible. The previous races this season have not given me a happy result but we are refreshed in spirit and we will restart the year from this race on.”

Other Kawasaki runners at Imola have a high chance of scoring well, with Anthony West (EAB antwest Racing Kawasaki) looking to score strongly again, as he continues his privateer season. He is 11th overall now, after a no-score in the previous round in the Netherlands.

ESS Rider, Rob Hartog (Team Hartog Against Cancer) who only races at the European rounds, leads the ESS rankings. He is now 13th overall in the full championship standings too, even against riders who race all the rounds.

Michael Canducci (Team GoEleven Kawasaki) will have a new team-mate for his home round this weekend, in the shape of Argentinean rider Javier Ezequiel Iturrioz (Team GoEleven Kawasaki).

Full-time runner Nacho Calero (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) will be joined in Imola by fellow Kawasaki runners, and ESS competitors, Wayne Tessels (Chromeburner Wayne’s Racingteam MTM) and Peter Sebestyen (SSP Hungary Team).


Imola Up Next for GRT Yamaha

Setup

The GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team are ready to take on the Imola challenge for Round 5 of the 2018 FIM Supersport World Championship. Current WorldSSP Championship leader Lucas Mahias will be looking to return to the podium and extend his one-point advantage in the overall standings after finishing fourth in the last two races. After a superb start to 2018, his teammate Federico Caricasulo recorded his first DNF of the season in Assen and will want to get his championship aspirations back on track at his home round. European Supersport Cup rider Alfonso Coppola is another local hero looking to continue the progress he has shown so far in 2018 and fight for his first championship points in front of the Italian fans.

Mahias arrives in Imola still leading the way in the championship standings, despite being frustrated to miss out on the podium at the last two rounds. After winning at Phillip Island and battling to second in Thailand, the last two races in Aragon and Assen have seen Mahias' (71 points) lead in the WorldSSP Championship standings reduced to just one point heading into Round 5. Fresh from his second fourth-place finish in a row at the last round Assen - missing out on the race win by just 0.341s in a dramatic finish - and after a positive two-day private test in Brno, the 28-year-old French rider is confident he can be back fighting for the victory in Imola, a track where he stormed to second in last year's race.

His teammate Caricasulo has enjoyed a superb start to 2018, finishing in fourth in Australia before crossing the line in third in Thailand and then making it back-to-back podiums after securing second in Aragon. Unfortunately, this impressive momentum came to an end at Assen where he crashed out of the race while battling with the leading group. It was the first time the 22-year-old Italian had not finished a race since Lausitzring last year and brought to an end a run of 7 top-seven finishes in a row. Caricasulo now occupies fifth overall in the championship standings with 49 points, 22 behind his teammate, and will be looking to return to the podium in front of the Italian fans at his - and the team's - home round Imola after being forced to retire from last year's race at the track.

European Supersport Cup rider Alfonso Coppola showed good progress once more at Assen as the inaugural Yamaha R3 bLU cRU Challenge winner and runner-up in the overall 2017 WorldSSP300 Championship continues to adjust to the Yamaha R6. After a DNF at the first race in Aragon, the 20-year-old Italian bounced back with a mature ride to 20th on board his GRT Yamaha R6 in Assen and is now hoping to secure his first championship points at his home round at Imola, a track he knows well after a superb ride to second in the WorldSSP300 race last year.

The Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari di Imola first hosted a motorcycle race in 1953 and is a firm favourite amongst supporters and riders alike, due to its fast but technical nature. Located 40km east of Bologna the 4.936km circuit is named after the Ferrari founder Enzo Ferrari and his son Dino. The layout of the track has changed considerably over the years and it is one of the few tracks on the calendar that runs anti-clockwise. It now consists of 22 corners and combines high speed turns along with a number of chicanes and the Tosa Hairpin, with a longest straight of just 358m.

The GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team hit the track for the first time at the Imola circuit on Friday at 10:40 am local time (CEST) for Free Practice 1, with Saturday's qualifying due to start at 2 pm and Sunday's 17-lap race scheduled for 11:30 am.

Lucas Mahias

GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team - 1st - 71 points

"I am ready for Round 5 of the season in Imola! Last year the race was tricky here due to the red flags, but I still managed to finish in second. We worked hard at the Brno test to try and improve the bike and I hope to be able to return to the podium this weekend."

Federico Caricasulo

GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team - 5th - 49 points

"I can't wait for my home race! The Italian fans are amazing and always create a very special atmosphere. My aim for the weekend is to try and fight for the victory in front of the Italian fans. I worked hard with the team at the test to get the feeling back with R6 after Assen and I am looking forward to battling at the front once again in Imola!"

Alfonso Coppola

GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Junior Team

"I am really looking forward to racing in front of the Italian fans in Imola. We are two races into the season and I feel that my adaptation to the bigger bike and class is going well. Imola is a very challenging track to ride on a Supersport bike as it is very technical. I had a good test in Brno and I will try and take a step forward to try and reduce the gap to the leading riders. I am really excited to ride at my home race as an official Yamaha rider and hopefully, I can score some points!"

Filippo Conti

GRT Yamaha Offical WorldSSP Team Manager

"We are excited about our home round after we had a really good test in Brno! We tested many things and both Lucas and Federico showed great pace and had a chance to work on some things we think will help at Imola. For both riders, we want to get back to the feeling they had in the first two races at our home round in Imola. The team have been working very hard to ensure both Lucas and Federico have a good feeling with their R6's so they can ride to their best. Every round is crucial now and the level is always getting higher, so the team has been working very hard to put us in the strongest position during the weekend to give them the best chance to fight for victory. Alfonso also had a good test and he is building his confidence in WorldSSP and on the R6 and we are happy with the potential he has shown and the progress he is making. We cannot wait to race in front of the Italian fans at Imola!"


Tuuli and Irwin ready for Imola challenge

Posted on 9th May 2018

CIA Landlord Insurance Honda head to Italy for Round Five of the World Supersport Championship this weekend at the iconic Autodromo Internationale Enzo e Dino Ferrari di Imola.

Ulsterman Andrew Irwin is aiming to continue the improvement he made last time out at Assen at his first ever visit to Imola this weekend and has his eye on another strong points finish. He said: “I’m really looking forward to Imola. I feel like in Assen I took a step forward so going to Imola I am much more confident that I can be back in the points. It’s a new track for me so it’ll be important to make the most of Friday to be in the best position going into qualifying. Thanks to the team and to my crew of Kor and Matia for keeping me positive during the tough first few rounds!”

CIA Landlord Insurance Honda teammate Niki Tuuli is looking to follow up on the progress he made at the Dutch round. With three top ten finishes and securing 29 points so far this season the Finnish rider is building on his feeling with the Honda CBR600RR and is looking forward to a strong weekend. Tuuli said: “I am really looking forward to the weekend, we are much closer to the top and every time we improve and learn to work in a better way. The main thing this weekend is to be calm and focus on things that we already know to be faster. Of course I need to push with all I have! I will be really happy to see the team again.”

CIA Landlord Insurance Honda Team Manager Simon Buckmaster said: “It was a good performance at Assen by Andrew, it gave him confidence going to a track he knows and getting a really strong points scoring finish, he challenged with some really good riders the whole race. Imola is one of the more difficult tracks to learn but I’m sure he’ll still improve and will go from strength to strength throughout the season.”

“Niki got straight into Superpole 2 at Assen for the first time this year. He knows he has the capability to be at the front and we know as a team we have the capability and the bike to be at the front. We’ve still got to find a little bit more but Niki is improving all the time. He’s getting to grips with how to get the best out of the bike and we are learning how to get the best out of him so we will continue to work in a really positive way as a team to maximise our potential in the race. Normally after Free Practice 1 you can really see the race pace so we’ll look at the situation then and see just how high we can challenge up the field but obviously we need to be looking toward a podium with Niki and more strong points scoring finishes with Andrew.”

World Supersport action from Imola kicks off on Friday with Free Practice One at 10:40 (local time)


10 things you need to know ahead of the Pata Italian Round

Countdown to the first Italian round of the season and don’t miss out

1. With his win in Race 2 at Assen, Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) ended a drought of six races outside the podium, which is his longest since 2012. This happened when he was off the podium for the same number in the Miller, Misano and Aragon weekends.

2. Sykes’ podium in Race 2 was a record as it was his 101st for Kawasaki. This eclipsed the all-time record of 100 podiums for a single manufacturer, set by Carl Fogarty (Ducati) at Phillip Island 18 years ago (23rd of April, 2000).

3. Race 2 at Assen was the 150th straight race with a Kawasaki in the points. Now they have 50 more to go to equal their record of 200, set from Sugo 1990/1 to Laguna Seca 1998/2. The all-time record string belongs to Ducati, with 344 straight races in the points from Brainerd 1991/1 to Valencia 2005/1.

4. Imola so far has been a circuit which has seemingly favoured doubles, with the same winner in both races on ten occasions out of fourteen rounds. Recently there have been seven doubles in the last eight visits here: Carlos Checa (2010-2012), Tom Sykes (2013), Jonathan Rea (2014-2015), Chaz Davies (2016-2017).

5. If Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) leads for more than 6 laps in the upcoming weekend, he will be the first rider to have led more than 100 laps at this track. He had the chance to record this feat last year, but failed to lead in both races.

6. Aruba.it Racing – Ducati rider Chaz Davies’ victory from ninth on the grid in Race 2 last year was the only win not from the front row in the last 14 races run at Imola.

7. So far Imola has had twelve different riders qualifying for pole out of 15 race weekends. The only riders who have scored more than one pole are present in the current field: Tom Sykes with 3 and Chaz Davies with 2.

8. Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes are the only riders with 10 podiums at this track: they reached this milestone last year. Next up is Noriyuki Haga at 7.

9. The last ten races held here were all won by British riders; Sykes, Rea and Davies. This is a stunning record for only one country at Imola, as the next best is a string of three by Spain (all by Carlos Checa) from 2011 Race 2 to 2012 Race 2.

10. Pole position has been decided here by less than one tenth of a second on five occasions. The last time was last year, when Chaz Davies and Tom Sykes were separated by 0.032 seconds.


Manufactures profiles from the Pata Italian Round

Take a look at who has succeeded and who has struggled around Imola

Aprilia's only win at Imola came with their previous model, the twin-cylinder RSV1000, back in 2001, Race 2. Since then ten more podiums have followed, the last ones were three 3rd positions in the second races held here from 2013 to 2015. Last year, their best results were an eighth position with Lorenzo Savadori in Race 1 and a seventh with Eugene Laverty in Race 2.

BMW scored their two podium finishes at Imola in 2012 with Leon Haslam, who was third in both races. Last year their best results were a 14th with Raffaele de Rosa in Race 1, whilst Jordi Torres sat out due to a stomach bug. He returned for race two to secure a top eight.

In the last two years Ducati have strengthened their record of WorldSBK wins at Imola, as Chaz Davies has recorded consecutive doubles in 2016 and 2017. The British rider took their total wins to 17 which is more than their rivals combined (Honda 7, Kawasaki 4, Aprilia 1). They have set pole here for the last three years, the only string of three by a single manufacturer at this track.

Honda are the second most successful team at Imola with seven wins, the last three picked up by Jonthan Rea in 2011 Race 1 and a double in 2014. Last year their best results were a 10th in Race 1 by Stefan Bradl and a 12th by Nicky Hayden in Race 2. That second race was the last one for the American rider before his tragic death on the 22nd of May, following a cycling accident while training.

Kawasaki have won four times around Imola, with a double from Tom Sykes in 2013 and another from Jonathan Rea in 2015. In the last two seasons however they had to surrender to Chaz Davies, as both Kawasaki’s finished second and third behind the Ducati rider three times out of four. This was in both 2016 races and last year’s Race 2, whereas in Race 1 Rea finished 2nd and Sykes 4th. Kawasaki have scored 16 podiums here so far, and all of them with one of their current pair of works riders, from 2012 onwards. They are the second manufacturer with the most podiums here behind Ducati (38).

There has been three podiums for Yamaha at the Italian track. These were all third places which were secured in the only 2005 race by Noriyuki Haga, in the first 2006 race by Andrew Pitt and in 2010 Race 2 by Cal Crutchlow. Last year their best results were a seventh from Michael van der Mark in Race 1 and a sixth with Alex Lowes in Race 2.

MV Agusta have scored points three times here, which were a sixth and fifth with Leon Camier in 2016, and another sixth in Race 1 last year.


Pure fan entertainment promised for Imola WorldSBK

Loyal Italian fans ready for an unforgettable weekend at Imola

Passion and Imola go hand in hand, and 2018’s Pata Italian Round will be no exception. With thousands of fans waiting to descend on the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo d Dino Ferrari di Imola this weekend, they are promised stunning action both on and off the 4.9km track.

MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship riders are challenged with the twisty and technical Italian track, but fans will be challenged with ensuring they fit in all the stunning off track entertainment into their WorldSBK weekend. Kicking off the Pata Italian Round in style, there will be free paddock access on offer on Friday with any type of ticket, meaning fans are in with the chance of meeting their heroes as well as seeing how a WorldSBK paddock operates.

Imola will welcome the opportunity to introduce youngsters to the world of SBK® racing, as children under 13 will have free entry when accompanied by an adult. This means there will be access to the world famous Paddock Show for all, as it continues to get better year on year. Offering live commentary for all sessions from Friday to Sunday, the Paddock Show goes one step further this season as we welcome the Podium Show’s onto the stage. Riders will head directly from the new-look podium onto the stage, giving fans the first opportunity to hear from the riders, and you might even catch a cap or knee slider!

But the Race Show’s aren’t the only things to head over to the Paddock Show for, as the traditional Opening Day show, Saturday’s Supershow and Meet ‘n’ Greet will be on offer, offering even more opportunities to see your WorldSBK heroes.

When action is quiet on the track, you could head over to the Fan Zone which will welcome the opportunity to try out some products from WorldSBK’s loyal partners, or even get a taste of the Prosecco DOC. With Acerbis and Shad product displays, as well as photoshooting, Prosecco distribution, MOTUL and Milwaukee stands and WorldSBK merchandise on offer, you won’t run out of entertainment on stage.

On top of this, Imola will welcome the SBK Village from Friday to Sunday which provides even more off track activities. With a mini bike track for the up and coming racers to enjoy, and a WorldSBK merchandise stall meaning they can race in style, MOTUL are also offering stunt shows for fans to get another adrenaline kick from.

Members of the crowd will also be keen to take part in the two pit walks taking place over the weekend – access for these can be gained with a ‘Superbiglietto’ or supplementary wristband. Fans are in with two opportunities to access the Pit Lane, and get a behind the scenes glimpse of the garages as mechanics work on the SBK® machines. Riders will be on hand to sign posters and merchandise, offering a once in a lifetime experience at the track.

With a camping area just one km from the circuit, and a Pata Party in the Paddock on Saturday, there will certainly be a stunning atmosphere surrounding the Imola circuit from 11th - 13th May.


Where the cream rises to the top

WorldSSP300 lands at Imola with several riders craving a season-defining performance

Imola is a track where the best truly prove their mettle, a launchpad for title wins. In the inaugural FIM Supersport 300 World Championship round at Autodromo Internazionale Enzo d Dino Ferrari di Imola, Marc García and Alfonso Coppola had their first true showdown: they entered Imola as two decent prospects and exited as championship contenders. Imola was their springboard to eventual success. Two races into the 2018 season, we’ve had two winners, five riders on the podium, and all the top positions settled by tenths of a second. Everyone on the WorldSSP300 grid will travel to Italy eager to prove a point.

Heading into Imola as the championship leader for the second year running*, Scott Deroue (Motoport Kawasaki) might not have won the two opening races as he did in 2017, but he’s shown a consistency that could prove to be vital by autumn. Last year at Imola, Deroue could only qualify in 21st place after the Superpole 1, finishing the race 11th. Will he find the pace this year to battle for a first win of the season?

The rider to make his mark at Assen was Luca Grunwald (Freudenberg KTM WorldSSP Team), taking advantage of the last-lap chaos to grab his first WorldSSP300 victory. The German crept up quietly throughout the weekend and kept his cool when push came to shove. It remains to be seen if he can he repeat the feat at Imola.

While neither rider has made it onto the podium yet, DS Junior Team are the only squad so far to have had both their riders in the top 10 in 2018. Both Ana Carrasco (DS Junior Team) and Dorren Loureiro (DS Junior Team) are proving to be dependable in both qualifying and race conditions, which bodes well for the season ahead. Loureiro also recorded the fastest lap here last year.

Koen Meuffels (KTM Fortron Junior Team) relinquished his leadership at Assen in dramatic fashion, falling to the floor on the final turn of the final lap after leading long stretches of the race. He’s now fourth in the standings, but just 11 points off the lead, and given the wild nature of the competition will be looking to jump straight back to the top.

Another rider who came agonisingly close to the finish line at Assen only to suffer a last lap crash was Mika Pérez (Kawasaki ParkinGO Team). The Spaniard has started both 2018 races from pole position, and took his maiden WorldSSP300 Superpole at Imola last year. He could only finish the race in 10th then – a lesson to be learnt for the weekend.

With the successes of his fellow Dutchmen, Glenn van Straalen’s (KTM Fortron Racing Team) performances so far might have flown slightly under the radar. This could play in his favour: van Straalen has proven to be reliable, and sitting just 7 points off leader Deroue, he could look to strike before the other title contenders notice.

For Tom Edwards (Nutec-Benjan-Kawasaki), his WorldSSP300 baptism of fire has been as rough and heartbreaking as they come. The Australian has spent every lap of 2018 in the top 10 and in contention for the win, yet in both races he went to the floor in the final turns. Nonetheless, the 16-year-old has shown insulting pace for his age. Will it be third time lucky at Imola?

*Results from MOTUL Dutch Round pending decision from FIM following technical investigation


Reiterberger against the world

Race 3 of the STK1000 championship will see the field desperate to dethrone the German

After a dominant display at Assen, the third stop of the European Superstock 1000 Championship paints a similar picture to the one that emerged from the season opener at MotorLand Aragon: can anyone on the STK1000 field defeat Markus Reiterberger (alpha Racing-Van Zon-BMW)? It will be harder than ever for the German at Imola, with half of the field returning to their home country and a track they know to perfection – not to mention the motivation of pulling the championship leader down to earth.

It’s hard to imagine how Markus Reiterberger’s return to the STK1000 championship could have gone any better. Two wins, two Superpoles, two fastest laps, fastest time in qualifying, and a feeling of dominance seldom seen in this category. Imola is a special track however, and it will not be easy for the German to increase his lead here. His last appearance at the Italian track was back in 2016 on a Superbike, coming in 12th and 13th.

For many in the STK1000 field the Imola Round will be a return home, but few will be more willing and able to impress than Roberto Tamburini (Berclaz Racing Team SA). The Italian is the biggest threat to Reiterberger’s lead right now, having come in second at both MotorLand Aragon and TT Circuit Assen. Appropriately, Tamburini also came in second at last year’s Imola race – a result he will be desperate to improve on.

Another rider returning home is Federico Sandi (MOTOCORSA Racing). A third and fourth place finish under his belt in the season so far, Sandi will be willing to put last season’s Imola Round behind him: the Italian saw himself disqualified after originally crossing the line fourth. A first STK1000 win still awaits Sandi, and Imola would be the perfect venue.

Maximilian Scheib (Aprilia Racing Team) was perhaps the biggest threat to Reiterberger’s triumph at the Aragon Round, when he lead the race and was only kept off the podium by an electronic problem. At Assen he crept back on, ending the race in third. The Chilean couldn’t score at last year’s Imola race either, but is well prepared to make it through the weekend at the front of the field.

Florian Marino (URBIS Yamaha Motoxracing STK Team) will be disappointed at this season so far, not just at his two fifth positions, but at finishing both races so far behind the leading four riders. The Frenchman is not used to be so far behind, having been in contention for the title last year right up to the final race. Will he find the pace he needs at Imola?

Follow all the STK1000 action ahead of the race at 15.15LT on Sunday (GMT +2).

Source: 
Round Number: 
5
2018

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