Press releases previewing this weekend's WorldSBK round from the iconic Imola circuit:
#ITAWorldSBK: A tale at every turn
The historic Imola Circuit prepares to host Round 5 of the 2019 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship. Who will step into the spotlight?
The fifth Round of the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship season is upon us, and if history is anything to go by fans around the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari di Imola will be in for a spectacle of magnificent proportions. Regulars here have witnessed epics ranging from the climatic 2002 showdown to 2018’s Race 2 clash, with more thrills promised for this year. After a four-week break, the stage has been set anew and the lights are ready to be dimmed – or rather, switched to green; the ardent Italian crowds are impatient for the curtain to be raised, while each one of the performers – all nineteen on the programme – is more than willing to steal the show.
In the vast lexicon of musical terms with Italian origins, one of the most commonly used is the aria – a solo performance where the singer slips away from the unfolding drama to deliver the audience with a solitary exhibition of brilliance. Traditionally, most vocalists will find themselves at the centre of one as the story winds around, but so far in this production there has been little space for anyone else but the lead performer. Even at Assen, a circuit which many had pencilled in as a potential bogey circuit for the Ducati V4 R, Álvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) was able to impose his authority on the rest of the field – albeit with his leading margin severely abbreviated.
The Spaniard’s star is burning brighter and brighter, yet every round the spotlight is at a bigger risk of veering towards someone else. Bautista knew each one of the four opening tracks inside-out before even stepping onboard the V4 R; that’s not the case with Imola.
Even with a semi-rained out, one-day test behind him, the 34-year-old will for once be at a disadvantage in terms of experience – although, to be fair, he’ll be the only one inside the Borgo Panigale squad with that issue. The Pirelli Italian Round is a home tie for Ducati and the crowd will be hot for the red machines. Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati), a four-time winner at the Autodromo, knows the stage better than most and will aim to gain the upper hand on his teammate for the first time this year.
A win for either man would serve as vindication for Ducati after their private test ten days ago, but the word on Kawasaki’s mind might well be vendetta. The last time the Japanese manufacturer failed to win a race inside the opening four rounds was 2011, in the pre-Provec Racing era; similarly, Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) had not left four consecutive rounds empty-handed since his Honda days. These are uncharted waters for the men in green, and the visit to their rival’s playfield could not come at a more frustrating time – yet hopes are still high for the first of two Italian meetings. This is after all, the first event which the Northern Irishman outright dominated last year, not to mention his consecutive demolition jobs in 2014 and 2015. Imola was where it all clicked for Rea in 2018 – could it be a turning point in 2019?
Keeping up with the questions: which Yamaha rider will be the one to step up on this occasion? Marco Melandri (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) got the blue brand’s first podium in Australia, followed by a triplet of thirds for Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) in Thailand. Then, MotorLand Aragon witnessed an astonishing qualifying performance by Sandro Cortese (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK), before Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) starred in a heroic homecoming at Assen just seven days later. There’s no shortage of YZF R1 riders with their eyes on the brass ring – the only doubt is whether (or rather, when) one of the four can move past the support cast and claim that leading role. The Pata Yamaha pair have had the early edge in 2019; conversely, Melandri is the only one with podium experience at Imola.
Piano piano, si arriva lontano. While this Italian idiom – roughly translated as “slow and steady wins the race” – may not be a natural fit for the sport, it does do a good job at explaining the mentality behind the early development of the BMW S1000 RR. Upgrades have slowly streamed in from one round to another, while results for both Tom Sykes and Markus Reiterberger (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) have been on a steady rise. The German manufacturer is playing the long game for its full factory return to WorldSBK and each race is a new test of the S1000 RR’s potential. It will be interesting to see what they can bring to the table for Round Five.
The Moriwaki Althea Honda Team found itself in a similar situation at this season’s start, albeit without new machinery; however, results have not been quite as encouraging yet. With the Japanese manufacturer putting its full support behind the project, it shouldn’t be long before we see the duo of Leon Camier – third at Imola back in 2011 – and Ryuichi Kiyonari higher up the grid.
What will the outcome be at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari di Imola? Find out from Friday, 10th May when Free Practice gets underway in Italy! After qualifying on Saturday morning, it will be lights out for Race 1 at 14:00 LT (GMT+2), with the Tissot Superpole Race (11:00LT) and Race 2 (14:00LT) on the menu for Sunday.
The Aruba.it Racing – Ducati team, with Álvaro Bautista and Chaz Davies, gears up for its home race, the fifth round of the Superbike World Championship at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari circuit in Imola
The 2019 Superbike World Championship is counting down towards the fifth round of thirteen, this time at Imola, on the iconic urban circuit that continues to write important chapters in the history of modern-day motorsport.
After eleven wins in eleven races, recordman Álvaro Bautista will take to the track this weekend with a firm grip on the championship standings. Even though the 34-year-old Spanish rider has never actually raced at Imola, he made full use of the one-day test organized by the Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team two weeks ago to gain confidence with one of the toughest tracks on the calendar, characterized by having a number of tricky up and down sections.
For his team-mate Chaz Davies, the Imola round marks a return to one of the 32-year-old Welshman’s most congenial tracks, where he has won four times in the last three years, with two commanding double wins in 2016 and 2017. Last year however he was unable to do much against Rea and the Kawasaki, but after the positive outcome of the recent test, he is confident he can bring home a couple of good results.
Out of 31 races held at Imola, Ducati riders have triumphed a total of 17 times, and on seven occasions they have scored a ‘double’. Even though Davies, Carlos Checa (twice), Régis Laconi and Ruben Xaus have all scored two wins on the same day, the name that remains closely linked to Imola, because of that legendary duel with Colin Edwards back in 2002, is that of Troy Bayliss, who only won once here in 2006.
The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team will be out on track on Friday morning at 10:30 CET for the first free practice session, while the weekend programme sees Race 1 at 14:00 on Saturday, the Superpole Race at 11:00 on Sunday, followed by Race 2 at 14:00.
Álvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #19) – 1st (236 points)
“Two weeks ago I had the chance to test at Imola, a circuit where I’ve never raced before. It was very useful because now I have a few more markers for the weekend race. The track is a bit ‘old style’: it’s very narrow, with a lot of hard braking points, but it’s got a nice combination of fast corners. All things considered, it’s a fun circuit, even though I still have to interpret the lines better. It’ll surely be a great weekend and we hope to arrive at the same competitive level we’ve had so far. For the Aruba team’s and the Ducati factory’s home race, we absolutely want to be and must be on the top of our form!”
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #7) – 6th (76 points)
“I’m looking forward to Imola, it’s the home race for the Aruba team and for Ducati. We’ve had two quite good weekends in succession now, so hopefully we can put together the best of what we learned there and in testing to put on a good race. I’m quite optimistic, because I’m starting to have a good feeling now on the bike. Historically Imola’s been a good track for me, it suits me and my style but we can’t rely on that because we need to keep working on our weaknesses with the Panigale V4 R. The people here are always so enthusiastic and winning at Imola is like nowhere else so that’s the objective this weekend.”
Rea And Haslam Return To Imola
Official KRT riders Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam will get their respective campaign’s back underway when the FIM Superbike World Championship circus rolls into the historic Italian city of Imola this coming weekend, for round five of the 13-round season.
After a month’s break from competitive racing both KRT runners are keen to get back into action at the classically-sculpted Autodromo Nazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari di Imola, which features no fewer than 22 corners along its 4.936km length.
Rea has an impressive individual record at Imola with seven race wins from 12 podiums all-in, making this parkland track the third most successful circuit on his untouchable WorldSBK CV – only behind Assen (12 wins as part of an 18 career podium total) and Portimao (seven wins as part of a 14 podium total). Jonathan won the double for Kawasaki at Imola last season, when there were only two WorldSBK races per weekend.
For Haslam, the 2018 BSB champion with Kawasaki, Imola is a well-known circuit. He has ridden as a WorldSBK wildcard as recently as last year, as well as being a regular WorldSBK competitor at Imola during much of his earlier career. His personal bests at the Italian venue are two third places, set in the 2012 season.
This season’s new Ninja ZX-10RR has already taken Rea and Haslam to the podium in the opening four rounds of the 2019 season; Jonathan 11 times and Leon twice.
The dramatically undulating and challenging Imola track affords little opportunity for the riders to relax between its many corners and rapidly interlinked technical sections. No fewer than four chicanes reduce speeds on the otherwise high-speed sections and none of the straights are entirely arrow straight, as they have to follow the perimeter of the park’s layout.
There are three WorldSBK races at all events this year; two longer races, which bracket a ten-lap ‘sprint’ on Sunday morning. The short Tissot-Superpole race also determines the grid positions for the top nine riders in the final race of the weekend, to be held on Sunday afternoon.
In the championship standings Rea is a clear second with 183 points and Haslam fifth, with 93 points.
Another long break in the WorldSBK calendar will follow on from the Imola round, with the Circuito de Jerez Angel Nieto in Spain hosting round six, between 7 and 9 June.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “I had a great few weeks’ rest at home, and I am re-charged and ready to attack this mid-part of the season. After four rounds we have understood and evaluated where we are and where we need to improve. So we approach Imola trying to make another step in terms of my riding and also the performance of the bike. The circuit is incredible and I love racing at Imola, because it is steeped in history and from a rider’s point of view it is a fun track to ride. It is very unique with a lot of undulations and you really need to feel at one with your bike to push on the limit there. I am very excited for FP1 just to understand our performance, if we can be competitive, which I am sure we can be. I will work with my team throughout Friday to give us a bike to compete. I see Imola as a track where we can be really competitive and last year we had a great season, so I feel like it is the time in my season where we can try to change the momentum of the championship. Imola gives us a good opportunity to do that.”
Leon Haslam, stated: “Imola is going to be a good race because after Assen, it was a disappointment. I felt we had good pace for the podium there but with the front tyre issues we had, we dropped back. To finish where we finished off the podium was not a nice way to go into a long break. We are heading into Imola now and I actually raced there on a Puccetti bike last year with the ELF colours that my dad, Ron, used to run. The pace was OK for a top five although we had some issues in the races. I am quite confident that the bike will work well at Imola and I can probably adapt a little bit faster, having ridden the circuit last year. It is a circuit of mixed memories for me. I lost the championship chance in 2010 to Max Biaggi there but I also had some quite good battles with Carlos Checa. I have some up and down memories but I will have to wait and see where the other competition is at. But from my side I am really looking forward to it.”
Jordi Torres (Team Pedercini Racing Kawasaki) and Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) are currently disputing tenth place in the overall championship standings, with Torres just three points ahead of Razgatlioglu. Leandro Mercado (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) is still recovering from injuries he suffered at Motorland Aragon, meaning that his replacement at Assen, Hector Barbera, will once again stand-in for Leandro this weekend.
Yamaha Riders Revved up and Ready for Imola Challenge
The Pata Yamaha WorldSBK and GRT Yamaha Supported WorldSBK teams return to action this weekend at the historic Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola, the venue for Round 5 of the 2019 FIM Superbike World Championship this weekend. Pata Yamaha's Michael van der Mark heads to Italy looking to build on the success of two podium finishes last time out in Assen, while teammate Alex Lowes, four times a top three finisher already this season, has his sights set firmly on adding to his podium tally. After three difficult rounds, GRT Yamaha's Marco Melandri is looking to rediscover his form at his home race in Imola, a track at which he finished on the podium last season. The long break between Assen and Imola worked in Sandro Cortese's favour, with the German now almost fully recovered from the shoulder injury sustained in a high-speed qualifying crash in Assen.
All four Yamaha riders are hoping for better conditions in Imola than they experienced four weeks ago in Assen, where snow forced the cancellation of Saturday afternoon’s schedule and saw both feature races contested on the Sunday. The Dutch fans who braved the bitterly cold conditions were rewarded with a superlative performance from home hero van der Mark, who secured his first podium finish of the 2019 season with third place in Race 1. In Race 2 van der Mark secured Yamaha’s best result of the season to date, getting the better of a battle with reigning World Champion, Jonathan Rea, to finish second. It’s a performance that the Pata Yamaha rider is keen to repeat this weekend in Imola, a track that hasn’t been a particularly good hunting ground for him in the past.
Lowes heads into the Imola weekend looking for a return to the podium, having narrowly missed out in Assen, where he twice finished fourth. With four podium finishes to his name already this season, Lowes is the leading Yamaha rider, with the 28-year-old Briton currently lies third in the championship standings with 126 points, a position he is keen to consolidate with three strong race results this weekend in Italy.
Having struggled with set-up issues in Thailand, Aragon and Assen, GRT Yamaha’s Melandri heads into his home race weekend in a more confident mood, following a limited but positive two-day test at the Autodromo dell'Umbria in Magione. Imola has been a successful track for Melandri in the past and the veteran Italian heads into this weekend
determined to rediscover the form that saw him finish on the podium in the opening race of the season in Australia.
A 240 km/h crash in qualifying last time out in Assen left Cortese nursing an injured right shoulder and forced the reigning Supersport World Champion to ride through the pain barrier to collect points in both races. During the four weeks since Assen, Cortese has been in full recovery mode, undergoing physiotherapy on the shoulder injury in a bid to be fully fit for Imola. The German rider is confident that his recovery has been successful and that the shoulder won’t give him any problems aboard the GRT Yamaha R1, as he targets top ten finishes this weekend in Italy.
The Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari di Imola hosted its first motorcycle race in 1953 and in the intervening years has become a firm favourite with riders and race fans alike. Located 40km East of Bologna, the circuit is named in honour of the founder of Ferrari, Enzo Ferrari, and his son Dino. Fast and technical, the 4.936km track combines high-speed turns with a number of chicanes in a layout that challenges both riders and machines and is one of the few circuits on the WorldSBK calendar that runs in an anti-clockwise direction.
Michael van der Mark
Pata Yamaha WorldSBK
"We've had quite a long break since the last round in Assen, so I can't wait to race again this weekend. Imola is a circuit with different characteristics again and, although the results in the past weren't all that great, we made a big step forward last year in Race 2. With that in mind, and with the improvements we've made to the bike this season already, I think we can be competitive at this circuit. The weekend can't come quick enough for me!"
Pata Yamaha WorldSBK
"The first races this season have been really strong for us and I'm enjoying racing; we're improving with every race and my feeling with the team and the bike is improving all the time. You never want three weeks off from racing, but it's been good to recharge the batteries, focus on some areas where we need to improve going into the next three races in Imola, Jerez and Misano. Imola is a fantastic track with loads of character and quite a few changes of elevation. In terms of the bike, we need to get it set up on the brakes for the chicanes, but we also have to focus on corner exit; getting the bike out of the turns as fast as we can. I'm really looking forward to it and can't wait to get back to work, building on the results from the first part of the season."
GRT Yamaha Supported WorldSBK
"I'm really looking forward to returning to Imola, as it's one of the most beautiful tracks we race at during the season. It's a very technical track, very difficult actually, but with the long break after Assen we've had a chance to think about how we can improve, so I'm sure in Imola this weekend we will start from a different level compared to the previous few races."
GRT Yamaha Supported WorldSBK
"I can't wait to get back to racing at Imola. It's been a long break, but that's been to my advantage because it allowed me time to recover from the big crash in Assen. At the moment I'd say my shoulder is at about 90% but I'm working a lot on my recovery with physiotherapy and the strength is coming back. I'm confident that, come FP1 on the Friday, the shoulder won't be a problem and I'm looking forward to getting back to work in Imola."
Next stop Imola: BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team ready for the fifth round of the WorldSBK 2019.
Development of Tom Sykes’ and Markus Reiterberger’s new BMW S 1000 RR superbikes under racing conditions continues.
Team aiming to continue the trend from recent races.
Tom Sykes: “I have a clear target of what I would like to achieve with the BMW S 1000 RR”.
Munich. The next round of the FIM Superbike World Championship (WorldSBK) is approaching after a four-week break. The fifth event of the season is taking place this coming weekend (10th to 12th May) at Imola, Italy. The BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team has made more updates to the BMW S 1000 RR superbikes for Tom Sykes (GBR) and Markus Reiterberger (GER) ahead of the first of two visits to Italy.
At Imola, the team is aiming to build on the good results from the last two events. Sykes started from the front row at MotorLand Aragón (ESP) and recorded the first top-five results for this new campaign. Reiterberger was on the front row at Assen (NED) and finished both races in sixth place.
Quotes ahead of the races at Imola.
Marc Bongers, BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director: “At Imola, we aim to continue the positive trend from the last two race weekends. We have had a break since the races at Assen and have used this to continue optimising the new RR for the WorldSBK, and to drive development under racing conditions. After the cool races in Aragon and Assen, we are looking forward to some more pleasant temperatures. Imola is a circuit with a great history. We are expecting plenty of spectators and fans, and are looking forward to the weekend.”
Shaun Muir, Team Principal BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team: “The team has had a few weeks break since Assen. The time has been spent fine tuning the overall package of the BMW S 1000 RR. BMW Motorrad Motorsport has some finer aero upgrades to implement. Additionally we will continue to focus on the chassis balance to complement the undulating and demanding Imola circuit. We are confident that both Markus and Tom can pick up from where they left off at Assen and chase down the top eight final race positions.”
Tom Sykes: “I am really looking forward to the Imola round of the Superbike World Championship. It’s always a great atmosphere there; the Italian fans are really spectacular, so going there, I am very motivated with a clear target of what I would like to achieve with the BMW S 1000 RR. Unfortunately, during the races, we have some limitations when with some other riders but I think with some adaptions to the chassis set-up we can try to compensate for that. I am sure the potential of the package is very high and I think everybody has seen that when we’re on clear track and able to do what’s necessary, but obviously in the race that’s not the case, so we’re step by step working in that direction. The effort from all of the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team is absolutely fantastic and I really hope the track layout at Imola will help us to achieve the results we deserve.”
Markus Reiterberger: “I am looking forward to getting going again. We have had quite a long break, and we have used it sensibly. After the positive weekend at Assen, I can hardly wait to finally get back on the RR. The potential is there, I am feeling more at home on the bike and we are continually making progress. I hope that we can continue this at Imola and get closer to the front. Imola is a great track that is a lot of fun. The circuit is extremely challenging for the riders and it is a very demanding place to race but I think we have a good overall package and we can record some good results. We just have to wait and see if the weather is on our side. I hope it will be a bit warmer, as it was very cold at Assen.”
EXCITED FOR THE HOME ROUND?
The Weekend on the Santerno circuit is upon us!
Imola, historical circuit, here the emotions and thrills of the epic battles of the past relive: from two to four wheels, all the great champions have raced in the famous Emilian ups and downs.
The Italian spectators has been waiting for this three days since the publication of the calendar, and since Superbike returned to the Imola circuit, it has always been able to honor the expectations.
For the Go Eleven Team it is a special round, it is played at home; sponsors, friends and guests will come to let Eugene and the entire Go Eleven Team feel their enthusiasm!
For the first time the Team from Piedmont arrives at this particular weekend "riding" the Ducati; an emblem for all Italians and motorcycle fans. We are only 50 km from the headquarters of our manufacturer; a red swarm will support the V4-R from the first few laps!
Eugene will be able to take benefit of some technical innovations, which demonstrate the commitment of all our partners and suppliers in putting the Borgo Panigale by Go Eleven in the best possible condition: Spark, the company that supplies us with the exhausts, has produced a new silencer developed from the experiences of the first part of the championship, with good improvements in the delivery of medium rpm.
The last details will be finalized today, then by tomorrow morning ..... gasssssss
The Moriwaki Althea Honda Team head south for round five of the WorldSBK season
The Moriwaki Althea Honda Team is back in action next weekend, the “Enzo and Dino Ferrari” Circuit in Imola playing host to the WorldSBK season’s fifth round. It will be something of a home race for the squad with the Althea headquarters located just north of Rome, around three-hundreds kilometers from the historic track.
The Italian venue is also one of the favorites among Superbike fans, who flock to the track to enjoy the live action and take advantage of the many opportunities to meet their heroes around the paddock.
Leon Camier is looking forward to racing at a track he loves and, together with teammate Ryuichi Kiyonari, is counting on the southern European location for stable and hopefully warm weather after the havoc caused by the freezing and extremely variable conditions in Assen four weeks ago.
As usual, the race weekend will get underway with the first free practice session on Friday morning at 10:30 local time (CET).
Leon Camier 2
“I love Imola, it’s a really good track and I enjoy riding there. Having said that, I expect it to be tough to be honest. The layout is very physical and there are a lot of details we need to get right in terms of the bike’s setup. I think it will be a challenging weekend for us, but I’m definitely looking forward to it. Hopefully the weather will be warmer than Assen and allow us to take advantage of every session to prepare for the races. We’ll try our best and will see what happens.”
Ryuichi Kiyonari 23
“Imola is a track with a great racing tradition. It’s very different from Assen, with some ups and downs and technical sections with different corners, some tight and some fast. Hopefully the weather will be very different from the last round! I raced in Imola only once in the past, in 2009, and I’m happy to head back there now. It’s the team’s home race after all, so it’s important for us.”
Althea MIE Racing ready to race at home at Imola
Imola (Italy), Wednesday 8 May 2019
The Althea MIE Racing team and rider Alessandro Delbianco prepare for the first of two Italian rounds on the 2019 World Superbike calendar, this weekend’s event taking place at the Imola circuit.
Round four, which played out at Assen in The Netherlands almost one month ago, saw Delbianco conclude race two in seventeenth place. After a weekend conditioned by very low temperatures and even snow on Sunday morning, the Althea MIE Racing team hopes for good weather during its ‘home’ event this coming weekend.
The 'Enzo e Dino Ferrari' circuit in Imola, inaugurated in 1953, has hosted the Superbikes since 2001 and is one of few tracks at which races run in an anti-clockwise direction. 4936 m in length, it boasts 9 right-hand turns and 13 left-handers. The track is located in the Emilia Romagna region, roughly 40 kilometres from Bologna.
After the four first rounds, Delbianco has scored three points and positions eighteenth in the championship standings.
“We’re finally back in Italy and I’m really pleased because Imola is one of those tracks I really love. Having said that, luck was not on my side there last year, and I got hurt, but I still have great memories from previous years. I really hope to have a good weekend.”
Which manufacturer has made history in Imola so far?
Find out who has been the most successful manufacturer in Imola, and who have been struggling at the Italian race track in the past
Despite having to concede two wins to Kawasaki last year, Ducati is still the most successful manufacturer around their home track. They won here 17 times, more than all their rivals combined, 14 (Honda 7; Kawasaki 6; Aprilia 1). Their podium tally in Imola is equally impressive; 40, exactly the double of their closest competitor, Kawasaki at 20. Last year, Ducati scored two podiums with Melandri 3rd in Race 1 and Davies second in Race 2. They have recorded here the same number of pole positions, eight, which is the sum of all the pole position that were took from their rivals (Kawasaki 4; Honda 3; Aprilia 1).
Honda holds the runner-up spot for race wins in Imola with seven. In the last three years, they have seen their position come under attack by Kawasaki, which now is at 6 wins, four of them scored by Jonathan Rea. Ironically, the last three wins for Honda were scored by the same Rea in 2011 Race 1 and a double in 2014. Rea is also the author of the previous four Imola podiums for Honda, from 2011 to 2014. The Japanese manufacturer amassed 13 podium finishes at the Italian track.
Last year they couldn’t rely on Leon Camier. The British rider tried to race in Imola even if still injured, but after FP2 he was forced to retire. Things got worse when his replacement rider crashed out in FP3 injuring himself. With Jake Gagne and PJ Jacobsen, there was only one point finisher in the weekend thanks to the 14th place took by Jacobsen in Race 2.
Honda recorded three pole positions here, with three different riders: Colin Edwards in 2002; Chris Vermeulen in 2005; Jonathan Rea in 2014. The last top-10 grid spot for Honda in Imola came in 2016 when the late Nicky Hayden qualified 9th. Honda claimed their last WorldSBK fastest race lap here in 2014 with Jonathan Rea (both races).
Kawasaki is on its way up to claim the second spot for wins in Imola: they opened their account in 2013 with a double by Tom Sykes (they had never won here before), and after 2018 their tally is at six, just one shy of Honda (Ducati leads at 17). Last year Kawasaki recorded the double with Jonathan Rea.
Kawasaki recorded 20 podiums here, all by Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes from 2012 onwards. This effort made Kawasaki the second-best team here after Ducati, which has claimed 40 podiums in Imola.
Yamaha took three podiums at the Italian track. They were all third places, scored in 2005 by Noriyuki Haga, in 2006 Race 1 by Andrew Pitt and in 2010 Race 2 by Cal Crutchlow. In the last three races run here, their best result had always been a sixth: Lowes in 2017 Race and last year in Race 2; Van der Mark last year in Race 1.
Yamaha has claimed pole in 20 different tracks in its WorldSBK history, but they are still waiting for their first one in Imola. Their best qualifying effort here is a second by Ben Spies in 2009. Their other front row grid spot in qualifying here had been a third, scored by Andrew Pitt in 2006.
BMW scored their two podium finishes at Imola in 2012, with Leon Haslam, who finished third in both races. Last year their rider, Loris Baz, was 13th and 11th after he took the 13th place in qualifying.
WorldSSP championship battle resumes at legendary Imola
Championship pendulum set to swing once again in feisty World Supersport battle
The World Supersport Championship is providing exciting, close-quarter racing in 2019, with the last two races (MotorLand Aragon and TT Circuit Assen) going down to the last lap in dramatic fashion. Now, the championships head to the first of two rounds in Italy, at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari circuit – or simply Imola. A historic circuit which has hosted many battles across all classes of racing promises to be no exception to the WorldSSP riders this weekend.
Heading into the fifth round of the WorldSSP Championship at the front of the field, Randy Krummenacher (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) will be eager to continue his fantastic podium streak. Yet to finish below second position, the Swiss star has a 17-point advantage ahead of his rivals but heads to a circuit at which he only has one fifth-place finish at. However, the metronomically consistent Krummenacher will hope to become the first ever Swiss WorldSSP winner in Italy.
Krummenacher’s teammate and TT Circuit Assen victor Federico Caricasulo (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) is second in the championship. The 23-year-old Italian has been on the podium in every race this season, with three third-places and a win last time out. Caricasulo now heads to Imola, a circuit at which he was a strong second at last year. Aiming to go one better, Caricasulo hopes to become the first same back-to-back Italian winner in WorldSSP races since Luca Scassa in 2011, at Phillip Island and Donington Park.
Jules Cluzel (GMT94 YAMAHA) is third in the championship standings, 31 points adrift of Randy Krummenacher. The French rider is yet to mount the podium in Europe this season, although he was in the thick of the action during the Motul Dutch Round, placing fourth and fractionally behind the podium places. Cluzel was also the winner of the WorldSSP race at Imola in 2018, making him one of the favourites ahead of the weekend this year.
Making history at the TT Circuit Assen, Thomas Gradinger (Kallio Racing) became the first Austrian rider in the history of WorldSSP to get on the podium. Following on from his first pole at MotorLand Aragon and his first podium at Assen, does a first win lie ahead for the Austrian ace? Gradinger now heads to Imola – a circuit at which he had his second-worst result at in 2018. However, with Gradinger’s noticeable improvements in 2019, he may well be a force to be reckoned with come Sunday.
Another stand-out performer in 2019 has been Japanese rider, Hikari Okubo (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing). Having made a considerable step forward with the Kawasaki ZX-6R, which has yielded four consecutive top eight finishes with a best of sixth, Okubo has been in close contention with the leading group in the opening portion of the year. In the last two seasons, Okubo has been firmly placed in the top ten at Imola, so a return to the top six will be his aim this weekend.
Completing the top six in the championship is Corentin Perolari (GMT94 YAMAHA), who has been making small improvements in the European stint of the season. With two sixth-places in the last two races making for his best results of the season, Perolari heads to a circuit which is completely new to him, and with the challenges Imola propose, it may be a learning weekend for him. Can Perolari continue his fine form and remain in the top six in the championship?
Other riders to keep a look out for are Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing), who was back in the leading group at Assen. Raffaele De Rosa (MV AGUSTA Reparto Corse) heads home and will look to redeem himself after a crash out of the leading group in The Netherlands. Hannes Soomer (MPM WILSport Racedays) made a good step forwards at Assen and will hope to build on that at Imola.
Caricasulo Looking to Impress at Home in Imola
Evan Bros. Bardahl Yamaha Supported WorldSSP rider, Federico Caricasulo, took his first win of the 2019 Supersport World Championship season last time out in Assen and the Italian heads to Imola keen to repeat this success in front of his home crowd this weekend. Randy Krummenacher, the current championship leader, will be just one of the riders determined to deny his Bardahl Yamaha teammate a second consecutive race win in Italy.
The two Bardahl Yamaha riders have been in impressive form since the opening round of the season in Australia, with three wins between them and with both finishing on the podium in every race so far. With two wins to his name it’s Krummenacher who leads the way in the championship standings with 90 points, while Caricasulo, the race winner in Assen, lies second in the standings and just 17 points behind his teammate.
The only rider to deny the Bardahl Yamaha pairing a win so far this season is GMT94 Yamaha Supported WorldSSP rider, Jules Cluzel, who took victory ahead of Krummenacher and Caricasulo in the heat of Thailand. Having missed out on the podium in both Aragon and Assen, Cluzel heads to Italy determined to get his 2019 campaign back on track with a strong showing in Imola, a track at which he won a year ago.
Kallio Racing Yamaha Supported WorldSSP rider, Thomas Gradinger, made history last time out in Assen. Gradinger was the first Austrian rider to step onto the WorldSSP podium after racing to an impressive third place finish. The Kallio Yamaha rider heads into the Imola weekend keen to build upon this success and with another podium finish firmly in his sights.
GMT94 Yamaha’s Corentin Perolari will be looking to break into the top five this weekend in Italy, having finished sixth in Assen, while the Kallio Yamaha pairing of Isaac Viñales and Loris Cresson will be looking for significant improvements in Imola, having finished eighth and 13th respectively last time out.
Evan Bros. Bardahl Yamaha Supported WorldSSP
"It was good to get the first win of the season under my belt in Assen, although I had to work hard for it. I have been working hard since then to prepare for my home race in Imola and I can't wait to get out in track in front of the Italian fans. It's very close at the front this season in the Supersport World Championship, but I hope I can fight for the win once again and give the fans something to cheer for."
GMT94 Yamaha Supported WorldSSP
"I'm looking forward to Imola, a track where I won last year. So far, we've picked up good points in every race this season and, although I missed out on the podium by the narrowest of margins in Assen, I gained a lot of confidence in the race. Now the target is to make another step forward in Imola, make sure we're on the pace and to push for the best result possible and more points."
Home Round For Kawasaki Puccetti Racing
The Italian-based Kawasaki Puccetti Racing WorldSSP team will take part in its first home round of the season this coming weekend, with riders Hikari Okubo and Lucas Mahias ready to get back into competitive action after three weekends away from the track.
After some effective and battling performances in the four races held so far Okubo is ranked fifth overall on the eve of the Imola round, having scored well in each of the early rounds. He is only three points from fourth place.
Mahias has had a season of contrasts at times and he is now seventh overall, just five points behind his team-mate Okubo. His determined fifth place at the most recent round in Assen in the Netherlands has shown that the 2017 WorldSSP champion now has the machinery set-up package to use his skill and experience to the full.
As the Kawasaki Puccetti pairing get ready to face the challenging Imola circuit, which is laden with undulations and blind corner entries along its 4.936km length, their shared aim is to take their first podium finish of the season on raceday at Imola, on Sunday the 12th of May.
Kawasaki and the Puccetti Racing squad have a particularly strong recent record at Imola, with Kenan Sofuoglu winning the WorldSSP race in 2015, 2016 and 2017, to add to his 2013 Imola success on a Kawasaki.
Another long break in the season waits Okubo and Mahias after the Imola round, with the sixth round of the championship set to take place at the Circuito de Jerez Angel Nieto, between 7 and 9 June.
Lucas Mahias stated: “I like the Imola track; it’s very technical and not easy to interpret. Last year I reached the podium and I’d like to do that again this time around. In recent races, my feeling has really improved with the bike and I know I can aim for the win now. I’ll do all I can to achieve the best possible result, and also because this is my team’s home round.”
Hikari Okubo, stated: “Although I’ve never scored great results before at Imola, it’s a track I really enjoy. I also think our bike suits the track’s characteristics and so I hope to achieve a strong result in front of the Italian fans.”
Ayrton Badovini (Team Pedercini Racing Kawasaki) is currently 17th overall as he enters his home round. Kyle Smith (Team Pedercini Racing Kawasaki) leads the championship-within-a-championship FIM Europe Supersport Cup as he embarks on only his third WorldSSP race of the season at Imola. He is 15th in the overall classification.
Dutchman Glenn van Straalen (EAB Racing Team Kawasaki) had a strong top ten ride at his home round last time out and is now 14th overall in the championship. Rob Hartog (Team Hartog – Against Cancer Kawasaki) is now 21st overall, with Nacho Calero (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) and ESS rider Gaetan Matern (Flembbo Leader Team Kawasaki) yet to score points.
Historic and record-breaking: what will happen next in Imola?
Read the 10 most important things you need to know ahead of the Pirelli Italian Round
1. At the moment Imola is the 10th circuit for WorldSBK races run: 31. Within striking distance are Brands Hatch, Laguna Seca, and Sugo, which have hosted 32 races each.
2. Imola is the track where Spanish riders triumphed the most: the only one in which they won 8 times. Their wins came thanks to Carlos Checa (5) and Ruben Xaus (3).
3. The last twelve races held here were all won by British riders (Sykes, Rea, Davies): a remarkable record for just 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. The current streak began in 2013 with a double by Sykes.
4. Jonathan Rea is the only rider able to score four consecutive wins at Imola for two different manufacturers: Honda (2014) and Kawasaki (2015).
5. Marco Melandri is the only rider other than Davies, Rea, and Sykes to have climbed on the podium here in the last three years, with a third in Race 1 both in 2017 and 2018.
6. Jonathan Rea finished all his last eleven races in Imola on the podium, either in first or second place.
7. So far Imola has had twelve different riders qualifying for pole out of 16 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 and Jonathan Rea with 2.
8. Eight years ago Tom Sykes recorded his maiden career pole at Imola: 47 more followed, to make him the all-time leader for poles in WorldSBK history.
9. Last year in Race 2, Rea equaled the legendary tally of all-time WorldSBK wins held by Carl Fogarty: 59.
10. 0.021 seconds – This is the smallest margin for a win in Imola: it was recorded in the 2nd 2001 Race, between Regis Laconi –at his maiden win and podium appearance- and Ruben Xaus. Xaus took revenge two years later, winning over Laconi with the most significant margin ever recorded here: 12.038 seconds (Race 2).
WorldSSP300: A challenge fit for a champion
Recent history favours those who reign supreme at Imola. The question is: can anyone rein in the indomitable González?
The Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari di Imola hosts the third race of the FIM Supersport 300 World Championship, a tricky test for the riders of the action-packed feeder series. A massive 56 challengers – many of whom have never stepped foot on the Italian track – will attempt to find fame at the iconic venue, one renowned for separating championship contenders from the pretenders.
Back in 2017, Marc García (DS Junior Team) scored a vital maiden win at Imola, one which immediately propelled him into the fight for the gold. Twelve months later, Ana Carrasco (Kawasaki Provec WorldSSP300) opened her account for the season with an utterly dominant performance on the Italian tarmac. Both riders, champions of the class, know better than most the huge value of a win at the Italian Round – and conversely, both need a boost after a slow start to the season.
The fact that both previous winners of the Italian Round have later gone on to clinch the world title will not be lost on many competitors, particularly those who have begun the 2019 season intent on setting the world alight. The rider who best fits that description is of course championship leader Manuel González (Kawasaki ParkinGO Team). Few would have predicted such a remarkable start from the 16-year-old – yet the signs were there at the tail-end of last season. ‘Manugas’ finished third in each one of the last three races of 2018 and his pace has only improved since then, adding two last-gasp wins to the books.
Can lightning strike thrice? No one has taken three on the trot in WorldSSP300, but on current form the Spaniard, whose sharp and tactical riding belies his young age, is the rider to beat.
Gonzalez’s feverish start shares some parallels with Scott Deroue’s (Kawasaki MOTOPORT) early 2017 run, when the Dutchman also claimed victory in the first two races of the year. A ‘veteran’ of the class, Deroue remains second in the standings after making it onto the Aragon and Assen rostrums for a third year in a row, but in previous seasons the 23-year-old hit a major stumbling block at Imola. Will it be third time the charm for Deroue?
Several more names also fit the bill: Hugo De Cancellis (Team Trasimeno) and Jan-Ole Jahnig (Freudenberg KTM Junior Team) have both taken maiden podiums this season and have shown huge promise on the Yamaha and KTM, respectively. But they will be far from the only contenders, with other starlets including Nick Kalinin (Nutec - RT Motorsports by SKM – Kawasaki) – third at Imola in 2017 – Andy Verdoia (BCD Yamaha MS Racing) or home riders Omar Bonoli (Team Trasimeno) and Bruno Ieraci (Kawasaki GP Project) – 28th to 1st in four laps at Assen – keen on adding their names into the mix.