News 1 Sep 2011

Checa leads World Superbike into the Nurburgring this weekend

Carlos Checa leads Max Biaggi heading into the German round of World Superbike this weekend.

Carlos Checa leads Max Biaggi heading into the German round of World Superbike this weekend.

The 2011 Superbike World Championship gets down to the usual hectic action once again with the first of four rounds in a month and a half that will lead to the crowning of this year’s champion.

The first of these rounds will be held on Sunday at the 5.137km Nurburgring, a famous name for all two and four wheeled motorsports fans and a worthy modern heir to the legendary and historic Nordschleife track.

In the last three editions of the German Round since the circuit returned to the WSBK calendar the points leader Carlos Checa (Althea Racing Ducati) has never been able to take a win, although last year he did finish runner-up to race one winner Jonathan Rea.

The same can be said for Max Biaggi (Aprilia Alitalia Racing Team), another rider still to open his scorecard in Germany. In his victorious 2010 season, the Italian started from pole, but could only finish fourth and fifth.

These two are the two main contenders for the 2011 title, with the Spaniard currently holding a 62 point lead.

Still in with a slim chance of final honours is Marco Melandri (Yamaha World Superbike Team), but the Italian will maybe also now have to focus even harder following the announcement of the retirement of the Japanese manufacturer’s official team from the series.

Two hundred points are still up for grabs in this year’s championship, but it is clear that none of the top contenders can afford to miss out at the Nurburgring. Should Checa increase his lead in Germany, the title race can virtually be considered as cut and dried.

But further elements to be added to the end-of-season mix will surely include contract renewal, the search for a competitive ride for the following season as well as a desire to finish this year on a high.

Riders amidst in the latter category undoubtedly include Jonathan Rea (Castrol Honda), a two-times winner at the Nurburgring in the last couple of years, who returns to the pack after his Misano crash and injury and an appraisal of his physical condition in two days of testing at Assen last week.

Alongside Rea will be an old hand of the Superbike World Championship, the expert Japanese rider Makoto Tamada, who has been called in as a replacement for the still convalescent Ruben Xaus following the Spanish rider’s own crash and injury at Brno.

Also aiming to cut a fine figure in Germany at their home race will be the BMW Motorrad Motorsport team, which is still searching for the big breakthrough. Leon Haslam and Troy Corser, who won race two back in 1999, will try and turn BMW’s season around this weekend.

And still with BMW, this time in the Motorrad Italia team, expectations are high for the performance of Ayrton Badovini, and above all James Toseland, who celebrates his 200th World Superbike race in Germany.

A surprise could also come from Noriyuki Haga (PATA Racing Team Aprilia), who has won three of the six races held in the last few years at the Nurburgring and who last year was the protagonist of a superb race 2, which he won from Jonathan Rea.

All eyes will be on Eugene Laverty (Yamaha World Superbike Team), Supersport winner here in 2010 and also on the lookout for a new team next year. Michel Fabrizio (Suzuki Alstare) on the other hand will be aiming for a couple of good results following his disappointment last year.