News 10 May 2016

Sepang the next stop for 2016 WorldSBK season

Davies and Rea battle to resume in Malaysia this weekend.

Source: Supplied.

Source: Supplied.

Motul World Superbike will return to the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia this weekend with round six of the 2016 season.

Imola saw a Chaz Davies double, as the Ducati rider also achieved in round three at Aragon, despite rival and reigning champion Jonathan Rea going into the weekend as most successful rider at the track.

Assen belonged to Rea as the Kawasaki rider did the double there and the two men look set to fight for the title once again in 2016.

The Ducati is stronger than 2015 and the Kawasaki newer and more unknown, closing up the battle as the two rivals fight for supremacy.

Sepang will test both once again as they return to the scene of their clash last year: Rea took race one and Davies race two, with the Welshman pulling off a spectacular move at the final corner to prevent Rea taking the title in Malaysia.

Second Kawasaki Tom Sykes, although a constant challenger for the podium and a race winner in 2016, finds himself a little further behind than Davies and is looking to get back on a par with teammate Rea.

P3 in the title standings ahead of Honda’s Michael van der Mark, Sykes first has his sights set on P2 in the points table as the paddock heads to Kuala Lumpur.

Sykes has seen success at Sepang, especially in qualifying, but has had his statistics at the track marred by separate incidents that saw him unable to fight for the win, most notably with then teammate Loris Baz in 2014.

Honda WorldSBK team’s van der Mark and Nicky Hayden had a tough weekend in Imola after both standing on the podium the round before in Assen and with neither a rookie at Sepang in 2016 both will be looking to challenge at the front once again.

Van der Mark will be set on getting on the rostrum once again and Hayden, after riding at Imola as a rookie of the track, will be going ‘home’ of sorts as Sepang is a circuit he knows inside out.

Yamaha will be eager to try their new YZF-R1 on the track, too. After a big crash for 2014 WorldSBK champion Guintoli at Imola, the Frenchman is in doubt for the event on a track on which he’s had good results.

Teammate Alex Lowes has suffered bad luck in Malaysia that he’s impressively recovered from with great race pace and the Brit will be hoping for better luck to allow his inherent speed to take him to the front.

Althea BMW enjoyed a season best result in race one at Imola as Jordi Torres fought up to finish just behind those who got on the podium, and MV Agusta got their best ever result in P4 in Assen.

Both teams are building momentum throughout the season and are now consistent threats in the top ten and constantly adding good hauls of points to their respective tallies.

Lorenzo Savadori, after a run of fantastic form as the rookie gains traction in WorldSBK on his Aprilia, now has good experience of running in the top five and will want that to continue.

Teammate De Angelis, who is a veteran of Sepang International Circuit from the MotoGP, Moto2, 250 and 125 World Championships, will also be healthier after a run of bad luck through the last half of 2015 and the first of 2016.

Australia will once again have Josh Brookes on the grid aboard his Milwaukee BMW in an ongoing development phase, while Josh Hook returns to Sepang with Grillini Kawasaki. He was last there in the 2015 Moto2 World Championship race.

In World Supersport Kawasaki Puccetti Racing’s reigning world champion Kenan Sofuoglu leads the title chase after taking over from teammate Randy Krummenacher, who suffered a mechanical problem in Italy.

Of the Australian contingent, Aiden Wagner (GRT Racing Team MV Agusta) and Lachlan Epis (Response RE Racing Kawasaki) will continue their campaigns. Glenn Scott has been declared unfit for his return from injury at this point.