Despite only needing three points to claim the 2011 World Superbike Championship, Carlos Checa says he will approach Magny-Cours like it’s any other round.
Before tires have had a chance to cool the World Superbike paddock is saddling-up again for the penultimate round of the championship. Taking place at the Magny-Cours circuit in central France, Round 12 of the series will most likely witness Althea Ducati’s Carlos Checa crowned as the 2011 champ. The Spaniard is coming off his 12th victory of the season and holds a massive 97-point lead over Yamaha’s Marco Melandri. Only needing to score three points in the next two rounds, the championship is all but finished for Checa as the rest of the field looks to flaunt its talent in front of prospective team managers for 2012.
“We are going to Magny-Cours where we want to make two good races, top level races,” Checa said. “The track is not particularly favorable to us but we’ll be giving it our all and we’ll see. We’ve demonstrated our potential all year long and I really don’t want Sunday to be a celebratory, walk in the park, I prefer to work hard as we have done every weekend, because this is the best way to receive the title.”
One rider who’s well on his way to a successful season next year is Castrol Honda’s Jonathan Rea. In the last round the Irishman competed in his first race with new ride-by-wire technology on his CBR1000RR. With low expectations of his first performance, Rea was surprised at the improvement he’s made after winning the first race.
Jonathan Rea’s goal for the remaining rounds is to perfect new upgrades on his CBR1000RR for next season.
“We expected it to be difficult but the new system has made it easier,” said Rea.
If it weren’t for Rea becoming injured and missing multiple rounds this season, the 24-year-old could have easily been battling for a top-five finish in the championship. Look for the Irishman to notch strong performances in the last few rounds as he gets better acquainted with recent upgrades.
“I know what is possible in France, but we have the same target as Imola – to develop and take the bike to the next level,” Rea said. “There is still work to do. Magny-Cours has a different character and surface from Imola.
I am not thinking about any championship positions I just want to concentrate on the bike.”
One of the biggest questions remaining was Max Biaggi’s participation in the upcoming round. The Italian missed Imola after suffering a badly displaced fracture in his left foot, and Biaggi’s camp has just reported that he will not return at Magny-Cours. The defending champ is currently third overall in the series and, while his title hopes have already been dashed, a top-three finish in the championship is now the goal if he can get on the bike again soon. But Yamaha’s Eugene Laverty has been hot on Biaggi’s trail with top-five finishes in the last two races at Imola. The result is a 25-point difference separating the Irishman from Biaggi with a total of 100
Max Biaggi’s top-three finish in the series is coming under threat by Eugene Laverty now that the champ is out for this round.
points still up for grabs. If Biaggi is unable to compete in France it paints a bleak outlook on his ability to finish on the podium. Meanwhile, Laverty may have the chance of taking a top-three finish during his debut season in World Superbike.
“I’m really looking forward to returning to Magny Cours this weekend,” Laverty said. “At the end of the 2010 season I tested the R1 and was the fastest rider on track, so I know the bike works well there. We knew Imola wasn’t a suitable style of circuit for our machine and we had a tough weekend there but managed to come away with solid race results, which I am pleased with. I’ll be aiming for better results in Magny Cours and hope for a race win or two.”
Just as Laverty and Biaggi are seeking a top-three finish in the championship, BMW’s Leon Haslam and Aprilia’s Leon Camier are fighting for a top-five result. Camier remains 16-points behind his fellow countryman after finishing third in Race 2 at Imola. Both riders have shown flashes of excellence this season, and it will be a fight to the finish for these two as the championship reaches its climax.
“Magny-Cours has always been a pretty good circuit for me,” Haslam said. “Last year, I rode my very first laps on the BMW S 1000 RR there. It is always a little bit cold when we get there, but it is the same for everybody. We have two races to go, and we definitely want to get back on the podium. These last couple of races are very important.”
Japanese rider Noriyuki Haga sits only three points behind Liberty Racing’s Sylvain Guintoli in eighth. Haga is coming off his best performance of his entire season at Imola after recording second-place finishes in both races. Even if Nitro Nori can overtake Guintoli for seventh in the series, this season marks the second year in a row that Haga has finished outside the top-five. The point is significant when you consider the fact that Haga went six straight seasons finishing in the top-three in 2004 to 2009.
Chaz Davies only needs a top-five finish at Magny-Cours to claim the 2011 World Supersport Championship.
The World Supersport Championship received a major twist in the last round after series leader Chaz Davies suffered a blown engine late in the race. The Yamaha ParkinGo rider was on the verge of wrapping up the title two rounds early with a major lead in the race, but instead sacrificed major points on his current rival, Hanspree Ten Kate Honda’s Fabien Foret. The duo now departs for Magny-Cours with Davies maintaining a 35-point lead in the series. All Davies needs is a top-five finish to take home glory at the French circuit.
“We go to Magny-Cours now and that is my home circuit, the only one in France for us,” said Foret. “If the championship is still on, then that is great. Now, after winning at Imola, I would like to try and do the same in France, of course. Riding at your home round is always special, and I am looking forward to it.”
While the Supersport championship may be pretty much decided already, the duel for second is alive and well. Foret is just three points ahead of Kawasaki Motocard.com’s David Salom, with Kawasaki teammate Broc Parkes another three points behind Salom. The next two rounds will feature a three-way fight for runner-up in the series as World Supersport continues providing some of the most exciting action of the weekend.