WSB Misano Test: Melandri Leads, Elias Debuts

September 15, 2011
Bart Madson
By Bart Madson
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Bashing away at the MotoUSA keyboard for nine years now, Madson lends his scribbling and editorial input on everything from bike reviews to industry analysis and motorcycle racing reports.

Marco Melandri set the pace during Misano testing aboard his factory R1.
Marco Melandri set the pace during the two-day World Superbike test at Misano aboard his factory Yamaha R1.

Yamaha’s Marco Melandri set the pace during a recent two-day World Superbike test at Misano. The SBK paddock did not arrive at the Italian circuit in full strength. Notable absences included the injured defending champion Max Biaggi. The test also saw familiar faces make their 2011 SBK debut, foremost being Toni Elias, who sat in for the recently retired James Toseland.

The Italian-based factory Yamaha team brought both its riders to Misano, where the duo tested various settings on their R1 race bikes. Melandri’s best testing lap was a half-second better than the record time set at the Misano races in June. While Melandri led both days, Eugene Laverty wasn’t far behind, tied for second on the timesheet.

Althea Ducati’s Carlos Checa, who set the aforementioned record-setting race lap (1’36.520), was the sole Ducati rider present. The championship points leader tested new Pirelli tires on his Althea Ducati, with the Spaniard tying Laverty at 1’36 and improving on his Misano personal best.

Toni Elias made his SBK BMW Italia debut at a two-day Misano test.
Current MotoGP rider Toni Elias replaced the recently retired James Toseland on the BMW Motor Italia S1000RR.

Tied for fourth-fasted after two days, BMW Italia’s Ayrton Badovini was the top-finishing S1000RR pilot (not an uncommon occurrence this season). The 2010 Superstock champion was joined by Elias. The current Moto2 champion was 11th-fastest, and will follow SBK testing by racing the LCR Honda this weekend at the Aragon GP.

The factory BMW riders Troy Corser and Leon Haslam skipped the test, Haslam having recently inked a 2012 deal with the team. Instead Steve Martin stepped out of the commentator’s booth to show up some active riders with a ninth-fastest result on the combined timesheet.

The Kawasaki Team brought all three of its riders. Joan Lascorz just edged teammate and surprise Nurburgring Race 2 winner Tom Sykes. The third rider, Chris Vermeulen, sat out the second day of testing, still hobbled with a right knee injury. Chris V finished the test more than 2.5 seconds off the pace of former GP rival Melandri.

Jonathan Rea returned to Misano for testing  the Italian circuit the site of the Northern Ireland riders wrist injury.
Jonathan Rea returned to Misano, the Northern Ireland rider having injured his wrist at the Italian circuit back in June.

In the Honda camp, the Castrol-sponsored Ten Kate team was back at full strength. Jonathan Rea returned to the circuit where the he injured his wrist and was subsequently sidelined until last round at Nurburgring. Teammate Ruben Xaus joined the seventh-fastest Rea. The Castrol duo was joined by former MotoGP competitor Makoto Tamada – there to help development for the 2012 CBR.

While the Aprilia factory riders were absent, yet another former MotoGP competitor filled in on the testing grid. German Alex Hofmann piloted the RSV4 to eighth on the timesheet.

The World Superbike season reconvenes next weekend at Imola for Round 11.

Misano World Superbike Unofficial Testing Times:

1. Marco Melandri (Yamaha) 1’35.8
2. Carlos Checa (Ducati) 1’36.0
2. Eugene Laverty (Yamaha) 1’36.0
4. Ayrton Badovini (BMW) 1’36.1
4. Joan Lascorz (Kawasaki) 1’36.1
6. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 1’36.2
7. Jonathan Rea (Honda) 1’36.7
8. Alex Hofmann (Aprilia) 1’36.9
9. Steve Martin (BMW) 1’37.1
10. Ruben Xaus (Honda) 1’37.4
11. Toni Elias (BMW) 1’37.8
12. Chris Vermeulen (Kawasaki) 1’38.4
13. Makoto Tamada (Honda) 1’38.8

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