World Superbike Monza Preview 2013

May 8, 2013

By Byron Wilson

Monza’s Autodromo Nazionale played host to an inclement weather-plagued World Superbike round in 2012 that started a ripple-effect of half-points among riders, ultimately playing a crucial role in the outcome of the championship, which was secured by half-a-point in the final race of the season. This year, forecasts for the region call for scattered showers Friday but indicate clearer conditions through the weekend, a welcome portent in light of last year’s fiasco.

The Italian circuit welcomes the 2013 eni FIM Superbike World Championship for Round 4 with riders chasing current series points leader Sylvain Guintoli of Aprilia Racing. The French heir to Max Biaggi’s 2012 championship-winning mount has been on the podium in five of the six races so far in 2013 and is keen on adding two more to his tally in Italy. He’s yet to achieve a top-three at Monza though, marking seventh-place finishes in 2010 and 2011 as his best results to-date at the track. He came away with the single pole position yet of his career at Monza in 2012 and was in position to race when the contest was delayed by officials. During the wait, his bike stalled and refused to restart, making him ineligible for competition.

Guintoli’s teammate, Eugene Laverty, is caught in a three-way tie for second-place overall, 28 points adrift of the lead. The Irishman has a stellar Superbike record at Monza, earning his first ever SBK win there in Race 1 in 2011 and following it up with another victory in Race 2. In 2012 Laverty made the podium in third. He’s confident the high-speed track will provide the opportunity for him to make up ground in championship points since falling behind as a result of the double goose-egg he took in the second round of 2013 at Aragon.

BMW Motorrad GoldBet’s Chaz Davies is tied with Laverty at 83 points thanks to his big weekend at Aragon, where he swept both races. The following race at Assen proved much more difficult for the British rider, who suffered a crash in the warm-up lap of Race 1 that forced him to return to the garage and left him starting from the back of the grid. He pushed through the pack to finish seventh and came through with a fifth-place finish in Race 2. Immediately following the races at Assen, Davies went to Munich in search of improvements to his riding position in the BMW Group wind-tunnel.

“I have learned that I have to try and get myself inside the bike sooner on the exit of the corner in order to reduce the drag and be faster on the straights,” said Davies following testing at the wind-tunnel. “It was good to see what difference that will make if we can improve that for the next race. Especially on a track like Monza, the aerodynamic efficiency is very important because every lap we are wide open for much longer than any other circuit on the calendar.”

Davies’ teammate, Marco Melandri, underwent similar testing in 2012 while acquainting himself with the S1000RR. The 2013 season has been difficult for the Italian following an early crash that left him injured and a subsequent shoulder surgery to alleviate pain that made it difficult for him to compete over race distance. He revealed in a team PR that he’s feeling fit and is optimistic about his chance to perform well in the coming round since Monza is less physically demanding than other circuits on the calendar.

Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes is the third rider mathematically tied for second-place and he’ll look to carry the momentum he picked-up at Assen, where he finished 1-2, to move up the championship tally. Sykes nabbed his first win of 2012, and the second of his career, in the round at Monza and he’s the only Kawasaki rider in the past 11 years to finish a race at the venue inside the top-5. His teammate, Loris Baz, currently sits sixth overall and earned his first podium in Race 2 at the Assen TT.

Pata Honda’s Jonathan Rea is five points ahead of Baz in fifth overall. Rea has never reached the podium at Monza but has finished consistently within the top-10. His teammate, Leon Haslam, suffered a big crash during the opening sessions at Assen and broke his leg. There is currently no replacement for Haslam listed in the provisional entry list for Monza.

Team Ducati Alstare continues to deal with injuries as well. Carlos Checa discovered an osseous edema on the head of the humerus of his left shoulder during a recent medical check-up that has been the cause of significant pain. He’s been hard at work in physiotherapy to alleviate the inflammation. His teammate, Ayrton Badovini missed Round 1 at Phillip Island entirely after injuries made him unfit to race, and since has struggled to find a competitive pace. He’s currently failed to finish inside the top-10, with his best result coming at Aragon where he went 10-10.

Red Devils Roma’s Michel Fabrizio will look to regain a spot on the podium at the Italian circuit where he earned the first Superbike win of his career in 2009.

FIXI Crescent Suzuki’s Jules Cluzel grabbed his first Supersport win of 2012 at Monza. Through the first three rounds of his rookie Superbike season, the French rider has finished as high as sixth, taken in Race 1 at Aragon, and will push for improved results at the Italian circuit. His teammate, Leon Camier, continues to recover from a knee injury sustained at Aragon. He underwent surgery to fix the issue and jumped back on his bike to compete at Assen, just two weeks after the procedure.

“My knee is getting better all the time and I’m working hard to get it fully fit,” said Camier. “It was pretty swollen after the race at Assen, but since then I’ve had the stitches out and it’s healed really well. It’s ok now, but still quite sore. I’ve done lots of gym work and a bit of hiking in the mountains to get it stronger and the movement better. It will still take a bit of time to get it 100%, but I am looking forward to getting back on the FIXI Crescent Suzuki to get myself bike fit, especially with my home race coming up soon.”

Riders begin turning laps on Friday with Free Practice followed by Superpole on Saturday and races Sunday. Check back to MotoUSA for full World Superbike coverage from Monza.