The penultimate round of the 2009 World Superbike season starts this weekend at the Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours in France. Taking center stage is the championship rivalry between Ben Spies
and Noriyuki Haga
, with a mere three points separating the title contenders. Another plot in the championship drama will also play out, as Haga's teammate, Michel Fabrizio, looks to potentially steal another win away from Nitro Nori.
Last weekend at Imola, Xerox Ducati
dominated the practice sessions and captured the pole for the start of the race. In the final laps of the race, Fabrizio battled with teammate Haga, before taking the win and, possibly, some very valuable points away from Haga’s title fight. But Fabrizio has yet to score a
Noriyuki Haga, Xerox Ducati, will look to keep ahead of Spies on Sunday, as his slim advantage would be wiped away by a win from the Yamaha pilot.
podium finish at Magny-Cours, while Haga has graced the podium here three times, including 2008, where he finished second behind Troy Bayliss
’s Ben Spies, who finished 4-5 at Imola, secured enough points to keep him within reach of Haga, despite struggling with electronic issues on his YFZ-R1
. Spies was pleased with his position despite the problems, saying, “I gave it 100% and ran off twice, and we are still three points behind. It will be a good last four races. After the end of Race 1, I am surprised we only have a three-point deficit. I was a bit afraid because there were quite a few people who had the pace I did. I did not have outstanding pace at all, but I rode hard."
Hannspree Ten Kate Honda
’s Jonathan Rea did not have a stellar weekend at Imola, where he ran off course more than once due to brake fade. Fourth overall, the British rider will be looking to improve his standings since he is separated from Aprilia
’s Max Biaggi
by only six points.
If Marco Simoncelli, Max Biaggi’s temporary teammate, returns to race at Magny-Cours, he could spoil the Emperor's pursuit of Rea if the reigning 250cc Champion finishes ahead of his teammate, as he did in Race 2 at Imola. As it stands now, Simoncelli's WSB ride was a one-off wild card affair, filling in for the injured Shinya Nakano.
Yamaha's Ben Spies (19), may be battling a three-way fight for first at Magny-Cours if Xerox Ducati teammates, Noriyuki Haga and Michel Fabrizio, repeat their Imola performance.
and his BMW
teammate, Ruben Xaus will continue their pursuit of the perfect set-up for the S1000RR
. Last weekend at Imola produced mixed results for the BMW team as brake woes bothered Corser. Xaus, who is still recovering from previous injuries, seemed happy with his weekend results saying, "I was so happy to get back on the bike last weekend and also to be working with my team again. My only concern about Magny-Cours, is that sometimes the weather can be quite cold and that means I will have to try and warm up my right leg properly. Getting on the S1000RR last weekend was like riding a new bike for me and I now have to spend some time understanding how it has developed before I can push as hard as I woud like."
Jonathan Rea - Hannspree Ten Kate Honda:
Carlos Checa - Hannspree Ten Kate Honda:
“Imola was not a good representation of the recent improvement in the bike, which was shown with good results at Brno and Nürburgring. Still, we will go to Magny-Cours with the positives from those results and there were also some good things from last weekend which we can use in France. It is a circuit that should suit the bike and, the way the team is working now, I believe we should be fighting at the front again this weekend.”
“My memories of Magny-Cours are not so great because I got taken out in the Supersport race last year, but I’m feeling pretty confident going there with the CBR1000RR this weekend. The bike has come on in leaps and bounds over the last few races and there’s a really good working relationship going on with the team now. I was pretty disappointed with the results last weekend at Imola, which didn’t reflect all the hard work that the team has done or the pace that we showed during practice and qualifying. I’ll be looking for something better this weekend, for sure.”
Leon Haslam - Stiggy Racing Honda:
“The team has had a turbulent time of late but there was a really genuine team spirit in Imola last weekend and I’m sure that will carry us through the final two rounds. I missed out on challenging for the front row by just 0.05s in Imola last Saturday so we’re very close to being there on a regular basis now and I just need to ensure I get the clean, fast laps when I need to on the two qualifying tyres we’re allowed. Magny-Cours provides a technical test for us in terms of set-up but I’m pretty confident that we can find a good race setting and be near the front in Sunday’s two races.”
Ryuichi Kiyonari - Ten Kate Honda Racing:
“I crashed in a test at Magny-Cours last year and I broke my collarbone so the memory is painful! I was not able to take part in the races so I am looking forward to this weekend. In spite of the crash in race two at Imola, last weekend was very positive. We found a good setting for the races which allowed me to ride the way I like and I had quite a good result in the first race with fifth place.”
Troy Corser - BMW:
"I am really looking forward to Magny-Cours, especially after last weekend’s frustrating raceday. I am confident that the team have found out what caused the brake problems so that I will be able to get to grips with the Magny-Cours circuit right from the start of practice on Friday. Our team has never been to Magny-Cours before, so we will have to put in a lot of hard work on day one and try and find a good bike set-up as soon as we can.
The recent improvement of our bike is making riding an enjoyable experience and as long as we don’t have any problems like last weekend, I think we can challenge for a top six or seven place for sure. But anything can happen in racing and we may get even better results if everything goes our way. We shall have to see."