The 2013 World Superbike championship resumes at Silverstone, two weeks after the shortened contest at Moscow Raceway where World Supersport rider Andrea Antonelli lost his life. Riders in the Superbike class had completed Race 1 prior to the tragic incident, and it proved to be a pivotal contest in which the overall points lead changed hands.
Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes entered the round at Moscow leading the championship, thanks to his sweep at Imola. He deposed long-time front-runner Sylvain Guintoli of Aprilia Racing at the Italian round and was looking forward to continued success at the Russian circuit, where he earned his second of four total wins during the 2012 season. Instead, Sykes suffered a DNF at Moscow thanks to a mechanical failure. Guintoli’s sixth-place result was good enough to vault him back to the top of the championship tally, and he comes to Silverstone with a four-point advantage over Sykes. The Kawasaki ace will be fighting to re-establish himself at the top in front of his home crowd during the upcoming round, but will need to perform better than ever before at the circuit since his best result there to-date is an eighth-place finish earned in 2012.
Guintoli, on the other hand, took the Race 2 win at Silverstone in 2012. The hectic, shortened contest saw Guintoli move to the front after then leader Loris Baz went down in the wet conditions, followed soon after by a red flag which ended the contest. Since his move to Aprilia Racing in 2013, Guintoli has established himself as a legitimate title contender, taking 10 podiums from 15 races and maintaining the overall points lead through the first half of the season. He hit a snag in the lead-up to Moscow when he injured his shoulder during training, contributing to a difficult weekend that saw him match his worst finishing position of the current season. If Guintoli has been able to fully recover from his shoulder trouble expect him to lay it all on the line in order to finish ahead of Sykes and retain his points lead.
BMW Motorrad GoldBet’s Marco Melandri took his third win of the season at the previous round in Russia, but a few lackluster results have kept him from posing an immediate threat to the title challengers through the first half of the season. His victory at Moscow moved him to third overall and he enters the round at Silverstone 32 points adrift of the leader, so is by no means out of the running yet. He will be riding with the added pressure of an uncertain future, though, (as will his teammate Chaz Davies) thanks to BMW’s recent announcement that it will pull out from World Superbike completely at the conclusion of the 2013 season.
“I’m sorry for the decision BMW has taken but unfortunately I’m used to such situations,” remarked Melandri in a team press release. “I’m not really worried because for us riders it is always possible to find a solution, although, of course, at this important stage of the season it is not good for our mood. I hope that the experience will help me to handle it.”
Guintoli’s teammate, Eugene Laverty, sits fourth in the championship standings. He’s been on the podium at Silverstone before, finishing second in both races in 2011. The Aprilia rider is likely to enter this year’s race at the British circuit eager to make up for the disappointing result he posted in the previous round at Moscow, where he crashed late in the race and earned a DNF which dropped him behind Melandri in the title rankings. Davies follows Laverty in fifth overall while Sykes’ teammate, Loris Baz, sits sixth. Baz had a breakout weekend at Silverstone in 2012, going 1-2 in tough conditions, earning the first, and only to-date, Superbike victory of his career.
Trailing Baz in the standings is Pata Honda’s Jonathan Rea, fresh from competition in the Suzuka 8-Hour. Unfortunately, Rea’s team was forced to exit the endurance race after a crash that damaged the team’s bike beyond simple repair. Though he’s yet to earn a Superbike win at Silverstone, he’s been on the podium a number of times and will be looking for a positive result in the coming round. His teammate, Leon Haslam, who rode for a separate Honda team at Suzuka, enters Silverstone glowing in the bright light of victory since his team was able to take the checkers at the 8-Hour.
FIXI Crescent Suzuki counts Silverstone as one of its home rounds, so both Leon Camier and Jules Cluzel will be fighting to represent their team well. Team Ducati Alstare’s Ayrton Badovini made it to the podium in Moscow with a third-place finish, marking his best result of the year so far. In 2012, Badovini put forth a valiant effort to earn his first ever podium finish in the series at Silverstone, battling from outside the top-15 to finish third. His teammate, Carlos Checa, suffered a DNF at Moscow but has been inside the top-10 in all six races he’s contested at Silverstone, so will be looking for another strong showing this time around.