The first European round of the 2014 eni FIM Superbike World Championship takes place this weekend at the MotorLand Aragon circuit. The track, located near Alcaniz in the autonomous community of Aragon, Spain, has been on the calendar since 2011. The first two editions of the Aragon Round saw Max Biaggi and Marco Melandri sharing wins, whilst last year Briton Chaz Davies stole the show by taking the double.
The 27 year old Welshman, now one half of the Ducati Superbike Team duo, has showed great pace again on the track during winter testing, while teammate Giugliano was the quickest at the latest private test at the other Spanish venue on the calendar, Jerez.
Championship leader Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia Racing Team) had a season start very similar to last year’s, with one win and a second place at Phillip Island. The Frenchman leads the title race with a 10 point advantage over compatriot Loris Baz (Kawasaki Racing Team) and 13 points over new teammate Marco Melandri. For the first time ever Baz lies ahead in the standings of the other KRT rider and reigning Champion Tom Sykes who is one point behind fourth place Giugliano and tied in points with Eugene Laverty (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki), fifth.
First race winner of the season Laverty is looking forward to the second round of the season and hopes for a change in fortunes from last year when he finished with two DNFs, due to a technical problem which occurred in Race 1 and by an early crash in the following one. Despite his ankle still not being 100%, Laverty's teammate Alex Lowes hopes to post strong results on a track where he has never raced before.
After almost one week of testing between Cartagena and Jerez, the Pata Honda Team heads to Aragon with the aim of making that further step forward that would help both Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam to compete for the top 3.
Team Hero EBR is currently performing the second day of private testing at the Alcarras circuit, located only one and a half hours drive from Aragon, with both Aaron Yates and the returning Geoff May. The official squad of the American marque continues its learning curve in the championship, hoping for an improvement in performance in its second ever WSBK round. Same target for the MV Agusta RC – Yakhnich Motorsport Team, who recently completed a one day test at the Cremona circuit mainly to practice starts.
On the EVO side of the Championship, local rider David Salom (Kawasaki Racing Team) is going to try and race despite the right hand injury suffered during the first day of testing at Jerez last week. Salom’s main challenger for the race wins at Phillip Island Niccolo Canepa (Althea Racing Team Ducati) will be determined to edge out the Spaniard at his home track.
With Sylvain Barrier out due to the road accident he had three weeks ago, the BMW Motorrad Italia Superbike Team have selected former WSBK full timer Leon Camier to replace the injured Frenchman. After testing his conditions during a recent test at Imola, multiple WSBK race winner Michel Fabrizio (Iron Brain Grillini Kawasaki) will be on track for his season debut, as the Italian rider injured himself in Phillip Island’s official testing.
Italian manufacturer Bimota is set to make its comeback to World Superbike this weekend at Aragon. Bimota’s official WSBK team, run by Francis Batta’s Alstare outfit, will line up with two EVO-spec BB3 machines for Ayrton Badovini and Christian Iddon. Bimota counts 11 WSBK race wins, 10 of which came in the two year period 1988-1989. Furthermore, the first ever World Superbike race (1988, Donington Park) was won by Davide Tardozzi aboard a Bimota YB4 750 EI.
Standings (Round 1 of 14): 1. Guintoli 41; 2. Baz 31; 3. Melandri 28; 4. Giugliano 26; 5. Laverty 25; 6. Sykes 25; 7. Rea 21; 8. Davies 17; 9. Salom 13; 10. Canepa 11; 11. Haslam 10; 12. Foret 8; 13. Elias 7; 14. Allerton 6; 15. Lowes 3; 16. Corti 3; 17. Morais 3; 18. Guarnoni 2. Manufacturers: 1. Aprilia 45; 2. Kawasaki 31; 3. Suzuki 28; 4. Ducati 26; 5. Honda 21; 6. BMW 6; 7. MV Agusta 3
The FIM Supersport World Championship returns for the second round of the season, with Jules Cluzel (MV Agusta RC – Yakhnich Motorsport) on top of the standings ahead of Kev Coghlan (DMC-Panavto Yamaha) and Raffaele De Rosa (CIA Insurance Honda).
Kenan Sofuoglu (Mahi Racing Team India Kawasaki) and Michael van der Mark (Pata Honda World Supersport) are looking for redemption after leaving Australia with no points. Both riders crashed out in the early stages of the shortened five lap World Supersport race, whilst trying to pull away from the rest of the field.
Last year van der Mark had the best result of his rookie WSS season at Aragon, finishing second behind race winner Fabien Foret. On the other hand, three time World Supersport Champion Sofuoglu has never had an easy time on the Spanish track, with his top finish being a fifth place in 2012
Jack Kennedy (CIA Insurance Honda) has spent the long break recovering from the ankle injury sustained during the official test at Phillip Island. The Irishman, who rode through the pain before being forced out of the race due to a technical problem, is anxious to get back on track.
Last year’s STK600 runner-up Alessandro Nocco will make his World Supersport debut this weekend after signing a deal with the San Carlo Puccetti Racing Team. Nocco will join fellow Italian Roberto Tamburini, who started the season on a high note by scoring a top 5 finish in the opening race of the year, as well as setting the fastest lap of the race.
Team Rivamoto Honda will not attend the Aragon Round. The Russian squad is still looking for a new rider and sponsors after recently parting ways with Australia’s Bryan Staring.
Standings (Round 1 of 13): 1. Cluzel 25; 2. Coghlan 20; 3. De Rosa 16; 4. Marino 13; 5. Tamburini 11; 6. Wahr 10; 7. Gowland 9; 8. Russo 8; 9. Menghi 7; 10. Gamarino 6; 11. Rolfo 5; 12. Cove?a 4; 13. Calero 3; 14. Bussolotti 2; 15. Rogers 1. Manufacturers: 1. MV Agusta 25; 2. Yamaha 20; 3. Honda 16; 4. Kawasaki 13; 5. Triumph 9.
Twenty six permanent riders have subscribed to be part of the 10th running of the FIM Superstock 1000 Cup, with a number of past riders looking to claim the ultimate prize. Add into the mix a number of new riders, coupled with a number of established regulars switching teams and the scene is set for another epic title fight.
On paper, the Barni Racing team should feature strongly once again with Leandro ‘Tati’ Mercado being joined by Czech Ondrej Jezek in a new look team. Pedercini Kawasaki should also be amongst the front runners, the Italian team retaining the services of Lorenzo Savadori, whilst adding former Supersport point scorer Balazs Nemeth (Hungary) and Frenchman Romain Lanusse to their squad.
Honda are putting their faith in the Agro-On WIL Racedays for 2014, with American rider Josh Day returning to the World Superbike paddock after a season racing in IDM. He is joined by British rider Kyle Smith, who remains with the Honda outfit after taking an emphatic victory in the STK600 race at Jerez last year. Another interesting change to proceedings concerns the EAB Team who have switched from Honda to Ducati machinery this season. Italian Fabio Massei and Dane Alex Schacht will pilot the beautifully turned out EAB 1199 Panigale machines.
For nine years, the newly named FIM Europe Superstock 600 Championship has attracted riders from all over the world, and in 2014 the trend is set to continue. As in previous years the category to showcase the best up and coming talent is almost over subscribed with riders from all over the globe relishing in the opportunity to compete alongside the stars of Superbike.
There are a few recognisable names on the entry list. Belgian Gauthier Duwelz returns once again, sticking with the MTM team. He is joined for 2014 by German Julian Puffe with both riders favouring Kawasaki machinery. VFT Racing will be looking to build on their end of season success last year and retain Italian Stefano Casalotti. He will be joined by fellow Italian Christopher Gobbi.
Luca Salvadori has been fast in winter testing and lines up aboard a Kawasaki under the Team 10 LAP Racing banner. Dutchman Wayne Tessels will ride the only Suzuki in the field and could spring a surprise or two, as could Finland’s Niki Tuuli (Kallio Racing Yamaha), Mathieu Marchal (MOUSS Racing Team) and Australian Adrian Nestorovic (MVR Racing) who all return for another shot at the title.
Of all the permanent riders that will begin the fight for the overall crown, eight make the step up from the equally close and exciting European Junior Cup.
European Junior Cup
After the success of 2013, the PATA European Junior Cup powered by Honda returns as a support race to this year’s World Superbike championship, and with the added bonus of the overall champion having the privilege of testing with the PATA Honda World Supersport team the stage is set for another titanic battle between some of the hottest young prospects on two wheels.
As in previous years, 2014 will see a number of familiar faces returning to compete, whilst a host of new determined youngsters have signed up from around the globe to once again ensure that the EJC has a truly international flavour.