The eni FIM Superbike World Championship returns to Jerez for the tenth round of the season. This is the second year in a row that the series heads to the Andalusian circuit, and the third time overall after a trip down to the south of Spain in 1990.
The track layout consists of a great mix of low, mid-speed and fast corners which, combined with relatively short straights, make the Spanish venue an exciting and challenging one that brings out the best in the riders and provides great racing.
Despite not being the circuit to host the season finale this year, as in 2013, the Spanish Round will once again play a key role in the title race. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) heads to Jerez in a confident mood with excellent memories from last season, having proudly raised his first World Superbike Championship trophy at the end of a stellar year.
The 29 year old Briton currently sits on top of the standings with a significant 44 point lead over Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia Racing Team), who needs to make up some ground in order to keep his title hopes alive. Both riders are looking forward to step atop the podium for the first time at Jerez, as Eugene Laverty (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) won both of last year’s encounters on factory Aprilia machinery.
Laverty and his current teammate Alex Lowes showed great speed aboard their respective bikes in the three-day private test last April at Jerez, likewise Jonathan Rea (Pata Honda World Superbike) who, despite the 64 point gap to the top, is still mathematically in contention for the ultimate prize and is also well positioned for the runner-up spot.
It is the same situation for Loris Baz (Kawasaki Racing Team) as he is only 8 points behind Rea and 28 points away from second place. The young Frenchman is still looking for his first win of the year after claiming eight podium finishes (seven of which were second places).
Marco Melandri (Aprilia Racing Team) hopes the summer break will not affect his momentum, as the experienced Italian rider came out victorious in Race 1 at Laguna Seca last month before crashing out while in the lead of the second encounter in the USA.
The former 250cc World Champion had a difficult time last year at Jerez dealing with an ankle injury sustained in a domestic accident. Melandri was close to winning the first race before Laverty made a spectacular pass on the outside at the final turn. The then BMW rider opted to sit out the second race due to the pain coming from his ankle joint.
Ducati Superbike Team’s Davide Giugliano and Chaz Davies are aiming high at Jerez, a track that should suit the improved 1199 Panigale R well. Both riders scored top-10 finishes last year at the Spanish track on different machinery, but were not in contention for the podium.
After missing out the US Round due to the injuries suffered a week before at Portimão, Claudio Corti (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) will return to action at Jerez, where he has previously raced in both the MotoGP and Moto2 championships.
Team Hero EBR and their riding duo of Geoff May and Aaron Yates are looking forward to another new challenge, hoping to make a step forward and score their first championship points.
Despite the recent right-hand surgery he underwent at the end of July, David Salom (Kawasaki Racing Team – EVO) will take part in his home round to defend his 37 point lead from Niccolò Canepa (Althea Racing Team Ducati) in the EVO class. On paper the circuit characteristics may further level an already well balanced EVO field, meaning the battle for top honours of the category should be as close as ever.
Joining the fight once again will be Sylvain Barrier (BMW Motorrad Italia - EVO) as the Frenchman has recovered well from the heavy crash he had at Laguna Seca.
Standings (Round 9 of 12): 1. Sykes 325; 2. Guintoli 281; 3. Rea 261; 4. Baz 253; 5. Melandri 217; 6. Davies 159; 7. Giugliano 153; 8. Elias 137; 9. Laverty 134; 10. Haslam 133; 11. Lowes 119; 12. Salom 88; 13. Canepa 51; 14. Camier 37; 15. Guarnoni 33; 16. Barrier 21; 17. Andreozzi 17; 18. Morais 17; 19. Scassa 16; 20. Foret 14; 21. Corti 13; 22. Staring 12; 23. Allerton 6; 24. Bos 5; 25. Goi 5; 26. Russo 5; 27. Pegram 2; 28. Toth 2; 29. Fabrizio 2; 30. Rizmayer 1; 31. Lanusse 1. Manufacturers: 1. Kawasaki 342; 2. Aprilia 318; 3. Honda 261; 4. Ducati 220; 5. Suzuki 200; 6. BMW 58; 7. MV Agusta 20; 8. EBR 2.
Michael van der Mark (Pata Honda World Supersport) has a serious chance of clinching his first ever World Supersport title at Jerez providing his only rival left, Jules Cluzel (MV Agusta Reparto Corse), does not score at least three points more than him. The 21 year old from Gouda in the Netherlands has a 53 point lead over the Frenchman, with three races left in the season and 75 points still to be awarded.
Cluzel has a hard challenge ahead of him, as he needs to win at every cost and, at the same time, trying to avoid a DNF that would rule him out of contention for the ultimate prize. There will be a new home for the three time WSS champion Kenan Sofuoglu, who will race with the San Carlo Puccetti Racing Team for the remaining rounds of the year after the decision made by the Mahi Racing Team India to pull out from the championship.
Several other riders are looking for a strong finish at Jerez to get some momentum in the final part of the year and end up the season on a high note. Florian Marino (Intermoto Ponyexpres Kawasaki), Sofuoglu, Lorenzo Zanetti (Pata Honda World Supersport), Kev Coghlan (DMC-Panavto Yamaha), PJ Jacobsen (Intermoto Ponyexpres Kawasaki), Raffaele De Rosa (CIA Insurance Honda) and Roberto Rolfo (Team Go Eleven Kawasaki) are all quite close to each other point wise, meaning every single result can change their positions quite considerably.
Vladimir Leonov has joined forces with fellow Russian Team Rivamoto and he will return to action in World Supersport after missing out the last three races due to Yakhnich Motorsport’s withdrawal from the series.
Former WSS regular rider and European Junior Cup champion Matt Davies will make a comeback to the series with the AARK Racing Team, who are also returning to WSS, switching from Triumph to Honda.
Local rider and current CEV Superstock 600 leader Ferran Casas Pendon will make his World Supersport debut with Team Torrento Yamaha, the same squad he is racing with in the Spanish Championship.
Standings (Round 8 of 11): 1. vd Mark 160; 2. Cluzel 107; 3. Marino 93; 4. Sofuoglu 83; 5. Zanetti 80; 6. Coghlan 77; 7. Jacobsen 67; 8. De Rosa 67; 9. Rolfo 62; 10. Tamburini 48; 11. Kennedy 43; 12. Wilairot 35; 13. Bussolotti 30; 14. Wahr 26; 15. Russo 25; 16. Gamarino 22; 17. Menghi 20; 18. Nocco 20; 19. Leonov 15; 20. Gowland 9; 21. Roccoli 8; 22. Zaidi 7; 23. Coveña 7; 24. Schmitter 3; 25. Calero 3; 26. Debise 2; 27. Rogers 1. Manufacturers: 1. Honda 181; 2. Kawasaki 135; 3. MV Agusta 121; 4. Yamaha 87; 5. Triumph 9.
Victory in Portugal for Lorenzo Savadori (Team Pedercini Kawasaki), his second win in a row, elevated the Italian rider into the FIM Superstock Cup lead by a narrow margin of just 4 points after the leader since the opening race Leandro Mercado (Barni Racing Ducati) could only manage ninth last time out.
With 50 points still on the table 10 riders can still mathematically win the 2014 series and as we have seen in previous years this is Superstock racing and anything can happen.
Ondrej Jezek (Barni Racing Ducati) has been the unfortunate victim of bad luck on more than one occasion but having taken a win at Imola will know that if lady luck is smiling he can feature at the sharp end. The Czech rider currently lies fourth behind Matthieu Lussiana (Team Garnier by ASPI Kawasaki)
Fabio Massei (EAB Racing Ducati) continues to string together a consistent season that has seen the Italian twice on the podium. The young rider from Rome, Italy, will be joined by former STK600 champion and WSS rider Jed Metcher, who will make his debut in the series by replacing Alex Schacht.
Kyle Smith (Agro-On Wil Racedays Honda), who speaks fluent Spanish could well have some local support in Jerez. Having already tasted the podium Prosecco in Aragon will be aiming for a repeat performance of his Jerez outing last year where he dominated the STK600 race on his Honda.
Standings (Round 5 of 7): 1. Savadori 83; 2. Mercado 79; 3. Lussiana 59; 4. Jezek 58; 5. Massei 54; 6. McFadden 54; 7. Lanusse 45; 8. Valk 44; 9. D'Annunzio 39; 10. Smith 35; 11. Day 32; 12. Nemeth 28; 13. Muresan 15; 14. Bergman 13; 15. Grotzkyj G. 10; 16. Pagaud 10; 17. Suchet 8; 18. Schacht 8; 19. Walraven 6; 20. Calia 4; 21. Castellarin 4; 22. Sandi 3; 23. Alviz 2; 24. Egea 2; 25. Moser 2; 26. Butti 1; 27. Alarcos 1; 28. Ayer 1. Manufacturers: 1. Kawasaki 108; 2. Ducati 100; 3. Honda 51; 4. BMW 40; 5. Suzuki 6; 6. Aprilia 4.
Marco Faccani has one hand on the European Superstock 600cc crown after a front running season in which he has already secured 4 wins. Riding for the 2013 champions (San Carlo Team Italia Kawasaki), Faccani has been in the running from the opening race and with a commanding 34 point advantage over Dutchman Wayne Tessels (Wayne’s Racing Team Suzuki) can secure the title when the championship resumes in Jerez.
With Faccani having the luxury of being able to finish 3rd behind Tessels, should the Suzuki rider win and still be crowned Champion, it will be interesting to see how the youngster approaches the race in Jerez.
The only other rider with a mathematical chance of winning the overall series is Finland’s Niki Tuuli (Kallio Racing Yamaha). The likeable youngster powered to a debut win at Assen, before mounting a strong podium challenge in Imola, but a crash and technical problem in the last two races leave him with a mountain to climb – 48 points down on Faccani.
Faccani’s team mate Andrea Tucci has shown glimpses of speed and will be looking to end the season on a high as will former EJC riders Ilya Mikhalchik (Go Eleven Kawasaki), and Richard Bodis (Talmacsi Racing Honda) who were just off the podium in Portugal.
Kevin Manfredi has been the top Honda finisher in 2014 but whilst his outright speed is not in question he has had a tendency to throw it up the road on more than one occasion.
Italian riders Stefano Casalotti (VFT Racing), who was on the podium at Imola and Luca Salvadori (Team 10 Lap Kawasaki) who, despite flashes of front running capability won’t feature in the overall top 3 as 2014 comes to a close but could well feature strongly as they look to end their seasons on a high note.
Standings (Round 5 of 7): 1. Faccani 106; 2. Tessels 72; 3. Tuuli 58; 4. Tucci 55; 5. Caricasulo 46; 6. Salvadori 42; 7. Mikhalchik 40; 8. Manfredi 35; 9. Casalotti 27; 10. Duwelz 23; 11. Lahti 22; 12. Rinaldi 19; 13. Nestorovic 19; 14. Stirpe 16; 15. Zaccone 16; 16. Hartog 13; 17. Puffe 12; 18. Bodis 11; 19. Sabatino 11; 20. Morrentino 10; 21. Marchal 10; 22. Rouse 5; 23. Mercandelli 5; 24. Gobbi 5; 25. Lewis 5; 26. Pittet 5; 27. Zeelen 5; 28. Canducci 3; 29. Monti 2; 30. De Gruttola 1; 31. Patronen 1.
European Junior Cup
As the PATA European Junior Cup powered by Honda gears up for the final two races of the season only two riders, both from Spain, can mathematically take this year’s crown.
Last year’s runner up Augusto Fernandez (Wil Sport) has so far dominated the 2014 series, although he has been kept honest by compatriot Javier Orellana (Europ Food S.L.). Between them the flying Spaniards have won 5 of the 6 races with the other race in Aragon, being won by another Spaniard Marc Miralles.
Turning our attention back to this year’s EJC battle, whilst the overall championship fight may be between only 2, the fight for the remaining leaderboard places is a hotly contested affair with almost half of the field still in with a shout of 3rd.
Standings (Round 6 of 8): 1. Fernandez 129; 2. Orellana 102; 3. Licciardi 64; 4. Fernandez 63; 5. Miralles 62; 6. Hubner 51; 7. Perez 50; 8. Harland 47; 9. Soomer 42; 10. Grassia 35; etc.