ROME, Italy – The eni FIM Superbike World Championship lands in Europe for the second round of the 2013 season, which will take place this weekend at Alcaniz’s Motorland Aragon. The spectacular and challenging track in northern Spain, favourite destination for testing of numerous WSBK teams, entered the calendar in 2011 and, after being halfway through the season for two years, is now the first round to be held within the European borders.
Following the dominant performance of Phillip Island, Aprilia Racing Team is tipped for a repeat performance on a track that suits both RSV4 1000 Factory and the current championship leader Eugene Laverty: the Irishman has always finished within second and sixth place and missed the win last year courtesy of Marco Melandri, who got the better of him at the last lap of Race 2.
Sylvain Guintoli, on the other hand, never managed to finish within the top-10 here. The Frenchman, though, has already shown an excellent feeling with the Italian v-four machine, as he is currently tied up in points on top of the standings with his team mate.
The current king of Aragon is without a doubt Melandri (BMW Motorrad GoldBet), who has won two races out of four and was second when not on top of the podium. It won’t be an easy task for the Italian rider, since he is still recovering from a shoulder injury that was aggravated by the unfortunate crash of Phillip Island Race 1.
After a first test carried out only by Welshman Chaz Davies (who scored his maiden WSBK podium finish last year at Aragon) and primarily focused on evaluating the latest electronics installed on the factory BMW S 1000 RR, the team underwent a further two days on track at Jerez last week, this time with both riders.
Carlos Checa (Team Ducati Alstare), whose braking error during the first Australian race led to the collision with Melandri and resulted in an injury for both, will partake in his home race. With no points under his belt at the moment, the Spaniard is eager to make some ground in the standings. His team mate Ayrton Badovini will attempt to participate despite still recuperating from a fractured bone in his left foot.
There are high expectations for the Kawasaki Racing Team, which did well over last week’s three-day test at Aragon. Tom Sykes set the fastest lap of the test and proved to be back near full fitness. Sykes and Loris Baz are now ready to keep the flag flying high for the Barcelona-based team.
Leon Camier and Jules Cluzel will show up at Aragon boosted by new engine-spec on their FIXI Crescent Suzuki machines, already evaluated on the Spanish track with some positive feedback.
Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam’s hard work is not over yet, as the British Pata Honda duo did a further two-day test to check out the new electronics developed by Honda for their CBR1000RR at Alcarras.
The Supersport World Championship is back at Aragon and it will be once again a chase of the leader and defending champion Kenan Sofuoglu, who won the opening race at Phillip Island. The controversial outcome of last year’s race is all water under the bridge as Sofuoglu and Fabien Foret are now team mates under Mahi Racing Team India Kawasaki colours.
Last year’s race winner Sam Lowes is the number one candidate to challenge Sofuoglu’s leadership, but the young Brit landed badly on his left hand during a three-day test at Aragon last week and won’t be 100 percent for the upcoming round.
The top three riders from last year will be back contesting the FIM Superstock 1000 Cup. Defending Champion Sylvain Barrier (BMW Motorrad GoldBet) will have to deal once again with Eddi La Marra (Barni Racing Team Ducati) and Jeremy Guarnoni (MRS Kawasaki).
The European Superstock 600 Championship gets underway with a new mix of riders ready to fight over the nine rounds in calendar. MTM Racing Yamaha riders Gauthier Duwelz and Adrian Nestorovic are likely to play a major role this year, as well as Franco Morbidelli and Alessandro Nocco, selected by the Italian Federation (FMI) to race the Puccetti Racing ZX-6R. After the promotion of last year’s winner Michael van der Mark, the EAB Ten Kate Junior Team confirmed Swiss Bastien Chesaux for another season.