SBK® gears up for hitting the half way point of the season
Heading into the unknown, the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship makes its return to Automotodrom Brno this weekend for the first time since 2012; and the entry list may look similar, but the fight out on track has certainly developed since then. Heading into the seventh round of the season with five different winners and seven different podium finishers, it’s anything but predictable. A favourite track of many riders this vast, wide, sweeping and fast track will certainly provide some classic SBK® action.
Reigning world champion Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) is one of only two riders on the grid to win around the Czech circuit, and after a strong test here will be a firm favourite this weekend. But it’s not only the win around Brno he will have his sights set on, as Rea looks at taking a record breaking 60th victory in WorldSBK – something he was unable to secure around Donington Park last time out. Standing on the top step around Brno back in 2010, it won’t be a surprise to see Rea has the pace in the Czech Republic, but can he convert this into a victory with his ZX-10RR?
Fresh off the back of his first victory in WorldSBK – which he converted into a double - Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) will have a lot of eyes on him heading into the weekend. Leap frogging into third in the world championship standings, the Dutch rider will hope to continue his phenomenal momentum into the Czech Republic. With experience here in the European Superstock 600 Championship, the 25 year old had a strong test earlier this season meaning he will already have his eyes on the prize.
Searching for a strong result off the back of a tough weekend is Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati), who will hunt down a debut podium around Brno with his Panigale R. Struggling to understand the issues they encountered last time out, the British rider will now head to a track in which he secured a WorldSSP podium at, and will hope to make up some ground in the championship standings. 64 points off Rea as we reach the half way point of the season, it’s not over for Davies. Whilst his team-mate Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) was the last WorldSBK rider to win around Brno, taking the double in 2012, fighting off Tom Sykes in both races. Will he carry this confidence forward and fight for his third win of the year?
2012’s Brno pole position man, and the new Mr Superpole Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) comes fresh from a tough home round at Donington Park, and will be hoping to be back on the podium as SBK® heads east. Sykes had a hard weekend in Donington, which saw him secure only one podium finish somewhere he has previously won nine in a row. With eight appearances and two podiums in Brno for Sykes, he will hope to build on it this season.
Heading to Brno with a string of top fives in his cabinet, Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) has only ever finish in fifth in WorldSBK around Brno, but has plenty of experience to go alongside his results. Continuing to recover from his injury sustained in Thailand, Laverty had a very strong race one at Donington Park of which he will hope to build on as he continues to develop the RSV4 RF.
Heading back to a track in which he secured his debut WorldSBK podium, Loris Baz (GULF Althea BMW Racing Team) will be looking at the Brno round with fresh levels of confidence following a strong UK Round last time out. With a front row secured around Donington Park and two top ten finishes, the French rider seems to have made a step in the right direction with the BMW as we reach the half way point of the season. There’s a lot to be said for a good mood, and Baz will be a rider to watch.
Experience makes a big difference in racing, and for Jake Gagne (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) it will be important for him to head to a circuit of which he has experience around. Competing here in the Red Bull Rookies in 2010, Gagne won race two meaning he has proven to have a competitive pace at the track. Hoping to covert this into a strong pace with the Fireblade CBR1000RR SP2, it will be an important weekend for the American as he continues to develop his riding style for the Honda machine.
Preparing to make his WorldSBK debut around the 5.403k circuit, Jordi Torres (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) has a big weekend ahead of him. Building on his pace with his new team, the Spanish rider will hope to get back in the battle for the top six after two top 11 results last time out. Sitting in the top ten in the championship standings, he has been having a steady season with his new team.
Don’t miss out on any of the WorldSBK action from the Czech Republic, as the series prepares to hit the half way point of the season. With free practice action kicking off at 09.45LT (+2 GMT) as lights go out for race one on Saturday at 13.00 and race two on Sunday at 13.00. Czech out all the action with the WorldSBK VideoPass.