STK1000: A challenge for the sole Brno returnee

Wednesday, 6 June 2018 07:12 GMT

Markus Reiterberger enters Brno as leader and the one remaining rider from the last Czech STK1000 race

Six years later, the European Superstock 1000 Championship motorbikes will rise revs and rub elbows at the Automotodrom Brno, the longest circuit in the 2018 season. 5.4 kilometres-worth of straights and bends that could be decisive in how the championship plays out. There’s just four races remaining, including the Acerbis Czech Round, and the room for mistakes is minimal.

Markus Reiterberger (alpha Racing-Van Zon-BMW) jumped back the top of the rostrum at Donington Park with yet another sensational display. The championship leader led comfortably from lights to flag, as he did at Assen, and recovered from a frustrating Imola weekend. Reiterberger ran at Brno as a seventeen-year-old, arriving to the flag in fourth, his then-best STK1000 performance. Seven years on, he arrives here as the one rider with Brno STK1000 experience, as well as a race winner and, potentially, the future champion.

One man in particular, however, has been determined to flip the script. Roberto Tamburini (Berclaz Racing Team) is the sole rider to have been welcomed by the fans at Parc Fermé after every race end this season. Incredibly, Tamburini is yet to lead a lap, but with this consistency he may not need to: one slip or mistake by Reiterberger and the Italian, just ten points behind, could snatch first spot in the standings.

At Donington, Tamburini lost the battle for second place to Maximilian Scheib (Aprilia Racing Team) by just eighteen thousandths of a second. The Chilean has scored three consecutive podiums (and just missed out at Aragon due to a technical issue), and at Donington troubled Markus Reiterberger’s lead for the first half of the race. Could Scheib go one further at Brno?

With all the Ducati riders struggling at Donington, Federico Sandi’s (MOTOCORSA Racing) sixth place was not shocking, but perhaps disappointing for the Italian, who has not returned to the podium since the opening Aragon Round. The former WorldSBK rider will undoubtedly be ready to battle back in the second half of the season, on his quest for a first STK1000 win.

Few changes in the standings took place at Donington, but one significant movement was Luca Vitali (Aprilia Racing Team)’s fourth place to push him on par with Florian Marino (URBIS Yamaha Motoxracing STK Team). The pair have led an intriguing battle behind the four leading riders, with Marino, a title contender last year up to the final race, unable to fully come to terms with the 2018 bike. Vitali, on the other hand, is growing into the role race by race: Donington was his best STK1000 result. Will either or both men step up and turn the front-four fight into a six-way scuffle?

Alessandro Delbianco (GULF ALTHEA BMW Racing Team) has scored two front-row starts in the last two rounds, but his excellent qualifying form hasn’t quite translated onto the tarmac yet. Crashing in the first lap at Donington Park and sitting just twelfth in the standings on 15 points, there are nonetheless signs that Delbianco could turn pace into points at Brno.

Who will come out on top at the Acerbis Czech Round? Find out thanks to the WorldSBK VideoPass.