Title battle reignited at Donington, with just one point separating top two riders
After the two first races of the season, many were left wondering: who, if anyone, could even rival Markus Reiterberger (alpha Racing- Van Zon-BMW) this year for the European Superstock 1000 Championship? The German was utterly dominant at Aragon and Assen, but Imola offered much more than a glimmer of hope to his challengers – it shot the championship wide open. At Donington Park, several riders will have the chance to take the lead at the halfway point of the championship, a crucial psychological victory.
It’s still Reiterberger at the top of the standings, his fifth place at Imola just enough to scrape one point ahead. The BMW rider was adversely affected by the wet qualifying session, but even during the race Reiterberger was unable to follow the pace of the leading riders, running off the track on a couple of occasions. Still, the German is the man to beat – and will have a point to prove at Donington.
Breathing down his neck is Roberto Tamburini (Berclaz Racing Team SA). The Italian’s Sunday was near-perfect, breezing his way up from 13th on the grid to second at the flag and particularly impressing in the second half of the race. Tamburini was truly sensational at his home track, only beaten to the flag by Imola wildcard Matteo Ferrari (Barni Racing Team) – but will he find that same form at Donington?
Maximilian Scheib (Aprilia Racing Team) was just one second off the pace at Imola, and despite starting from pole position he will have been satisfied at cutting 5 points off from the front gap. The Chilean came in third last year at the UK Round – a podium repeat would be welcomed, but Scheib will surely be in contention for all 25 points. His teammate Luca Vitali (Aprilia Racing Team), meanwhile, will be searching for his first top-5 finish of the season, after two sixth-places and one seventh.
Federico Sandi (MOTOCORSA Racing) has performed his personal best start to a season, those 42 points just ten shy of his total tally from last season. Scheib leapfrogged him into third position at Imola, but Sandi is in a good position to strike back. The Italian has never won a STK1000 race, but with margins throughout the category so tight, there’s no doubt that barrier could be broken very soon.
The 2018 season has been a frustrating experience so far for Florian Marino (URBIS Yamaha Motoxracing STK Team), with the Frenchman unable to reach the same heights as 2017, when he was just 19 points away from taking the title. Donington saw one of his best performances last year, a second-place finish which, if repeated, would put the sole Yamaha rider back on track for the season, and who knows if a title revival.
Don’t miss what promises to be an electric STK1000 race 4, with all the action available thanks to the WorldSBK VideoPass.