A NEW ERA BEGINS: Iannone ready for ‘dream’ maiden WorldSBK campaign

Friday, 9 February 2024 10:47 GMT

Andrea Iannone is set for his rookie WorldSBK season and, if his pace in testing is anything to go by, it should be a good one for ‘The Maniac’…

The 2024 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship is fast approaching and with it comes a whole heap of stories. One is Andrea Iannone’s (Team GoEleven) debut in the production-based Championship as he makes his return to racing. ‘The Maniac’ has been quick in testing at both Jerez and Portimao and, on the Panigale V4 R, will be hoping this translates into strong results when racing gets underway in just a couple of weeks.

SUCCESS ON THE WORLD STAGE: Iannone’s MotoGP™ paddock career

34-year-old Iannone spent 14 seasons competing in the MotoGP™ paddock, across the 125cc World Championship before moving into Moto2™ and then MotoGP™. The #29 claimed four wins in five seasons between 2005 and 2009 in the 125cc class, earning him a seat in the new-for-2010 Moto2™ Championship, where he spent three seasons. He finished third in every season, winning eight races in total, before securing a move to the premier class. In total, he spent seven seasons there, winning one race for Ducati in 2016 and taking 11 podiums. However, he was sanctioned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) following a violation of an anti-doping rule after a positive test for a banned substance in the following Malaysian GP, coming in from December 17th, 2019, which led to him not racing at all for four years.

RETURNING WITH A BANG: impressive pace in testing

Despite four years away from competition, ‘The Maniac’ was rapid when 2024 testing started straight after the Spanish Round last year. At Jerez in November, he posted a 1’39.335s to finish P5 while he set a 1’38.744s in the January test at the same location. Although he was further down the order at the Portimao test, it was his first time at the ‘rollercoaster’ on a race bike. A 1’40.654s was set by Iannone, 1.465s off Toprak Razgatlioglu’s (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) pace on Day 2, but it was still a strong showing from the Italian as he adjusted to WorldSBK machinery at a challenging circuit to learn.

A RETURN TO VICTORY? Team GoEleven aiming for podium fights

Team GoEleven are race winners in WorldSBK, having last won with Michael Ruben Rinaldi at the Teruel Round back in 2020. It was a weekend where the #21 was on top form and he was able to fight at the front in all three races, claiming a rostrum in each. Since then, the team stood on the podium with Chaz Davies in 2021 but have been without a visit to parc ferme as a top-three finisher since. Is Iannone the rider who can bring Team GoEleven back onto the podium or the top step? Of course, victory for Iannone would mean he stands on top of the podium for the first time since 2016 and he will be hoping his eight-year wait comes to an end.

IANNONE’S VIEW: “I’m living the dream one more time”

Speaking at the first Jerez test of 2024, Iannone outlined what he’d like to achieve this year. He said: “I’m happy to come back. I’m living the dream one more time. This is beautiful. I’m really happy to come back with Ducati. It’s my preferred bike in life and I get to ride it one more time. I hope we do a really good job. I think the most important thing is that we try to enjoy every moment. I’ve come back and I want to give everything.”

A NEW ERA BEGINS: follow Iannone’s rookie season in style using the WorldSBK VideoPass!