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2012 World Superbikes – Round 10
JUST Bikes 06/08/2012
Given round 10 of the 2012 World Superbike Championship was being held at Silverstone, one would have expected the British riders to step up and emulate the feats of their Olympians on home soil. But it wasn’t to be, with the round producing more than a few surprises.
The stars of this round were actually French: specifically Loris Baz and Sylvain Guintoli, who split the two race wins in conditions at Silverstone that were so bad the second race was red flagged early. Guintoli has already proven his ability in the wet, winning a drenched Assen race earlier this year. The Frenchman was also on a new bike, albeit a familiar one in the form of the Ducati 1098R, after parting ways with Effenbert Liberty Ducati after the Aragon round to make his debut with PATA Ducati at this round. For Superbike rookie Baz, who only joined the Kawasaki Racing Team at May’s Donington round, the result was especially impressive.
Filling in on the team Pedercini Kawasaki ZX-10R for this round was Australia’s David Johnson, who has been racing in the UK since his brief foray in World Superbikes with the Rossair AEP Racing BMW earlier this year.
Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team ZX-10R) and Carlos Checa (Althea Ducati 1098R) set the early pace in qualifying, but in a forewarning of what was to come, the Superpole session was wet, with Marco Melandri (BMW Motorrad S1000RR), Jakub Smrz (Effenbert Liberty Ducati 1098R) and Michel Fabrizio (BMW Motorrad Italia GoldBet S1000RR) all either crashing or running off track in the wet Superpole 1 conditions.
In Superpole 2, Sykes, Checa and Davide Giugliano (Althea Ducati 1098R) also crashed, which, followed by the cancellation of Superpole 3, saw a very non-traditional front row of the grid. Smrz secured pole with a 2’20.810 best lap, followed by Leon Camier (Crescent Fixi Suzuki GSX-R 1000), Guintoli, and Leon Haslam (BMW Motorrad S1000RR) completing the front row. Current championship leader Max Biaggi (Aprilia Racing Team RSV4) didn’t reach Superpole 2 and started the race from eleventh on the grid. Johnson qualified 22nd.
Sykes was the early starter in the wet race 1, closely followed by Haslam. On lap 2, the BMW rider had moved to the lead, but less than a second covered the top six riders. When Checa took the lead on lap 5, the field started to spread out, but the defending champion still had Haslam, and then Sykes, close behind. Johnson was in the circuit medical centre prior to the race start and did not line up for race 1.
On lap 13, both Sykes and Haslam were able to pass Checa, while Baz made his move a lap later when Sykes had a moment that dropped him back to fourth. Despite the rain causing riders to run wide and slide off all over the circuit, the penultimate lap saw the field tighten up yet again, with Fabrizio narrowly leading from Jonathan Rea (Honda World Superbike Team CBR 1000RR), Baz and Ayrton Badovini (BMW Motorrad Italia GoldBet S1000RR). In a frantic final lap in treacherous conditions, Biaggi crashed out of sixth place, while Baz leapfrogged ahead to eventually finish 0.383 seconds ahead of Fabrizio, followed by Badovini.
Incredibly, Badovini and Rea crashed just before the chequered flag, but were still classified in third and fourth, despite neither of them actually crossing the finishing line on their bikes! Baz’s win made him just the fourth Frenchman to win a WSBK race since the title’s inception in 1988.
“It is really special to win and to win in England because I raced here in British Superbike last year for a while,” said Baz. “The conditions in race one were crazy for a while and early on I was missing some grip but when I saw the rains coming I pushed hard even though it was quite wet but I stayed on the bike and I am really happy, as you can imagine, for this victory.”
After a delay to try and avoid more imminent rain, a depleted grid lined up for race 2, with neither Johnson nor Norino Brignola (Grillini Progea Superbike BMW S1000RR). Guintoli got the early jump, closely followed by his former team mate, Smrz, with Eugene Laverty (Aprilia Racing Team RSV4) a distant third.
While the likes of Giugliano, Chaz Davies (ParkinGO MTC Racing Aprilia RSV4) and Laverty were trading places in the increasingly wet conditions, Guintoli was holding a lead on Smrz and Baz. Giugliano’s crash on lap 7 elevated Laverty into fourth.
Two laps later, it looked like Guintoli would enjoy an easy victory when both Baz and Smrz crashed, but increasing rain saw the race red flagged on the same lap. With positions declared at the end of lap eight, Guintoli was declared the winner by 0.881 seconds over Baz, followed by polesitter Smrz. Laverty and Maxime Berger (Effenbert Liberty Racing Ducati 1098R) completed the top five.
Championship contenders, Checa, Melandri and Biaggi finished sixth, eighth and eleventh respectively. As the race hadn’t reached two-thirds distance, only half points were awarded. Despite this, Biaggi has had his championship lead over Melandri slashed to just 10.5 points (274 to 263.5) following his race 1 DNF. Behind these two, Checa (220.5) and Rea (203.5) remain the only other title contenders.
“This day was actually unbelievable. The two races were completely different, but they were both equally as difficult,” said Melandri.
“It was very important to finish today. Many young riders who are not involved in the championship fight were pushing very hard, so the races were not easy. Now I am looking forward to Moscow because the track is new for everybody. I just hope the weather will be more stable there.”
2012 WORLD SUPERBIKE RESULTS – SILVERSTONE
Race one: 18 laps
1 Loris Baz Kawasaki 40’46.128
2 Michel Fabrizio BMW +0.383
3 Ayrton Badovini BMW +0.459
4 Jonathan Rea Honda +0.539
5 Carlos Checa Ducati +1.012
6 Leon Haslam BMW +2.619
7 Marco Melandri BMW +6.123
8 Tom Sykes Kawasaki +9.170
9 Davide Giugliano Ducati +19.022
10 Eugene Laverty Aprilia +19.087
DNS Dave Johnson Kawasaki
Fastest lap: Badovini – 2:06.764
Race two: 8 laps (declared)
1 Sylvain Guintoli Ducati 19’42.051
2 Loris Baz Kawasaki +0.881
3 Jakub Smrz Ducati +1.675
4 Eugene Laverty Aprilia +19.045
5 Maxime Berger Ducati +22.116
6 Carlos Checa Ducati +23.736
7 Chaz Davies Aprilia +24.690
8 Marco Melandri BMW +26.197
9 Johnathan Rea Honda +26.861
10 John Hopkins Suzuki +27.191
DNS Dave Johnson Kawasaki
Fastest lap: Baz – 2:24.324
CURRENT WORLD SUPERBIKE STANDINGS (AFTER 10 OF 14 ROUNDS)
1 Biaggi 274
2 Melandri 263.5
3 Sykes 222.5
4 Checa 220.5
5 Rea 203.5
6 Haslam 170
7 Laverty 160.5
8 Guintoli 122.5
9 Fabrizio 108.5
10 Giugliano 106
The next round of the 2012 World Superbike Championship will be at the all-new Moscow Raceway circuit in Russia. The Superbikes’ visit on August 24-26 will mark the first major international race series to visit the new track.
Images: 2SNAP, courtesy of IRPR