Three-way battle hits Silverstone circuit
Date published : 27 Jul 2011 - 08:11:06
The FIM Superbike World Championship arrives at the revamped Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit in the UK for round 9, the last one before the summer break. In 2010 the historic airfield layout underwent major modifications that brought several curves up to modern-day car and bike racing standards. The circuit infrastructures were also upgraded in 2010 and this week the Superbike riders will be greeted by the spectacular and brand-new Silverstone Wing pits complex building between Club and Abbey curves, which will also comprise the new start-finish line and pit entry-exit lanes.The Silverstone circuit, one of the cornerstones of British motorsport, will be the venue for yet another enthralling duel, or rather now a three-way battle, between points leader Carlos Checa (Althea Racing Ducati) and his closest adversaries Max Biaggi (Aprilia Alitalia Racing Team) and Marco Melandri (Yamaha World Superbike Team). The Spaniard has a thirty points advantage over the 2010 world champion and 53 over the former 250 cc world champion, and is called upon to face up to another race that on paper does not seem favourable to his Ducati. For his part Biaggi has never won a Superbike race at the British track, while Melandri is taking part in his first race with the R1 on the new layout.
Last year the races saw a total triumph for British riders, who occupied all the podium slots on both occasions. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) scored a double win, while Jonathan Rea, Leon Haslam and Leon Camier shared the remaining podium places. With Cal now having moved on and Rea (Castrol Honda) out with injury, the hopes of the British riders lie in a small group made up of Leon Haslam (BMW Motorrad Motorsport), still searching for that elusive breakthrough with the German machine, Leon Camier (Aprilia Alitalia Racing Team), podium man at Aragon, and Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing), who is on the up in this phase of the championship.
Silverstone will also see the return of James Toseland (BMW Motorrad Italia SBK Team) - race 2 winner in 2005 - while the Castrol Honda team will be all-new for this round. It will be made up of Alex Lowes, who has the unenviable task of replacing the injured Rea, together with Karl Muggeridge, who has been called in for Ruben Xaus, the Spaniard still recovering from his Brno crash. One man to certainly keep an eye on will be Eugene Laverty (Yamaha World Superbike Team), currently lying fourth overall, and anxious for a repeat of his Monza champagne-tasting victories.
Michel Fabrizio, fourth last year in race 1, is working wonders on the singleton Suzuki Alstare machine, and so is the increasingly convincing Ayrton Badovini (BMW Motorrad Italia SBK Italia), while another man with a fourth place at Silverstone to his name in 2007, Roberto Rolfo (Pedercini Kawasaki) will be aiming for his best result of the year.
Expectation is also high over the appearance of two wild-cards, the American John Hopkins, who returns to WSBK for this one-off event, and Britain's John Kirkham, who currently race with for the Suzuki Samsung Crescent Racing team in the British Superbike Championship.