The Brits are coming . . .

SBK Nurburgring, germany, 7th September 2012

Words: Laura Bradley
Pics: Simon Bradley and Richard Handley

Brett McCormick broke his neck at Assen, and is now back here dragging his elbow. I just wish the rest of the Effenbert Liberty team could show the same commitment...Superbikes made their annual pilgramage to the European Mecca of Motorsport, The Nurburgring in Germany. Last year we got drenched as the superbike racing was replaced by what seemed to be the European jetski championships, but this year we were threatened with sunburn instead as the skies remained clear and blue throughout an excellent weekend's racing. There have been many volumes written about the Nurburgring, so I'm not going to waste your time repeating it. Suffice to say that, while the new circuit is a pale imitation of the original, fearsome, Nordschleife, it's a perfectly good circuit in its own right and offers some outstandingly good racing.

Qualifying was uneventful, Guintoli crashed in both sessions but luckily remained unhurt. In the second session Rea managed to beat Sykes’ long time lead, with Melandri, Biaggi and Checa also beating the Yorkshireman’s time. By the end of the sessions Badovini,  Guintoli, Aoyama, Lanzi, Berger, McCormick, Lundh and Brignola were all out of superpole, leaving the entry list as Rea, Melandri, Biaggi, Checa, Sykes, Giugliano, Haslam, Camier, Davies, Laverty, Baz, Fabrizio, Zanetti, Canepa, Salom and Hopkins.

Free practice was not a good one for Canepa, as he crashed and has fractured his leg in six places, deeming him unfit to race. Hopkins also crashed with five minutes left of the practice, but re-joined and was able to make superpole.

Superpole One started with Melandri taking pole on his first flying lap with Haslam in second and Rea third. The session was red flagged after Salom crashed (he was taken to hospital and kept overnight, he is fine but was still unfit to race this weekend) and left debris on track. Camier, Giugliano, Laverty and Hopkins all had their last times deleted as the laps were completed after the red flag came out.

Max Biaggi was in devastating form through Superpole. Looks like the bike was made for him, doesn't it?Baz took pole in the re-start with Melandri in second and Biaggi third, but Davies took the pole time with five minutes to go. He kept the fastest time with Baz, Melandri and Biaggi making up the rest of the provisional front row. Zanetti, Checa, Sykes, Rea, Laverty, Haslam and Giugliano also made it through to the next superpole session, with Fabrizio, Hopkins, Canepa and Salom all out.

Superpole Two started, again, with Melandri taking the fastest time with eight minutes to go. Haslam crashed on turn fifteen, walking away but having not completed a full lap of the session, leaving him twelfth on the grid. Sykes soon took pole and set a new best lap time of 1’54.927, Melandri went into second with Laverty third and Checa fourth. It looked like Camier was out of the third and final superpole until he put in a last minute lap time and took fifth place, Rea finished sixth with Biaggi seventh and Baz eighth. This eliminated Giugliano, Davies, Zanetti and Haslam from superpole three.

Superpole Three saw Biaggi setting a new best lap time of 1’53.885, Sykes slipped past Melandri into second and Laverty was fourth. Biaggi finished the session on pole position with Sykes, Melandri and Laverty making up the rest of the front row. Rea, Checa, Camier and Baz made up the second row.

Race One had not even started when things started to go wrong, as Leon Camier’s Fixi Crescent Suzuki started to leak oil and was therefore removed from the grid, meaning that the young Englishman had to start from the very back of the grid. The race started with Biaggi having a good pace off the line and taking the lead into the first corner, Sykes went in for second with Laverty trying to catch him but ending up in third. Sykes overtook Biaggi into first, as did Checa. Fabrizio crashed at turn two and was taken to the media centre, he has since been announced as OK.

An historic Aprilia 1-2-3 in Race One, and a nice artistic shot too (Pic: Richard Handley)Biaggi then overtook Checa with Laverty ending up in fourth. By lap two Melandri and Laverty had both overtaken Checa, with Rea starting to have a look in. Checa then lost the back of his bike and re-joined the race at the back of the pack. Rea then crashed at turn six, walking away but retiring from the race. This left Davies, Giugliano and Haslam to finish off the top seven.

Biaggi took the new lap record on lap four of a 1’55.267, just as Giugliano crashed at turn eight, luckily unhurt. Davies had soon overtaken Laverty into fourth having a big moment but keeping control of the bike, this, however, allowed Laverty to take fourth place back. Melandri crashed out of the race on lap seven, he was uninjured. This left Camier in eighth place, just ahead of Zanetti. Biaggi was hot on Sykes’ tail trying to take first place with Baz starting to work his way up the pack, overtaking Haslam into fifth place. Biaggi kept trying to have a look in on Sykes, but was blocked until lap twelve where the Italian took first place. Guintoli overtook Haslam into sixth place on lap thirteen, with Camier following suit and taking seventh. By lap fourteen, Checa had worked his way back up to fourteenth place. Laverty and Davies both overtook Sykes into second and third on lap fifteen, with Camier overtaking Guintoli into sixth place on the following lap. Two laps before the end, Baz crashed out having lost the rear, walking away unhurt. This left Camier in fifth place, despite the unlucky grid start. So the chequered flag went out and Biaggi won the race with Laverty in second and Davies third. Sykes, Camier, Guintoli, Haslam, Zanetti, Badovini and Aoyama finished off the top ten.

Race Two had no grid dramas, luckily, and started with Laverty taking the lead from the first corner with Sykes in second and Biaggi third. Biaggi crashed out on turn fourteen and Laverty also ran wide off track due to Sykes just brushing his elbow and leaving him nowhere to go, as Laverty later described it: ‘I almost got a free entry Nordschleife, could have saved myself thirty euros’. This left the Irishman in seventh, with Biaggi also Chaz Davies had a pretty lonely Race 2, but as it was out at the front I'm sure he could cope...re-joining further down the pack. Davies set the fastest lap from third on lap three, with Melandri in second and Rea fourth. Rea, however, was soon overtaken by Giguliano, with Laverty, Haslam, Checa, Baz and Camier making up the rest of the top ten at the end of lap five. Camier overtook Baz into ninth place on the sixth lap, and Haslam hit the gravel at turn eleven, re-joining in ninth. Laverty and Rea both overtook Giugliano, with Checa and Camier overtaking Haslam. Rea then overtook Laverty into fourth place on lap seven. Melandri overtook Sykes into first place on lap eight, with Davies following suit and overtaking Sykes into second, Melandri, however, crashed out again at the end of the lap, leaving Davies in the lead. That left the standings halfway through the race as Davies, Sykes and Rea making up the top three. This was sadly when Haslam crashed out at turn nine, walking away with a few bruises but otherwise unhurt. Laverty overtook Rea into third, with Leon taking a look around the both of them. Camier then went on to overtake Rea on lap twelve, starting to chase Laverty with Rea falling slightly behind. Davies had a one and a half second lead on Sykes. Camier overtook Laverty on lap fourteen and started to chase Sykes, overtaking him on lap fifteen and taking second place.

Meanwhile, McCormick hit the gravel on turn eleven on lap fifteen, re-joining but then being black flagged due to a technical problem. Laverty overtook Sykes on lap sixteen, catching up with Camier who was, in turn, starting to catch up with Davies. Rea also went on to overtake Sykes, with Checa starting to get on his tail. Laverty caught up with Camier by lap nineteen, trying to overtake once but being blocked and then overtaking successfully and taking second place. Checa overtook Sykes, but Sykes took it back and managed to stay in front for the chequered flag. This left us a British one, two, three, four and five.

So, the chequered flag went out and a very happy Chaz Davies won his first superbike race. Laverty finished in second with Camier finally showing the world what a Crescent Fixi Suzuki can do and finishing third. Rea, Sykes, Checa, Giugliano, Baz, Badovini and Guintoli finished off the top ten.

We’re heading to a hopefully equally sunny Portimao next, always a track that brings interesting results and fond memories. See you there!

Leon Camier gets Man of The Match from us after two fabulous rides...Race One

1 Max Biaggi (Aprilia)
2 Eugene Laverty (Aprilia)
3 Chaz Davies (Aprilia)
4 Tom Sykes (Kawasaki)
5 Leon Camier (Suzuki)
6 Sylvain Guintoli (Ducati)
7 Leon Haslam (BMW)
8 Lorenzo Zanetti (Ducati)
9 Ayrton Badovini (BMW)
10 Hiroshi Aoyama (Honda)

Race Two

1 Chaz Davies (Aprilia)
2 Eugene Laverty (Aprilia)
3 Leon Camier (Suzuki)
4 Jonathan Rea (Honda)
5 Tom Sykes (Kawasaki)
6 Carlos Checa (Ducati)
7 Davide Guigliano (Ducati)
8 Loris Baz (Kawasaki)
9 Ayrton Badovini (BMW)
10 Sylvain Guintoli (Ducati)

Championship Standing after twelve rounds:

1 Max Biaggi 318
2 Marco Melandri 308.5
3 Tom Sykes 291.5
4 Carlos Checa 247.5
5 Jonathan Rea 225.5
6 Eugene Laverty 213.5
7 Leon Haslam 189
8 Chaz Davies 156.5
9 Sylvain Guintoli 143.5
10 Davide Giugliano 125



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