Fun in the (mainly) sun.

SBK Misano, Italy. 11th June 2012

Words: Laura Bradley, Pics: Richard Handley

Tom Sykes, as usual, kept the pressure on at the front in qualifying...Misano is normally known for the warm and sunny weather and regular trips to the beach where we can all relax and eat piadina, the local delicacy. However, the rain did make a few short appearances this weekend. Due to the heat, this didn’t seem to be too much of a problem as the track dried pretty quickly after the short wet spells, but it did cause a few problems where certain parts of the circuit were still moist.

Fabrizio crashed in free practice, as did Salom. Both riders were absolutely fine but this obviously affected the amount of work and development that was done to their bikes and stopped them collecting as much data to know what set up to use for the race.

Qualifying was dominated by Checa throughout the first practice. Sykes had second place for a while but Melandri soon set a faster time, pushing him into a provisional third on the grid. Haslam had fourth with Camier in fifth, finally showing some good results for the Fixi Crescent Suzuki team. The session was red flagged when wildcard rider Sandi crashed, but after an extremely quick clear up they re-started within five minutes. Rea and Biaggi set times to slip into second and third, with Melandri in fourth and Haslam staying in fifth, Sykes dropped down to seventh with Camier in eighth. This left the final results of the first qualifying practice as Checa fastest with Rea, Biaggi, Melandri, Giugliano, Guintoli, Baz, Haslam, Smrz, Sykes, Camier, Badovini, Laverty, Zanetti, Canepa and Hopkins making up the provisional superpole entry list.

It looked as if Checa was going to reign the second session too, with him setting the fastest time with Rea in second, Biaggi third and Camier in fourth after starting in eleventh. Haslam then set a fastesr time to push Camier down to fifth place and slot into fourth. Sykes, however, was not content with not being fastest and set the fastest lap of the session with Rea then pushing Checa down to third, taking second place. Sandi carried on as he started, crashing again at turn fourteen and ending his hopes for the session, with Giugliano then surprising us all and setting the fastest time and pushing Sykes into second place. Canepa crashed at the first corner with eight minutes left of the session, stopping him from trying to go any faster. Sykes then set another fast time to take provisional pole with Checa into second. So Sykes took the fastest time in the session followed by Checa, Giugliano, Rea, Haslam, Smrz, Baiocco, Camier, Guintoli, Laverty, Zanetti, Melandri, Biaggi, Badovini, Fabrzio and Baz.

Davide Guigliano is steadily improving. Now all he needs to do is stay on the bike...Baz was surprisingly on the pace for his first time riding a superbike at this circuit, even beating Hopkins into superpole. This left the superpole entry list as Sykes on provisional pole with Checa, Giugliano and Rea making up the first four. Haslam, Smrz, Baiocco, Camier, Guintoli, Biaggi, Laverty, Zanetti, Melandri, Badovini, Fabrizio and Baz made up the rest of the sixteen.

Superpole had a shower of rain before the start time, so it was made into a wet superpole with only two timed sessions and eight being knocked out after superpole one rather than four.

Superpole one had Smrz set the fastest lap with Baiocco in second and Fabrizio third. Guintoli and Badovini then took the second and third fastest time with Baz sitting comfortably in fifth. Badovini then overtook Guintoli into second place, but Guintoli went even faster to set the fastest time of the session so far. Biaggi then set a time for third, with Haslam fifth. Camier finally pitted out with seven minutes to go after doing one lap and coming back in due to parts of the track still being wet. Biaggi then set a fast time for pole with Smrz slotting into second, Guintoli third and Baz fourth. Rea was now in fifth place. Smrz, however, decided to then set an even faster lap and took the top spot from Biaggi, with Camier setting a time for fourth. Rea then wanted in on the action and set the fastest time yet with five and a half minutes left of the session. Checa then appeared, going from eleventh to third place a minute later, however he was soon pushed back down to last place as Sykes set the fastest time with Badovini momentarily taking it from him, only for the Yorkshire man to go even faster with Rea in second and Giugliano third. This left Sykes, Rea, Giugliano, Guintoli, Badovini, Smrz, Haslam and Laverty going through into the second superpole. Baiocco, Biaggi, Baz, Fabrizio, Melandri, Camier, Zanetti and Checa were all knocked out.

The second session had Guntoli starting off as fastest with Haslam in second and Sykes third, Laverty slotting in fourth. Rea hit the gravel but re-joined, but Sykes then, unsurprisingly, set the fastest time. Guintoli crashed at turn fifteen, walking away in bitter disappointment with the bike not returning to the session. Haslam set the time for second place, but Rea soon took it again with Badovini then pushing both Rea and Haslam down a place. Laverty set a time to get up into sixth, with Giugliano slotting into fourth.

The first corner frenzy, as Jonathan Rea leads Tom Sykes and Guigliano...So the session ended and Sykes landed pole again with the rest of the front row of the grid being Rea, Badovini and Giugliano. Smrz, Haslam, Laverty and Guintoli made up the second row.  

Race one had Rea taking the lead from the first corner, with Sykes in second and Giugliano third. Checa started to battle his way up from tenth, overtaking Smrz and starting to chase Melandri. Sykes was hot on Rea’s tail but Giugliano was close too. Haslam started closing in on Giugliano in lap two, but GIugliano then overtook Sykes, however his attempts were all in vain as he was barged straight out of the way again. Haslam then overtook Giugliano. By lap three Checa had overtaken Laverty into eighth place, with Melandri getting in front of Biaggi. Checa soon overtook him into seventh place too. However, Biaggi then overtook Checa again. Checa, however, wasn’t happy with that and overtook him back and started to chase Badovini, who had been overtaken by Melandri. This left the current standings as Rea, Sykes, Haslam, Giugliano, Melandri, Badovini, Checa, Biaggi and Laverty.

Melandri set the new lap record on lap six with a 1’36.100. Biaggi then overtook Checa and went to overtake Badovini, but then approached the corner too fast, running wide and leaving Checa to overtake again. Checa then started to battle Badovini for sixth place, overtook him but ran out of track and onto the kerb. Biaggi then overtook him. Haslam, however was hot on Sykes’ heels. Whilst this battle started, Rea started to pull away from Sykes and Haslam. Checa then set the new lap record on lap nine with a 1’36.080. Biaggi then overtook Biaggi and Haslam overtook Sykes, with Giugliano following suit, Sykes then cut them both off to keep second place. Giugliano overtook Haslam, but Haslam took third straight back. Melandri was now on Giugliano’s back. Salom and Zanetti both retired from the race on lap ten, with Checa overtaking Badovini. On lap eleven Camier and Fabrizio had both overtaken Laverty into tenth and eleventh place, Haslam then went to overtake Sykes again with Giugliano having a look in, but Sykes cut in front again. Haslam then overtook Sykes. On lap twelve Giugliano also overtook Sykes, with Melandri also barging past. Checa was now on the back of the group in seventh place and started to chase Biaggi. Checa started to battle with Biaggi whilst Biaggi tried to overtake Sykes, Biaggi soon succeeded in overtaking with Giugliano overtaking Haslam. Checa then overtook Sykes. By this point Rea had a two second lead, Biaggi then overtook Melandri on the inside. Heca started to then look in on overtaking Melandri.

Ayrton Badovini rides hard but cleanly. Max Biaggi has to take second best this time...Checa overtook Melandri into fifth place by lap fourteen, Badovini and Smrz had also started catching up with the group. Checa overtook Haslam on the next lap with Giugliano starting to catch up to Rea. Checa had caught up with Biaggi by lap seventeen, who had caught up with Giugliano and Rea, Giugliano overtook Rea but then ran wide, somehow managing to keep it. Biaggi then overtook Rea, pushing him out the way and Checa also barged past, going on to overtake Biaggi but being blocked off. The race ended for Baz as he entered the pits on lap eighteen, and Biaggi started to chase Giugliano. Smrz, Laverty, Davies and Badovini all overtook Laverty into seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth on lap nineteen, and Checa started to look in on overtaking Biaggi whilst the Italian was still attempting to overtake the newcomer Giugliano into first. This left the top three extremely close and the results unpredictable. Guintoli and Camier had also overtaken Melandri by lap twenty-one, pushing him back to thirteenth. Biaggi overtook Giugliano into first place, managing to keep it despite Giugliano’s efforts to take it back. Checa then also overtook Giugliano, having worked his way up from sixteenth place. Davies was also impressively seventh after not even qualifying for superpole. Davies then worked his way up to sixth, with Giugliano having fallen off pace slightly and a gap forming between him and Checa. Melandri retired from the race and entered the pits at the end of the penultimate lap. On the final lap Checa chased Biaggi but didn’t catch him, with Biaggi winning the race and Checa finishing second, Giugliano finishing off the podium. Sykes had overtaken Rea to finish in fourth place, with Rea fifth followed by Davies, Laverty, Guintoli, Smrz and Camier.

Race two started with Sykes taking the lead from the first corner and Rea in second with Haslam fourth and Giugliano fourth. Mercado and Hopkins hit the gravel but re-joined at the back of the pack. Giugliano and Biaggi both overtook Haslam, with Haslam now fifth and Giugliano in second, Biaggi third. Guintoli crashed out of eighth place in the second lap, having his front wheel unceremoniously swept away by a ridiculously hard pass from Melandri. Biaggi overtook Rea into second place by lap three, Giugliano following suit. Biaggi then started to chase Sykes. Melandri again took another rider's wheels out from under him making an extremely hard late lunge down the inside. This time it was Checa who was on the receiving end, crashing out on lap four, re-joining. Biaggi then overtook Sykes. Rea and Giugliano started to battle for third. Rea took it for a while but Giugliano took it back. Haslam and Laverty were really close behind and ready to join the battle, with Rea and Haslam starting to battle for fourth. Checa pitted in by the end of lap five, ending his race.

This time it's Rea from Sykes and Haslam with Badovini and Fabrizio in hot pursuit...Camier overtook Fabrizio into ninth place, but then crashed on turn four, re-joining at the end of the group. Giugliano then crashed out coming into the start-finish straight, walking away unharmed but not re-joining. Rea started to chase Haslam in attempts to take third back, with Biaggi having a four second lead. Salom then crashed at turn thirteen, being taken to the medical centre. Rea overtook Haslam and started to chase Sykes, with Rea and Haslam battling but Rea managed to keep it. Laverty then ran wide, ending up behind Badovini and Melandri in seventh. Rea then overtook Sykes into second place. By lap eleven Biaggi had a six second lead, with Haslam barging past Sykes into third place. Badovini, Melandri and Laverty all closed in on Sykes, overtaking him and leaving him in sixth. Melandri then overtook Badovini into fourth place. On lap sixteen it was announced that Melandri was under investigation, presumably for his overly aggressive riding, and Laverty overtook Sykes but Sykes then took him straight back again. Fabrizio then overtook Laverty with Baz starting to try and get eighth from him. Davies crashed on lap seventeen, getting up unharmed. Laverty then followed suit and crashed on the third corner of lap eighteen, re-joining the race. This left the standings by lap nineteen as Biaggi, Rea, Haslam, Melandri, Badovini, Fabrizio, Sykes, Baz, Smrz and Berger. Hopkins and Camier had now worked their way back up into the points, with Camier setting consistently fast times but not being able to overtake due to his distance from the rest of the group. Baz then started to catch up with Sykes and challenging him for seventh place, which was very impressive for a rookie. Laverty pitted in, leaving Biaggi to cross the line in first place with Rea and Haslam taking second and third. Melandri, Badovini, Fabrizio, Sykes, Baz, Smrz and Baiocco finished off the top ten.

We're at Aragon next, and it will be interesting to see if the Italian organisation running SBK has the courage to penalise an Italian rider who really desperately needs reining in before he hurts somebody.

Like him or loathe him, there's no denying that Max Biaggi has style on a motorbike...Race One

1 Max Biaggi (Aprilia)
2 Carlos Checa (Ducati)
3 Davide Giugliano (Ducati)
4 Tom Sykes (Kawasaki)
5 Jonathan Rea (Honda)
6 Chaz Davies (Aprilia)
7 Eugene Laverty (Aprilia)
8 Sylvain Guintoli (Ducati)
9 Jakub Smrz (Ducati)
10 Leon Camier (Suzuki)

Race Two

1 Max Biaggi (Aprilia)
2 Jonathan Rea (Honda)
3 Leon Haslam (BMW)
4 Marco Melandri (BMW)
5 Ayrton Badovini (BMW)
6 Michel Fabrizio (BMW)
7 Tom Sykes (Kawasaki)
8 Loris Baz (Kawasaki)
9 Jakub Smrz (Ducati)
10 Matteo Baiocco (Ducati)

Championship Standing after seven rounds:

1 Max Biaggi 210.5
2 Jonathan Rea 172
3 Tom Sykes 164.5
4 Marco Melandri 155.5
5 Carlos Checa 150.5
6 Leon Haslam 123
7 Sylvain Guintoli 103
8 Eugene Laverty 95
9 Davide Giugliano 80
10 Jakub Smrz 75.5



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