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Sep 21, 2010

Updated: Biaggi Could Clinch Superbike World Championship This Coming Weekend At Imola

Max Biaggi (3).
Imola again the decider in 2010's penultimate WSBK round?

The hectic and always entertaining 2010 HANNspree FIM Superbike World Championship enters its final two race weekends of the year this week, with the penultimate round about to take place at the classic Italian venue of Imola, between 24 and 26 September and the final round held one week later at Magny-Cours on 3 October. Imola is a crucial event for all the riders to get into position to achieve their ultimate 2010 season ambitions.

For long-time championship leader Max Biaggi (Aprilia Alitalia) Imola could well present his personal goal to him one round early, as he arrives at his third home round of the 2010 season with a handsome lead of 58 points over Leon Haslam (Suzuki Alstare). Should Biaggi finish race two at Imola with 50 points or more of an advantage over Haslam, the championship will be decided with one round to go. Currently Biaggi has scored nine race wins to Haslam's three.

In third place in the rankings, Jonathan Rea (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) cannot catch Biaggi, but he has already overhauled Haslam's win total, having secured four victories, his most recent in Germany in round ten.

Carlos Checa (Althea Racing Ducati) is now looking to defend his current fourth place in the championship, after the fabulous recent run put in by double Silverstone race winner, Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha Sterilgarda). Noriyuki Haga (Ducati Xerox) made a resurgent push to the top step of the podium in Germany earlier this month, and he sits sixth in the overall rankings. Between Checa in fourth and Haga in sixth, there are only 22 points, and behind Haga, James Toseland (Yamaha Sterilgarda) is only 15 points adrift. Toseland is looking for his first win for Yamaha, but has four podiums so far, the last coming at Monza.

Sylvain Guintoli (Suzuki Alstare) has found a rich seam of form recently but a first podium in WSBK racing has eluded him so far. Leon Camier (Aprilia Alitalia) is currently ninth, having missed the previous round through a wrist injury. He hopes to be declared fit for the final two rounds of the season. Michel Fabrizio (Ducati Xerox) is tenth and Troy Corser (BMW Motorrad Motorsport) is 11th, but the latter is only a single point behind Fabrizio with four races to go. Shane Byrne (Althea Ducati) sits 12th and is the last rider with over 100 points to his credit, and he lags Corser by 23 points.

Ruben Xaus (BMW Motorrad Motorsport) is a former Imola winner with lots of motivation to succeed, as he is still looking for his first podium of 2010. He is also trying to hold off the push from privateer Aprilia rider, Jakub Smrz (PATA B&G Aprilia) and the steadily improving factory Kawasaki of Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team). Once more Sykes will be joined by substitute rider Ian Lowry, standing-in for the injured Chris Vermeulen.

Luca Scassa (Supersonic Team) and Lorenzo Lanzi (DFX Corse Ducati) will be running a home race for themselves and their teams, as Max Neukirchner (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) returns to the scene of a heavy accident he suffered in testing at Imola last year.

Pedercini Kawasaki team-mates Roger Lee Hayden and Matteo Baiocco are hoping to make a big impression at their team's final home round, as Fabrizio Lai (ECHO CRS Honda) has his second taste of Superbike power at his home round.

Points (after 11 rounds of 13): 1. Biaggi 397; 2. Haslam 339; 3. Rea 288; 4. Checa 224; 5. Crutchlow 217; 6. Haga 202; 7. Toseland 187; 8. Guintoli 69; 9. Camier 164; 10. Fabrizio 160. Manufacturers: 1. Aprilia 409; 2. Suzuki 360; 3. Ducati 342; 4.Honda 299; 5.Yamaha 285; 6. BMW 190; 7. Kawasaki 77


World Supersport

Another intense season in the Supersport World Championship class will culminate with Kenan Sofuoglu (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) and Eugene Laverty (Parkalgar Honda) fighting it out for the title over the next two rounds. Crucially for Laverty, the exclusion of Gino Rea (Intermoto Czech Honda) from the previous round means the points gap up to Sofuoglu is now 12 points. Therefore, the incredibly fast and consistent Sofuoglu need only follow Laverty home - even if the Irish rider wins both remaining races - to be crowned champion again. If ParkinGO Triumph BE-1 rider Chaz Davies finishes even third in each remaining race he will just overhaul Joan Lascorz (Kawasaki Motocard.com) for third place, by a single point. The injured Lascorz will not be racing at either of the final rounds, as he continues his recovery from a big crash at Silverstone. David Salom went past Robbin Harms (Harms Benjan Racing Honda) to take fifth place overall last race weekend, with Rea just behind those two and Michele Pirro (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) eighth, ahead of the resurgent Fabien Foret (Lorenzini by Leoni Kawasaki) and Triumph rider Matthieu Lagrive.

Points (after 11 rounds of 13): 1. Sofuoglu 223; 2. Laverty 211; 3. Lascorz 168; 4. Davies 137; 5. Salom 90; 6.Harms 87; 7. Rea 83; 8.Pirro 66; 9. Foret 65; 10.Lagrive 65. Manufacturers: 1. Honda 270, 2. Kawasaki 185; 3. Triumph 146; 4. Yamaha 22


Superstock 1000

Ayrton Badovini (BMW Motorrad Italia STK) has been utterly perfect on every raceday so far in the Superstock class, winning all eight races and taking the championship title with two rounds ago. Maxime Berger (Ten Kate Racing Junior Honda) is second, Michele Magnoni (Bevilacqua Corse Honda) still a battling third, Andrea Antonelli (Team Lorini Honda) fourth. The fight for second is still very much on, with only 17 points covering the riders behind Badovini. Davide Giugliano (Team06 Suzuki) is six points ahead of Loris Baz (MRS Yamaha).

Points (after 8 rounds of 10): 1. Badovini 200; 2. Berger 106; 3. Magnoni 94; 4.Antonelli 89; 5. Giugliano 71; 6. Baz 65; 7. Barrier 60; 8. Petrucci 46; 9. Mähr 42; 10. Beretta 38. Manufacturers: 1. BMW 200 (2010 champions); 2. Honda 149; 3. Suzuki 87; 4.Yamaha 67; 5. Ducati 59; 6. Kawasaki 49; 7.KTM 30; 8. Aprilia 18.


Superstock 600

Only bad luck will deprive Jeremy Guarnoni (MRS Racing Yamaha) of the 600 class Superstock title in 2010, as Florian Marino (Ten Kate Junior Racing Honda) is now 43 points off the lead, meaning Guarnoni only has to score seven points in the final two rounds to secure the title. Berardino Lombardi (Martini Corse Yamaha) is third, with Federico D'Annunzio (Martini Corse Yamaha) just behind.

Points (after 8 rounds of 10): 1. Guarnoni 177; 2. Marino 134; 3. Lombardi 83; 4.D'Annunzio 79; 5. Fanelli 71; 6.Karlsen 6; 7.Lanusse 60; 8.Calero Perez 51; 9. Covena 48; 10.Le Coquen 42.


FIM E-Power International Championship

Imola hosts an innovative FIM E-Power International Championship race this weekend, the final round of the 2010 championship following outings at Le Mans, Albacete, laguna Seca and Magny-Cours. The class is designed for electrically powered machines, and has been instigated to literally speed up development of environmentally-friendly electric vehicles via the medium that always pushed the bounds of motorcycle technology, racing. Current leader is Thomas Betti (Betti Moto) from Italy, 13 points in front of Belgium's Thijs de Ridder (Crystalyte Europe).


The Circuit

At almost 5 km long the Enzo e Dino Ferrari circuit is nothing short of an asphalt rollercoaster, a true test of a rider's commitment and skill at a track where any competitive machine should feature a wide-ranging balance of attributes. The uphill sections need a strong engine, the constant changes of elevation require good bike balance, and manoeuvrability at high and low speed is also required, as Imola provides huge contrasts along its 4.936km length. I features both ultra-fast curves (like Piratella) and slow chicanes (like the Variante Alta) while the track surface is also a mix of relatively smooth and bumpier areas.




More, from a press release issued by Yamaha:

The Yamaha Sterilgarda World Superbike Team head back to the Imola circuit in Italy this weekend for their third Italian race of the year, the penultimate round of the 2010 World superbike Championship. Last year's visit to Imola by the WSB paddock was the first time since 2006 at the iconic Italian circuit. With a maximum 100 points available for any rider in the last two rounds, both Cal Crutchlow and James Toseland will have all guns blazing in the final four races to gain the best possible position in the 2010 championship standings. Crutchlow raced at Imola in World Supersport last year, scoring his ninth pole of the season at the circuit, and both riders tested there this year following the WSB round at Misano so neither will need extra time to learn the circuit before getting down to business.

Arriving at Imola Crutchlow currently sits in fifth in the championship with 217 points, his eyes firmly set on Carlos Checa in fourth, just seven points ahead. Team mate Toseland sets up for this race weekend sitting in seventh position, looking to make up the 15 point gap to Noriyuki Haga in sixth.

"I'm really looking forward to this round," said Cal Crutchlow. "I have unfinished business here from last year, I had a great pole position start in Supersport but crashed out so need to make sure I get a victory here this weekend! I was fastest rider in the test here earlier in the year so I'm confident we can do well."

"I had a difficult test here earlier in the year," said James Toseland. "We've come a long way since then and have improved our set up so I'm confident that we can achieve more and be fighting at the front. I'm going to give it 100% as always, I definitely want to be on the podium here."

Imola technically speaking according to Marcus Eschenbacher, Cal Crutchlow's Crew Chief
"Imola is a really difficult track to set up for, the right suspension settings are crucial to deal with the bumps of the circuit. Having said that we worked hard at the test and found a setting for Cal which worked really well. We're going to start the weekend with that and see if it still delivers the pace we need to fight for the podium on Sunday."

Imola technically speaking according to Frankie Carchedi, James Toseland's Crew Chief
"At Imola we will be starting with the same set-up as the Nurburgring. We found a good balance there and but for a little bad luck results could have been much better. We have already tested at Imola, so we will be able to go there and be strong from the outset. Imola is an extremely bumpy track with very little grip. These were the biggest problems when we tested earlier in the year, and where we hope the bike has improved over the last few races."

Massimo Meregalli, Yamaha Sterilgarda World superbike Team Manager
"We tested at Imola after the Misano race and the results were very good so our expectation is quite high this weekend. The weather forecast is good so we shouldn't have any issues with that. I spoke with Cal and got a really good feeling that we are going there with the bike in a good shape and can challenge for the podium. Thankfully as a result of the test James also knows the circuit well again so wil be able to start focussing on his set up rather than getting to know the circuit from the first session on Friday."




More, from a press release issued by Team Suzuki Alstare:

LEON AND SYLVAIN LOOKING FOR PODIUMS IN IMOLA

With just two rounds of this year's Superbike World Championship remaining, Team Suzuki Alstare riders Leon Haslam and Sylvain Guintoli will be going all out for podiums this coming weekend in Imola. Changes to the track were made before last year's race and many riders do not like the final chicane, but at least most have had a chance to test there earlier this year and get more used to it. So for once, Sylvain will not have to start the race weekend learning the track.

Leon
Since the last round at the Nurburgring, I have been having a lot of physiotherapy on my knee. The problem is that ligaments take quite a long time to mend properly and because of that my knee is not up to full strength yet. I haven't got full movement and all the power back yet, but I don't think it's going to affect me too much once I am on the bike. We'll see how it goes in practice, but we may decide to put on some strapping and give it some support. I may also strap up the hand a bit as it is OK in certain directions but not so good in some others. Once again, we'll se how it behaves during practice on Friday.

We tested here at Imola earlier in the year and the first day was pretty good. The second wasn't as good because I had a couple of crashes. We tried some tyres there, so it'll be interesting to see what tyres are brought this weekend. Imola is very technical track and there is a lot to it. It's what I call 'an old school' track and once you've got it right, you know you've got it right. I think it has many different characteristics and parts of it will suit some bikes and not others, but all bikes will be good there in some areas. Because of the points advantage Max (Biaggi) now has, all I can do is to go all-out in both races and hope he makes some mistakes, and that's what I'm going to do.

Sylvain
Finally, a track where I've been before. Although I haven't raced there, we did test earlier in the year, so at least I know which way to turn out of the pits! Imola is a technical track and difficult to learn, but I like it a lot. When you know where you are going, it's a real fun track and a blast when you get it right. The tests went pretty well, so I'm hoping to be on the pace right from the start and then go for my first podium with the team.

I have been cycling a lot recently and keeping fit and I have also done a bit of cage fighting. The first time I did it, I got well and truly beaten, but the second time was much better. I think this will make me more aggressive on the track and that will help in my battle for a podium.

2009 results
Race 1: 1 Noriyuki Haga (JPN-Ducati), 2 Max Biaggi (ITA-Aprilia), 3 Michel Fabrizio (ITA-Ducati), 6 Leon Haslam (GBR-Honda), Sylvain Guintoli DNS,
Race 2: 1 Fabrizio, 2 Haga, 3 Marco Simoncelli (ITA-Aprilia), 8 Leon Haslam, Sylvain Guintoli DNS,




More, from a press release issued by Alitalia Aprilia:

World Superbike returns to Italy for the Imola round. The Aprilia Alitalia Racing Team and Max Biaggi are playing on home turf with a clear goal of confirming the double first place rankings

Noale, 21 September 2010 As with every Red, White and Green round, the Imola WSBK round - penultimate of the season - holds a special flavour for the Aprilia Alitalia Racing Team, reinforced by their double leadership. In fact, Max Biaggi dominates in the rider rankings with 58 lengths ahead of Haslam, while Aprilia is at the top of the manufacturer standings at 49 points in front of Suzuki. So the 4,959 metres of Santerno track will host what could very well be the decisive challenge between the only two hopefuls for the World Superbike title.

The team from Veneto will entrust its only RSV4 to the four time world champion Max Biaggi. Leon Camier will not be able to participate as he is convalescing after surgery on his right wrist, injured in a crash during the German weekend on the Nurburgring. The English rider is hoping to be back on the track for the last round of the season, at Magny Cours in France.

Max Biaggi has no doubts "As I already said, at Imola I will be a reckless book keeper. I'll battle without ever holding back but, at the same time, always bearing in mind the rankings situation and the importance of every single point. Experience teaches me that, to win the World Championship, I need to be constantly focused, never leaving anything to chance. This is why, even more than the other weekends, it will be so important to find the best setup right from the first practice. Imola is a track with a few too many bumps, so we'll have to work hard to stay in the positions that count."

The Imola round is also the venue for an important initiative which ties Aprilia Racing to AMREF. Habitual success and consistent joy over sports victories must not make us forget about our commitment to solidarity with those who continue to suffer. This is why Aprilia Racing and the Piaggio Group have decided to share a season rich with satisfaction with those who are less fortunate, hosting the AMREF logo on the body of the RSV4 bikes used in World Superbike 2010 by Max Biaggi and Leon Camier.

The African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF) is the main non profit health organisation on the African continent. Established in Nairobi in 1957 by three surgeons, today it has more than 800 people on staff in Africa (97% of whom are Africans) and manages about 140 health development projects in Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda with the active participation of the communities, personnel and local health systems.

In half a century of activity, AMREF has aided, treated and trained millions of people. Almost 90 percent of the funds raised by AMREF Italy come from support from private individuals, events and exhibits and from cooperation with selected companies. There are more than 120,000 AMREF Italy supporters, among which are well know individuals from the art, culture, show business and sport world.

In kicking off this cooperation Aprilia Racing intends to contribute - thanks to the visibility of its sports activity on a worldwide level - to increasing awareness and esteem for AMREF's work. Because in solidarity, just like in a race, we must never stop.




More, from a press release issued by Honda:

Italian World Superbike at Imola
Tuesday September 21 2010
World Superbike and World Supersport preview 4.936km circuit

REA TARGETS MORE WINS AS SOFUOGLU AND LAVERTY SLUG IT OUT

Jonathan Rea's rich seam of form on his Hannspree Ten Kate Honda has seen him post six podium finishes in the past six races, including two wins, making him the form man in the Superbike World Championship right now.

His latest results, a win and a second place at the Nürburgring earlier this month, have seen him move to within 51 points of second place runner Leon Haslam. Jonathan has now extended his advantage over fourth place runner Carlos Checa to 64 points.

Jonathan has tested the CBR1000RR Honda at Imola this year, as part of a two-day official tyre evaluation session held after the Misano round in June. He was in the top four ranking in terms of best lap times, heading up most of his main rivals.

In the Supersport World Championship the big fight will once more feature the only two riders who can win the championship now, leader Kenan Sofuoglu (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) and Eugene Laverty (Parkalgar Honda). Laverty is now 12 points behind Sofuoglu, meaning that even if he wins both remaining races, and Kenan finishes second each time, Sofuoglu will win the championship by two points. Sofuoglu was the fastest WSS rider in the summer tyre tests sessions at Imola, an event that Laverty's team did not attend.

Superbike rider Max Neukirchner (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) is a big fan of the Imola circuit, and was also a rider to be able to test there after the Misano round. The German competitor has had a tough season in 2010, and is looking to break into the top ten places again.

Local man Fabrizio Lai will once more ride for the ECHO CRS Honda Superbike team, with his home round providing motivation to make only his second career World Superbike race a memorable one.

Gino Rea (Intermoto Czech Honda) made a real breakthrough in the WSS class at the previous round in Germany, taking a close second place just behind Laverty until he was excluded from the results for a technical infringement. He now knows, however, he can run at a true competitive pace, and is out to repeat that level of performance at Imola.

Michele Pirro from the Hannspree Ten Kate Honda team arrives back home in Italy for the Imola race after running a one-off race for the Gresini MotoGP team in Moto2 at Aragon. Pirro is still battling the effects of a lingering wrist injury, but scored a top eight finish last time out in WSS in Germany.

Intermoto Czech Honda rider Massimo Roccoli is looking forward to some kind of repeat of his strong raceday showing at Imola in 2009, where he was running in fifth before being forced out of the race. He has had changeable fortunes so far in 2010; from a top six finish in the first WSS race in Australia to two non-finishes, at Valencia and Kyalami. Now recovered from an illness that plagued him last race weekend, he is looking for a season-best ride at home.

Miguel Praia, from the Parkalgar Honda Supersport team, was unlucky to crash and then remount to finish 13th at the Nürburgring round, but his general rate of progress has been at career-best levels recently. Now 13th in the points' rankings, he is only six points from Pirro in eighth place, meaning the midfield battle cannot fail to be an intense one again in Italy.

The final round of both Superbike and Supersport Championships take place at Magny-Cours the weekend after Imola, with raceday on Sunday 3 October.

WSBK Rider Comments

Jonathan Rea, Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR: "I've been enjoying myself on the Isle of Man since that good weekend in Germany, which made it six pretty good races in a row. I'd really like to carry on that podium run at Imola this weekend, although the races last year weren't so good. But we worked on a new area of the bike during the Imola test in the summer we really thought outside the box and made some pretty good progress. We'll start with something between that and the Nürburgring settings on Friday morning and work methodically from there, without getting carried away. Then, I hope, we'll be there or thereabouts come Sunday morning."

Max Neukirchner, Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR: "Imola is a very special place, a great circuit to ride and a lot of history. But my memories here until this year are not so good. However, we were able to find quite a good way forward on the second day of our test here in July, so we will start from that position and try to move forward from there. I cannot deny that I was quite upset after a crash in the first race at Nürburgring that was followed by a very different tyre in race two; it made the weekend very difficult. But I am feeling positive again now and I am determined to enjoy the last two races of the season as much as possible and get the best results that I can for the team."

Fabrizio Lai, ECHO CRS Honda CBR1000RR: "I'm very happy to run for the first time in Italy in WSBK. We should work hard to find a good set-up and try to put in as many laps as possible to improve the feeling with the bike. The goal is to score points and I am convinced that the team will do everything to help me."

WSS Rider Comments

Kenan Sofuoglu, Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR: "I have been training hard in very hot weather to prepare for this race in Imola. It's been a very good season so far and now we are getting towards the end, so we want to keep it going. Imola is one of my favourite circuits and I was able to get a very fast lap time during our test their in July so I am really looking forward to the weekend. I really want to go for another win in Imola so that there is not so much pressure in the last race at Magny-Cours. However, we all know that it will be very tough and that we need a lot of luck in Imola to make it happen the way we want."

Eugene Laverty, Parkalgar Honda CBR600RR: "This will be a very important weekend between me and Kenan. He will be going in with the same attitude as me because I am closing in on him. He knows he needs to win, and I definitely need to win because I have absolutely nothing to lose after what happened in Germany. When Gino Rea got disqualified, I really could have done without that. I think this weekend will decide things, so I don't think Kenan is going to sit there and settle. There will be other factors at work this weekend, Gino and Broc Parkes should be strong again and Chaz Davies, he was good at Imola last year in his debut WSS race."

Michele Pirro, Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR: "My wrist has improved since the last race at Nürburgring and then I took part in the Moto2 race at Aragon for the Gresini Honda team. I enjoyed it very much and was happy to qualify on the second row ahead of Tony Elias! I was able to ride well in the race but my wrist became quite painful towards the end of the race so I couldn't get the result I wanted. Our test at Imola in July was not so bad so I will be trying really hard to get a good result at the weekend. I've had some problems this year, but I really want to end the season in a very good way."

Gino Rea, Intermoto Czech Honda CBR600RR: "It was disappointing to be excluded at the last race but I think we will be back up there at Imola. We had a good race in the previous round in Germany because we concentrated on making the rear tyre last for the whole race. I was glad that I could stay so close to the leader for the full race distance and want to repeat that this weekend."

Massimo Roccoli, Intermoto Czech Honda CBR600RR: "I would like to finish the last two rounds of the season in a good way. Last year at Imola I was going well but then I made a mistake and that ruined the result. I'm very focused on this weekend's race because I want to give all of my fans some satisfaction."

Miguel Praia, Parkalgar Honda CBR600RR: "Imola was my best race last year so I am very motivated, especially after my small crash at the Nürburgring and then only finishing 13th. That pushed me down the rankings a bit, so I want to put everything together again this weekend and move back up again. We had the speed in Germany and if it was not for the crash I could have been in the top places again. I like Imola, it was my best result of last year, and so I am going all out for a top five finish this time."




More, from a press release issued by Hannspree Ten Kate Honda:

Sofuoglu focused on Italian victory

With just two races remaining in the 2010 World Supersport championship, Hannspree Ten Kate Honda rider Kenan Sofuoglu is concentrating his efforts on another race win at Imola in Italy this weekend (24-26 September).

The Turkish ace, who leads the championship standings by a slender 12 points from fellow Honda rider Eugene Laverty, has finished on the podium in every round this season, with three wins, five seconds and three thirds from the 11 rounds to date.

However, Sofuoglu knows that he cannot allow his concentration to slip for a moment if he is to realise his dream of regaining the World Supersport title that he won with the Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR in 2007.

His team-mate, Michele Pirro, will enjoy a third race of the season in his home country of Italy, and the 24-year-old will be aiming to add to his solitary World Supersport podium, achieved at the Portimao, Portugal round six months ago.

Pirro is still regaining the strength in the wrist that he broke in a crash at Brno, Czech Republic in June. However, his recovery to full fitness was given a thorough workout during last Sunday's Moto2 race at Aragon in Spain, where he rode as a replacement rider for the Honda Gresini team and finished in 14th place.

Kenan Sofuoglu

I have been training hard in very hot weather at home to prepare fully for this race in Imola. It's been a very good season so far and now we are getting towards the end, so we want to keep it going. Imola is one of my favourite circuits and I was able to get a very fast lap time during our test there in July so I am really looking forward to the weekend. I really want to go for another win in Imola so that there is not so much pressure in the last race at Magny-Cours. However, we all know that it will be very tough and that we need a lot of luck in Imola to make it happen the way we want.

Michele Pirro

My wrist has improved since the last race at Nurburgring but I took part in the Moto2 race at Aragon for the Gresini Honda team. I enjoyed it very much and was happy to qualify on the second row ahead of Tony Elias! I was able to ride well in the race but my wrist became quite painful towards the end of the race so I couldn't get the result I wanted. Our test at Imola in July was not so bad so I will be trying really hard to get a good result at the weekend. I've had some problems this year, but I really want to end the season in a very good way.

Gerrit ten Kate team owner

The plan for the weekend is simple: we would like to see Kenan win again in Imola and hope that Michele is fit and strong enough to help him wherever he can in order to bring the championship back to the team. It's good that Michele was on a bike last weekend in the Moto2 race at Aragon, b ut we know that Eugene Laverty will be a strong competitor again in Imola, so we will just have to see what happens.




More, from a press release issued by Hannspree Ten Kate Honda:

Rea seeks further podiums at Imola

Jonathan Rea heads to Imola in Italy this weekend (24-26 September) for the penultimate round of the 2010 World Superbike championship, hoping to maintain his current sparkling run of results.

The Hannspree Ten Kate Honda rider, who recently confirmed his commitment to the team for the 2011 season, has finished no lower than second place and taken two wins in the last six races including one at Nurburgring in Germany last time out securing an impressive points haul of 130 from a possible total of 150.

This rich vein of form has propelled him and his Honda CBR1000RR to within 51 points of second-placed rider, Leon Haslam, and the 23-year-old Rea has four races remaining in the 2010 season to overhaul his fellow-Briton.

Rea's team-mate Max Neukirchner re-visits the circuit where a testing crash his first ride back after breaking his leg earlier in the season at Monza in Italy curtailed his 2009 sea son.

However, Neukirchner took part in the tyre test at Imola in July of this year and was encouraged with changes to his bike's settings that allowed him to set improved lap times. The 27-year-old German is looking to end the 2010 season on a high, starting this weekend at the historic 4.933km Imola circuit.

Jonathan Rea

I've been enjoying myself on the Isle of Man since that good weekend in Germany, which made it six pretty good races in a row. I'd really like to carry on that podium run at Imola this weekend, although the races last year weren't so good. We've got a really good team spirit going now, and we worked on a new area of the bike during the Imola test in the summer really thought outside the box and made some pretty good progress. We'll start with something between that and the Nurburgring setting on Friday morning and work methodically from there without ge tting carried away. Then, I hope, we'll be there or thereabouts come Sunday morning.

Max Neukirchner

Imola is a very special place a great circuit to ride and a lot of history. But my memories here until this year are not so good. However, we were able to find quite a good way forward on the second day of our test here in July, so we will start from that position and try to move forward from there. I cannot deny that I was quite upset after a crash in the first race at Nurburgring which was followed by a very different tyre in race two; it made the weekend very difficult. But I am feeling positive again now and I am determined to enjoy the last two races of the season as much as possible and get the best results that I can for the team.

Gerrit ten Kate team owner

Jonathan has certainly shown in the last six races the very high potential that both he and the H onda CBR1000RR have together. His results have been very strong and we will try very hard to continue this form right to the end of the season. For Max, too, we hope that we can convert the form that he has shown in the practice sessions of the last two races into something that works on Sunday. We know what a good rider he is and hope that he can show this in the last few races of this season.




More, from a press release issued by Paul Bird Motorsports Kawasaki:

Kawasaki Racing Team embark to Imola

The young Kawasaki Racing Team duo of Tom Sykes and Ian Lowry return to their Ninja seats for the penultimate round of the Hannspree World Superbike Championship held at the atmospheric Italian circuit of Imola this weekend.

British born Sykes and Northern Irishman, Lowry celebrated the highest point scoring finishes of the season at the previous round in Germany and both riders aspire for similar results at the famous Italian circuit.

The Autodromo of Imola is located just south of Bologna and is set amongst the hub of Italian motorsport manufacturers. The circuit has the aura of greatness as well as tragedy having been the place of death of Ayrton Senna, and the heart stopping showdown of the 2002 World Championship between Colin Edwards and Troy Bayliss.


Having completed a successful test at Imola at the end of June, and both the 2010 and 2011 Ninja ZX-10R machines at Valencia last week, 25-year-old Sykes will start Friday's free practice on the mark. It's another first time outing for Lowry at the Imola track but the 24-year-old is once again excited about his opportunity to race in World Superbikes and is determined to better or match his previous twelfth place from the Nurburgring.

Round twelve kicks off on Friday 24September with Sunday's two 21-lap races on 26September. The final round of the thirteen-race Championship takes place the following weekend at Magny Cours in France on 1-3 October.

Tom Sykes: "I am looking forward to getting back to Imola because we had a positive test there a few months back and have a good base setting to work with come Friday. We know where we are at with the bike so we need to ensure that we take the settings from Germany on to Imola and ultimately achieve similar results. The team and I will be working on the balance between the settings we had in the test at Imola in June and where the bike is now, and hopefully we can ensure at least a top ten finish coming in to the second last race of the season. Imola is a bit like a British track in some ways, some very bumpy sections as well, so you have to concentrate hard. But I'm excited for the weekend ahead as Imola has a great atmosphere for the fans so let's hope we put on a good show."

Ian Lowry: "I have never been to Imola before so this will be another learning experience for me but I'm exciting about the challenge ahead and I very keen to get on track and get stuck into it again. The boys have been to Imola testing this year, and they said the bike was pretty good so at least I will have a bit of a head start with a base setting when I roll the wheels out on Friday. WSBK racing is still all new to me and I think the team are happy enough if I keep progressing like I have been the past few times I've ridden the ZX-10R. I'm feeling more and more confident the more time I have on the bike so it will be a great ten days ahead for me with the two races back-to-back. There are no slow riders out there in World Superbike, but I'll be hoping to better or match my past results and bring the bike home in the points!"