More than a numbers game
History on the horizon as WorldSBK takes on Magny-Cours
Riveting, electrifying and unpredictable: the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship is coming into its final three events of the season, with the final European round of the year taking place at the Magny-Cours venue for the Pirelli French Round. Whilst the championship is still to play for, Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) reaches his first opportunity to make it five WorldSBK titles on the bounce, but there’s plenty of fight left in Alvaro Bautista (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) and the rest of the opposition just yet.
Dogged determination and unrivalled resilience – Jonathan Rea would never have imagined wrapping the championship up at Magny-Cours after the first 11 races of the season. But that is the situation that the Northern Irishman finds himself in, as he goes in search of title number five at the technical French track. Having achieved the double at the track in 2018, Rea’s form at Magny-Cours is good in recent years: three more wins, three further poles and four other podiums. Can anyone topple the championship-elect?
34-year-old Alvaro Bautista is Rea’s nearest – and only mathematical – challenger in the race to the crown in 2019. Having never been to the Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours, Alvaro Bautista’s prospects of taking points away from Rea seem slim – although 2019 has already dealt the unforeseeable. “Until the mathematics say no, you have to fight” was what the Spaniard declared after his Race 2 win at Portimao and it is that mentality that will keep the fight alive. Will he rock up to another new track and put Rea’s championship celebrations on ice?
The battle for third place in the overall standings is still raging on behind the leading duo, as Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) heads teammate Michael van der Mark by just five points. Lowes may be under threat from his Dutch teammate if last year’s form is anything to go by, so it could swap around, with a van der Mark podium combined with Lowes’ 18th in Race 1 repeating itself. And should both of them find themselves further down the field, then the third-place race really is on.
Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) is fifth in the standings and has three podiums to his name at Magny-Cours, as well as his last pole position to-date coming at the circuit in 2015. Behind Haslam by just six points is Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing), with the 22-year-old Turkish rider aiming for a podium at a seventh different circuit of the season – will he better his eighth place from Magny-Cours last year? 19 points further back, Chaz Davies (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) will look to utilise his three wins at Magny-Cours in order to close in on the battle for third.
A tricky Portimao for the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team has left Tom Sykes right on the edge of the battle for third in the championship, as he is 66 points adrift of Alex Lowes. Sykes was a double winner back in 2013 at Magny-Cours, although BMW as a manufacturer have never achieved a victory. Sykes’ teammate Markus Reiterberger is still fighting for a ride in WorldSBK and heads to Magny-Cours in search of his first top ten since Imola. A best result of 12th at Magny-Cours will see the German rider keen to improve.
At last, it is a welcome return to action for Leon Camier (Moriwaki Althea Honda Team), who has been out of racing since his Tissot Superpole crash at Imola, back in May. The British rider has been undergoing an extensive rehabilitation programme which will see him back in action this weekend. He was a race leader at Magny-Cours for MV Agusta in 2017, although he was ninth for Honda last season in Race 2. Camier, if he passes a medical test, re-joins Japanese teammate Ryuichi Kiyonari, who has never scored points at Magny-Cours in WorldSBK.
The battle for the Independents may be being won by Toprak Razgatlioglu but there’s plenty of battles behind, as the GRT Yamaha WorldSBK riders of Marco Melandri and Sandro Cortese battle for top honours in their team. Melandri has only won once at Magny-Cours, back in 2014, although he has five other podiums to his name – the last one in 2017. Cortese on the other hand has only been there once and will hope to make it two consecutive front rows following his Portimao success.
Never discount other Independent riders either, such as Eugene Laverty (Team Goeleven), Jordi Torres (Team Pedercini Racing) and Leandro Mercado (Orelac Racing Verdnatura) – all of which have had an element of success at Magny-Cours in the World Superbike category. Will more lie ahead for them in 2019?
#FRAWorldSBK: More than a numbers game
WorldSSP title scrap set to continue at Magny Cours
The French circuit gets ready to set the stage for yet another exhilarating chapter of the 2019 WorldSSP title fight as the end of the season draws closer
Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours prepares to host what promises to be another exciting weekend of racing for the FIM Supersport World Championship. The 2019 season has seen WorldSSP offering incredible shows every weekend, with each lap of its races keeping the audience stuck to the screens as they wait to be treated to another thrilling and nail-biting last lap battle.
Heading to France as championship leader, Randy Krummenacher (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) knows that he has no room for mistakes in this crucial time of the year. The Swiss rider has been leading the standings from the first round of the year at Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit till now. He missed the podium just once in the UK, and with four wins, eight podiums and three Superpoles he has used consistency as his key weapon against the opposition.
But Krummenacher is not the only rider who has taken steady steps towards the title throughout all the season. His teammate Federico Caricasulo is only 10 points behind him with three wins, nine podiums – out on nine races – and three pole positions. It was Caricasulo to win at the ACERBIS Portuguese Round, remembering to the Swiss rider that it is still not the time to lower his guard. The championship is still open, and the Pirelli French Round will be another chapter of the 2019 teammates’ battle.
At the 11 Round of the season in France, eyes won’t just be on Krummenacher and Caricasulo, as local hero Jules Cluzel (GMT94 YAMAHA) is also part of the title contention. The Frenchman is currently third in the championship standings, 48 points behind the Swiss, which means that he is potentially part of the 2019 title charge.
Cluzel will look forward to putting on a strong performance at his home round, as well as his teammate Corentin Perolari. The GMT94 YAMAHA team will line up a third bike in France, with rising French star Maximilien Bau making his second WorldSSP appearance after Magny Cours last year.
Still chasing his first win onboard the Kawasaki ZX-6R, Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) arrives at Magny Cours after having taken his third back-to-back podium for 2019 in Portugal. The 2017 WorldSSP World Champion seems to have finally found his feet with the green machine of the Italian team, and at his home round the Frenchman will look forward to proving it again. On the other side of the Puccetti’s garage, Japanese rider Hikari Okubo will continue to aim for his first WorldSSP podium in his career.
After a promising start to their 2019 campaign, Thomas Gradinger (Kallio Racing) and Raffaele De Rosa (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) – respectively sixth and seventh in the overall standings behind the Kawasaki Puccetti Racing duo – had experienced some difficulties in the last events but they will both look forward to making a strong comeback at the front during the remainder of the season.
As the Pirelli French Round will be the last meeting to be held on European soil, we will finally know the name of the 2019 FIM Europe Supersport Cup Winner. Kyle Smith (Team Pedercini Racing) currently leads the way ten points ahead of both his rivals Michael Canducci (DK Motorsport) and Gaetan Matern (Flembbo Leader Team). With still 25 points left, the Brit will have to administrate his advantage to secure the 2019 title.
Alongside the regular 26 WorldSSP entries and Bau (GMT94 Yamaha), French stars Xavier Navand (Altogoo Racing Team) and Guillaume Pot (Team MHP Racing-Patrick Pons) are set to make a wildcard appearance at Magny Cours together with Hungarian rider Richard Bodis (PROMOTO Racing – BR94).
WorldSSP300: Will the WorldSSP300 championship be sorted out in France?
The complex and intricate layout of Magny-Cours assures that the battle really will be on in WorldSSP300 at the Pirelli French Round
The championship is on the line for World Supersport 300, as three riders go into the Pirelli French Round with the chance of becoming champion. However, only one can win it this weekend: Manuel Gonzalez (Kawasaki ParkinGO Team) has a 38-point advantage over Scott Deroue (Kawasaki MOTOPORT), and needs just a top four finish to secure the crown. However, this is WorldSSP300, where a top four finish is certainly easier said than done…
Manuel Gonzalez has shown that he has plenty of consistency in just his second full season in WorldSSP300. Three wins and two more podiums have seen him build up a 38-point lead over Deroue. A top four finish is all that is required for the Spaniard to take the title if his nearest rival wins, whilst there’s plenty of permutations if Deroue is second or lower. Gonzalez took a third on his first visit to the circuit in 2018; can he mount the podium again, and make sure Spain retains WorldSSP300 success?
He may have only taken his first win of the season at Portimao, but Scott Deroue won’t go down without a fight in WorldSSP300. The Dutchman has been twice-third in the standings at the end of the season and has been one of the more consistent riders in the class. However, bad luck in 2019 has seen Deroue on the back foot. Pole position at Magny-Cours last year could be his saving grace, although he retired. Deroue must take more than 14 points or more from Gonzalez to take the fight to the floodlights of Losail.
Defending champion Ana Carrasco (Kawasaki Provec WorldSSP300) must win at Magny-Cours and hope that Gonzalez is 14th or lower. She cannot afford to have anything less than a win at Magny-Cours if she is to take the championship down the final round of the season. Just eight points from the opening the opening two races and not taking advantage of Gonzalez and Deroue’s Donington Park issues have been pivotal. However, she clinched the championship at Magny-Cours last year, so all is not lost yet.
There’s no mathematic chance of Andy Verdoïa (BCD Yamaha MS Racing) winning the championship in 2019, so the Frenchman heads home to race for nothing but pride and glory. His two podiums of 2019 have come in the last three races, showing great improvement throughout the season. He leads the French charge as the field arrives at Magny-Cours, whilst also remaining in the battle for third place with Carrasco. Just 14 points behind Deroue, Verdoïa may even find himself improving to second, should events transpire against his rivals.
13 points behind Verdoïa is 2017 WorldSSP300 champion Marc Garcia, who is leading the battle for fifth position overall. The Jerez Race 1 winner jumped to fifth in the championship at Portimao and now sets his sights on bridging the gap to those ahead of him. On his last appearance at Magny-Cours, Garcia took victory from 11th on the grid, highlighting that anything is possible. One point behind Garcia is Victor Steeman (Freudenberg KTM Junior Team) whilst his teammate, Jan-Ole Jahnig, is just one point further back.
The battle for the remaining positions inside the top ten will likely be sorted out between four riders. Hugo De Cancellis (Team Trasimeno Yamaha) hopes to secure his eighth place with a strong performance at home, having not scored points since Jerez in June. Indonesia’s Galang Hendra Pratama (Semakin Di Depan Biblion Motoxracing) is one of just two riders in the top ten to not register a podium in 2019 – the other is Steeman. Hendra Pratama sits in ninth overall and is three points behind De Cancellis. Completing the top ten is Ukraine’s Nick Kalinin (Nutec – RT Motorsports by SKM – Kawasaki), who has been strong in the last two races. He is three points further back of Hendra Pratama. Two points behind Kalinin is Donington Park winner, Kevin Sabatucci (Team Trasimeno Yamaha).