Who will win the battle of Barcelona as WorldSBK hits Catalunya?
Return of the wildcards, a debutant and a new challenger at the front as WorldSBK heads to Barcelona for the first time
A new track provides the challenge for teams and riders as the 2020 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship heads to the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya for the first time in the Championship’s history as the circuit hosts the Acerbis Catalunya Round. There was a brand-new winner last time out in the form of Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Team GOELEVEN) while Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) was able to extend his Championship lead to 36 points in the latest twist in the title race.
Riders were able to test at the circuit in the scorching summer heat and it was Rea who came out on top in that test ahead of Scott Redding (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati). Whilst Rea extending his Championship lead to 36 points throughout the Pirelli Teruel Round as he claimed three podiums, including one victory, he’ll be full of confidence heading into the team’s home round. Rea’s KRT teammate, Alex Lowes, battled a gastrointestinal virus throughout the Teruel Round to claim three top six finishes and will be looking to stand on the podium for the first time since the season-opening Australian Round, when he won Race 2.
Redding still lies second in the Championship despite losing ground to Rea following the Race 1 crash with the British rider bouncing back in perfect fashion in the Tissot Superpole Race to claim victory. Redding was strong in Montmelo during the test and will be hoping to continue that strong pace throughout the Catalunya Round. Chaz Davies (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) also had a tricky Teruel Round after a crash in Race 2; the British rider hoping to bounce back as he is in a fight for third in the standings and looking to move up the order at a track he and teammate Redding know well.
Toprak Razgatlioglu (PATA YAMAHA WorldSBK Official Team) currently heads the battle for third place after three top seven finishes at the Teruel Round, leading Davies by just six points. Razgatlioglu also showed strong pace during the test at Catalunya, dicing it out with Redding at the top of the timesheets, giving the Turkish sensation confidence he can get back on the podium. Teammate Michael van der Mark is also in the battle for third with the Dutchman hoping he will be able to stand on the podium again, having last been there during the Aragon Round’s Superpole Race.
Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Team GOELEVEN) has hauled himself up the Championship standings after a stunning Teruel Round where he claimed his first WorldSBK victory and podiums, moving up to sixth in the Championship ahead of Lowes, just two points behind van der Mark. The Italian rider will be looking to continue his form as his grip strengthens on the position of top Independent rider. In the fight with him for that is Loris Baz (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha), as the Frenchman aims to be at the sharp end at a track he knows well after a tricky Teruel Round left him just ninth overall.
Spanish rider Alvaro Bautista (Team HRC) lies in eighth place in the Championship after Honda appeared to make a step forward recently, allowing both him and teammate Leon Haslam to fight inside the top five. Haslam secured his best result of the season at MotorLand Aragon with fourth place whilst Bautista aims to rekindle strong, top ten form captured at Catalunya in his MotoGP™ days; could this be one of Honda’s best showings of the year? Another team that tested at the circuit, Team HRC are eager to continue their forward momentum.
Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) and teammate Eugene Laverty were able to bounce back from a challenging Aragon Round with top ten finishes at the Teruel Round. Laverty himself took a best of eighth in the first race and has lots of experience in Barcelona from his GP days. Sykes was quick in testing and hopes to be there again come racing.
Back to the battle of the Independent teams, one outfit that had a strong Teruel Round was the GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Junior Team with Federico Caricasulo and Garrett Gerloff, both securing top ten finishes at MotorLand Aragon, with the duo looking to continue that recent form into the Catalunya Round. Maximilian Scheib (ORELAC Racing VerdNatura) had a promising showing in Teruel and hopes to build, Takumi Takahashi (MIE Racing HONDA Team) aims for more points and Sylvain Barrier (Brixx Performance) hopes that the level playing field of Montmelo will help him be in contention.
Christophe Ponsson (Nuova M2 Racing) returns to WorldSBK after opting to miss the Teruel Round; the sole Aprilia runner in 2020 skipped the second MotorLand Aragon event as part of his wildcard appearances while MotoGP™ podium achiever Jonas Folger (Bonovo Action by MGM Racing) will make his WorldSBK debut with a wildcard appearance onboard a Yamaha machine. The final bit of housekeeping is that Marco Melandri has left the Barni Racing Team and Samuele Cavalieri will make his first appearance of the year for the team in WorldSBK, stepping over from the CIV series.
#CatalanWorldSBK: Hola Barcelona!
Championship Standings after Race 2, Round 5
1. Jonathan Rea (GBR) Kawasaki (243 points)
2. Scott Redding (GBR) Ducati (207 points)
3. Toprak Razgatlioglu (TUR) Yamaha (147 points)
Strike 1: Andrea Locatelli’s first chance of the WorldSSP title
The first ever Catalan Round of the World Supersport Championship could see history in the making as Andrea Locatelli aims to wrap up the Championship with ease
The 2020 FIM Supersport World Championship has been a whirlwind of records and achievements and already, in the Acerbis Catalunya Round, we could be about to welcome our first Champion of the shortened season. Andrea Locatelli’s (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) chances of clinching it this weekend are high, especially as Jules Cluzel (GMT94 Yamaha) won’t ride after his Teruel crash with Raffaele De Rosa (MV Agusta Reparto Corse), so let’s preview the first ever weekend of racing at the track and find out what we can expect.
Running away at the front of the field, Andrea Locatelli’s masterful campaign continued with a ninth consecutive win of the year in Teruel’s Race 2. He’s now the rider with the most WorldSSP wins in a single season, and there’s still six more races left to run. He’s re-writing the record books with every corner and if he leaves Catalunya with a lead of 100 points or more, he’s done it. With Cluzel not riding, Locatelli must win Race 1, outscore Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) by 19 points and score more points than Mahias’ teammate Philipp Oettl to be Champion. So long as he leaves the round with 100 points as his advantage, then he’s done enough.
Second in the Championship but with a lower left leg fracture and out, Jules Cluzel (GMT94 Yamaha) can do very little but hope Locatelli scores less than 21 points this weekend. The Frenchman looks set to be the bridesmaid again in World Supersport and will be replaced this weekend by WorldSSP winner Kyle Smith. Behind him by 27 points is fellow countryman Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing), and the 2017 WorldSSP Champion hopes to close in on Cluzel whilst the #16 is absent.
Fourth overall in the standings and 19 points behind teammate Mahias, Philipp Oettl has experience around the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya and hopes that it will give him some advantage over the opposition. Having said that, Oettl only has one top ten finish to his name at Catalunya and that came back in 2015 in the Moto3™ World Championship, so he’ll hope to be a bit more competitive this weekend. Completing the top five and nine points behind Oettl in the standings is Raffaele De Rosa, who will start Race 1 from pitlane after his collision with Cluzel at Aragon. De Rosa was ninth in the 250cc GP in 2009 and hopes he can have good race pace to pick his way through the field.
Just three points behind De Rosa is Corentin Perolari (GMT94 Yamaha), who has suffered a slump in form recently at MotorLand Aragon, with two seventh places being the highlight of the Frenchman’s last two weekends. He takes to Catalunya for the first time and will hope to make hay whilst the sun shines, especially given De Rosa’s pitlane start. Isaac Viñales (Kallio Racing) was back on the podium at MotorLand Aragon and would like to back it up at home in Barcelona and close in on Perolari.
Eighth place in the standings belongs to Steven Odendaal (EAB Ten Kate Racing), who suffered a first DNF of the season in Race 1 from Teruel; he is five points back of Viñales’ Yamaha. Ninth and tenth in the standings belong to reigning WorldSSP300 Champion Manuel Gonzalez (Kawasaki ParkinGO Team), just three points behind Odendaal, and Hannes Soomer (Kallio Racing), who is 21 behind Gonzalez. Britain’s Danny Webb (WEPOL Racing Team) and the James Toseland-managed team continue to climb up the order in 11th place; Webb aims to be the first British rider to achieve five consecutive top ten finishes in WorldSSP since Kyle Smith in 2018. Peter Sebestyen (OXXO Yamaha Team Toth) is also in form, following seventh and a career-best sixth in Teruel.
Championship Standings after Race 2, Round 5
1. Andrea Locatelli (ITA) Yamaha (225 points)
2. Jules Cluzel (FRA) Yamaha (146 points)
3. Lucas Mahias (FRA) Kawasaki (119 points)
New circuit, new challenges: WorldSSP300 heads to Catalunya for the first time
A brand-new venue awaits the grid as WorldSSP300 prepares to race at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya for the very first time
The FIM Supersport 300 World Championship ventures to a new circuit with the Championship heading to the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya for the Acerbis Catalunya Round. A new circuit provides new challenges for riders up and down the grid and the battle for WorldSSP300 glory could take more twists and turns.
Jeffrey Buis (MTM Kawasaki MOTOPORT) heads into the inaugural Catalunya Round as the form rider having taken three wins in the last four races; with second place being the Dutchman’s lowest result in the four races. Having collected 95 points from a possible 100 during the two rounds at MotorLand Aragon, Buis heads the Championship by 12 points. On a track the 18-year-old has not yet raced at, will Buis be able to keep up his current form and retain his Championship lead?
Buis’ MTM Kawasaki MOTOPORT teammate, Scott Deroue, lies second in the Championship with the duo the only two riders to have scored more than 100 points so far in 2020. Deroue has secured five podiums so far in 2020, with one victory, with the Dutchman showing incredible consistency so far this season; Deroue’s lowest finish when he has finished the race has been fourth and he’s scored in seven of the eight races so far.
Behind Deroue and Buis lie three riders separated by just one point with Bahattin Sofuoglu (Biblion Motoxracing Yamaha WorldSSP300) sitting in third place on 98 points. The Turkish rider claimed victory in Race 1 for the Pirelli Teruel Round at MotorLand Aragon as well as a third-place finish in Race 2; the Turkish rider seemingly back on form after two retirements at the Prosecco DOC Aragon Round.
Unai Orradre (Yamaha MS Racing) is level on points with Sofuoglu heading into the Catalunya Round with the Spanish rider having already stepped onto the top step of the podium in 2020. Orradre has been securing consistently in 2020, with only one non-score and seven top-seven finishes to his name. However, Orradre has not been able to stand on the podium since Race 2 at Portimao. Will he be able to return to the rostrum throughout two races in Montmelo?
2018 Champion Ana Carrasco (Kawasaki Provec WorldSSP300) is just one point behind Sofuoglu and Orradre in the Championship in fifth place but suffered a crash while testing recently; the Spanish rider receiving treatment for two fractured vertebrae. Thomas Brianti (Prodina Ircos Team WorldSSP300) completes the top six in the Championship as he sits on 80 points, 17 behind Carrasco in fifth. The Italian rider will be looking to continue his run of top ten finishes going having not finished lower than tenth in all eight races across 2020. Brianti will be looking to go one step further than his best result of second and claim his maiden WorldSSP300 victory and close the gap to those ahead of him in the Championship.
Championship Standings after Race 2, Round 5
1. Jeffrey Buis (NED) Kawasaki (127 points)
2. Scott Deroue (NED) Kawasaki (116 points)
3. Unai Orradre (ESP) Yamaha (97 points)