SBK: Magny Cours preview – World Superbike, World Supersport, Superstock 1000, Superstock 600
Situated close to the towns of Magny-Cours and Nevers, the Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours (to give it its full title) is found in the centre of France and some 250 kilometres from capital city Paris. On no less than 15 occasions has it hosted the historic Bol d’Or motorcycle race and was also a home of Formula 1 car racing until 2008.
The track made its WorldSBK debut back in 1991 for a one-off event, then returned on the calendar twelve years later with a slightly revised layout of 4.411km (140m longer than the original one). Since then, Magny-Cours has been a permanent fixture on the Superbike World Championship calendar. Laid on flat terrain and consisting of a highly technical mix of long turns and tight corners, the circuit often witnesses changeable weather and rain, which makes for an extra challenge for teams and riders.
Last time out in Spain, Jonathan Rea became Great Britain’s fifth World Superbike Champion and the first from Northern Ireland, wrapping up the title in Race 1 at Jerez with five races still remaining in the 2015 season. Naturally, the attention now turns to the season-long struggle for runner-up spot between Chaz Davies and Tom Sykes.
There are just 22 points behind Davies (Aruba.it Racing-Ducati SBK Team) and Rea’s team-mate Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team). With 25 points available for race victory and a maximum of 100 still in play between now and the end of the season in Qatar, the pendulum could swing in either direction. Davies is the man with the momentum, having scored a highly impressive 140 of the last 150 points on offer from Laguna Seca, Sepang and Jerez, while Sykes has finished no lower than second in the championship for the past three years.
Things have settled down in the Manufactures’ race, too. Kawasaki needed to finish in the top eight in Jerez’s second race and it did, sealing the title for the all-green marque for the first time. What of the fight for second? One looks to Ducati, as its advantage of 78 points over last year’s Champions Aprilia is vast with only two rounds to go. Perhaps all will be looking over their shoulders for Yamaha, which will rejoin the paddock in 2016.
A notable question mark on the Magny-Cours line-up lingers over the second Aruba Ducati bike. Michele Pirro substituted for Davide Giugliano in Jerez, but Davies’ team-mate for the Fassi French Round is yet to be named. Elsewhere, Crescent and Suzuki head into their penultimate round of partnership as Markus Reiterberger returns as a One Event rider on the VanZon Remeha BMW. Also on the grid will be Polish representative Pawel Szkopek, riding a Yamaha YZF-R1 for the Szkopek POLand POSITION squad. Incidentally, this will not be 40-year-old Szkopek’s debut in World Superbike, as he rode four races in 2004 plus a further two in 2006; curiously, his best result to date came at Magny-Cours, where 11 years ago he rode a Suzuki to 13th position in Race 2.
After Free Practice and Tissot-Superpole across Friday and Saturday, Magny-Cours’ opening World Superbike race begins on Sunday at 10:30 local time (GMT +2). Follow each session as it unfolds via the official Twitter account @WorldSBK.
The Spanish Round of the 2015 Supersport World Championship will forever be remembered for the heavy crash that ruled Jules Cluzel out of contention this year. The Frenchman (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) sustained a broken left leg and dislocated right shoulder when he crashed at Turn 5 in the final seconds of Free Practice 2. His new quest is to recover and restart training ahead of winter testing prior to the 2016 season.
That leaves two riders in contention for the crown this year. Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) is the favourite; fresh from his pole position and victory in Spain, the three-time title winner of 2007, 2010 and 2012 leads New Yorker PJ Jacobsen (CORE’’ Motorsport Thailand) by 33 points with a maximum of 50 left on offer this season. This means a top two finish would automatically seal the title for Sofuoglu and, even if the Turk fails to finish the race, Jacobsen must still finish at least seventh to keep his hopes alive.
What cannot be decided at Magny-Cours is the Manufactures’ title. This will rage onto into the floodlit finale of Qatar. Kawasaki currently leads MV Agusta by eight points and Honda by 17, which means a triangular shootout is still on the cards.
Magny-Cours has been on the World Supersport calendar since 2003. Back then, Karl Muggeridge led home fellow Australian and that year’s World Champion Chris Vermeulen, while last year Jules Cluzel beat title winner Michael van der Mark by a massive 20 seconds.
Five riders will race in France as either One Event or Wildcard entries. Frenchman Cedric Tangre rides a Suzuki for Yohann Moto Sport, while Kallio Racing will field a Yamaha for Estonian Hannes Soomer. The other three riders in question also raced at Jerez: Frenchman Lucas Mahias (MG Competition, Yamaha) and Hungarians David Juhasz and Janos Chrobak (Schmidt Racing, Honda). Incidentally, Tangre and Mahias are the only two French representatives in the field following the 2015 departure of the aforementioned Cluzel.
The penultimate World Supersport race of the year will blast into life from 11:40am local time (GMT +2) on Sunday.
Lorenzo Savadori has garnered a reputation as a rider who attracts pure excitement and drama. Last year, he was leading at Magny-Cours and just half a lap away from the Superstock 1000 title when he crashed at the Nurburgring chicane. The ultimate honour went to Argentina’s Leandro Mercado, who has since stepped up to the World Superbike class.
Heading into France 2015, Savadori (Nuova M2 Racing – Aprilia) leads fellow Italian and season-long rival Roberto Tamburini (Team MotoxRacing – BMW) by 25 points. The maths are therefore simple. One single point for 15th position would guarantee the title for Savadori, while Tamburini needs to win the race and hope that his opponent fails to score. Sensationally, should the latter possibility come to fruition, Tamburini would beat Savadori by the slimmest of margins: they would be drawn level for points, race wins, second and third places, meaning Tamburini would win the Cup by virtue of being the latest race winner.
Coupling the overall situation with Magny-Cours’ tendency to deliver inclement weather conditions, one would not want to predict how events could unfold this weekend. Thickening the plot even further, the situation in the Manufactures’ standings is exactly the same, with Italy’s Aprilia enjoying a 25-point advantage over Germany’s BMW.
A trio of One Events entries make up the 37-rider grid. Alessandro Andreozzi again joins Italian compatriots Savadori and Kev Calia on a Nuova M2 Racing Aprilia, while Switzerland’s Bryan Leu will be piloting a Yamaha R1 for the Badan Yamaha IXS Racing Team. Last but not least, South African Andre Calvet rides for BWG Racing Kawasaki.
The showdown is here. Who will be crowned Superstock 1000 winner of 2015? The red lights go out on Sunday at 2:15pm local time (GMT +2).
Superstock 600 has been nothing short of brilliant this year. Even last season’s Champion Marco Faccani has acknowledged that the class has been more hard-fought, with some titanic scraps on offer. There is no hiding from the fact that Toprak Razgatlioglu has come out on top every time apart from Misano and Jerez (although he didn’t compete in the latter due to a broken collarbone), but the Turkish Champion has certainly had to fight hard at times.
The last two races have seen new winners in the category. At Misano the victor was Federico Caricasulo, while at Jerez fellow Italian Michael Ruben Rinaldi took the chequered flag. The former missed the Spanish round after dislocating as collarbone in practice and is now keen to get back into the action, as he challenges his compatriot for second position overall; with just one race to go, Rinaldi holds the runner-up spot by only 12 points.
In some ways, things have gone full circle. It was at Magny-Cours last year when the razzmatazz really began: Toprak stormed to his first win in his first race, while the top six riders were covered by less than one and a half seconds (Anthony Dumont was second from Niki Tuuli, Ilya Mikhalchik, Hugo Clere and Andrea Tucci). In stark contrast, Champion Faccani failed to finish the last race of the campaign as he retired two laps from home.
Two French riders are entering this weekend’s race as Wildcards and both are to be equipped with Yamaha R6 bikes; Alexandre Santo Domingues competes with Moto Team 95 Events, while Yvan Laetzig will race for Team Motorsport. The aforementioned Mikhalchik of the Ukraine runs as a One Event rider for the DS Junior Team, having carried World Superbike rider David Salom’s new outfit to its first points with the Kawasaki ZX-6R last time out in Jerez. Fellow One Event runners are Italy’s Rodolfo Oliva (Team MotoxRacing – Yamaha) and Portugal’s Pedro Barbosa (Team TARGET / FMP / UNIXIRA – Yamaha).
As ever, Superstock 600 kicks off the WorldSBK weekend as its race is staged on Saturday. The action will begin at 5:50pm local time (GMT +2).