Stop Pause, Press Play: WorldSBK is back
Riders are ready to take on the second half of the season
MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship is back following a six week long summer break, and with five rounds of the season remaining, the title fight is far from over. All eyes will be on home hero Stefan Bradl (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team), who makes his return to Lausitzring. Not forgetting Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team), who leads the standings as the series heads to Germany for the Prosecco DOC German Round and it won’t be an easy ride. With half of the season done and dusted, it’s time to head into the final stretch as the battle heats up.
Rea has only been off the podium on one occasion so far in 2017, a stunning feat from the Northern Irish rider and one which has seen him build up a championship lead of over 59 points ahead of team-mate Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team). Bouncing back from adversity in true champions style at Lausitzring last season, Rea was able to secure the win the wet race two following a race one crash. Setting some strong times in a mid-summer test back in July around the 4.255km circuit, the 30 year old has already been able to work on set-up at a circuit he has secured Kawasaki’s only victory around.
Second position in the championship standings, Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) will be looking to bring the fight to Rea in Germany as the British rider begins a resurge in the series following a steady start to the season. With two wins under his belt in the last three rounds, Sykes seems to have put some early season demons behind him and is certified as a serious title contender. With just one appearance around Lausitzring, the circuit supplied a mixed weekend to the Yorkshire-born rider, but with a two day test now under his belt he will be able to build on his base set-up and head into the weekend with the title on his mind.
Continuing to recover from the injuries sustained in Misano’s Race Two, Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) will hoping to recreate the stunning pace he found in the second half of last season, which saw the welsh rider win seven out of the final eight races of 2016. With four wins under his belt so far this season, following a solid summer test around Lausitzring, Davies will be back out and fighting to have his Panigale ready for a strong fight in Germany.
Ducati team-mate Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) will be hoping to repeat his heroics from Misano in the second half of the season, as the Italian secured his first victory since he made his return to the series. The Italian will make his debut around Lausitzring, but following a summer test in July, he feels he won’t be as much on the back foot, meaning he will be prepared to fight with an improved pace. With some experience behind him, it will be interesting to see how quickly he can get his Panigale to adapt to the circuit.
Fresh off the back of a stunningly dominant Suzuka 8 Hour win in July, Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) will be bringing the confidence built in Japan with him for the second half of the season. Fighting to bridge the gap to Kawasaki and Ducati, Lowes has already secured two podium finishes in 2017, and with the help of his team and Dutch team-mate Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team), the pair will be working hard to bring the strong pace with them to Germany.
Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) sits in eighth in the championship standings, and despite having a tough start to the season, has fought for top ten positions with a huge level of tenacity. Working hard on the Italian machine Camier has so far secured six top six finishes and heading to Germany, a circuit in which he finished both races in the top five last season, the only way is up for the Brit.
Still fighting off the heartbreak form Misano, Jordi Torres (Althea BMW Racing Team) will be taking the confidence built so far throughout the 2017 season into the second half. Knowing he can fight at the front of the pack – and benefitting from the new grid reshuffling rule – the Spanish rider will be hoping to have a solid end to the season and restarting the year at Lausitzring will no doubt benefit Torres, as he had a strong round last season.
Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) sits in tenth position in the championship standings and has had a testing return to WorldSBK so far, however the Irish rider certainly feels his British based squad have turned a corner with the RSV4 bike. Feeling a lot more upbeat over recent rounds, Laverty is starting to feel a lot more comfortable, and returning to some circuits which offered a lot of success in the past, he will be hoping to impress as he tackles the sweeping Lausitzring circuit for the first time.
It’s all change at Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team once again, as Davide Giugliano makes his return to the WorldSBK Paddock for 2017, riding in the place of Nicky Hayden. Testing for the team in July, the Italian was able to put in some solid laps, and it will be interesting to see how he gets on as he partners Bradl in Germany.