Sep 25

WorldSBK Preview: Match Point

Could we see Rea make history in France?

Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours is the location for Round 11 of the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship, and it could be the setting for a British rider to have his name permanently in the history books.

Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) could take the world title for the third consecutive season, a feat which has never been reached in the paddock. 17 corners twisting into 4.4km of French tarmac awaits the WorldSBK riders, and with 2017 crown on the line it is sure to be a round not to miss.

Two time world champion Rea has strong history around the circuit, securing the double victory in 2015 – both by over 2.8s. On top of this, his confidence will be sky high following his stunning performance last time out around the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve. With two pole positions to his name in France – 2011 with Honda and 2016 – he will hope to bring his strong feeling with the ZX-10RR to the circuit and as we have seen so far this season, a comfortable Rea is an unstoppable Rea. Seven top five finishes since 2009 puts the British rider with an advantage this weekend, but nobody said it will be easy.

Still nursing a broken finger following his huge crash Portugal, Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) will be looking to make his return to racing as he was forced to sit out of racing action just over a week ago. One of two riders who can stop Rea from taking the title, he will be hoping to get back out on track fully fit and with a good record around Magny-Cours, will be a serious contender for the victory depending on his fitness levels. The 31 year old took three back to back victories, from 2012’s race two to 2013’s race two, as well as holding the pole, race and circuit lap record. Since 2012 he has finished in the top four, and won’t be going down without a fight.

2016’s double race winner Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) will be looking to repeat the dominance last season, and following some slight updates made at the test last week he may be feeling more confident ahead of Round 11. Crashing out of race two at Portimao, the Welsh rider is 135 points behind Rea in the championship, but will continue to fight in France. With a varied past at Magny-Cours, it will be interesting to see Davies bring the fight to the green machines.

Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) has fond memories of the French circuit, as he took the victory back in 2014 with Aprilia in the rain. Despite only have 13 finishers, Melandri showed his stunning talent to take the victory which will no doubt add to his confidence ahead of the weekend. He has welcomed five podium finishes here throughout his career history, and as a 10 time podium finisher so far this season, it will be hard to keep him away from the Prosecco DOC.

Fresh from his first podium of the season, Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) heads to a circuit of which he has a stunning record around. Securing a top five result in every WorldSBK appearance he has made, the Dutch rider will be hoping some updates to his R1 made in the Portimao test, especially with regards to the swingarm, will allow him to continue the momentum he is starting to build into the final rounds of the season.

A stunning performance last time out in Portugal from Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) will no doubt boost his confidence into the 11th round of the season, but with a mixed record around Magny-Cours it will be another learning curve for the British rider. Each race Camier has finished here, he has done so in the top ten – including some top fours – and as the underdog in the series he is not one to forget about.

Making his return to the Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team, Davide Giugliano was present at the post-Portimao test in order to improve his pace in the WorldSBK series, working through the electronics on the CBR1000RR SP2. With some solid former results around the 4.4km circuit, the Italian will be hoping to get some solid results and build on the progress made with the new Fireblade.

Jordi Torres (Althea BMW Racing Team) heads to France off the back of a strong weekend in Portugal, which saw the Spanish rider secure two top six finishes.  Consistently finishing in the points around the Magny-Cours circuit in all four appearances in the World Superbike class, the rider from Rubi will be looking to use some updates found from the Portuguese test and hope for a strong finish to the season.

WorldSBK action kicks off at Magny-Cours on Friday 29th September, before the first championship battle ensues on Saturday for race one. All can be followed on the WorldSBK VideoPass.


#FrenchWorldSBK: One Man to Beat


WorldSSP: French homecoming
Mahias prepares for his home battle as the championship fight continues

As the FIM Supersport World Championship title fight heats up, the Pirelli French Round will hold even more importance for Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team), as he prepares to ride in front of his home crowd with the battle intensifying. Fans were treated to a stunning battle last time out in Portimao, and with the WorldSSP action returning to Circuit de Nevers Magny Cours, it promises to be an adrenaline fuelled weekend of action.

28 year old Lucas Mahias has put up a strong fight to the reigning champion Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) so far this season, and lost clinch of the world championship lead two weeks ago after he held his own in a strong battle in Portugal. Taking a stunning victory around the French circuit last season on board a Yamaha in the STK1000 class, the French rider also took home a WorldSSP trophy in 2015, so with the home advantage he will be a force to be reckoned with. Sitting just four points behind Sofuoglu in the championship standings, anything can happen in WorldSSP and Magny-Cours is the perfect setting for the drama.

After a tough start to the season, Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) has stepped up to the plate and is doing what he does best – win races. The five time WorldSSP champion is gunning for his sixth title and with a four point lead and a dazzling display of pure determination in Portugal, he will be a hard force to be reckoned with. However the Turkish rider will be hoping to improve on last season’s result as he was unable to score points in France after crashing out of the lead. But despite this he has only been off the podium on one occasion out of all seven races he has finished at Magny-Cours.  If 2017 has taught fans one thing, it’s to never count Sofuoglu out.

Home hero Jules Cluzel (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda) has won every WorldSSP race he has entered around Magny-Cours, but has been unable to secure a victory so far in 2017. Still in with a chance of battling for the title with three rounds remaining, the 28 year old sits 41 points behind Sofuoglu as he heads home. With four podium finishes so far this season, Cluzel could be in a strong position for spoiling some parties throughout the weekend.

Follow the WorldSSP action with the WorldSBK VideoPass as the battle for the championship continues, and see how the local fans cheer on their heroes.  All action begins from Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours from 29th September to 1st October.


Coppola looks to take the inaugural WorldSSP300 title
France welcomes the first chance to take the championship

Two rounds of the FIM Supersport 300 World Championship remain, and there is a chance for the World Title to be sealed in what has been an unbelievable debut season for the class. Heading to the historic circuit where history could be made, the 37 riders will be gunning for that all important race victory and slipstream. Four riders are in with a chance of taking the title, and following an emotional race victory from Ana Carrasco (ETG Racing) last time out in Portugal, there will be a lot of eyes on the WorldSSP300 class.

20 year old Alfonso Coppola (SK Racing) could secure the first ever WorldSSP300 title in France, as a season of intense racing begins to come to a close. With the pressure on his shoulders, it will be interesting to see if the the bLU cRU rider can produce the results he needs. Coppola has had two appearances around Magny-Cours in the European Junior Cup, with one podium finish and one DNF, but undoubtedly the experience will lend itself to him. Five podiums from seven races in 2017, the Italian has quickly become comfortable with his YZF-R3 and to win the title in France would be a dream come true. But with just one point advantage in the standings ahead of the race, he won’t take the crown without a strong fight from his rivals.

Spanish rider Marc Garcia (Halcourier Racing) was the man with the target on his back around Autodromo Internacional do Algarve, and is only one point behind Coppola in the title fight onboard his Yamaha. With four podium finishes so far this season, the Spaniard seems to have got into his stride in the latter stages of 2017. Notably fast, it doesn’t take Garcia long to learn the layouts of new circuits and he will be the man trying to stop Coppola on Sunday.

Early championship leader Scott Deroue (MTM HS Kawasaki) had a stunning start to his WorldSSP300 campaign, but a lull in the mid-point of the season meant he lost his grasp of the title lead. However some reasonably consistent results recently means he is still in with a chance of taking the title, as he sits in third position in the standings and 18 points off Coppola. With two opportunities of securing another podium remaining, Deroue will be putting his all in to the weekend.

Hoping to bounce back from a tough two rounds, Mika Perez (WILSport Racedays) sits in fourth position in the title fight, but is only 18 points from the top. Following the disqualification from the Lausitzring race and a tough outing in Portugal, the 17 year old is very much still in with a chance of the title but will need to produce a strong performance on his CBR500R. Three appearances in the EJC for Perez around Magny-Cours will mean he heads to France with some experience, and with results improving on each occasion for the Spaniard, he will be looking to find a strong early pace in the competitive class.

WorldSSP300 action begins on the 29th September until 1st October, and with the question mark over Coppola, you won’t want to miss the race at 14.20LT, all followed live on the WorldSBK VideoPass.


STK1000: Second chance
Rinaldi could secure the championship for the second weekend but will face stiff competition

Just two rounds of the European Superstock 1000 Championship remain in 2017, and the fight could go down to the wire as there are four riders who could take the title and are all split by 40 points. Boiling down to the final two rounds, there will be a hotly fought battle at the Pirelli French Round.  Last season saw home glory for Lucas Mahias in the class, but this year there is much more on the line – the title.

Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Junior Team) faces his second opportunity of securing the STK1000 title, after he was unable to hold off his rivals last time out in Portugal. With an eight point lead in the championship standings and two rounds remaining, it’s a close fight for the unpredictable series. Three victories and four podium finishes have led to Rinaldi to the title lead, but he has faced stiff competition with his Panigale R. Finishing in the top eight last year around Magny-Cours, the 21 year old has had some difficult races in France, but he won’t let this deter him. Taking the strong set-up he has found to Western Europe, will he be able to take the crown with one round remaining?

The man looking to stop Rinaldi is the blindingly fast Toprak Razgatlioglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing), who not only secured the victory around Portimao, but was also able to test the WorldSBK Kawasaki ZX-10RR in the Monday test. With a stunning victory on Sunday, Razgatlioglu treated fans to his typically dominant form which we have seen so often this season. Taking second position in last year’s STK1000 race with his Kawasaki, as well as the victory back in 2014 in the European Superstock 600 class, the Turkish rider will be a force to be reckoned with at Magny-Cours and could well put Rinaldi’s celebrations on hold.

Pata Yamaha Official STK1000 Team-mates Florian Marino and Roberto Tamburini are two men who could put a stop to Rinaldi or Razgatlioglu’s title celebrations. Frenchman Marino will face his home crowd fresh off the back of a podium finish in Portugal, and only finishing off the podium on three occasions this season, he has been quietly consistent. 22 points behind Rinaldi in the standings he is very much still in with a chance for the title, and with four top 12 appearances around Magny-Cours in the WorldSSP series, he is in with a good position onboard his YZF-R1. Italian team-mate Roberto Tamburini sits in fourth position in the standings and is 40 points behind his compatriot. With two top five positions in France in the STK1000 class, he will no doubt be able to work with his team-mate to secure some strong pace around the 4.4km circuit.

Follow the hunt for the championship charge in the ever unpredictable STK1000 series from 29th September to 1st October, with the WorldSBK VideoPass.

Pirelli French Round:

source: WorldSBK.com