Biaggi the man to beat at Brno
Thursday July 19, 2012
Max Biaggi’s extraordinary strike rate at the Brno circuit in the Czech Republic again has him as the man to beat when the 2012 World Superbike title visits there from July 27-29.
The factory Aprilia rider, 41, has 11 wins to his credit around the undulating 5.403km layout, including seven in grand prix racing and four in World Superbike competition – the first way back in 2007 on a Suzuki.
Since then, Biaggi has finished on the podium in seven of the eight WSBK races, including sharing wins in 2011 with Marco Melandri -- the man who currently stands the best chance of preventing Biaggi wrapping up a second WSBK title in three years.
The gap between the two riders is 48.5pts – akin to two race wins – with six rounds remaining, so the BMW-backed Melandri knows that he can’t afford too many slip-ups if he wants to keep the blowtorch on his countryman.
Not that Melandri’s a mug around Brno himself, with a 250 GP win in 2002 to go with last year’s WSBK success on a Yamaha. But BMW has made massive strides this year, so he’s confident he’ll be able to use his bike’s horsepower to maximum advantage and render past lean results for the German marque at Brno redundant.
“I really like Brno because it is a very fast and smooth circuit. The turns are not too fast, most of them are second gear corners and just a few times you turn in third gear,” said Melandri.
“However, you can use all the power of the engine between the corners. The layout is really good fun because it is up and down and the track is very wide.
“Last year I was successful there and I am confident for this race weekend. I think that our RR will work quite well on this track. I am excited about going there. The weather could be a little bit unstable, so we will see.”
Northern Ireland’s freshly married Jonathan Rea sits in third position, 17.5pts behind Melandri, and he’s one of six race winners so far in 2012 on his Honda. Following the last WSBK round at Aragon, Rea tied the knot with Australian Tatia Weston, who hails from Phillip Island.
Reigning world champion Carlos Checa (Ducati) and Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) follow close behind Rea in the standings, with Checa’s recent streaky run leaving him with very little margin for error if he wants to have any chance of retaining his title.
And Sykes has his own hurdle to overcome: Kawasaki hasn’t won at Brno since 1993, but the Yorkshireman will surely give himself every chance of snapping that drought with another strong qualifying performance.
Leon Haslam (BMW) and Eugene Laverty (Aprilia) will also fancy their chances of winning for the first time this year, and Italian Michel Fabrizio (BMW) has also been a regular Brno podium finisher in the past.
Sunday’s two races will be held over 20 laps.
*World Superbike, Rd9, live on Speed TV from 7:30pm (AEST) July 22
*Delayed highlights package on SBS nationally Sunday July 29 at 2pm (AEST). Check local guides for more information.
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