Marco Melandri is back in the title run for the 2013 World Superbike championship after taking a victory and a second place in today’s double header at the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza.
The Italian rider had a slow beginning at the the season which wasn’t helped by lingering shoulder issues that required surgery, and some confidence issues with his BMW S1000RR, but scoring his first victory of the season and in his home race has given the BMW Goldbet rider a big boost as he is now fourth in the standings.
Melandri said, “It was an unbelievable day for me. To finish first and second here in Monza is just awesome and it feels great after we had a difficult start to the season. Race one was unbelievable. I knew that my race pace was quite good, even if we struggled a bit in qualifying. When we started, I knew that it would be very tough until the last corner. When Eugene passed me on the last lap, I thought it would be impossible to pass him back again, because he was very good in the turns and he was pulling away. But in the last corner I was quite close, I knew that I could go a little bit faster than the others and so I overtook him and, even though I was a little bit wide, I kept full throttle until the finish line. Until the chequered flag, I was talking to my RR, telling her ‘go, go, go’ - that was incredible.
In November of 2010 former BMW riders Troy Corser and Leon Haslam got a chance to use BMW’s wind tunnel to optimize their riding positions, and so did Marco Melandri last year, and and Aragon winner Chaz Davies also got the same opportunity following the Assen round where he salvaged a 7th and 5th place after a tough Superpole and destroying his bike during warm-up.
The BMW Motorrad factory rider spent the afternoon in the wind tunnel of the BMW Group working on aerodynamically optimizing his riding position on his BMW S1000RR ahead of the fourth round of the season at the highspeed Monza circuit that takes place on May 12th.
With simulated speeds up to 240 km/h, Chaz, who stands at 1.83 metres tall, tried several different positions and body angles in order to find the ones that minimise the drag as much as possible.
“It was a really interesting afternoon”, said Davies. “When testing on a track, you try new development parts and different settings but you are not working on your body. So it was great to experience in a stable environment with my riding position, to move myself around on the bike, to have elbows and shoulders in different positions and to then see in the data what difference it makes. I have learnt that I have to try and get myself inside the bike sooner on the exit of the corner in order to reduce the drag and be faster on the straights. It was good to see what difference that will make if we can improve that for the next race. Especially on a track like Monza, the aerodynamic efficiency is very important because every lap we are wide open for much longer than any other circuit on the calendar. Having the right riding position helps me to make best use of the powerful BMW engine on the straights.”
Tom Sykes regained the top of the timesheets during this afternoon’s second and final free practice at Assen. The Kawasaki rider was the fastest rider of the session posting a flying lap in 1′36.649 early on, and shaving off almost two tenths from Q2 but unable to better himself in the finale in what was a tight practice.
The weather held up and there was no rain, but the cold at the Dutch circuit was pungent and with these conditions the second fastest rider was Sykes team mate Loris Baz who was just 0.094s adrift.
Chaz Davies seems to have solved his front end chattering problems that kept him down in 9th for most of the practice as his last flying lap propelled him into third and little more than a tenth from the leader of the session.
Following Davies was Jonathan Rea, and Carlos Checa who made a big jump forward on his lap times taking off almost eight tenths of second from this morning’s QP2 while Althea Aprilia’s Davide Giugliano posted the exact same time as the Spaniard, in 1.37.029 and he was faster than the Aprilia Factory duo Eugene Laverty and Sylvain Guintoli, who were 7th and 8th respectively.
Leon Camier proved that if he hadn’t had technical problems in this morning’s qualifying, and not withstanding his knee issues, he would have been part of the Superpole line-up as he was 9th fastest and a little less than seven tenths from Sykes.
Closing out the top ten was the fourth Aprilia ridden by Michel Fabrizio. Marco Melandri was just 11th and one second off pace struggling with rear grip problems.
The only crasher of the session was Ayrton Badovini who suffered a very mean highside that sent him tumbling through the gravel, repeatedly hitting his head and neck and shoulders several times. At the moment it’s unkown whether Badovini will be able to take part in this afternoon’s Superpole.
In less than 24 hours the third round of the World Superbike season will start at the Dutch circuit of Assen. BMW Goldbet riders Chaz Davies and Marco Melandri will be heading to the historic track, with Davies wanting to build on his double victory at Aragon two weeks ago that propelled him to second in the standings, making him a challenger for the title, now that he is comfortable with his bike which has improved in electronics and engine.
Marco Melandri is a different story. The Italian rider was expected to be a title favorite however is still battling with shoulder problems following his surgery late last February. While he seems confident that his problems should not repeat themselves at Assen, Melandri did reveal to GPone.com that his doctor advised him that he needs total rest in order to give his shoulder time to heal.
The BMW rider said that he hasn’t the time and needs to work out in order to build up strength and mobility, but he is suffering from stabbing pain and a burning sensations that wake him up so he is forced to take pain killing shots and anti-inflammatory drugs.
Chaz Davies’ weekend at Motorland Aragon was almost all firsts, he scored his maiden front row start and then went on to win both races, giving his BMW Motorrad Goldbet team their first double victory of the season and moving up to second in the championship standings just 22 points from Sylvain Guintoli, making him now a strong championship contender.
“For me it is just an amazing day. I cannot explain how happy I am. What a weekend! My first victory with BMW and then the double win - this is something I was hoping to achieve this year but I did not expect it to happen this early. I want to thank BMW and everybody who supported me. I knew coming here that we are going to be strong. BMW has done a fantastic job over the last month we had off since Australia, and everybody was working very hard. In addition, I now really feel that the RR is mine, I feel so comfortable on it. In race one, the DNFs by Tom and Eugene definitely made it easier. In race two it seemed that I had a comfortable lead, but to be honest I had to push a lot. One of the most impressing things is the fact that we have done a lot of testing in Jerez but not here in Aragón, where nearly everybody else has been. So to win with that up against us, is quite impressive and it is credit to the work BMW has done. We will now keep being focused, continue to work hard and look forward to Assen, another race track I really like,” said Davies.
Marco Melandri’s weekend at Aragon was an uphill struggle, chatter on his BMW S1000RR kept him from qualifying well - he was 8th - that his team only resolved in warm-up practice. In race 1, despite clawing his way to a provisional second place, Melandri hit a neutral on his bike that dropped him back to fifth and he finally recovered two positions to take a third place podium. In race 2, a wrong tire choice - temperatures were higher as were lap times - consigned him to a fifth place.
“After race one I was still pretty happy. At the start I wasn’t very comfortable with the front end and I made a big mistake trying to catch the guys in front of me at the end of the main straight. After that I got into a good rhythm and improved into second place. I thought that would be my position in the end but unfortunately the bike went into neutral between third and second gear. But I finished in third place which was not so bad for me. In race two, based on my experience with the 16.5 inch tyre, I chose a harder tyre for the front. But with the 17 inch tyre, it worked differently to how I expected. I had less grip and could not ride properly. In the beginning I pushed very hard, but then I preferred not to risk too much. For me, it wasn’t the best weekend. I had no pain in my shoulder, but by the end of the race I had no strength left in my arms. I am looking forward to the next race in Assen, when we will be in a better shape. Congratulations to Chaz. He rode awesome – well done!” commented Melandri, who is now fourth in the standings.
Chaz Davies snared another impressive victory in race 2 at the Motorland Aragon circuit. The BMW Motorrad Goldbet rider once again cruised to his second win (his third in WSBKs’) in another drama packed race that began on the starting grid.
After lining up after the sighting lap, Jules Cluzel’s Suzuki abruptly died bringing out the yellow flags and while he was being removed from the grid, Loris Baz decided to turn off his engine, because he thought he saw a red flag, and the entire starting procedure had to be done again and the race shortened by one lap. A very angry Baz (he pushed one of his mechanics) was forced to start from the back grid (he would then be investigated by the Race Direction) while Cluzel had to start from the pitlane.
Eugene Laverty again got the holeshot, but he would highsideout of the race due to a cold tire after just two turns in a weekend to forget for the Aprilia rider who would lose his championship leadership to his team mate Sylvain Guintoli who took a second place podium for the second time and considering the problems he had all weekend long will no doubt leave the Spanish circuit counting his blessings and the errors of the other riders.
The first race of the second round of the 2013 World Superbike season was full of technical drama for the podium favourites, Eugene Laverty and Tom Sykes who both suffered from technical issues just a few laps into the race that was won by a highly impressive and fast Chaz Davies who took his second Superbike victory of his career.
The race start was slightly delayed as Mark Aitchison’s Effenbert Liberty Ducati died on the starting grid and had to be pushed off to the pitlane. Once the lights went off, Aprilia’s Eugene Laverty got the holeshot ahead of polesitter Tom Sykes, followed by an aggressive Chaz Davies who immediately began nosing around Sykes and the two began exhange paint during lap 2. While Sylvain Guintoli kept his nose clean trying to follow the two battling riders, as Laverty tried to put as much space as possible between himself and the rest of field, while a struggling Marco Melandri dropped to eighth after an error.
During lap 4 while he was leading, Laverty ran slightly wide and his Aprilia began losing power dropping him to the penultimate position and then he was forced to return to his garage to discover what the issue was - he would later rejoin just to test his Aprilia, but his race was irreparably compromised.
Eugene Laverty was the fastest rider in this afternoon’s first World Superbike qualifying practicing at Aragon. The Aprilia rider saved his best effort for his last flying lap, pipping BMW’s Chaz Davies as the chequered flag was being waved ending the first timed session.
Laverty topped the timesheets with a best lap of 1.58.548 just 0.030s short of Marco Melandri’s FP1 lap time. Chaz Davies was second and 0.104s adrift and followed by Tom Sykes who was once again led most of the session until the final minutes.
Marco Melandri was fourth unable to match his morning lap time, but he was still under the 1.59 benchmark. Jonathan Rea moved up to fifth and shaving off more than nine tenths and he was closely followed by Aprilia’s Sylvain Guintoli and Leon Camier who dropped half a second from his best morning lap that put him in seventh, but he suffered a crash early in the session, hurting his knee that will require stitches. Fix Crescent Suzuki team mate Jules Cluzel was just behind him as was Kawasaki’s Loris Baz who was the last rider to be within a second from Laverty. Davide Giugliano closed out the top ten, while recovering Alstare Ducati riders Ayrton Badovini and Carlos Checa were just 12th and 14 respectively and their Panigales are losing almost 18km/h in top speed compared to the Aprilia RSV4s.
This morning’s World Superbike’s first free practice at Motorland Aragon ciruit in Spain was under cloudy but dry skies, with BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK Team’s Marco Melandri and Chaz Davies both pipping Tom Sykes in the dying seconds of the session, demoting the Kawasaki rider to a distant third.
Melandri’s last lap blistering lunge put him on top of the timesheets with a 1’58″510, just mere seconds after his team mate briefly conquered the top of the charts with a 1’59″041 lap. Melandri was the only rider to go under the 1.59 barrier during the session and left his BMW team mate more than half a second adrift, and his team tested at Jerez and not at Aragon like Kawasaki, Pata Honda and Fixi Suzuki last week.
The Italian’s stunning lap left Tom Sykes who lead most of the session over seven tenths adrift, followed by Phillip Island’s race 2 winner Eugene Laverty who more than 1.1 seconds down, while Leon Camier who has new Yoshimura Suzuki engine spec was fifth fastest. Pata Honda riders Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam were 6th and 7th respectively, and they are still struggling with the MotoGP Honda derived eletronics.
Loris Baz was eighth while Sylvain Guintoli who won race 1 in the first round ninth. Still recovering Carlos Checa was just 10th and more than two seconds adrift.
The Aragon round also marks the return of the controversial Effenbert Liberty Racing team with Mark Aitchison. The Australian rider who has no previous tests on the Ducati 1098R was 19th.
BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK Team completed two days of private testing at Jerez de la Frontera ahead of next week’s second round of the World Superbike championship at the Motorland Aragon circuit.
For Marco Melandri it was time to check out his physical fitness following his shoulder surgery that was performed at the end of February after the Phillip Island round and lamenting a slow recovery late last month, the Italian was able to complete 101 laps over the two days compared to the 74 that his team mate Chaz Davies did, despite wet and damp weather conditions that hampered testing.
The team used the two days at the track to further develop the electronic strategies and try new chassis parts and work on engine development.
“The severe pain that I suffered in my bone has gone so it was a good test for me. Obviously at the moment, I am still struggling as I am lacking power and flexibility in the shoulder, but now the muscle only hurts a little bit as it is still is recovering. It looks like I am on the way to full recovery. After the surgery and the long break, I used the test mainly to work on myself and we tried some different electronic strategies. Fortunately we were able to ride some laps in the dry today, even if the conditions were pretty difficult. Overall I am happy with the test because we found some good ideas for the future and I think we are doing a very good job,” said Melandri.
Chaz Davies was at Jerez testing electronics less than a month ago and here’s what the British rider said about this new test, “We have had the same weather that we experienced previously in Jerez, a combination of wet, mixed and dry conditions. What was following us in winter has now continued into spring. It was a bit frustrating as we only got two hours of dry time today, but we did a lot of work in the short space of time we had out on track. I had the chance to test a lot of different things. We evaluated some chassis components, worked again on the electronic strategy and on the power delivery. I think we can be pretty happy and head to Aragón in an optimistic mood. It has also been nice to ride in the week before the next race to stay fresh and now I am excited to get to Aragón.”