McCormick Shines in Portugal

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Brett McCormick was wise to stay home and not race with Liberty this year.
Brett McCormick had two great finishes on the weekend for Liberty.

The Effenbert-Liberty World Superbike team that Canadian Brett McCormick rides for has been in the news for all the wrong reasons this season – possible money problems, background sponsor-team issues, squabbles with the organizers, the best riders (at least in terms of results) all being released for dubious-sounding reasons.

But it seems that the team can still build a good motorcycle, and “the kid” is back in there swinging after a serious neck injury .

“The Kid” from Saskatoon recorded a superb pair of finishes in the WSB races at Portimao, Portugal Sunday September 23, a fifth and a ninth by far his best results ever in WSB, and a terrific follow-up on his best-ever qualifying, at 13th overall. Given the dubious weather conditions – heavy rain postponed events and the races were run in sketchy wet/dry condtions – McCormick’s performances are even more impressive.

Marco Melandri crashed again this weekend, further hurting his championship chances.

The chase for the championship got even more muddled, with Max Biaggi coming out on top of the mix after his nearest challenger Marco Melandri crashed his BMW (in what appeared to be a typical self-imposed penalty) and was injured badly enough to miss out on both races.

The mess in the wet/drying first race left Tom Sykes standing; with yet another pole the Kawasaki ace grabbed another victory in spite of his bike’s tendency to eat rear tires. Biaggi came in with a fourth, barely holding off McCormick.

In the second race, Biaggi’s team-mate Eugene Lavery grabbed the win, just ahead of Jonathon Rea on the Castrol Ten Kate Honda, with Biaggi coming in third.

Carlos Checa sits in fifth in the standings now.

With a fifth in this race, combined with a second in the first, 2011 champion Carlos Checa and his Althea Ducati proved that they’re hardly out of the mix despite a bad string of recent finishes. Paddock gossip says that both he and team-mate Davide Giugliano have signed with Ducati (or the Althea team, same thing, really) to ride the Panigale in 2013 despite Checa’s initial dislike of the bike in testing.

Some other “silly season” stuff was settled with the formal announcement that Leon Haslam would join Jonathon Rea on the Ten Kate Honda squad for 2013, with sponsorship from Italian snack manufacturer PATA. That settles Rea’s Moto GP aspirations for the moment, and removes one possibility from the Moto GP Gresini ride, the only factory seat still left in Moto GP.

But the WSB title for this year is definitely still open with one event (two races) left in France in two weeks. Biaggi’s in the catbird seat, but Sykes and Melandri are still both in the mix. The series is no doubt the best on earth at the moment; with five different manufacturers in the top five spots (albeit admittedly with a bit preponderance of riders from Italy and the U.K.). It’s worth watching if you have the chance!

Next and last event, October 2, Magny-Cours, France

WSB Standings after 26 of 28 races (13 of 14 events):
1. Max Biaggi, Italy, Aprilia Racing Team, 347 points
2. Tom Sykes, U.K., Kawasaki Racing Team, 316.5
3. Marco Melandri, Italy, BMW Motorrad Racing, 308.5
4. Carlos Checa, Italy, Althea Ducati, 278.5
5. Jonathon Rea, U.K., Castrol Ten Kate Honda, 255.5
6. Eugene Laverty, U.K., Aprilia Racing Team, 241.5
7. Leon Haslam, U.K., BMW Motorrad Racing, 189
8. Sylvain Guintoli, France, PATA Ducati, 172.5
9. Chaz Davies, U.K., ParkinGO MTC Racing Aprilia, 156.5
10. Michel Fabrizio, Italy, BMW Motorrad Italia Goldbelt, 133.5
22. Brett McCormick, Canada, Effenbert-Liberty Ducati, 19

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