Photo: World Superbike
With one more race weekend before the two-month long summer break, Kawasaki’s Jonathan Rea is looking unstoppable for his second World Superbike title in two years. The Northern Irishman took both wins at the Misano World Circuit June 18/19, giving him 36 career victories, fourth in the all-time list, and 10 double victories, equaled only by the legendary Carl Fogarty and I believe, Troy Bayliss (both riding for Ducati).
In both races he beat his team-mate Tom Sykes, 2013 champion, once again showing that the Kawasaki team has a hammerlock on the series. The only other factory to score wins so far this year is Ducati, with Welsh rider Chaz Davies having collected two doubles, at Aragon in Spain and Imola in Italy. His team-mate Davide Giugliano has unfortunately returned to his form of earlier years, being highly inconsistent – on the podium one day, mid-field or on the deck next. He’ll do well to keep his seat for 2017 with several fast young riders hungry for his job.
Those four riders fill the top spots in the standings after eight of 13 race weekends. Next up are the Honda riders, American Nicky Hayden in his first year of World Supers after leaving Moto GP (he was world champion in 2006) trailing teammate Michael van der Mark. Both riders have been consistently in the top five but have had results scuppered by crashes and mechanical/electronic issues. Hayden, who’s won one race so far, will be particularly keen for a result at the next event at Laguna Seca in California.
The top 10 are rounded out by Spaniard Jordi Torres, making an impressive run for BMW in his rookie season; Leon Camier, the former British champion doing wonders with an under-funded MV Agusta; Lorenzo Savadori, another relative newcomer on the top Aprilia; and Alex Lowes with Yamaha in the tuning fork company’s first year back in World Superbike in six years. Lowes’ twin brother Sam is currently running in the Moto 2 series, but has a contract to race Moto GP with the Aprilia factory in 2017.
In 11th place is another Spaniard, Xavi Fores, who’s been very impressive on a private Ducati, having beaten factory rider Giugliano more than once this year. He’d be the top candidate to replace Giugliano if the factory tires of the Roman’s inconsistency.
World Supersport, the 600 class, is already on summer break, as they won’t be traveling to the U.S. for the next round. Turkish ace Kenan Sofuoglu (he already has four World Supersport titles) has a healthy lead over his Kawasaki team-mate Randy Krummenacher, the Swiss rider not far ahead of P.J. Jacobsen, the only American other than Hayden in the World Superbike classes. They ride for the same team, the Dutch-based Ten Kate team who carry Honda’s official flag in both series.
There are two Canadians racing with the circus this season, Calgary’s Braeden Ortt having a rough introduction to world-level racing with several mechanical issues and crashes. The 16-year-old finished 24th out of 37 entries at Misano.
The other Canadian is Stacey Nesbitt, the 19-year-old Irish-born Quebecker already having two Canadian national titles under her belt. She’s running in the European Junior Cup, a spec series using Honda CBR650Fs. Her bike has been plagued with transmission issues, but she’s been getting faster at each race, all at tracks new to her. “My main goal,” she told us, “has been to get closer to Avalon (Biddle, another of the half-dozen female racers in the series) in lap times, and I’ve been closing that gap every race, so I’m pretty happy about that.” At Misano, she finished 17th, while Biddle had a terrific ninth, with Stacey’s quickest lap less than four seconds slower than Biddle’s fastest time.