ROME – The FIM Superbike World Championship came away from its mid-season point at Misano Adriatico with a double win for Max Biaggi and now arrives in Spain for the start of the second half.
Seven rounds and 14 races still remain in the run-in for the 2012 world title battle.
The MotorLand Aragon circuit, 140 kms east of Zaragoza, is the venue for the production-based championship for the second time and the only previous edition last year saw Italians Marco Melandri, at the time on a Yamaha, and Max Biaggi share the glory.
For Biaggi it was his first win of the year, but this time the five-time world champion comes to Aragon as points leader and with three wins to his name. The Aprilia rider has led the championship since the opening round in Australia and his double win at Misano, together with some errors by his chief rivals, have given the Roman Emperor a chance to increase his points lead.
The RSV4 has already shown it can adapt well to the characteristics of the MotorLand circuit, and the Noale-based team has already tested twice here, once pre-season and then two weeks ago, perfecting the bike set-up for the race.
Biaggi, who celebrates his 41st birthday today, is not yet in a position to break away from the pack because with 350 points still up for grabs anything can happen from here onwards. That is the main objective of 25-year-old Jonathan Rea (Honda World Superbike Team), who has moved into the second place slot, 38.5 points behind Biaggi.
The talented young Northern Irishman did not take part in 2011 due to an injury he picked up at the previous round but following Misano Rea has also had the chance to further develop his CBR1000RR in two days of testing at Assen.
The Spanish-based Kawasaki Racing Team is gearing up for its home round, with Tom Sykes having carried out three testing sessions in Spain. The Tissot-Superpole specialist (five wins out of seven so far) is 46 points behind Biaggi and will be aiming to repeat his win at Monza, the only one for the ZX-10R this season.
BMW Motorrad Motorsport are looking for a good result again after Misano, where Marco Melandri could only score a DNF and a fourth place, the Italian currently lying 55 points behind his rival Biaggi. The German squad also opted for Aragon as its test-track, and Melandri and team-mate Leon Haslam both put in a lot of laps there last week.
It’s home territory for Carlos Checa (Althea Racing) who has to make up for two crashes at Miller and Misano, which have set him back some 60 points from the top.
The reigning world champion knows that he cannot make any errors from this point onwards if he wishes to take a second title for the Ducati team. Last year Checa crashed here while attempting to keep the pace of Melandri and Biaggi, but luckily it had no effect on his triumphant season.
A few days ago at Misano, Checa tested the new Ducati 1199 Panigale for the first time, a bike he might end up by racing in the 2013 championship. All eyes will also be on his team-mate Davide Giugliano, who following a podium at Misano returns to the track where he dominated the Superstock 1000 FIM Cup round last year on his way to the title.
In the Manufacturers battle reigning champions Ducati have just a 1.5 point lead over Aprilia, with BMW 25.5 points off the top.