|06-18-2009, 08:28 AM||#1|
high, wide and handsome
Joined: Apr 2003
Location: The blue groove
WSBK: Misano (Spoilers)
The thundering herd that is World Superbike returns to Europe this weekend after globetrotting from South Africa to the United States of America. The destination is the Misano World Circuit, located near the Adriatic coast in Northern Italy. There must be something in the water around these parts (or vino, as the case may be) because because fast motorcycle racers are born and raised here in abundance. Marco Melandri, Andrea Dovizioso, Alex DeAngelis and, oh yeah, some guy named Valentino Rossi all hail from nearby.
A man who isn't a native son but who has come to be embraced as one of their own by the motorcycle-mad Italian populace, American Ben Spies, comes swaggering into town on a roll. A double win at Salt Lake City has catapulted the young Texan squarely back into the title chase. Spies' incredible rookie season has seen 7 poles and 7 wins in a season that is only half-way done. Spies hasn't turned a lap on the Misano Circuit, but that hasn't proved to be much of an impediment to date. Spies knows that if he wants to win the title he must win races and do what he did in the USA, which is to avoid the gaffes which have been the only low points of an otherwise spectacular debut.
Current points leader Noriyuki Haga must rebound a from a disappointing showing at Miller, where he finished ninth and eighth. To be fair, "Nitro" was battered and bruised after a scary crash in qualifying and had an 80 point cushion going into the race. Haga can't allow that sort of thing to happen this time and has his work cut out for him at Misano, where he has never really done all that well with but 3 podiums in 18 appearances. However, this season Haga has done a number of things he hasn't been that good at, including the one feat that it seemed impossible for him to accomplish in days gone by -- stay on the bike for the whole race.
On the other side of the Xerox Ducati box, Michel Fabrizio is still smarting from the duffing-up he recieved from Spies in America. Although the young Roman claimed two podium positions, Spies handled Mr Fabulous easily in race two to vault over him into second place in the standings.
John Hopkins will be returning to his seat on the Stiggy Honda and will hope to capitalize on improved electronics that his team mate Leon Haslam helped develop. Hopper desperately needs to turn in some good results in the last half of the season, because its starting to look like WSBK may be his best option for the future. Hopkins' manager Bob Moore reportedly approached Tech 3 Yamaha about a ride recently and found out the that MotoGP is sort of the reverse of the Hotel California -- you can leave any time but it's damned hard to find accomodations later.
American Jamie Hacking will be returning to ride at Misano for Paul Bird Kawasaki in place of an ailing Makoto Tamada. Hacking was impressive in Race 1 at Miller, showing an agressiveness that that hasn't been seen on a green machine for a long time. Fonsi Nieto will be back at Alstare Suzuki, replacing Max Neukirchner, who is expected to back in the saddle at Brno.
Brit Tommy Hill has
Misano has historically been considered a Ducati track, with the Bologna-based marque accounting for two thirds of all superbike wins here. Yamaha, in contrast, has a paltry 1 win to their credit. I expect that Ben Spies will double or triple that total this weekend.
In the good 'ol USA, SpeedTV will be showing the races SDD, back-to-back starting at 3:30 pm EDT.
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