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29 March 2012

WSBK round two

Excitement levels rise for WSBK round two at Imola

With the second round of the Superbike World Championship (WSBK) looming this weekend (1 April) the pressure is starting to rise in the BMW Motorrad Motorsport team garage as focus turns toward Italy’s iconic Imola racetrack.

This will be the tenth anniversary of the Superbike World Championship being hosted at the legendary track and with a strong Italian contingent in the garage, everyone is hoping that it will be a weekend to remember for all the right reasons.

After a record-breaking season opener at Phillip Island for BMW Motorrad Motorsport, where the team collected 45 points – more than ever before – both Marco Melandri and Leon Haslam will be eager to show their potential, and that of the 2012 S 1000 RR at the 4.9km Enzo E Dino Ferrari circuit in northern Italy.

Testing at Motorland Aragón (18/19 March) has gone well for both riders with further progress and developments made to the RR. It was also a great chance for the team to assess Haslam’s fitness after he sustained a broken right tibia during official testing at Phillip Island prior to the race weekend.

Leon Haslam has been steadily recovering for the last few weeks and is sure he will be fighting fit for the race. Everyone has high hopes for Haslam after he braved the pain barrier to maintain pace with the front-runners and battled to achieve a top five finish in the second race at Phillip Island.

“Between the test in Aragón and the race weekend in Imola I have nearly two weeks of resting and healing, so the leg is going to be even stronger for the race. Imola is a good test for me and the bike. The track has a lot of fast chicanes and you need a bike with a lot of low down power to push you out of the corners. It is a circuit with a lot of characters and always enjoyable to ride.

“Last year we had a little bit of misfortune in the first race, but in the second race we were fighting in the top 5 positions. With the improvements we have made, I am confident that we can fight for a podium again.”

Marco Melandri is still riding high after his podium finish in race one and top six in race two. He is currently sitting second in the championship standings behind fellow Italian, Max Biaggi. This is a ‘home’ round for Melandri, so he will be eager to give his family, friends and fans something to celebrate come race day.

“I am excited about racing so close to my home. Imola is a beautiful track and I really like the layout, so I am looking forward to it. I am particularly confident after the good test we had in Aragón. I know that we took a step forward with the bike. The track is very technical, because it has slow and fast chicanes as well as up and down sections.

“After the successful season opener in Australia, our target is to fight for a podium again. We do not have too much time to practice before the race, so it is important to get the weekend off to a good start. One thing is certain: the team and I will be giving 100 percent again.”

Another two BMW Motorrad riders who will be racing on home turf at Imola include Ayrton Badovini and team-mate Michel Fabrizio, who will be campaigning the BMW Motorrad Italia GoldBet RRs. The first round In Australia didn’t go as planned for both but they are looking forward to making amends in Italy, especially Michel Fabrizio.

"We're charged up, we need to make up for race 2 DNF at Phillip Island. We did a very good job by doing some practice starts in a special day test at Vairano. I love Imola track and even though we still have to improve a little bit to stay with the top contenders I'm looking for a very good result. I hope no Italian rider will get the victory at Imola, because up until now I am the only one who's done that!"

Ayrton Badovini is looking to start his championship off at Imola and start a fresh forgetting his result in Phillip Island.

"At Imola a new chapter will start, my 'official' championship will begin there. We worked a lot both technically on the bike and mentally. I feel regenerated and ready to face the new challenge in front of home crowd. The track is a very good but also a very demanding one. I can't wait to see what my fans have made for the event!"

With the BMW Motorrad garage being home to a wealth of Italian talent, it looks like Imola will be the backdrop to a strong and fun-filled battle for championship points.

Over 300 race fans will be enjoying the weekend as special guests in the BMW Motorrad Motorsport hospitality suite. With food, drink and unrivalled access to the team throughout the weekend as well as music from German electronic dance band 2Elements visitors to Imola are sure to kick off the first European WSBK round in style.

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