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03 May 2012

High-speed WSBK thrills

High-speed WSBK thrills expected at Monza

As the fourth round of the 2012 Superbike World Championship rapidly approaches, speed is very much of the essence as the super-fast Autodromo Nazionale di Monza hosts the next two WSBK races in this exciting series, which continues on the weekend of 5-6 May.

With speeds approaching 330 km/h recorded last year, high-octane action is guaranteed, especially with four BMW S 1000 RR riders expected to be in the thick of the battles at the 5.793 km track. Furthermore, it is a riders’ favourite too, with plenty of opportunities for overtaking thanks to slip-streaming and passing on the brakes.

At Monza though, it’s not always best to be out in front, as following riders can get a ‘tow’ from you, allowing them to ‘sling-shot’ past, allowing for frequent changes of position. A fast motorcycle isn’t enough at the historic Italian track; the brakes are tested to the absolute limit, as are the tyres. The circuit is a good one for BMW Motorrad, as the team celebrated its first ever WSBK podium two years ago with Troy Corser. Last year, it was Leon Haslam on the podium on the RR, so he is naturally hoping to be back on the rostrum come Sunday.

“We are making big, big steps,” says Leon. “In Imola we had a double podium and if things had gone a bit differently we could have challenged Carlos Checa for the win. In Assen we definitely had the chance to win in both races – if we had chosen the right tyre and if I hadn’t crashed. These are a lot of ‘ifs’, but at least we now can say ‘if’ when we are talking about victories!

“Monza is a track I like. I got on the podium last year and it could have been a double podium had I not been taken out in the first corner in race two, when another rider crashed. On this circuit you have a lot of heavy braking and you need to get the bike balanced for this. Leading onto the long straights, you need to get out of the chicanes well. The Aprilia is going to be the bike to beat there, but our RR is fast and strong. I am hoping for a good race and again to challenge for the win.”

Haslam’s confidence is shared by his team-mate Marco Melandri, who was also on the podium there last year, albeit on a Yamaha. However, he believes the fast circuit should also suit the RR and will be hoping to more success in front of his Italian fans.

“I think that Monza can be a good track for us. It is a very nice circuit and has completely different characteristics than other motorcycle racetracks,” says Marco. “It is very, very fast, with high speeds and hard braking. I like all the corners, but ‘Ascari’ is something special – it is a combination of three corners in a row – so it is great fun. I hope that the weather is going to be better than at Assen. We just have to keep working hard and be consistent during the races. The championship is open and it is easy to make mistakes, especially under tricky conditions, so we need to be focused and give our best in every race.”

This is a view shared by Head of Race Operations Andrea Dosoli, who believes that the team has a real chance of success in Italy: “In Assen, we showed that we were competitive in all conditions, but we went back home with not as many points as could have been possible,” he says. “To get them will be the target for the race in Monza. It’s a special racetrack with long straights where we will be able to make best use of the powerful RR engine, but we have also to be ready for the slow chicanes with their changes of directions, as well as the famous ‘Lesmo’ and ‘Parabolica’ corners.

“Our riders have good memories from last year’s races in Monza, as they were both on the podium. Already last year, Leon was one of the contenders for the win and the RR has been continuously developed since then so we are confident that our talented riders will fight again for the top positions. In preparation for the races we will work on the set-up, trying to get the maximum from all the new parts we have introduced during the last tests.”

This will also be a ‘home’ round for the BMW Motorrad Italia team, with Michel Fabrizio and Aytron Badovini returning to the circuit where they both enjoyed success in 2011, with Fabrizio finishing fifth and third, and Badovini scoring a top six in his debut Superbike year on the RR.

The third round of the FIM Superstock 1000 Cup race also takes place on Sunday morning, with anyone on a RR looking forward to racing at Monza. The BMW Motorrad Italia team took the top two places in 2011, with four out of the top seven riding an RR. Current championship leader Sylvain Barrier missed out on victory by 0.159 seconds last year, but after two consecutive victories so far in this year’s series the Frenchman will surely be feeling confident, so watch this space.

BMW Motorrad motorsport fans will be glad to know that a full race results service including previews, qualifying and race reports will be available throughout 2012, in English and German, on the website. Fans can also subscribe to a motorsport newsletter to receive news directly via email:

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