2012 Nürburgring WSBK Weekend Round Up: Only Fools Predict Races
The Nürburgring gave us an exciting weekend of surprises, twists and turns. Hopes were raised then dashed. Dreams were broken and made true. The championship looked to be going in one direction then another.
It is a fool that predicts motorcycle races, but some of us have a fool's job. Predicting the demise of Max Biaggi was easy, when Marco Melandri carried so much momentum in the title fight and Biaggi seemed to flag. And yet, after the first race, Biaggi made fools of us all while Melandri bucked predictions into the gravel. In the second race, Biaggi fell and Melandri led, until Melandri fell and Biaggi valiantly rode a battered mess for a meagre two points. With the title leaders leaving so many points on the table, this was Tom Sykes's weekend to snatch as many points as possible and make a run for the title, but his bike inexplicably let him down, acting in the second half of both races as if it was down a handful of horses. With Biaggi the only man near the top to get a podium, this was not a good weekend for anyone realistically in the title fight.
The weekend was good for Chaz Davies and Eugene Laverty, however. Davies left with 41 points and Laverty with 40 and both men increased their positions in the championship. Davies also left with ink on a BMW contract for 2013. Leon Camier, third in race two, also increased his placing, embarrassing his team mate John Hopkins even further. As Hopkins was fighting for 12th place, Camier was fighting for second, both on the same bag-of-spanners Crescent Suzukis. Hopkins's poor results were made look even worse by Camier's performance today.
Carlos Checa was another of race one's fallers, but he, like Biaggi in race two, made a valiant attempt to recover a few of points. The net result was that, even with the disastrous day he had, thanks to Jonathan Rea's DNF in race one, he was able to leave the weekend with one more point than Rea, maintaining his fourth place in the title chase, one place above the Honda Man. Rea, however, leaves the weekend fit and ready to race the finest motorcycle Honda make against the best riders in the world, next weekend in Misano's MotoGP.
The only way BMW could claim a podium today was by announcing Chaz Davies as their second rider next year. That was their only good news as Marco Melandri had two DNFs, Michel Fabrizio had two and Leon Haslam had one but was able to avoid further injury to his recovering shoulder. In what was their home round, BMW called it “a day to forget” and had to rely on Ayrton Badovini's two ninth places as the closest they could get to a silver lining.
Aprilia, on the other hand, leave Germany at the top of the manufacturers standings. with five out of the six podium places today falling to the Italian marque. Chaz Davies's race one podium was made all the more deserved after he recovered from an almost certain crash without losing more than half a second, while Eugene Laverty recovered from contact with Tom Sykes in the second race as both men contested the same bit of tarmac.
Liberty Racing had some good news with Brett McCormick, recovered from his broken neck, scoring his first world championship point, while former race winner for Ducati Lorenzo Lanzi, standing in for an absent, and some say sacked, Jakub Smrz, scored two points. Maxime Berger, their fastest rider, managed an eleventh and a fourteenth. McCormick's recovery aside, this weekend was just another depressing episode in the descent of a team that used to win races. Smrz was on the podium at this race last year.
World Supersport gave us what was possibly the determining race of the championship. While Jules Cluzel, Sam Lowes and Fabien Foret put the pressure on leader Kenan Sofuoglu, the Turkish Kawasaki rider just kept his pace until the last few laps where he put in demoralisingly fast laps and broke away from the riders behind him to take the flag as an almost unbeatable contender. At the beginning of this weekend, his rivals had to contain him, but as that didn't happen and he has a 38 point lead over Cluzel, it will take a disaster for Sofuoglu to not take his third World Supersport title.
The title race in World Supersports is all but wrapped up, but in World Superbikes, it remains wide open to, realistically, three men and it looks like it won't be declared in a fortnight's time at Portimão. Once again, it looks like the last race of the year, at Magny-Cours two weeks after that, will be the decider.