Just a week after the Italian job in Imola, the 2011 FIM Superbike World Championship landed in Magny-Cours, France for the penultimate round of the season. Team BMW Motorrad Motorsport celebrated another podium finish with Leon Haslam finishing third in the first race and coming home fourth in race two. His teammate, Troy Corser, finished both races in ninth. Overall, Team BMW Motorrad Motorsport collected 43 points this weekend, more than ever before.
Ayrton Badovini of the BMW Motorrad Italia SBK Team retired in race one and finished eighth in race two. His teammate, Xavi Fores, is getting up to speed quickly with his new bike and finished 11th in both races. The pair of races were won by Carlos Checa (Ducati), who also clinched the 2011 world championship title at Magny-Cours.
Leading up to the races, BMW felt they would do well here because the circuit’s design is well suited to the S1000RR. According to Haslam, “You have a lot of heavy downhill braking and corners that require you to switch down from sixth gear to fourth gear. As a result, the stability of the bike is once again very important for this circuit. It is also crucial to have the right set-up for the conditions.” Magny-Cours can be quite cold, especially in the mornings, which can help with tire wear as well.
Team BMW Motorrad Motorsport was happy with the first day of the race weekend. In the morning Free Practice, Troy and Leon finished third and fourth respectively. In the first Qualifying Practice in the afternoon Leon qualified seventh and provisionally on the second row. Troy was ninth. Ayrton and Xavi from the BMW Motorrad Italia SBK Team finished in 13th and 17th respectively.
In the deciding Superpole qualifying both Leon and Troy had issues that prevented them from qualifying at the very front. Leon finished seventh (second row) and Troy qualified 12th (third row). Troy said, “It was a tough session. The qualifying tires didn’t really improve my time as I was able to do the same times on race tires, and that cost us in the end. It is a little frustrating because in order to qualify well you need to be going faster on the softer tires, otherwise you won’t be able to match the speed of the other guys who can. But on race tires the bike is working really well and I am happy with the set-up, so let see what happens tomorrow.”
Ayrton, who took fourth in qualifying, could not repeat the lap times from the morning session and finished 16th just ahead of his constantly improving teammate. Xavi qualified 17th for the BMW Motorrad Italia SBK Team. While Xavi didn’t qualify for Superpole, he continues to improve and in the second practice session he put in a time that saw him only a second behind the leader Carlos Checa.
The first race at Magny-Cours saw Leon made up two places at the start but fall back to ninth by the end of the first lap. From there he started a fight back, getting nearer to the front with every lap and then by lap 13, he was up to third. In the final stages of the race he was in a very close fight for second, missing that position by only one second. Said Leon, “I have not been on the podium too many times this year, so we will take every opportunity. In the early laps of race one I was struggling a little bit, but then everything started to feel better. It was a good battle all the way with Marco and Eugene for the podium spots.”
Troy started from 12th and immediately improved to tenth. As the race developed he was able to make up another position and finished ninth. “On the whole I am little disappointed,” said Troy. “We have been strong and consistent all weekend, and in all honesty I was hoping for better results. I have been happy with the bike throughout practice and the setup seemed good for the races, but we really struggled for grip in the latter stages of both races. Two top-ten finishes on paper is not so bad, but with the pace we have shown we all expected a little bit more. Still we have some good information to work with going into Portimao in two weeks’ time.”
In race two, Leon was again fighting with the leading group, but had to end his charge for another podium in the final stages. Troy moved up to seventh despite some tire issues and defended this position until the final lap, but with the checkered flag in sight he fell back to ninth.
Ayrton was forced to retired from first race while in 13th place with a technical problem. In race two he started from the fourth row and made his way through the field, battling with other riders to finish in eighth place. The result ensures a top ten finish in the world championship. “The qualifying result definitely penalized me,” said Ayrton. “We did not achieve what we were capable of. The fast laptimes show that we could have done much better. Putting that behind us, the second race was definitely better and I’m happier with that result.”
Javier Fores rode another race in the first stages of his Superbike apprenticeship earning an 11th place. Repeating that position in the second race allowed him to gain more championship points. Magny Cours was a good step in his career at the highest level of bike racing.
In the riders’ championship, Leon is now fifth with 216 points. Troy lies 15th with 85 points. In the manufacturers’ standings BMW is fourth with 261 points.
2011 World Superbike Championship
Magny-Cours Race 1 Results:
1. Carlos Checa (Ducati) 38mins 16.465secs
2. Marco Melandri (Yamaha) +2.201s
3. Leon Haslam (BMW) +3.218s
4. Leon Camier (Aprilia) +3.796s
5. Eugene Laverty (Yamaha) +5.602s
6. Sylvain Guintoli (Ducati) +9.634s
7. Noriyuki Haga (Aprilia) +9.814s
8. Joan Lascorz (Kawasaki) +11.387s
9. Troy Corser (BMW) +17.143s
10. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) +24.523s
11. Javier Fores (BMW) +34.532s
12. Michel Fabrizio (Suzuki) +1min 19.742s
13. Roberto Rolfo (Kawasaki)
15. Ayrton Badovini (BMW)
Magny-Cours Race 2 Results:
1. Carlos Checa (Ducati) 38mins 17.851secs
2. Marco Melandri (Yamaha) +1.267s
3. Eugene Laverty (Yamaha) +2.043s
4. Leon Haslam (BMW) +6.506s
5. Sylvain Guintoli (Ducati) +7.843s
6. Leon Camier (Aprilia) +8.360s
7. Joan Lascorz (Kawasaki) +15.285s
8. Ayrton Badovini (BMW) +15.549s
9. Troy Corser (BMW) +16.278s
10. Noriyuki Haga (Aprilia) +22.996s
11. Javier Fores (BMW) +43.132s
12. Maxime Berger (Ducati) +47.846s
2011 World Superbike Championship Points:
1. Carlos Checa, 467 (*Clinches Title)
2. Marco Melandri, 360
3. Eugene Laverty, 283
4. Max Biaggi, 281
5. Leon Haslam, 216
6. Leon Camier, 194
7. Sylvain Guintoli, 179
8. Noriyuki Haga, 170
9. Ayrton Badovini, 155
10. Michel Fabrizio, 145
11. Joan Lascorz, 142
12. Jonathan Rea, 138
13. Tom Sykes, 133
14. Jakub Smrz, 118
15. Troy Corser, 85
16. Maxime Berger, 49
22. James Toseland, 13
23. J. Fores, 12
24. L. Lanzi, 10
29. B. Veneman, 3
FIM Superstock 1000 Cup
The Superstock riders from the BMW Motorrad Italia SBK Team scored a double podium at Magny Cours: Zanetti finished in 2nd place and Barrier 3rd. The Superstock riders rode a spectacular race and fought throughout the race with Niccolò Canepa for the podium. Lorenzo Zanetti had a good start and was able to slot into the lead group and battle with team-mate Sylvain Barrier and the Ducati rider. At the flag, Lorenzo finished in second place allowing him to maintain contact with Danilo Petrucci, the rider ahead in the FIM Cup standings, in spite of the blows received from falls at Imola and Magny Cours.
In all, three BMW S1000RRs finished in the top six. Fabio Massei (ITA) from Team Piellemoto completed the top six.