The BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK Team from Italy concluded its “home” round at Imola with both factory riders claiming their best results at the Italian track to date. Local hero, Marco Melandri (ITA) finished both races in fourth on his BMW S1000RR while teammate Chaz Davies (GBR) claimed sixth and fifth respectively.
The iconic “Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari” circuit hosted the seventh race weekend of the 2013 FIM Superbike World Championship. The first qualifying practice on Friday saw Marco finish sixth on the provisional second row and Chaz 11th. “This year in Imola we have higher temperatures and new 17” tires and this is why we are evaluating new solutions and new tires,” said Marco at the end of the first day. “We were not quite as not fast as the guys in front, but we are heading in the right direction. Tomorrow will try some solutions especially to improve the speed in changing directions. We will have the time to complete our work. Overall, I am confident for the races.”
It was a busy Saturday for the BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK Team. Marco crashed at the end of the free practice session at noon. His crew repaired the bike in time to compete in the afternoon’s Superpole qualifiying. In the first part of the session, both Marco and Chaz began with a few laps on race tires before changing to the first qualifying tire with three minutes to go. Marco recorded the second fastest time of the session and Chaz was 11th with both proceeding to Superpole 2.
In this second part, both used the second qualifying tire for their first outings. While Marco was sixth fastest and returned to the garage as his progression to Superpole 3 was not in danger, Chaz was ninth fastest and went out again on a race tire. He improved his time but missed qualification for Superpole 3 by only a 10th of a second. The deciding Superpole 3 had to be red flagged after a few minutes due to track contamination following a crash. It took a quarter of an hour to clean up before the final five and a half minutes of the session could be completed. Marco, who was on a race tire, set the seventh fastest time.
“It was a difficult day,” said Marco. “In the free practice I crashed but it was a simple slide. Our guys fixed the bike quickly and I did not hurt myself. During the Superpole qualifying we struggled with the qualifying tire and unfortunately it was not so good also with the race tire. Our race pace is not as fast as the front guys, though we are only missing a little bit. For the races we need to make a step forward and try to find a solution. Tomorrow the start will be crucial because it is difficult to overtake on this track.”
At the start of race one, both BMW factory riders gained positions. Marco improved from seventh to fifth, Chaz from 10th to seventh. In the early stages of the race, both kept in touch with the front. When Sylvain Guintoli (FRA) had to retire on lap six, Marco took fourth, Chaz sixth. Until lap 18, Marco stayed close behind third- Eugene Laverty (ROI), but the opportunity to overtake the Irishman did not arise. Then Marco was passed by the catching up Jonathan Rea (GBR) and slipped back to fifth, only to regain fourth after Rea crashed on lap 19. Marco then tried to overtake Laverty for third but went wide and ended up crossing the line in fourth. Chaz in the meantime was fighting quite a few battles over the course of the race, mainly with his fellow Brit Leon Camier. Chaz slipped back to eighth when Rea and Michel Fabrizio (ITA) overtook him, but on lap 14 the Welshman started to make his way back forwards and overtook Camier for seventh. After Rea’s crash, Chaz was sixth, defending this position until the checkered flag.
At the start of race two, both riders improved from their grid positions again. After the first lap, Marco and Chaz were lying in sixth and seventh respectively. After five laps, they had climbed up to fourth and fifth after Davide Giugliano (ITA) and Laverty had crashed. Until halfway through the race, Marco stayed close behind third-placed Guintoli, followed by Chaz. Marco’s gap to the front started to increase a bit, with Chaz coming closer and closer from behind. On the penultimate lap, Chaz overtook Marco to take fourth but on the final lap, positions between them changed again. The two BMW factory riders fought a close battle for fourth until the final corner, with Marco having a slight advantage in the end.
After seven rounds of the 2013 FIM Superbike World Championship, Marco is fourth in the riders’ championship with 182 points, directly followed by Chaz with 154 points. In the Manufacturers’ classification, BMW is currently third with 237 points. Both races were won by Tom Sykes (GBR). The BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK Team will stay at Imola and attend Monday’s official Dorna test.
FIM Superstock 1000 Cup
In the FIM Superstock 1000 Cup, Sylvain Barrier from the BMW Motorrad GoldBet STK Team secured pole-position for Saturday’s race. The Frenchman, who is leading the overall ranking, set a new best lap of 1:49.900 on his BMW HP4 in the second and final qualifying practice. His teammate Greg Gildenhuys (RSA) qualified 17th. He is still affected by the pain of his broken left heel.
“In the Superstock class, every time we are on a new track we need some time to find the right setting for our new electronic damping system of our HP4,” said Serafino Foti, Sport Director of the BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK Team. “Our team did a very good job and enabled Sylvain to claim his fourth pole-position of the season.”
In the race, it was once again Sylvain Barrier who took the win. The Frenchman rode a clever and controlled race to celebrate his third victory of the season. In the riders’ classification, Sylvain now has 95 points and has extended his lead to 12 points. Greg – who contested his first ever race in Imola – also put in a strong performance. Coming from 17th, he defied the pain in his fractured left heel to finish 10th, scoring important points.