The next round of World Superbike racing is nearly upon us, with the WSBK field racing at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah on Monday, May 30th. So here's the first round of previews issued by the teams in the run up to the event, including previews from BMW, Yamaha, Honda, the World Superbike press office and Miller Motorsports Park itself:
BMW Motorrad Motorsport - WSBK - Salt Lake City - Preview
28 – 30 May 2011
05 of 13 race weekends
Munich/Stephanskirchen, 23rd May 2011. The Team BMW Motorrad Motorsport is travelling overseas: round five of the 2011 FIM Superbike World Championship takes place at "Miller Motorsports Park" near Salt Lake City (USA). The schedule there always runs one day later than other events: the first Free Practice will begin on Saturday (28th May), with the races themselves being held on Monday (30th May). The reason for this is "Memorial Day" in the United States: the last Monday in May is always a day on which the US remembers soldiers who have fallen in battle.
The Team BMW Motorrad Motorsport has already picked up 130 World Championship points on the first four race weekends of the season. In the Constructors' Championship, for which only the best result in each race counts, BMW is currently in fourth place on 101 points. In the Riders' Championship, works rider, Leon Haslam (GBR), is in sixth place with 84 points, while team mate Troy Corser (AUS) is in eleventh place on 46 points.
Following the last race weekend in Monza (ITA), BMW Motorrad Motorsport spent two days testing in Misano (ITA). The two works riders, Troy and Leon, as well as test rider, Steve Martin (AUS), enjoyed perfect weather conditions there. The team worked on some updates for the coming races. It also used the two days to prepare for the race weekend in Misano, which is next up on the calendar after Salt Lake City.
"Salt Lake City is always a great race. It is fantastic to ride in the USA, particularly on ‘Memorial Weekend' when there is a magnificent atmosphere there. The circuit itself is quite different and the layout offers a good mixture of everything. It is a circuit on which you have to fight and it is really difficult to ride. I enjoy going there and am pretty excited to ride the BMW S 1000 RR there.
The test in Misano was good and we were able to work through an extensive programme. We also found a good set-up for the track there. That is important, as the next race weekend after the USA takes place in Misano. We were right up there at the front in terms of lap times, particularly on the race tyres. In general, we got an awful lot done there. My broken toe is fine again. We had a few days off that I spent with training and it all will be fine in the US."
"I hope that on the back of two solid results in Monza we can really push and go for the podium in Salt Lake City. Last year we had a few minor issues there, which held us back slightly. But now the bike feels a lot more balanced and I am hopeful we can do better this time around.
I enjoy riding at this circuit. It is quite technical and fast and similar to Assen and Monza in some respects. So for sure I am looking forward to getting out there and seeing what we can do."
Bernhard Gobmeier, BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director:
"Salt Lake City is an interesting circuit. We ride at a high altitude there. That is a good thing for us, as our BMW S 1000 RR has more performance than other bikes. The altitude should not have a particularly negative effect on our bikes.
Also, we have carried out a lot of work on the chassis in the meantime. We had a very promising test in Misano, at which we worked our way through an extensive programme. As a result, we are travelling to the USA full of confidence."
The "Miller Motorsports Park" is one of the most modern motorsport facilities in North America. It is located a 30 minute drive from Salt Lake City, the capital of the US state of Utah. The city on the east coast of the "Great Salt Lake" has around 180,000 residents and is, like the entire state of Utah, regarded as the centre of the Mormon church.
The "Miller Motorsports Park" was opened in 2006. Since then, it has regularly hosted American motorcycle series and the American Le Mans Series (ALMS). A large motorsport centre has established itself around the 4.907-kilometre circuit. In the "Performance Training Center", motorsport enthusiasts can improve their skills before marvelling at some of most spectacular racing cars in the world in the "Larry H. Miller Museum".
The FIM Superbike World Championship has visited the "Miller Motorsports Park" since 2008. The races there traditionally take place on "Memorial Day", the last Monday in May. This day of remembrance dates back to the American civil war. On this day, people visit cemeteries and memorials, and the US flag is flown at half mast until midday. Another major motorsport event traditionally takes place on "Memorial Weekend" in the USA: the infamous Indianapolis 500 car race, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year.
A special factor in Salt Lake City is the high altitude of about 1,350 metres above sea level. At this altitude, engine performance is particularly important. Grip is also in short supply on this racetrack. The bike must be set up specifically to generate as much mechanical grip as possible. Another challenge is the number of changes of direction in the infield, in which the motorcycle must react perfectly.
World Superbike heads overseas for Miller time
Salt Lake City (USA), 24 May 2011 - The FIM Superbike World Championship takes its second and final trip overseas this year as it heads for the Miller Motorsports Park circuit in the USA. This year's event, round 5, will be the fourth edition to be held in the State of Utah. The 4.907 km circuit, which lies 1300 metres above sea level, is located half-an-hour's drive away from the capital Salt Lake City and is on the edge of the Great Salt Lake basin, not far from the world-famous Bonneville Salt Flats. The rarified atmosphere has an effect on performance, with engine power loss estimated at 10%.
As is tradition, the Miller Motorsports Round will be held on Monday, as part of the Memorial Day weekend (28-30 May), when the entire nation plays tribute to its armed forces. As a result, first qualifying takes place on Saturday, the Tissot Superpole on the Sunday and the two WSBK races on the Monday. World Superbike will be the only one of the four regular categories to be present at Miller, with World Supersport, Superstock 1000 and Superstock 600 taking a break until their next round at Misano Adriatico.
Current championship leader Carlos Checa will undoubtedly be the star attraction on his Althea Racing Ducati machine as he aims to make up for disappointing runs at Monza. Checa has a 27 point lead over second-placed man Marco Melandri (Yamaha World Superbike), but the Spaniard, despite missing out on two wins last year due to mechanical failure, does have a double win to his name at Utah, in the event's first edition in 2008.
And still on the same subject, the Miller circuit appears to lend itself to double winners, with Max Biaggi (Aprilia Alitalia) taking the honours in 2010 following on from Ben Spies (Yamaha) in 2009, both becoming champions at the end of the year. So that statistic may play into the hands of Ireland's Eugene Laverty (Yamaha World Superbike), WSBK's latest victor, who opened up his scorecard with a double win at the last round in Monza. Laverty is now in fifth place, sixty points adrift of leader Checa.
Four points ahead of Laverty is his fellow Irishman, Jonathan Rea (Castrol Honda). Nominating Miller as the team's designated test track following set-up problems last year and completing two days of positive testing on Sunday and Monday could prove to be a winning move for the Dutch squad and good results here will help to galvanize Rea's title bid.
BMW Motorrad Motorsport scored their second podium of the season at Monza, with Leon Haslam on board, but the German squad are still searching for that elusive breakthrough in their third year of WSBK activity. Haslam is the man who is getting closer and closer and not even a broken toe he picked up in a first chicane clash at Monza will prevent the Englishman from giving 100% over the Utah weekend.
Michel Fabrizio (Suzuki Alstare) always goes well at Miller and is a firm fans' favourite, but the Italian is slightly handicapped this year by being a singleton entry for the Belgium-based squad. However Fabrizio was a podium finisher at Monza and has taken home good points from virtually every race this year.
Leon Camier (Aprilia Alitalia) and Jakub Smrz (Effenbert-Liberty Ducati) are next up in the current standings, with one podium apiece to their name this year, while Noriyuki Haga (PATA Aprilia Racing) rounds out the top 10.
The Kawasaki Racing Team still need time to get their new ZX-10R machine to a competitive level, and with top rider Chris Vermeulen struggling with an 15-month long injury, it's left to Tom Sykes and the talented youngster Joan Lascorz to show flashes of form.
The final big name on the entry list to watch for is James Toseland (BMW Motorrad Italia SBK Team), the former winner also still struggling to get back to form after a nasty wrist injury, while Miller will see a welcome return for the young Australian Josh Waters, and his all-Japanese Yoshimura Suzuki Racing Team for their second appearance of the year.
The ‘BigM Weekend' will have World Superbike as its feature event, while the rest of the programme will include AMA Pro Road Racing support races from the national Superbike Championship, the Daytona SportBike Championship, Supersport and XR1200s. Currently in the lead of their respective classes are Josh Hayes (Yamaha R1) in Superbike, Jason Di Salvo (Ducati 848) in SportBike and Tomas Puerta (Yamaha R6) in Supersport.
Points (after 4 of 13 rounds): 1. Checa 145; 2. Melandri 118; 3. Biaggi 117; 4. Rea 89; 5. Laverty 85; 6. Haslam 84; 7. Fabrizio 74; 8. Camier 58; 9. Smrz 55; 10. Haga 47; etc. Manufacturers: 1. Ducati 152; 2. Yamaha 147; 3. Aprilia 139; 4. BMW 101; 5. Honda 93; 6. Suzuki 74; 7. Kawasaki 53.
Yamaha World Superbike Team Head Stateside for Round Five of the WSB Championship in Salt Lake City
Fresh from the recent successful tests in Aragon, the Yamaha World Superbike Team head west for the next stop on the 2011 World Superbike calendar which will take place in Miller Motorsports Park (MMP), on Memorial Day, Monday 30th May . Situated just 35 miles from Salt Lake City in Utah and 1,340 metres in altitude, MMP is set amidst a picturesque backdrop offering unique sightlines for spectators.
The track was originally conceived by Larry H. Miller as a personal playground and novelty track but due to the popularity of motorcycles in the area it soon developed into a project which would become renowned as the finest facility of its type in North American, hosting the most significant production model racing series in the World. The track first opened in 2006 and welcomed the World Superbikes in June 2008. As a contrast to the historic circuit in Monza, MMP is a new, modern road layout with four separate internal courses but it is equally challenging and technically demanding. The World Superbike Championship is held on the 3.06 mile outer course, one of the fastest track layouts in North America. The circuit is practically flat, incorporating several significant elevation changes adding character and challenge.
The Yamaha YZF R1 has not disappointed on the American track in previous years. 2009 saw Ben Spies take a double win on the road to the championship title and in 2010 Cal Crutchlow also gained a place on the podium.
Marco Melandri heads to Miller Motorsports Park for the first time, after proving yet again in Monza that unfamiliar track layouts are no obstacle. The Italian is currently sitting second in the championship standings and is determined to close the 27 point gap in this coming Monday's races. Eugene Laverty jumped up the classification to fifth place after his sensational double victory in Monza. Further motivated by his recent winning streak, Laverty goes West with intention of closing the gap and continuing to prove to be a strong contender for a top position in the 2011 championship.
Yamaha World Superbike Team
"It's another completely new track for me but I've heard plenty positive comments so I'm eager to go there and experience it for myself. On the down side, I know it's one of Checa's best tracks! I intend trying to close the gap between us in the standings but that won't be easy in Miller. I'm pretty sure we will be very competitive, obtain good results and enjoy the weekend in Salt Lake City."
Yamaha World Superbike Team
"I am really looking forward to the weekend at Miller Motorsports Park especially after my double win in Monza. It's probably one of the tracks where I have performed best in the past so it should be an ideal place to pick up where I left off in the last race, just less than 3 weeks ago! I have always been immediately quite fast in Miller on the supersport bike and hopefully I will be again this year on my R1. The bike is working very well, so I'm feeling pretty confident that I can have a good weekend."
Miller technically speaking according to Silvano Galbusera
Marco Melandri's Crew Chief
"Miller is situated approximately 1,350 metres above sea level and as a consequence the engine loses between 10 and 12% of its power. It is a completely new track for Marco, as was Monza but it's more difficult to learn. Saturday will be very important for Marco to get acquainted with what the track has to offer. We are currently working to improve the chassis set-up in order to provide better stability for the bike on exiting corners. We know it's one of Checa's favorite tracks. We'll do our best to reduce the gap, keeping in mind also that this is where Biaggi got a double win in 2010."
Miller technically speaking according to Frankie Carchedi
Eugene Laverty's Crew Chief
"Miller is a track which has different characters; the first part is fast and flowing and the second more twisty and technical. It is very important to maintain edge grip for the duration of the race. The past years races show that consistent lap times are rewarded come the end of the race. We will start one bike with the same set-up as Monza race and Aragon test which has been our base set up this year. With the second bike we will try a different front end set-up to gain more contact in change of direction. Our target is to keep the momentum we have gained in the last few races and gain further valuable points in the championship."
Yamaha World Superbike Team Manager
"This is a very important race for us but it won't be easy. We want to reduce the 27 point gap between Marco and Checa in the lead and Eugene's 60 point gap, on a track where we know the Spaniard has been flawless in the past. The data we have picked up at the recent tests in Aragon will be fundamental in resolving the problems Marco encountered in Monza, so he can simply concentrate on getting to know the track. For Eugene the target will be to continue on the trend of positive results he has begun this year. We are off to the States confident to put on an impressive display for the American fans and especially also for our partner MONSTER ENERGY at their "home" race."
Press Release from Miller Motorsports Park -- BigM Weekend Kicks Off Friday
Motorcycles, music and military tributes mark Utah's Memorial Day tradition
TOOELE VALLEY, UTAH (May 24, 2011) — Miller Motorsports Park's biggest event of the year, The BigM Weekend presented by Lucas Oil, kicks off four days of motorcycles, music and military tributes this Friday, May 28.
"We're very excited for The BigM Weekend to get underway," said John Larson, general manager of Miller Motorsports Park. "We've been planning and preparing for this event since the final trucks rolled out of the paddock after last year's race. It's a big undertaking, but we're ready to go and we think it's going to be the best event in the history of Miller Motorsports Park."
The first official activity of the weekend will be a media event held at the Miller Kart Track. The Inaugural BigM Weekend Superbike Super Celebrity Mega Kart Showdown will feature 15 teams, each comprised of a racer from the Superbike World Championship or AMA Pro Road Racing, a military member from one of Utah's military installations, a member of the media and a fan. Practice starts at 12:30 p.m., with the race scheduled from 2-3 p.m. There will be an autograph session following the race, and admission is free to everyone.
On Friday evening at 6 p.m., the official pre-race party will take place at Honda Suzuki of Salt Lake, located at 2354 South State Street in Salt Lake City. World-renowned stunt rider Jason Britton will perform and a number of motorcycle racers will be in attendance.
The on-track activity begins on Saturday morning. There will be five different series racing: The FIM Superbike World Championship, AMA Pro National Guard American SuperBike, AMA Pro Daytona SportBike, AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport and AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200. There will be practice and qualifying on Saturday, then more qualifying and races for the AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport and Vance & Hines XR1200 series on Sunday. The two feature races for the Superbike World Championship and single races for the AMA Pro National Guard American SuperBike, AMA Pro Daytona SportBike will take place on Memorial Day Monday.
Two concerts are scheduled to take place during the weekend. On Saturday night, Dierks Bentley, Sawyer Brown and Reckless Kelly will perform, and Sunday night will feature Creedence Clearwater Revisited and Blue Oyster Cult. Both concerts will start at 7 p.m. Saturday's concert will also include a fireworks display at 10 p.m.
The military will be a big part of the weekend, with a Tribute Field of 2,011 American flags erected in the track's infield, the Zions Bank Military Acre featuring interactive displays from all branches of the military and a flyover of an Air National Guard KC-135 Stratotanker during opening ceremonies on Monday. All current and veteran military members are eligible for a 50-percent discount on event tickets, this weekend and every weekend.
In addition, there will be a myriad of activities for families to enjoy, including karting at the Miller Kart Track, rides on MMP's new Zip Line, Jeep rides on MMP's rock-crawling course, a paddock party/autograph session prior to Saturday's concert, pit walks, vendors, other musical performances, stunt bike demonstrations from Britton and BMW Motorrad's Chris Pfeiffer and Chris "Teach" McNeill, carnival rides, numerous vendors and plenty of good food.
To obtain tickets for or information about The BigM Weekend presented by Lucas Oil, visit the event-specific website at www.BigMWeekend.com or call 435-277-RACE (7223). For information regarding Miller Motorsports Park, visit the track's website at www.MillerMotorsportsPark.com.
HONDA RACING INFORMATION
FIM SUPERBIKE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
PREVIEW ROUND 05 MAY 30 2011 MILLER MOTORSPORTS PARK, USA.
XAUS AND REA HELPED BY PRE-RACE TEST SESSIONS
Castrol Honda Superbike World Championship competitors Jonathan Rea and Ruben Xaus should be in fine form as they pick up the challenge offered by the impressive Miller Motorsports Park venue, with each rider having enjoyed a positive experience while testing at the 4.907km circuit on 22 and 23 May 2011.
Weather conditions were often unfavourable during the Miller test sessions, but enough dry track time was available to prove to the team that the new rear swingarm and front forks they evaluated were genuine improvements, especially when tackling the bumpy track conditions they found at MMP.
The well-appointed American circuit is Castrol Honda's designated test track, an unusual move for some to understand as it is far from the team's regular European centre of activities. After a disappointing round for Rea in the USA last year, it was decided that Miller would be the best possible test venue to help both riders keep the development momentum going before two back-to-back races come along at Misano and Aragon in mid June.
Rea ended his tests pleased with the outcome, even if he did not get all the work he wanted to do completed, simply because of the ever-changing weather conditions. Jonathan is currently fourth in the championship, 29 points behind second place and 28 points behind third place. Carlos Checa (Ducati) has a handsome championship lead, but with only four rounds of 13 completed the season still has a long way to go.
Ruben Xaus benefitted from the MMP tests by finding what he believes is a solid base to work from despite the arrival of occasional rain and a small crash on day one holding back his overall push. He also worked on improvements with his machine's braking system. Ruben is 15th in the championship currently, but only four points from 12th place.
More work will be needed from the team and each rider during practice and qualifying at MMP to make full evaluations of the available control tyre options over race distance.
Uniquely, the two 21-lap MMP races will take place on a Monday again, as race weekend is designed to culminate on the US national Memorial Day holiday. Miller is also now out on its own in the calendar as the only remaining high altitude WSBK circuit, now that Kyalami in South Africa is no longer featured in the series.
The Supersport World Championship class does not feature on the MMP race programme this year, but all classes will converge on Misano for the San Marino round, on Sunday June 12.
WSBK Rider Comments
Jonathan Rea, Castrol Honda says: "We nominated Miller as our test track this year because last season we really struggled with bike set-up. I really enjoy riding here in America, but the bumpy nature of the track makes it very difficult to find the optimum settings for the bike. My team have pulled out all the stops though, and we had a lot of new items to test. The weather wasn't on our side, so the track conditions were pretty dirty out there. I found a better feeling for corner entry with a new swing-arm and this really helped the feeling when the tyre life starts to drop. I also had some new suspension items to test and, while we found some positives, it will take more time to get it dialled in properly. We are in much better shape now to start the weekend and as always we will do our best."
Ruben Xaus, Castrol Honda says: "We know that Miller has some difficult features because it's very bumpy due to a lot of cars using this track. We experienced a lot of chatter on the first day, which we struggled to find a solution for. I tried to adapt my riding style a little to improve the lap times, but unfortunately had a small crash in the afternoon which stopped our progress. The morning of the second day we worked hard to improve the set-up and lap times in between some pretty bad weather conditions and in the end found something better. We tried a new brake system and a softer chassis which made a really positive step forward, as well as helping me find a longer life for the tyres, which is really important for this track. I'm pleased to say that I finally found a good base set-up for the race weekend so hopefully I can help to push the whole team forward."