2013 Imola World Superbike Sunday Roundup: "Yes, but is he lucky?"

Napoleon Bonaparte, former Emperor of France and large army afficionado, once said “in war, luck is half in everything,” and this weekend, riders in both classes would understand the sentiment. While weather also played a factor on Sunday, it was increased heat instead of rain for a change.

In Superpole, while Loris Baz was struck with good and bad luck, Michel Fabrizio just got the bad. Tom Sykes, unlucky with the red flag in Superpole, benefitted from Sylvain Guintoli’s bad luck while Jonathan Rea was hit with bad luck twice in the first race. Sam Lowes was lucky in World Supersport with the red flag while a couple of riders suffered from the oil on the track.

Even if it may have been more visible this weekend, it’s safe to say that luck plays a part in every weekend of a championship campaign. Last year, so many ifs and buts danced around at the top of the table while Jonathan Rea further down kept getting involved in other peoples’ accidents, even getting tangled up with Valentino Rossi in his MotoGP ride.

Tom Sykes rode like a champion in waiting and, for the first time in his career, he sits at the top of the World Superbike championship. His Saturday skills have leaked through to Sunday and he has won more races than any other rider this year. His consistency was only beaten by Sylvain Guintoli who maintained a championship lead in spite of having won only one race all year. Eugene Laverty, much like his campaign in World Supersport against Kenan Sofuoglu in 2011, is doing a lot of winning and a lot of giving up points needlessly.

The factory Aprilia team, it’s fair to say, did not have a good weekend. Their predicament cannot be down to their bike as Davide Giugliano on a customer machine scored more points than either of the factory riders, and did so even though he didn’t finish one race, crashing out from fighting for first place.

Marco Melandri is risking turning invisible. Two solid finishes off the podium may have allowed him to close the championship gap to within eight points of Laverty, he needs to start winning again if he is to be considered a contender once more. His teammate Chaz Davies, in fifth place, may not have as many expectations weighing on his shoulders, which is why, in spite of being disappointed in his recent form, he is doing exactly what he set out to do at the beginning of the year.

Jonathan Rea and his crew may have turned a corner in getting the Honda race worthy. While Rea was desperate for a fast teammate, especially after last year’s, Leon Haslam looked to fill this role nicely, but his recent injuries, luck showing up once again, are putting all the pressure on Rea alone to push the tyres to the point the electronics can be tested and assessed. If the Honda Fireblade is due to be replaced next year, it would be a shame if it’s only sorted out by the last round.

Two riders this year have scored points at every race, Max Neukirchner and Michel Fabrizio. Embarassingly for Ducati, this puts them both higher than the Alstare team’s riders. Neukirchner on the customer Panigale may not have finished as well as Carlos Checa or even Ayrton Badovini, yet he sits in twelfth place, above both factory riders, while both Italian former Ducati hopefuls, Fabrizio and Davide Giugliano, on Aprilias are even better off.

The Panigale’s electronics are a way from being tuned to the less restricted inlets, but it’s certain that the red bikes could well do with a bit of luck.

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I think if Sykes hadnt started off the year with his injury ( broken wrist?) he would be a lot further ahead by now!

I think you are right. Take away a couple of silly errors, and the guy is miles ahead. Look at the laps led chart - the guy has led as many laps as the next three guys combined.

The Ducatis have no more restrictors, and have ruled Imola with an iron fist for a decade. Even on last year's weight-penaltied, intake restricted, five-year-old 1098R, Checa won BOTH races at Imola.

I think that after this round, with the weight equalized, no-intake-restrictor Panigale no closer than 30 seconds to the winner, it's pretty clear that the problems in the Ducati camp aren't the rules.

But it's still nice to see they aren't being penalized whilst being uncompetitive anymore.

Whitham and Burnicle stated (and I précis wuite a lot) that the restrictors had been deemed 'unnecessary' but that Ducati have, so far, been developing the Panigale with the restrictors and feared they would run even worse without them (due to electronics and FI settings as well as suspension and chassis not being optimised for a harder power delivery as well as the extra power they might have achieved) so opted to retain them for this round.

Steve Martin reported on Twitter that he'd asked Ernesto Marinelli, and that the restrictors had been removed.

I wouldn't call Rea's 'mistakes' in race 1 unlucky, they were simply racing mistakes. This is why he's not in MotoGP, like many others in World SBK... perfection is required to win in MotoGP and slightly less perfection in World SBK. The double race weekends in WSBK makes it more possible to make up for mistakes, but only to a limited degree. So seeing Rea make these mistakes, for me isn't so surprising after watching him do this over-and-over again year-after-year.

Saw that earlier. There may be some truth in this take, but I was wondering, wasn't Checa a bit pessimistic after he first rode the Panigale? Point being that perhaps there was a wrong direction in both MotoGP (certainly there) and the Superbike design already before the arrival of Rossi.

Yeah, it seems a bit silly to drag Valentino into the design issues with the Panigale, although I do think there may be some merit in the idea that Ducati dumped too many eggs into one basket and left the WSBK program out to dry. Racing at this level isn't easy, and it takes a lot of effort from a lot of entities, and as Dean points out, losing a key player in your team can bite you hard.

David tweeted a link to a Spanish website that interviewed Checa recently. He does not sound happy. If DE could drop in and share that link, I think it would be illuminating.

p.s. a British website is reporting that Dorna plans to adopt BSB-spec for WSBK. ECU issue still up for debate. I'd just say that there are more winners in WSBK this year (five) than in BSB (three), so perhaps they ought to be careful in changing rules ...

... mention Napoleon, I've read politics you know, he's a baddie, you're biased etc...etc...