World Superbikes soared back into life at Misano last weekend. With an attendance across the three days of 68,000, it would be fair to say that WSBK is slowly bringing fans back. The other Italian round saw attendance reach 75,000 across the three days and whilst it has a long way to go before the numbers of 10-15 years ago are met, we can only hope that this incline continues.
Marco Melandri was the rider who took Ducati to their first win at Misano since Carlos Checa in 2011. He became the first Italian rider to win on a Ducati at Misano since Frankie Chili, way back in 2004. Melandri proved to the doubters that despite being mired down in 4th in the standings, he can still, and will still, win races. Although teammate Chaz Davies didn’t start, there’s the well known phrase that starts like, “to finish first…”.
Michael van der Mark demonstrated that he has gelled with the Yamaha. Despite being caught by championship leader Jonathan Rea, his tyre delimitation cost him a podium at the very least. Keep your eyes on the Dutchman, who has found a bit of confidence with the Yamaha. Could he be the rider to take the manufacturer to their first win since Portimao 2011, with Marco Melandri.
Something else we learnt was that Jonny Rea is beatable. I can hear you all screaming at me saying, ‘well we know that’, but what I mean is, even when his main rival was out, he didn’t win. The two Italian rounds are the only circuits at which he has not won at this season, so Carluccio’s is definitely off the ‘date-night’ options for him.
We also learns that despite plans for a controlled ECU to make racing closer, Jordi Torres’ BMW was more than capable of sticking it to the leaders in the 2nd outing. The Spaniard led for part of the race and with just three laps to go, retired due to a technical problem. World Superbike fans can hope and pray that this wasn’t a flash in the pan and that actually, this could be a big turning point, where we see more than just Kawasaki and Ducati dominating. Yamaha are edging closer, BMW aren’t far behind and we’ve already seen MV Agusta and Aprilia make strides. Give Honda until next year to be competitive and we might have an almighty brawl at the top of the championship tree.
The final thing we learnt was that Misano would stay on the calendar until 2020. The circuit has been on the calendar ever since it’s introduction in 1994 and has seen some top notch races. 2001 race one with Troy Bayliss and Ben Bostrom going head to head and in 1998 when both Hondas went at it for a double victory.
Kiko Giles @MotoGPKiko