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WSBK: 2012 Monza Results

Mon, 07 May 2012

It was supposed to be a weekend of celebration. The World Superbike Championship was celebrating its 25th anniversary of racing at Italy’s Monza circuit. Promoters Infront Motorsports brought out 30 landmark Superbikes from the series’ history, while greats such as Fred Merkel, Doug Polen and Carl Fogarty were in attendance for what was supposed to be a weekend to remember. Spec tire supplier Pirelli was also in the celebratory mood  with special silver-striped tires for the Superpole qualifier.

Unfortunately, the 2012 Monza round will be remembered for heavy rains, a cancelled race, a near boycott of Pirelli tires and the series’ largest team issuing a scathing rebuke to race organizers.

Things started turning sour during the Superpole session. Wet weather led many riders to use Pirelli’s wet tires, but those rubbers proved insufficient, with some tires deteriorating after just a few laps. Pirelli suggested riders use the intermediate tires but some riders found them too hard and unsafe for the conditions.

Effenbert-Liberty Racing‘s Sylvain Guintoli emerged with the pole after opting for a slick rear tire on his Ducati 1098R with the track beginning to dry.

Race One Highlights

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Race One was called after just three laps as heavy rains pounded the Monza circuit. Unfortunately the red flag wasn’t waved until Crescent Suzuki‘s John Hopkins, Pedercini Kawasaki‘s David Salom and Kawasaki injury-replacement Sergio Gadea all crashed. BMW‘s Marco Melandri also crashed on the previous lap.

Racers reassembled on the starting grid for a restart but an impromptu meeting between several riders resulted in a decision to not race due to safety concerns and worries over Pirelli’s rain tires. After a meeting between racers and race organizers, a couple of riders went out in the safety car to inspect the track. That was when the rain picked up, flooding parts of the circuit.

Pirelli tire manager Giorgio Barbier argued riders had two intermediate tires that would have been suitable for racing. Barbier noted the Superstock and Supersport races were completed as scheduled on similar or worse conditions using Pirelli’s rain and intermediate tires.

Race Two Highlights

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Riders returned to the track for Race Two but rain again proved to be a factor. Organizers initially shortened the race to 17 laps but racers called for a stop during the second warm-up lap. The race was again shortened to 16 laps with another warm-up lap.

Pole-sitter Guintoli had a mechanical problem during the warmup and was unable to race, while BMW Italia’s Michel Fabrizio also broke down on the warmup. Hopkins was ailing from his Race One crash so he too was unable to start Race Two.

Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes jumped out at the start, taking the holeshot and the early lead. Eight laps in however, the rain returned, and officials called the race. Sykes was declared the winner based on the previous completed lap results. Second place went to BMW’s Leon Haslam while Aprilia‘s Eugene Laverty took third.

Because the lap was only half as long as scheduled, organizers awarded half points for the race. As a result, Sykes 12.5 points instead of the usual 25 for a race win, giving him 91.5 points on the season, good enough for third overall. Aprilia’s Max Biaggi finished fifth to give him 5.5 points and 97.5 on the season to lead the championship race. Althea Ducati’s Carlos Checa was seventh at Monza and sits second in the standings at 95.5 points.

After the race, Liberty Racing released a statement criticizing the decisions of race direction, claiming they based their decisions on input from just a handful of racers and teams. Liberty Racing said it would “reflect about its racing future”.

[Source: WSBK, Liberty Racing, Pirelli]

By Dennis Chung

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