World Superbike Heading into the unknown, the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship makes its return to Automotodrom Brno this weekend for the first time since... WorldSBK Czech Round, Brno: Preview – World Superbike, World Supersport, WorldSSP300, STK1000

World Superbike

Heading into the unknown, the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship makes its return to Automotodrom Brno this weekend for the first time since 2012; and the entry list may look similar, but the fight out on track has certainly developed since then. Heading into the seventh round of the season with five different winners and seven different podium finishers, it’s anything but predictable. A favourite track of many riders this vast, wide, sweeping and fast track will certainly provide some classic SBK® action.

Reigning world champion Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) is one of only two riders on the grid to win around the Czech circuit, and after a strong test here will be a firm favourite this weekend. But it’s not only the win around Brno he will have his sights set on, as Rea looks at taking a record breaking 60th victory in WorldSBK – something he was unable to secure around Donington Park last time out. Standing on the top step around Brno back in 2010, it won’t be a surprise to see Rea has the pace in the Czech Republic, but can he convert this into a victory with his ZX-10RR?

Fresh off the back of his first victory in WorldSBK – which he converted into a double – Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) will have a lot of eyes on him heading into the weekend. Leap frogging into third in the world championship standings, the Dutch rider will hope to continue his phenomenal momentum into the Czech Republic. With experience here in the European Superstock 600 Championship, the 25 year old had a strong test earlier this season meaning he will already have his eyes on the prize.

Searching for a strong result off the back of a tough weekend is Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati), who will hunt down a debut podium around Brno with his Panigale R. Struggling to understand the issues they encountered last time out, the British rider will now head to a track in which he secured a WorldSSP podium at, and will hope to make up some ground in the championship standings. 64 points off Rea as we reach the half way point of the season, it’s not over for Davies. Whilst his team-mate Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) was the last WorldSBK rider to win around Brno, taking the double in 2012, fighting off Tom Sykes in both races. Will he carry this confidence forward and fight for his third win of the year?

2012’s Brno pole position man, and the new Mr Superpole Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) comes fresh from a tough home round at Donington Park, and will be hoping to be back on the podium as SBK® heads east. Sykes had a hard weekend in Donington, which saw him secure only one podium finish somewhere he has previously won nine in a row. With eight appearances and two podiums in Brno for Sykes, he will hope to build on it this season.

Heading to Brno with a string of top fives in his cabinet, Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) has only ever finish in fifth in WorldSBK around Brno, but has plenty of experience to go alongside his results. Continuing to recover from his injury sustained in Thailand, Laverty had a very strong race one at Donington Park of which he will hope to build on as he continues to develop the RSV4 RF.

Heading back to a track in which he secured his debut WorldSBK podium, Loris Baz (GULF Althea BMW Racing Team) will be looking at the Brno round with fresh levels of confidence following a strong UK Round last time out. With a front row secured around Donington Park and two top ten finishes, the French rider seems to have made a step in the right direction with the BMW as we reach the half way point of the season. There’s a lot to be said for a good mood, and Baz will be a rider to watch.

Experience makes a big difference in racing, and for Jake Gagne (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) it will be important for him to head to a circuit of which he has experience around. Competing here in the Red Bull Rookies in 2010, Gagne won race two meaning he has proven to have a competitive pace at the track. Hoping to covert this into a strong pace with the Fireblade CBR1000RR SP2, it will be an important weekend for the American as he continues to develop his riding style for the Honda machine.

Preparing to make his WorldSBK debut around the 5.403k circuit, Jordi Torres (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) has a big weekend ahead of him. Building on his pace with his new team, the Spanish rider will hope to get back in the battle for the top six after two top 11 results last time out. Sitting in the top ten in the championship standings, he has been having a steady season with his new team.

Don’t miss out on any of the WorldSBK action from the Czech Republic, as the series prepares to hit the half way point of the season. With free practice action kicking off at 09.45LT (+2 GMT) as lights go out for race one on Saturday at 13.00 and race two on Sunday at 13.00.

World Supersport

Six years have passed since the FIM Supersport World Championship has raced around the Autodromo Brno, and there are certainly a lot of questions to be asked this weekend for Round Seven. The title charge is still as tight as ever in the WorldSSP championship, and Donington Park threw up even more sensational racing action for fans but as we head to a track which is unknown for many, there will be some question marks over who will come out on top.

Sandro Cortese (Kallio Racing) reaffirmed himself as a championship contender in round six, taking the race win in a stunning battle out on track. The German rookie has been making waves in the series, and heads to a circuit of which he has a lot of experience around from his time in the MotoGP™ paddock, taking the win in the 125cc World Championship. Continuing to try to adjust to the Superpole format, Cortese is a hard rider to stop when he has his eyes on the prize and will no doubt be a strong force this weekend.

French rider Jules Cluzel (NRT) is the man who will look to stop Cortese, as he missed out on success in his battle at Donington Park. Finishing in fifth around Brno back in 2012, Cluzel is the only rider this season to take back to back victories and is on a strong run of form with his Indian based team. Gunning for the title this season, Cluzel will be out to be back on the top step in Brno.

Targeting being back at full levels of fitness in the Czech Republic, Randy Krummenacher (BARDHAL Evans Bros. WorldSSP Team) put on yet another sensational battle through the pack around Donington Park. Locked in stunning fights on track and undergoing some hairy moments – despite having a stomach bug – the Swiss rider secured a top five finish, but this isn’t enough when fighting for the title. With limited experience around Brno compared to that of his rivals, it will be yet another big charge to the top.

The one man bringing the fight to the Yamaha’s is Raffaele De Rosa (MV Agusta Reparto Corse by Vamag), as he continues to consistently take podium finishes in the competitive series. Needing to take that final step for the victory, Brno could be the place for him to do so as his experience could come in handy in Eastern Europe. The Italian is not one scared to fight, so will be a big contender this weekend.

Don’t miss out on the sensational WorldSSP action from Brno, as we follow riders from free practice to the race, which gets underway at 11.30 LT (+2 GMT).

WorldSSP300

Four down, four to go. With the FIM Supersport 300 World Championship hitting its midway point, the season so far has told a tale of two halves. A pair of opening races with incredibly small margins separating a dozen riders was followed by two absolutely ruthless displays by championship leader Ana Carrasco (DS Junior Team). A new page turns at the Acerbis Czech Round: Brno is a circuit unfamiliar to most of the field, where innate talent will represent the clearest path to success. After the Czech Round there will only be one race left until September, so it may be several riders’ last chance for form and momentum to play a part.

At Donington Park Carrasco wasted little time, leading an unprecedented second consecutive race from lights to flag. Her ‘Grand Slam’ – Tissot Superpole, race win, all laps led and fastest lap – was a first in the WorldSSP300 category, and is unlikely to be repeated any time soon. She is one of the few riders on the grid to have competed before at Brno, racing twice in the Moto3™ category. A third consecutive win would not only be a WorldSSP300 record, but could leave her a step away from taking the championship.

It was also a great weekend for her teammate Dorren Loureiro (DS Junior Team), who sneaked to the front of the chasing pack at the final bends of Donington. The South African’s second place was his best result on a WorldSSP300 bike, a shrewd bit of riding that shot him up to a joint-fourth position in the standings.

While Carrasco’s win at Donington was a huge moment for the championship, it was amplified by her closest rivals’ performance in Leicestershire. Scott Deroue (Motoport Kawasaki) was in second place much of the race, but a mistake on the final lap cost him five positions and 10 points. Deroue actually has a podium appearance at Brno, from his Red Bull Rookies Cup days. Can he put that experience to good use and mount a championship comeback?

Luca Grunwald (Freudenberg KTMWorldSSP Team) is within 25 points of the title challenge, despite a top ten in the UK. A second victory of the season at Brno could propel Grunwald into the lead, although first the German will need to improve his Friday and Saturday form: he’s started from the fifth row of the grid in the last two races.

Two podium-less races for the ample field of Dutch riders stands in stark contrast with the early season, when several seemed unbeatable. Koen Meuffels (KTM Fortron Junior Team) took the opening win of the season but is yet to return to the rostrum since. He was back in the top-five at Donington, however, so perhaps a Brno battle featuring the WorldSSP300 rookie is on the cards. His KTM compatriot Glenn van Straalen (KTM Fortron Racing Team) is also on 36 points, and after a UK crash should be back in the mix.

The battle of Brno is approaching! Follow all the action leading up the race, which kicks off at 14.20LT (+2 GMT).

STK1000

European Superstock 1000 Championship stallions prepare to return to the Automotodrom Brno as they will rise revs and rub elbows at the longest circuit in the 2018 season. 5.4 kilometres worth of straights and bends that could be decisive in how the championship plays out. There’s just four races remaining, including the Acerbis Czech Round, and the room for mistakes is minimal.

Markus Reiterberger (alpha Racing-Van Zon-BMW) jumped back the top of the rostrum at Donington Park with yet another sensational display. The championship leader once again led comfortably from lights to flag, and recovered from a frustrating Imola weekend. Reiterberger last raced at Brno as a seventeen year old, taking his then best STK1000 result of fourth. Seven years on, he arrives here as the one rider with Brno STK1000 experience, as well as a race winner.

One man in particular, has been trying to flip the script. Roberto Tamburini (Berclaz Racing Team) is the sole rider to have been welcomed by the fans in Parc Ferme after every race this season. Incredibly Tamburini is yet to lead a lap, but with this consistency he may not need to: one slip or mistake by Reiterberger and the Italian could snatch first spot in the standings, sitting ten points behind.

It was Maximilian Scheib (Aprilia Racing Team) who took second position by just eighteen thousandths of a second at Donington Park. The Chilean has scored three consecutive podiums, and troubled Markus Reiterberger’s lead for the first half of the race last time out. Could Scheib go one further at Brno?

Few changes in the standings took place at Donington, but one significant movement was Luca Vitali (Aprilia Racing Team)’s fourth place to push him on par with Florian Marino (URBIS Yamaha Motoxracing STK Team). The pair have led an intriguing battle behind the four leading riders, with Marino struggling to feel comfortable with his Yamaha, whilst Vitali is growing into the role race by race: taking his best STK1000 result at Donington.

Alessandro Delbianco (GULF ALTHEA BMW Racing Team) has scored two front-row starts in the last two rounds, but his excellent qualifying form hasn’t quite translated onto the tarmac yet. Crashing in the first lap at Donington Park and sitting just twelfth in the standings on 15 points, there are nonetheless signs that Delbianco could turn pace into points at Brno.

Who will come out on top at the Acerbis Czech Round? Find out as lights go out for race five at 15.15LT (+2 GMT).