Jonathan Rea may have done the double at the Italian circuit, but WorldSBK was in rude health last weekend. Continue reading for Asphalt & Rubber’s World Superbike debrief, from Misano Italy.
New Tires Offer a New Reference
Pirelli brought a huge tire range to Misano. The Italian manufacturer has been criticised at times, but certainly isn’t resting on its laurels in 2018.
At their home round, there were six front tire options available to teams, and a new option to complement the increased profile of the rear tire. This new front tire wasn’t to every riders liking, but it is now “the reference for teams” according to numerous engineers.
The tire offered stability under braking, but was a handful for some riders when they released the brake and tried to enter the corner. It will take time to make it work perfectly, and find the correct settings, but it was very well received.
Last Lap Scrap
Three riders from three manufacturers went into the final lap with a chance of claiming the win. Ultimately, Rea took the victory in Race 2, but he had to dig deep for it. Making moves throughout the race, the Kawasaki rider made a handful of uncharacteristic mistakes that allowed riders to counter attack.
Once in clear air, he was the fastest man on track, but in a battle it was a struggle. Standing on the podium with his winner’s trophy in his hand, you could see the struggle Rea had gone through and the relief at winning.
On Saturday, Rea said he wants to win at everything, and he’s been able to open an almost unassailable 92 point lead as the paddock goes into the summer break.
Ducati in Demand?
The Misano paddock was filled with rumor and counter rumor about 2019. The only concrete information about Ducati’s plans was that no-one will test the all-new V4 until they’ve signed a contract for next year.
Chaz Davies, a perennial title contender for the Italian outfit, admitted he was concerned about signing a contract without riding the bike first.
“I want to roll down pit lane in Australia knowing I’ve a bike to win the title on,” was his assessment while Race 2 podium man Marco Melandri was being heavily touted as a Yamaha rider in 2019.
If he moves, it will be to the GRT squad, which needs to find a fast rider to attract sponsors to foot the bill for an R1.
The future for Shaun Muir Racing could also involve Ducati and Eugene Laverty, but whether they make a deal with the Bologna factory is still uncertain.
Ducati may have the best pedigree in WorldSBK, but their inability to win the title on their current bike clearly leaves them in the shade of Kawasaki.
The Winds of Change for Honda
A new fairing helped Honda protect Leon Camier from the wind, but it didn’t project them further up the field. The Englishman was pleased with the developments, but said throughout the weekend that making a step with the engine was now key.
Finding the torque to power the bike out of corners is now crucial, and an extensive upgrade list to be tested at Portimao next month could include a new engine specification.
Whether that will be raced in 2018 is uncertain, but it would indicate that for the 2019 season, Honda will look to make a step forward.
Argentina Back in Action
Argentina’s place on the WorldSBK calendar has been up in the air throughout the season, but it now seems almost certain that the round will indeed go ahead.
The all-new circuit will receive a final inspection in the next few weeks, and looks likely to be signed off for a first ever WorldSBK round in South America.
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