In years gone by, Imola staged chariot races. Nowadays, it hosts horsepower of a very different kind as young Italian Raffaele de Rosa returns to his home country in the lead of the FIM Superstock 1000 Cup.
So far in 2015, Superstock 1000 has witnessed two different winners on as many different types of motorcycle: Aragon saw Leandro Mercado return to the category with victory on the Aruba.it Racing – Junior Team Ducati bike before, last time out at Assen, aforementioned de Rosa broke his duck with the Althea BMW Racing Team.
Two races down, de Rosa leads compatriot Michael Ruben Rinaldi by five points, with Mercado third and nine behind the Cup leader. Jeremy Guarnoni of France and Andrea Mantovani of Italy complete the top five, each 21 points adrift of de Rosa. Others have ground to make up, not least Roberto Tamburini – the Cup runner-up of 2015 has yet to score any points in 2016.
Sadly, others will not make the start at Imola: notably Florian Marino and Riccardo Russo, as the PATA Yamaha Official Stock Team riders (each a pole-sitter at the first two rounds) both suffered broken legs in separate incidents at Assen. Andrea Tucci was also declared unfit in the Netherlands, while the likes of Toprak Razgatlioglu (tipped pre-season as a title contender) and Luca Oppedisano are more than keen to get back to racing follow untimely layoffs due to medical reasons.
A couple of wildcards will bolster the line-up. Lorenzo Baroni (BMW Gomma Racing) will make his 42nd Superstock 1000 start, having previously finished on the podium at Misano and MotorLand in 2012. Also on the grid will be Matteo Ferrari; the RS125 GP Trophy winner of 2011 will make his debut in WorldSBK following three seasons in the Moto3 World Championship.
Those who do take part will be hoping to avoid the chaotic start to last year’s race: the opening stages included incident after incident with jump starts, penalties and a memorable highside at the Rivazza when Marino lost control and wiped De Rosa out of action. Lorenzo Savadori prevailed to take victory from Tamburini and the Czech Republic’s Ondrej Jezek, who had taken a career-first pole position on Saturday.
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Sunday’s Superstock 1000 race at Imola will begin at 14:20 local time (GMT +2).