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WSBK Imola: Davies doubles up in Imola

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After two red flags in World Supersport halted proceedings, race two of the World Superbike championship finally got underway.

Sykes got off to a good start, as he usually does when he starts from pole. But it was short-lived as a blown engine from Grillini Racing’s Badovini brought out the red flag just two laps in.

After a long delay, the race was restarted and we everyone started from their original positions. As the lights went out, Sykes got another incredible start off the line but it wasn’t long before yesterday’s winner Chaz Davies began creeping up behind him. Once Davies made the move he was off and left Sykes for dust. His job was made much easier due to the early departure of MV Agusta’s Leon Camier who at the time was running in 2nd. whilst on track for his best finish of the season.

Just as Rea began ripping through the pack, he cut through the final corner leaving him wide on the exit, and subsequently lost three places. This mistake didn’t appear to faze him however, and he instantly fought back, managing to get past Sykes, eventually settling for 2nd.

Today was a disappointing one for Marco Melandri. After finishing on the podium yesterday, you would’ve thought that would motivate him, along with the support from his home crowd. But for some reason, Melandri just couldn’t gain on Xavi Fores. He managed to pick up time towards the end, but unfortunately the Italian had to settle for 5th.

We did see two remarkable comebacks from two of the unluckiest riders this weekend however.

Jordi Torres was declared fit to ride today after suffering from gastro issues that have plagued him all weekend, but having missed qualification, he had to start from the back of the grid.

He instantly made incredible pace, managing to fight his way through the grid to finish in a respectable 8th.

And then there was Laverty.

Yesterday we saw a huge crash from Aprilia’s Eugene Laverty with the bike bursting into flames. The mechanics worked tirelessly to rebuild the bike from the ground up and Laverty managed to bring it home in 7th – a great effort considering the incident we saw in race one.

Ultimately though, it came down to the usual suspects on the podium, with Chaz Davies taking the double in Imola for the second year running, followed by Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes.

Davies’ double sees him move ahead of Sykes in the championship, but still 74 points behind Rea. With the championship not even reaching the half-way point and Rea so far in front, there are some who might argue that we just give him the trophy now. But Davies would seem to have other ideas.


World Superbike race 2 results:

  1. Chaz Davies, Aruba.it Ducati – 32:12.361s
  2. Jonathan Rea, Kawasaki Racing Team + 3.739s
  3. Tom Sykes, Kawasaki Racing Team + 4.342s
  4. Xavi Fores, BARNI Racing Team + 14.441s
  5. Marco Melandri, Aruba.it Ducati + 14.596s
  6. Alex Lowes, Pata Yamaha Official WSBK + 32.214s
  7. Eugene Laverty, Milwaukee Aprilia + 33.919s
  8. Jordi Torres, Althea BMW + 35.932s
  9. Michael van der Mark, Pata Yamaha Official WSBK + 36.099s
  10. Leandro Mercado, IODA Racing, + 37.621s

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Is the Manx Missile Cavendish about to trade cycling lycra for motorcycle racing leathers?

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Could the Manx Missile hang up his lycra and pedals for something a little more petrol propelled?

Mark Cavendish has been the fastest thing on two (pedal-powered) wheels for a while now, but in recent interviews, the Isle of Man native and good friend of Cal Crutchlow has expressed an interest in two-wheeled vehicles of a motorcycling kind.

Speaking in an interview with Esquire Magazine from when he was in Abu Dhabi for the Formula One last year, Cavendish shared his love of fast cars and bikes, telling the interviewer that he’d ‘always loved anything to do with motors, or machines… Vehicles really. Just love them’. Before being asked if he’d ever considered being an F1 driver?

‘Nah. I don’t think I’m good enough. Everybody thinks that it’s like driving a car down the promenade, it’s totally not the same. To be honest, I prefer motorbikes more; I would like to race them instead.’

Ok, so it’s not a huge admission or a massive surprise – it’s something we’ve all probably dreamed of and one time or another, but when pressed on the issue he does seem to have considered the possibilities more than just in passing.

When asked if motorcycling racing might actually be next for him he replied with an emphatic, ‘In all seriousness, I think so’.

Adding fuel to the fire have been comments from him earlier this month made during press conferences in support of the Dubai Tour.

When asked explicitly if he’d consider hanging up his cycling blocks for motorcycle leathers, he certainly didn’t dismiss the idea, ‘Anything is possible, you know… I will just look at my options for the short term and the long term and see what I do with my future’.

So that’s definitely not a no.

For cycling fans fearful that he might be closer than expected to making the jump, there’s probably not any immediate cause for panic. In the very same Esquire feature he also explicitly stated that he had a ‘fair few years‘ left in his professional career.

Could a cycling pro move over to motorcycles with any expectation of success? Multi-discipline racers aren’t unheard of. Rossi loves his car racing and Lewis Hamilton has always expressed an interest in a taking turn in MotoGP.

But that’s from a motor vehicle on short track racing onto another motor vehicle on a similar track. We’d imagine that the speeds and skills involved from pedal cycle to internal combustion engine are a little less transferable for any moral human.

But then Mark Cavendish isn’t your average human being and reports suggest that the times that he has spent on track have been pretty impressive.

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SHOCK SWITCH: John McGuinness will ride for Norton at the Isle of Man TT

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Sensational coup for British manufacturer Norton as the King of the Mountain, John McGuinness is announced as a rider for the Isle of Man TT.

The sound and fury of the silver SG-prefixed Norton V4s have become a welcome fixture of the Isle of Man TT since Stuart Garner and his team reintroduced the brand to the Island with the SG1 back in 2012.

With a noise that Asphalt & Rubber referred to at the time as being “somewhere between “Four Horseman (sic) of the Apocalypse” and “Queen of the Harpies” — as heard from several miles out”, the presence of the machines across the mountain course has been beloved by the crowds and even recognised officially by the Isle of Man race organisers from a technical perspective.

Now those excitement and achievement levels are expected to increase tenfold as the legend that is John McGuinness has been confirmed as an official rider of the Norton V4 race-bike for this year’s Isle of Man TT races in May & June 2018.

We thought we’d seen the road racing worlds’ collective brains explode after the announcement of McGuinness riding with Guy Martin for Honda last year, but with the near-mythical alignment of the brands McGuinness and Norton for this year’s event, we’re certain that the level of anticipation will be off the charts when the King of the Mountain first swings his leg over the shiny, chrome Norton V4 during practice week!

Speaking about the announcement, McGuinness seems at his normal, self-effacing best with his tweet of the announcement finished with the hashtag #bitofunfinishedbusiness.

And naturally, CEO of Norton Motorcycles, Stuart Garner is optimistically upbeat.

But the best part of it all? We called it weeks ago!*

*But then even a stopped clock is right twice a day!

And if you were in any doubt as to how happy the McGuinness family are with the switch, the latest tweet by John’s wife Becky should set your mind at rest…

How McGuinness and Honda parted ways.

There’s no doubting that all was not well within the Honda road racing camp last year, but it wasn’t always that way. With the new CBR1000RR being introduced and with John McGuinness and Guy Martin being announced as the new ‘dream team’ for the Honda team, the start of the 2017 road racing season was met with excitement and rampant expectation. But then the accidents started to happen.

With the horrendous crash of McGuinness at the NW200LATEST: John McGuinness has leg operation but in good spirits and subsequent issues with the new Fireblade causing problems and a crisis of confidence for Guy Martin, the dream of 2017 dominance quickly transformed into something closer to a nightmare.

And then, weeks later and buried beneath problematical news about a prospective Guy Martin retirement that he quickly debunked came the admittance and confirmation from Honda that it was an issue with the bike that had caused the 23 time Isle of Man TT winner to fall and break his leg. Issues that had plagued other riders during the remainder of the season and issues that McGuinness had surely fed back to the team after his accident.

Weeks later, and as the rest of the world led with the news of Ian Hutchinson joining the 2018 Honda road racing team, the lack of a future for John McGuinness at Honda seemed certain to even the most casual of observer; despite the headlines of the press seemingly ignoring the obvious.

This was a narrative helped along with a few timely tweets from the TT legend himself over the holiday period.

https://twitter.com/jm130tt/status/940262163771310080

Couple all of that with the now infamous snap of him on a Norton TT bike from race organiser Paul Phillips, and you can see what set the tongues at Motofire HQ wagging. Sometimes a lot of speculation and a modicum of thought can go a long way!

With John McGuinness getting himself into shape for his visit to the Island and Norton genuinely attacking podium places at this year’s TT, we can’t think about anything else now, other than seeing – and hearing – McGuinness on that glorious, chromed-out V4, tearing down Bray Hill.

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