It’s time for the MOTUL FIM Superbike Championship to head to the final European Round of the season, and it could be time to see Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) wrap up his fourth world title. Heading to the historic Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours, the 4.4km track already holds a lot of history for Rea and could be the setting of even more. But is also a strong track for many of his rivals and it won’t be an easy ride, it will be a round to remember.
Gunning for the title this weekend, Rea can become the 2018 world champion on Saturday under a few circumstances; one of which seeing him win the race and Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) finishing in third. The Northern Irishman has a long history of racing in France, with seven podiums to his name – three of which he has stood on the top step. Riding at one with his ZX-10RR, Rea is seemingly on rails and at his most comfortable with the bike, so it will take a lot to stop him on Saturday. 2017 saw him win race one and finish off the podium in race two, what will 2018 bring?
The man standing in Rea’s way is Chaz Davies, who is still riding injured after he sustained a collarbone injury over the summer break. Putting on a superhuman performance last time out in Portugal to secure two fourth positions, it will be a big battle for him in France. But with the added rest, it won’t be a surprise to see him fighting at the sharp end this weekend. The 31 year old has a littered record in France, but with three wins in the last four races held here, he will be out to stop Rea taking the title.
Mathematically in with a chance of stopping Rea this weekend, Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) could affect his title chances. The young Dutchman has had an impressive second season with his Yamaha team, and heads to a circuit which holds some special memories. But the only thing on van der Mark’s mind will be securing second position in the world championship standings. Pulling 10 points on Davies in Portugal, he sits 20 points off the runner-up spot, so with consistency in the final three rounds, it might not be so out of reach.
It’s set to be a homecoming for Frenchman Loris Baz (GULF Althea BMW Racing Team) as he will make his first appearance around Magny-Cours for the first time since 2014. Competing in four WorldSBK races here in the past, he has a top five finish to his name and will be hoping to repeat that this weekend. Gradually making steps with his BMW, his return to WorldSBK has been a steady one but with the boost of the home support, he will be worth keeping an eye on.
Fresh off the back of a tough round for the Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team in Portugal, there was one man in the garage who was happier, as Jake Gagne put in a strong performance at a circuit he had four days testing around. Returning to Magny-Cours this weekend, it will be interesting to see how the American performs. Racing here last season in only his second race in WorldSBK; the knowledge of the track will help him to improve his pace with the CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2. A 12th position here in 2017, and two top 13’s in Portugal puts him in a strong position this weekend.
Poleman from Portugal, Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) suffered even more bad luck throughout the weekend at a track he is so familiar with. Starting from pole after a sensational lap, he was then taken out on the opening lap of race one and struggled with tyres in race two. But putting this behind him, the Irish rider heads to France hoping to put on strong show for the final European round of the season. Out of ten race starts at Magny-Cours, Laverty has taken three podium finishes and a top six last year. Continuing to search for the rear feeling they secured in America, it will be another busy weekend for Laverty.
Jordi Torres (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) has become a busy man in recent weeks, with the Spaniard stepping in for Tito Rabat over in MotoGP™, meaning he went straight from Portugal to the Aragon GP, before then coming back to France. It was a positive round last time out for Torres, who made some big steps in the official test with his team, and he put in some strong performances. Struggling to get above the top 8 in France in the past, it’s been a strong circuit for his team – who secured top sixes last season – so he will be pulling out all the stops this weekend.
Don’t miss out on history in the making at the Acerbis French Round from 28th – 30th October, with FP1 kicking off at 09.45LT (+1 GMT), before Superpole action on Saturday at 10.30. All eyes will be on race one at 13.00LT on Saturday, as Sunday’s revised schedule welcomes race two as the final race of the day once again at 15.15LT.