34 years of belt drive, trellis framed Ducati factory racers moves into the history book…
Nevers (France), Sunday 7 October 2012
A bittersweet ending to the 2012 SBK championship for Althea Racing and its riders Carlos Checa and Davide Giugliano at the French circuit of Nevers Magny-Cours today. Despite high expectations and the desire to send the Ducati 1198 into retirement in the best possible way, the races were far from easy; Checa crashed out in the first race, while Giugliano finished eighth, while in race 2 the Althea pair crossed the line together, Davide in sixth, Carlos seventh.
Race 1 – Carlos made a fast start and was in third position at the end of the first lap, behind Rea and Sykes. Giugliano lost a couple of positions at the start and was down in 17th place but immediately fought back, passing a couple of riders with the passing of each lap to place himself tenth by lap three. Unfortunately the wet conditions conditioned Carlos’ race and a crash on lap seven put a premature end to his fight; he was unable to return to the track. Davide’s impressive pace allowed him to pass several more riders and he was in fifth place by lap eight. A couple of small errors meant that he lost valuable time, and positions, but he continued to battle hard all the way to the line, closing race 1 in final eighth position.
Race 2 – at the end of the first lap Davide was lying eighth, followed by Carlos in ninth. Lap five saw Giugliano record the fastest lap of the race (1m39.237), which gave him the Pirelli fast lap award for the first time. Both Ducati riders were lapping with a strong pace during the first half of the race, and were up in fifth (Carlos) and sixth (Davide) position by lap ten. In the final phase the gap between the leaders and the chasing group, composed of Biaggi, Checa and Giugliano, increased. Despite the best efforts of both riders they were unable to reach the rivals immediately ahead of them and crossed the finish line in final sixth (Davide) and seventh (Carlos) position.
The 2012 final championship standings see Checa in overall fourth place with 287.5 points. Giugliano, having gained some useful points today, moves up to final tenth position, with 143 points. Ducati closes the manufacturer’s championship in third place with 416 points, behind BMW (421) and Aprilia (444.5). The Ducati 1198 raced for the last time today and after five years of competition in the SBK series will now go into retirement, to be replaced by the new 1199 Panigale that will make its debut in the 2013 Superbike championship.
“It was a strange weekend. A pity for the crash in race 1 but conditions were difficult and the track was very slippery, these things happen. Then in the second I didn’t have the same feelings that I’d had yesterday, the bike seemed different and was moving a lot more. This made it hard and I couldn’t lap with the kind of times that I expected. Anyway the season is over, it was long and we had highs and lows along the way. I’m happy to close in fourth overall because considering the problems we’ve had I don’t think the final result is bad.”
“The first race was pretty unlucky for us. We knew we had good pace and I think we had the potential to finish perhaps third but I had some small problems that prevented me from achieving that – first I had an issue with the gears and then I made a couple of small mistakes, meaning I lost a lot of time. In the second race, to tell the truth, I had this dream of winning it. Unfortunately I lost a lot of time when Melandri crashed in front of me and I knew it wouldn’t be possible. But anyway I finished ahead of my team-mate and I also won my first Pirelli award for having made the fastest lap, so I’m happy about that.”
RESULT: Race 1 – 1. Guintoli (Ducati); 2. Melandri (BMW); 3. Sykes (Kawasaki). Race 2 – 1. Sykes (Kawasaki); 2. Rea (Honda); 3. Guintoli (Ducati)
CLASSIFICATION: Riders – 1. Biaggi (Aprilia) 358; 2. Sykes (Kawasaki) 357.5; 3. Melandri (BMW) 328.5; 4. Checa (Ducati) 287.5; 5. Rea (Honda) 278.5; 6. Laverty (Aprilia) 263.5; 7. Guintoli (Ducati) 213.5; 8. Haslam (BMW) 200; 9. Davies (Aprilia) 164.5; 10. Giugliano (Ducati) 143… Manufacturers – Aprilia 444.5; BMW 421; Ducati 416; Kawasaki 397.5; Honda 293.5; Suzuki 136.5