Sykes leads the WSBK standings as the series heads to ImolaBarcelona (Spain), Tuesday 6 May 2013 – The eni FIM Superbike World Championship is about to return to the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari of Imola for what will be the fourth event of the 2014 season. The historical venue, located in the city, 40km southeast of Bologna, entered the World Superbike calendar in 2001 and has so far hosted the series 11 times. In 2009 a new, slow-speed chicane named "Nuova Variante Bassa" was added to the circuit layout just before the finish line.
Last year Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) had one of his three dominant weekends in his title-winning season: the Huddersfield born rider secured pole position and won both races, setting the new outright best lap and lap record in the process. The reigning World Superbike Champion and current points leader is the only rider to start from Pole Position on more than one occasion at the Italian track – in 2010 (maiden career pole), 2012 and 2013.
After winning his second race of the season last time out at Assen (race one), Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia Racing Team) now lies second in the standings, twelve points shy of the leader and three points ahead of compatriot Loris Baz (Kawasaki Racing Team). Both riders have never won on the Italian track, unlike Jonathan Rea (Pata Honda World Superbike), who climbed on the top step of the podium at Imola in 2011 (race one).
The Ulsterman is looking forward to the Italian round, hoping to keep the momentum going after some solid performances in the first three outings of 2014 and his maiden race victory of the year scored in the second Dutch race a fortnight ago.
With the riders in the top four within 19 points of each other, the rest of the field is already falling a significant distance behind. Fifth place Marco Melandri (Aprilia Racing Team), still looking for his first win astride the factory RSV4, has a 39 point gap from the top, with Ducati Superbike Team duo Davide Giugliano (49) and Chaz Davies (61), as well as Voltcom Crescent Suzuki's Eugene Laverty (62), further behind.
Following his double DNF at Assen, Laverty hopes to return to his early season form, whilst the goal for Laverty's team mate Alex Lowes is to build on his maiden WSBK podium, achieved on Dutch soil.
The battle for the title in the EVO class continues at Imola with Niccolò Canepa (Althea Racing Team) looking strong after finishing twice on top at Assen. David Salom (Kawasaki Racing Team) will take the charge to the Italian, hoping his injured right hand will not affect his on-track performance. Leon Camier (BMW Motorrad Italia Superbike Team) will again replace the Sylvain Barrier, whilst current Italian Superbike champion Ivan Goi will make a wildcard appearance aboard the Barni Racing Team's EVO-spec 1199 Panigale R.
Team Hero EBR will race with an upgraded machine, with Bimota Alstare and MV Agusta RC – Yakhnich Motorsport) looking for solid results as the action resumes.
Standings (Round 3 of 13): 1. Sykes 108; 2. Guintoli 96; 3. Baz 93; 4. Rea 89; 5. Melandri 69; 6. Giugliano 59; 7. Davies 47; 8. Laverty 46; 9. Haslam44; 10. Lowes 36; 11. Elias 34; 12. Canepa 28; 13. Salom 27; 14. Scassa 11; 15. Camier 11; 16. Morais 10; 17. Foret 9; 18. Allerton 6; 19. Bos 5;20. Corti 5; 21. Guarnoni 5; 22. Fabrizio 2. Manufacturers: 1. Kawasaki 114; 2. Aprilia 106; 3. Honda 89; 4. Suzuki 76; 5. Ducati 73; 6. BMW 17; 7. MV Agusta 5.