The event opening Press Conference for the Acerbis Italian Round of the eni FIM Superbike World Championship took place earlier today within the Paddock Show Arena in the paddock of the historical Dino e Enzo Ferrari circuit in Imola.
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team), Leon Haslam (Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils) , Michael van der Mark, (PATA Honda World Superbike), Ayrton Badovini (BMW Motorrad Italia) and the returning Davide Giugliano (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati SBK Team) were questioned about the weekend ahead and the thoughts on the challenging, undulating 4.9km circuit.
Top-2 in the championship Rea and Haslam were asked from a fan in the crowd if they expected their start to the season to be so strong. Rea’s immediate reply was “Yes”, followed by a wry smile. “I knew from racing against the Kawasakis in the past that we would be strong, but never in my wildest dreams did I expect to be as strong as this. I want to make the most of it because one day I might wake up and not be on the podium.”
Haslam responded by saying “right from the first test we have been fast and I’ve had a smile on my face ever since. It would be important to finish ahead of Jonathan; I’ve only managed to do it once this season so far. Imola has had highs and lows for me in the past, losing the championship to Max (Biaggi) and a double podium in 2012. It’s a track that still gives me goose bumps when I ride it.”
Van der Mark joked that the biggest difference between the Supersport machine that he rode last year and his current CBR1000RR would be the speed, while local rider Ayrton Badovini was obviously excited ahead of his home race.
Last but not least was World Superbike returnee Davide Giugliano, who was introduced on stage to rapturous applause. “It’s emotional to be making my return here in Imola. It has been a tough road back but I’m ready and hope to do well for myself and the team.”
On-track action for round 5 will start tomorrow with the first free practice sessions for all classes.
Earlier today the official pre-event of the round, a culinary challenge, saw current championship leader Jonathan Rea, Jordi Torres, Sylvain Guintoli, Leon Camier, Davide Giugliano and Michel Fabrizio, substitute rider for Nico Terol go head to head preparing traditional hand-made pasta, led by popular host Chef Valentino Marcattilii and his crew. The venue, the restaurant of the “San Domenico” Museum in downtown Imola is internationally renowned, serving world class food since 1970. Following a short demonstration on how the pasta dish should be prepared by Marcattilii, the riders were judged on their efforts by a jury comprising many well-known paddock personalities.
Anna Capella (Mediaset Italia Journalist), Stefano Saragoni (Motosprint magazine Director), Ernesto Marinelli (Ducati Superbike Project Director), and Federico Poggipollini, Singer and Guitarist decided that Michel Fabrizio was the winner of the challenge, awarding him 18 points out of a maximum 20.
The Italian narrowly pipped Camier to the victory before being awarded a specially commissioned piece of artwork that combined the best of WorldSBK racing and cooking. He went on to say: “It’s a great way to come back into the series with a win, but my mind is focused on the weekend ahead. It could be my only races of the year so I must do my best.”