World Superbike Round Five preview

The Italian circuit of Imola is next on the World Superbike calendar as the races continue to come thick and fast.

Championship leader Jonathan Rea has collected 95 percent of the points on offer so far this season and with the Kawasaki rider’s current rich vein of form not many would bet against him taking the full allocation this weekend.

The Northern Irishman has won three races at the Italian circuit during the course of his career but will be closely challenged by Aprilia’s Leon Haslam as the Brit looks to close the 50-point gap Rea has opened up in the early exchanges of the season.

Italian Davide Giugliano is making a return in his homeland this Sunday after a pre-season crash at Phillip Island saw his debut for the racing Ducati team postponed. Giugliano won’t be the only Italian representative this weekend with a strong presence as the likes of Michel Fabrizio, Nico Terol and Ayrton Badovini will be looking to kick start their seasons on familiar ground.

Chaz Davies sits third in the standings after a mixed start to the season but after picking up a pair of second places in Assen he’ll be looking to go one better this weekend in the Ducati’s back yard.

Kawasaki rider Tom Sykes will be buoyed after claiming pole position in Holland even if his race results didn’t reflect his Superpole domination. The former world champion has struggled of late with rear end grip and will hope for a change in fortunes in Italy this Sunday.

Pata Honda’s Michael van der Mark made history and secured his first ever podium in the premier class at his home Grand Prix last time out and will hope to continue his brilliant form as he remains the surprise package in the paddock this year. Team-mate and reigning world champion Sylvain Guintoili has made steady progress over the first five rounds and will hope to match his Dutch counterpart this weekend as they sit five points apart in the Championship.

Sunday’s race is set to be another intriguing encounter of World Superbike action as Jonathan Rea looks to continue his domination of the paddock and expand his lead at the top of the championship standings.

Joe Urquhart