From home-heroes rising to the occasion to hair-raising comebacks and last lap thrillers, Misano has been host to some of WorldSBK’s most emotional moments
Misano. There really is no place quite like it. Motorcycle racing here is a passion and a way of life, it runs through the veins. Generations have raced here, stars of the future born here, legends made here. It’s where legacies are live on and where heroes come to put on a show. From the atmosphere of the fans to the special moments on track, the 2022 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship heads to a circuit steeped in history for our only trip to Italy and if previous years are anything to go by, this one may well be one of those ‘Misano moments’ that riders before, now and in the future will look back on. Whilst we ready for a modern classic, a trip down memory lane calls first.
After a race long stand-off at the front, factory Ducati teammates Carl Fogarty and Troy Corser were putting on a show for the Ducatisti at home, just an hour from Borgo Panigale in Bologna. ‘Foggy’ led onto the last lap but a big moment in the fast left handers coming onto the back straight – it was the other direction then – meant that Corser had a chance. The Australian tried to go round the outside at Tramonto but couldn’t make it stick, with the crowd on their feet. Fogarty rode a defensive final half a lap to bring it home, extending his Championship lead, before doubling up in Race 2.
A showdown to remember, one of the greatest there’s been, Ben Bostrom on the L&M Ducati vs Championship leader Troy Bayliss. Bostrom had been in the factory team but was dumped in 2000, so he had a point to prove. With three to go, building through the fast lefts, Bayliss went through at Tramonto but ran wide, Bostrom cutting back with the crowd going crazy. It would be a rehearsal though as onto the last lap, Bayliss got ahead and made it stick at the same corner. Bostrom tried at the final chicane, but it didn’t pay off, with Bayliss taking a fourth win of the season to extend his Championship lead; Bostrom would win Race 2, the first of a stunning five-race winning streak.
In what was one of the most incredible WorldSBK races of all time, Pierfrancesco Chili was at home with everyone willing him on. However, rain meant that everyone had gone for full wets whilst veteran Chili switched to intermediates before the race started. Initially dropping back to as low as 11th, the 39-year-old Italian picked his way through to second with nine laps to go, with the gap to race leader Regis Laconi at over 11 seconds. But the track was drying, even still, surely it was mission impossible? Well, little by little, Chili edged closer, the gap was less than a second onto the final lap. Both smoked their tyres through the left hander of Curvone, but Chili had the drive and got the race-winning pass done at Tramonto, before easing clear for what would be his last WorldSBK win.
From Chili’s last win to Jonathan Rea’s first, Misano has captured some of the best moments. In 2009, it was a battle royale at the front, with Jonathan Rea in his rookie season for Ten Kate Honda. He was chasing home-hero Michel Fabrizio and going into the final lap at Turn 1, the #65 made his move. Fabrizio was eager to get back ahead but he couldn’t make it happen, with Rea leading the remainder of the final lap to take a first victory in WorldSBK. He’d go on to win seven more at Misano to-date, with the opportunity to extend that always present.
Michael van der Mark was looking certain for a podium, perhaps even a win in 2017’s Race 1, but a rear tyre failure took him out with seven to go. That left Jonathan Rea, Chaz Davies and Marco Melandri at the front to battle it out. With three to go, Davies hit the front at Turn 1, pushing Rea wide and allowing Melandri through too. Onto the last lap, Rea was second but two tenths behind Davies, whilst Melandri crashed at Turn 4. However, the biggest drama was still to come, as Davies tucked the front at Turn 14, two corners from victory, and was hit by Rea, both going down. Incredibly, it was Tom Sykes who came through to win, having been fifth for most of the race, whilst Alex Lowes took second and Rea remounted for third. Sykes won after the four riders in front of him all crashed in the final seven laps. Proof that it’s never over until the chequered flag.
The first fight for victory between Jonathan Rea and Toprak Razgatlioglu, with both of them on Kawasakis and both eager to win for different reasons. Ducati’s Championship leader Alvaro Bautista had crashed out on Lap 2 at Turn 4, meaning Rea had a huge opportunity to really get back in the title race, 10 years on from his first win which came at the same circuit, whilst Razgatlioglu just wanted to win and led until four laps to go. On the last lap, Razgatlioglu went to re-pass Rea on the inside at Turn 8 but ran wide, with Rea cutting back and despite his best efforts, Toprak would have to wait for victory as Rea headed home a Kawasaki 1-2-3 with Leon Haslam third.
Another modern classic from Race 1 in 2021 as Michael Ruben Rinaldi was right in contention from the start of the weekend. Coming off the second row of the grid, the Italian had the gloves off from the start as he first pushed ahead of Jonathan Rea, before getting his elbows out further, with an aggressive move on Toprak Razgatlioglu at Turn 6. The #21 led every lap of the 21-lap race to win Race 1, his first victory of the year and the first Italian to win at Misano since Marco Melandri in Race 2, 2017. Razgatlioglu took second and Rea third, despite an enormous front-end save. In the Superpole Race, Rinaldi doubled up, whilst Razgatlioglu took a first win of the year in Race 2. Will history repeat itself this year?
HONOURABLE MENTIONS: the races you just can’t forget
Besides the main servings of classics come the appetisers, with plenty of iconic battles throughout the years. 1995 welcomed the only two wins of Mauro Lucchiari’s WorldSBK career, as the home-hero rose to the occasion. In 2000, Troy Corser gave Aprilia their first victory on home soil and then went on to make it the first double for the manufacturer in Race 2. In Race 1, Japanese sensation Katsuaki Fujiwara took his last WorldSBK podium in a stand-out ride. For 2003, Ruben Xaus completed the double from 12th on the grid with Race 1 being a classic, whilst in 2006, Yamaha’s Andrew Pitt ended Ducati’s domination of the circuit with his only WorldSBK win in Race 2.
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