The 2019 World Superbike championship is in full flow, as riders and teams travel to the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli, for the second Italian round of the year.
Championship leader Alvaro Bautista leads the way at the halfway point of the season, and will be hoping to deliver victory in front of the passionate home crowd.
Bautista was on course for his fourth clean sweep of the year at Jerez, before a surprising crash in race two. The Aruba.it Ducati team have traditionally been very strong at Misano, and with Bautista in fine form, the Spaniard starts the weekend as the heavy favorite.
Misano is the last race track before a run of circuits that will be new to him, so taking full advantage ahead of what could be a tougher second half of the season, will be crucial for Bautista.
Although Ducati are the most successful team at Misano, the team to beat in recent years has been Kawasaki and in particular Jonathan Rea.
Rea has won four of the last six races at this venue, and will look to repeat his performance of Imola where he beat Bautista for the first time this season.
It was a difficult weekend for the defending champion in Spain, as a collision with Alex Lowes and subsequent grid drop penalties, made it a disappointing outing for Rea.
One team that will be looking forward to get back on track for different reasons is the Pata Yamaha team. Michael Van Der Mark was only the third winner of the 2019 season in Jerez, and once again demonstrated the supreme talent he possess, while teammate Lowes will be eager to bounce back from his worst weekend of the year.
Lowes had been the top Yamaha for large parts of the season, but inconsistencies with crashes and some bad luck, have seen him lose third spot in the championship to his teammate.
One rider in desperate need of form, is Welshman Chaz Davies. The Ducati rider had his best weekend of the season at Imola, but after struggling with the new V4 Panigale in the first few rounds, and once again in Jerez where he lacked any sort of pace, it’s safe to say Davies would have hoped for more this season.
Davies will be happy with the pace shown in race two, as it seemed the team made a step forward before contact from Marco Melandri, which resulted in both men crashing out while in position to battle for a podium. Davies has gone well at Misano in the past, and will look to rediscover that form ahead of the British round at Donington Park.
Speaking of Melandri, it was a much better weekend until race two, as a return to form saw the Italian take two third place finishes. Melandri won with Ducati at Misano in 2017, and will hope mount another podium challenge on the GRT Yamaha.
Looking to build on their results in Jerez, will be the Motorrad BMW team and Tom Sykes. Sykes consolidated the raw pace of the bike with three top ten finishes, and with set up changes paying off after the recent Misano test, the former series champion will be confident of achieving similar results.
Misano will also see a wildcard for Ducati test rider and MotoGP wildcard Michele Pirro. The experienced Italian will be riding alongside Michael Ruben-Rinadi with the Barni Racing team.