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More dramatic crashes and disappointment for BMW at Misano (WSBK Round 7)

Posted By Wes Fleming, Friday, June 23, 2017

Normally I try to give you, gentle readers, a bit of a play-by-play on the races. Not so much this time. I'm late, obviously, with my report, but it was a crazy race.

Race 1 at Misano last weekend was moderately interesting. For the most part, the most interesting part about it was that neither Jonathan Rea nor Chaz Davies were in the lead! Michael van der Mark led nearly every lap for the majority of the race and looked to be on his way to victory - until he crashed out of the race in Turn 13 with just seven laps to go.

In racing, you can go from hero to zero just like that. Van der Mark has finished fourth or fifth in seven races so far this season. He seemed poised to break his streak as a bridesmaid, but the crash took care of that for him.

Van der Mark's crash set the stage for what we've become used to as our podium finishers - Rea, Davies and either Tom Sykes or another of the top four or five riders. Althea BMW rider Jordi Torres made a strong showing in Race 1, but couldn't quite break through to the lead pack, unfortunately.

The race winner, however, ended up being Sykes, with Alex Lowes in second and Rea in third. That Rea finished in third is a bit of a miracle in and of itself, as near the end of the last lap of the race, Davies - in the lead by a narrow margin - lost his front end and crashed. It might not have been so dramatic except that Rea ran right over Davies, rolling over his head and neck and dropping his bike in the process.

As Rea slid to a stop and got to his feet, he looked back quickly at his chief rival. Davies raised his hand in a brief wave, as if to say "Sorry about that" or even "Carry on, mate!" Whatever the message, Rea ran to his motorcycle, righted it and managed to finish on the podium.

Torres, boosted by van der Mark's crash, suddenly found himself in fourth position with the championship's points leader engaged in a footrace to get back on his bike. The lead group had such a large gap, however, that Rea was still able to take third place. Torres' teammate, Raffaele de Rosa, benefitted from the high-profile crashes and finished in 10th position, his best finish this season since he moved up to WSBK to take over the slot given up by Markus Reiterberger, who suffered an injury last season that continues to affect his performance this year.

This fan-shot video from the stands offers one of the best views of the Davies-Rea crash. You see Rea get back on his bike and start riding again just as Torres comes into view on the right side of the frame.

Davies was injured, but not critically, in the crash and sat out Race 2. From a cold, analytical standpoint, the weekend at Misano has more or less ended Davies' chance at the outright championship. By missing out on a possible 50 points (had he won both races) and instead drawing zero points for the entire weekend, he's been relegated to third place in the standings and could easily be caught by Marco Melandri (down just 22 points from Davies) or even Lowes (down 44 points from Davies).

Due to his fourth place finish in Race 1, Torres found himself on the pole position for Race 2. Because he's had a number of strong finishes, he's run Race 2 from the second row a number of times, but this was his first time on pole for the season.

I couldn't help but think that the world would finally get to see what the S 1000 RR could truly do when it wasn't hampered by a mid-pack start and having Torres forced to climb rung by rung into the pack trailing the leaders.

Torres took the BMW flag and flew it high in Race 2, staying in the lead pack and running in first place for eight laps. While Rea, Sykes, Melandri, van der Mark and Eugene Laverty kept the pressure on Torres, it looked as if the Spaniard was destined for a podium finish, if not the outright win.

Again, you can go from hero to zero - just. like. that.

With three laps to go, a tire problem forced Torres out of the race. Done. His frustration was apparent as he guided his ailing bike to the side of the track.

Instead, Melandri won the race in fine fashion, achieving something of a landmark win in his career. Not only was Race 2 the 100th WSBK win for an Italian rider, but Melandri won the race on home turf, riding an Italian bike (Ducati) and using Italian tires (Pirelli) to boot! Is quadfecta a word? If it is, this was an Italian quadfecta.

Rea took second place, with Sykes rounding out the podium. De Rosa finished in seventh.

Torres understated his disappointment towards his tech withdrawal, saying "We were convinced we could do well today. I started strong, making the most of being on pole. Having no-one up ahead helped, I could take my lines, get into a rhythm. I ran my race, pushing to the limit, giving 100% all the way. I ran with Melandri for several laps and continued to push but then four laps from the end, I felt some vibration and the rear was sliding around, I realized it was the same issue we had at Assen in race 1. I thank my Althea guys, who came up with a significant chassis solution that we'd never tried before, that allowed me to find the right level of confidence and fully express myself. I’m so sorry I was unable to finish the race, but we have to take today’s performance and carry it to Laguna."

Rea remains atop the championship standings with 296 points, followed by Sykes (250), Davies (185), Melandri (163) and Lowes (141). Torres is in ninth place with 85 points, and de Rosa's 27 points put him in 17th. It remains bittersweet to see Nicky Hayden's name in the standings week after week; it's possible his 40 points will keep him in the top 20 for the rest of the season. Kawasaki continues to enjoy commanding leads in both the manufacturer and team standings.

Tags:  AltheaBMW  JordiTorres  Racing  S1000RR  WSBK 

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Roger R. Mullins Vice President says...
Posted Friday, June 23, 2017
Nice reporting Wes, well photographed and written.
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