Superbikes Shine In Utah!

Marco Melandri breaks Carlos Checa’s stranglehold at Miller Motorsports Park; Josh Hayes races to an unchallenged win.

Superbikes Shine In Utah!

Superbikes Shine In Utah!

An unsettled weekend of rain at Miller Motorsports Park in Toole, Utah, gave way to perfect racing weather on Monday, May 28, for two rounds of Superbike World Championship competition. Sandwiched between was an AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike race.

Throughout SBK practice, Ducatis occupied many of the forward positions, suggesting that the V-Twins’ strong acceleration off Miller’s many medium-speed corners must be a factor. Yet SBK’s striking characteristic is that of six brands competing in that series (Yamaha is not currently participating), five have won races this year. That is a strong, broad series, delivering value to participants, spectators and sponsors alike. When asked how this close competition is achieved despite the obvious differences between Ducati’s 1200cc V-Twin, Aprilia’s 1000cc V-Four and the 1000cc inline-Fours of Kawasaki, BMW and Suzuki, FIM Superbike Technical Director Steve Whitelock replied, “We give them what they need.”

In practical terms, this has meant transforming Honda's older CBR1000RR by permitting throttle-by-wire (developed not by HRC but by Ronald Ten Kate's "Department of Engines" in Holland) and helping BMW out of its long stasis on the edge of success with a 7 percent change in crankshaft mass. SBK works by consultation, not by edict, and because this has succeeded over many years (this is the series' 25th season), participants trust and support the process—and potential newcomers find joining more attractive.

In Race 1, as so often this year, Tom Sykes on the super-powerful and newly competitive Kawasaki ZX-10R led away into Turn 1, followed by many-time Miller winner Carlos Checa, new BMW hire Marco Melandri and Honda-mounted Jonathan Rea. The Kawasaki now seems to have taken over the role so lately vacated by BMW, that of leading races brilliantly, only to move backward as an overworked rear tire refused to hold. On Lap 4, Melandri, Checa, Rea and Max Biaggi got past, leaving Sykes fifth. Checa bore down, taking six laps to eke out a one-second lead. This is his way, and he won, with Melandri, Biaggi and Rea behind him.

Next: 16 laps of AMA SuperBike. Qualifying had put the two Erik Buell Racing 1190RSs third and fourth, filling that team (and all bitter opponents of electronics) with hope. Josh Hayes (Graves Yamaha) showed his sharp-edged professionalism by pulling away from the cut-and-thrust at two-thirds of a second per lap. Blake Young (Yoshimura Suzuki), somehow off his usual form, was left to race with Josh Herrin (Graves Yamaha). At the end, Hayes was clear by 7.8 seconds while Herrin took second from Young in heavy final-laps action. EBRs were fourth and sixth, with Ben Bostrom's Jordan Suzuki between.

In SBK Race 2, after a red flag and a restart, the same Sykes/Checa action repeated, but this time, a small mistake in Checa’s intense drive put him down, transforming the race into an edgy battle between Melandri and Rea, who finished in that order followed by Biaggi, Chaz Davies and Sykes.

This leaves Biaggi leading the series at 160.5 points, with Melandri, Sykes and Rea at 142.5, 141 and 141, and Checa (last year’s champion) at 130.5.

Superbikes Shine In Utah!

Superbikes Shine In Utah!

Superbikes Shine In Utah!

Superbikes Shine In Utah!

Superbikes Shine In Utah!

Superbikes Shine In Utah!

Superbikes Shine In Utah!

Superbikes Shine In Utah!

Superbikes Shine In Utah!

Superbikes Shine In Utah!

Superbikes Shine In Utah!

Superbikes Shine In Utah!

Superbikes Shine In Utah!

Superbikes Shine In Utah!

Superbikes Shine In Utah!

Superbikes Shine In Utah!

Superbikes Shine In Utah!

Superbikes Shine In Utah!

Superbikes Shine In Utah!

Superbikes Shine In Utah!

Superbikes Shine In Utah!

Superbikes Shine In Utah!

Superbikes Shine In Utah!

Superbikes Shine In Utah!

Superbikes Shine In Utah!

Superbikes Shine In Utah!

Superbikes Shine In Utah!

Superbikes Shine In Utah!

Superbikes Shine In Utah!

Superbikes Shine In Utah!

Superbikes Shine In Utah!

Superbikes Shine In Utah!

Superbikes Shine In Utah!

Superbikes Shine In Utah!

Superbikes Shine In Utah!

Superbikes Shine In Utah!

Superbikes Shine In Utah!

Superbikes Shine In Utah!

Superbikes Shine In Utah!

Superbikes Shine In Utah!