Preview: World Superbikes round five – Imola.

Everything happening during the Motul Italian Round, on the track and at the circuit this weekend. It’s a guide.

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Beginning on Thursday (tomorrow) with a pre-event and the Open Paddock, the track action gets underway on Friday to kick off a weekend of on-track thrills and off-track entertainment. As this year marks the 90th Anniversary of Ducati, there will also be a display of bikes from the Italian marque in the Museo Checco Costa inside the Paddock at Imola.

THURSDAY: Pre-Event: Historic Duel and Archery Shooting Competition
On Thursday at the Rocca di Sforzesca di Imola, a host of riders including Tom Sykes, Sylvain Guintoli and Davide Giugliano will get the chance to try out suits of armour and watch a historic duel demonstration, before getting involved themselves in an archery competition. With WorldSBK riders proving some of the most competitive people on the planet, it should be an unmissable chance to watch them take each other on in a slightly different kind of battle. Beginning at 11am local time (GMT +2), the event at the Rocca di Sforzesca di Imola will be a great event to kick off the weekend’s competition and fans are more than invited to attend!

Back at the track, the Open Paddock characterizes Thursday afternoon from 14:00 until 18:00, including a 90-minute autograph session at the Paddock Show starting at 3pm with a selection of the paddock’s biggest names from WorldSBK, WorldSSP and STK1000.

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FRIDAY:
The first practice sessions for WorldSBK, WorldSSP and STK1000 get underway on Friday, with those for World Superbike and World Supersport both determining entry into their respective Superpole 2 sessions the following day, meaning Friday can be pivotal. As well as the first chance to see the grid take on the mythical ribbon of tarmac of the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari, there is plenty more happening at the circuit to keep the adrenalin flowing.

At 13:00, local riders will take to the stage in a chat show at the Paddock Show, before later in the day at 16:30 the top 3 fastest riders from both WorldSBK and WorldSSP will head to the Paddock Show Arena to do the same. The visit from the fastest men of the day prefaces the Team Managers’ Chat Show at 16:50; the perfect opportunity to get another perspective on the WorldSBK paddock from outside the helmet.

SATURDAY:
WorldSBK kicks off Saturday’s activities, with Free Practice 3 beginning at 8:45am, ahead of Tissot-Superpole 1 beginning at 10:30.

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The first of the Paddock Show Meet and Greet sessions starts at 10:00, with stars from STK1000. Later, at 15:30, WorldSSP riders will be the ones on stage at the Arena to meet fans, with riders including Championship leader Randy Krummenacher, reigning Champion Kenan Sofuoglu and MV Agusta’s title-contender Jules Cluzel.

At 12:15 before the first WorldSBK Race of the weekend, the Motul Extreme Stunt Show will take over the track for fifteen minutes of thrills, before lights out at 13:00 for the fastest bikes in the WorldSBK paddock to leave their mark at Imola.

A pit walk will take place after the Race, from 15:00 to 16:00, allowing some lucky fans the chance to see behind the WorldSBK scenes as the pit boxes and teams wind down after their first Race, before 15:45 sees Ducati 90th Anniversary Parade laps on the track, in celebration of the landmark anniversary of the Italian marque. The Paddock Show then hosts the Race 1 and Tissot-Superpole Show at 16:00, with the top three riders from Race 1, the Pirelli Best Lap winner, the pole sitter and the best placed local riders.

Saturday night there will also be a concert staged at the circuit thanks to Championship title sponsor and Event Main Sponsor Motul, starting at 21:00 and definitely the best way to finish off the first day of racing at Imola.

SUNDAY:
A pit walk starts the off-track day on Sunday, from 10:15 to 11, as the cream of the WorldSBK crop head over to the Paddock Show arena for 10:30 for a Meet and Greet session, featuring riders such as reigning Champion Jonathan Rea, Ducati rider Davide Giugliano and Honda’s 2006 MotoGP World Champion Nicky Hayden.

It’s then time for WorldSSP to take to the track, with lights out for the World Supersport Race at 11:20 local time. Sure to be another showstopper in its own right, the WorldSSP grid are also set to whet appetites for WorldSBK Race 2, which begins at 13:00.

After the flag for WorldSBK, a further Motul Extreme Stunt show makes sure that there’s never a stop to the action, before the STK1000 Cup contenders line up for their race at 14:20. With so many local riders in the field, the race is sure to be hotly contested as they fight for home glory.

At 15:00, the top riders from WorldSSP will head to the Paddock Show for their Raceday show, before WorldSBK’s top riders from Race 2 take over at 15:20 for their second Raceday show of the weekend.

At 15:45, STK1000 riders finish off a weekend of incredible racing once again as the Paddock Show hosts the last show of the 2016 Motul Italian Round and the top 3 riders from the Cup head over for their Raceday show, before WorldSBK gets ready to set sail once again and the paddock starts preparing for the following Round in Malaysia.

Tony Carter

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