In my opinion the penultimate round of the 2016 International Road Racing Championship series, will prove the most prestigious and coveted, as pure road racing action returns to the iconic Imatra circuit in Finland.
Pretty much every rider competing this weekend at Imatra, will be newcomers to a roads venue, which over the years has seen the likes of Barry Sheene and Giacomo Agostini battle it out for race wins.
IRRC superbike championship leader Vincent Lonbois can mathematically clinch the title this weekend, as he aims to take the title from reigning champion and Herpigny BMW Motorrad Belux team mate Sebastien Le Grelle.
Photo by Robby Repsol
Alongside the Herpigny BMW Motorrad Belux duo fellow S1000RR BMW mounted rider Didier Grams, has the undoubted roads craft to gel quickly with Imatra.
Same applies to Performance Team Achterhoek’s Jochem Van Den Hoek, currently fifth in the championship standings.
2012 newcomers A Manx Grand Prix winner Kamil Holan will be in my opinion a dark horse for race victories, the same can be said for Johan Fredriks, Petr Biciste and David Datzer.
One of the wildcard entries to watch out for is Marco Pagani on the Team Franciacorta Corse by RMS S1000RR BMW.
This years TT Races saw Marco enjoy a hugely productive two weeks action around the Mountain Course. Main highlights included 31st place finish in the Pokerstars Senior TT, plus finish a highly creditable 28th in the Royal London 360 Quantum Superstock TT.
Looking toward the IRRC Supersport encounters, a lot of the attention will be on the title battle between, the reigning champion Marek Cerveny and 2014 champion Joey Den Besten.
Photo by Robby Repsol
With just 20 points between them in the current standings, the two IRRC supersport races at Imatra, could well prove crucial in what’s been to date a gripping title battle.
Outside of the title challengers, France’s Pierre Yves Bian and Denmark’s Anders Blaha both could spring a surprise or two, as could Finland’s own Tuukka Korhonen.
Regarded by many as Finland’s leading pure road racer, Tuukka won’t be short of support at Imatra, as he aims to record series of top class results.
Tuukka is also set to compete in the lightweight races on his own teams RS 250 Honda.
The lightweight races, along with sidecar encounters which will feature four times world sidecar champion Pekka Paivarinta making his roads debut, form part of a nine race schedule.
It’s great to see roads action return to Imatra, the hugely popular roads venue in Finland, provided great spectacles a plenty in the 1970’s and early 1980’s when it hosted a round of the Moto GP world championship.
Expect more great moments at the weekend, as many of today’s current generation of leading pure road racers from continental Europe, battle it out for race victories.
Imatra Qualifying/Race Schedule as follows:
Friday August 19th:
17.15 Open 600 first qualifying session
17.40 Open 1000 first qualifying session
18.05 Lightweight first qualifying session
18.30 IRRC Supersport first qualifying session
19.00 IRRC Superbike first qualifying session
19.30 Sidecar first qualifying session
Saturday August 20th:
10.00 IRRC Supersport second qualifying session
10.30 IRRC Superbike second qualifying session
11.00 Lightweight second qualifying session
11.30 Sidecar second qualifying session
13.00 IRRC Supersport third qualifying session
13.30 IRRC Superbike third qualifying session
14.00 Sidecar third qualifying session
14.30 Open 600 second qualifying session
15.00 Open 1000 second qualifying session
16.00 IRRC Supersport Race 1 session
16.45 IRRC Superbike Race 1 session
17.20 Sidecar Race 1 session
Sunday August 21st:
13.00 Open 600 Race 1
13.40 Lightweight Race 1
14.20 Open 1000 Race 1
15.00 IRRC Supersport Race 2
15.40 Sidecar Race 2
16.20 IRRC Superbike Race 2
Words by Stevie Rial