The close of the 2016 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship draws nearer, stopping at the French circuit of Nevers Magny-Cours for the eleventh round of the season, taking place from 30 September to 2 October.
The 4,411 metres of the Circuit de Nevers contain a 250 metre opening and closing straight, with an maximum upward gradient of 2.38% and downward gradient of 2.68%. The minimum curvature range is 5 metres, and the maximum is 474.45 metres.
Built on a hilly area, Magny-Cours is a fascinating circuit which has undergone several changes over the years with the objective of improving safety standards: due its particular configuration, overtaking is very difficult.
The course alternates between abrupt re-starts and long straights, while the Adélaide corner forces riders to take one of the tightest lines of the whole season, which is made after emerging from a fast straight.
The tarmac is smooth and almost devoid of irregularities, creating no particular problems for the tyres. The constant changes in the gradient, however, place a great deal of stress on rear tyres with soft compounds, while hard compound tyres provide a better support in making adjustments, and are generally preferred.
The circuit at Magny-Cours is by now an "historic" date for these production bikes: it is the fourteenth consecutive edition of the fifteen raced on this renowned French track, which began in 1960 from an idea of the mayor at the time, Jean Bernigaud.
Just as with the TT Circuit at Assen, the initial idea at Magny-Cours was to organise pureroad racingstyle competitions, but in this case the difficulties in completing the project led Bernigaud to opt instead for the construction of a multifunctional circuit, all encompassed within the Les Gaillères-Bardonnay estate.
The kart track opened in 1960, while on 12 March 1961 the car and motorbike racetrack was inaugurated in front of 5,000 people: the first configuration saw a 2,000-metre long circuit, as well as an off-road area for motocross which was just over 1,500 metres long.
The enormous success of the first edition led the mayor to opt for an enlargement of the circuit, with a modernising project lasting six years and which began in 1966 with the construction of the Stévenot-Routier bridge, enabling access to the track without entering it directly.
Bernigaud's expansion project also saw a reworking of bend five and the enlargement of the track, bringing it from seven to nine metres, as well as the construction of some stands: the new version of Magny-Cours, launched in May 1971, had a 3,850-metre long circuit.
The multifunctional Nevers complex is continually evolving: at the end of the seventies the paddock area was built and in 1980 a new bend was constructed at theGrande Courbe. The whole area came under the protection of the department of Nevers in 1986 with one, great dream: to host Formula 1®.
In 1989 the Magny-Cours circuit obtained the certification necessary to host the biggest car races in the world: the debut of F1® came in July 1991 and the following year, in order to adapt to the increasingly strict safety regulations, the bend which followed the Adélaide was removed. The last configuration of the track, still used today, goes back to 2003 with the modification of two sectors:Château d’EauandLycée.
The Superbike World Championship also made its Magny-Cours debut in 1991, and the Burgundy circuit has been a fixture in the world calendar since 2003, with the uncertainty of the weather always of great significance. The last edition in 2015 featured the erratic weather conditions at length: on this occasion Pirelli had brought a new rear tyre DIABLO™ Rain, completely new in terms of its tyre tread design, its structure and the compound used.
As a result of heavy rainfall in Burgundy between Saturday and Sunday, for the Superbike race the choice was made for wet tyres: despite the fact that it was no longer raining at the start of the race, all of the riders chose raintyres to help confront the mixed conditions, running a higher risk of overheating tyres . Despite this, the response of the Pirelli tyres was more than excellent, with a superb performance in the 21 laps raced.
The victory went to the new world champion, Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team), with a 4,711 milliseconds advantage on his teammate Tom Sykes, and more than 14 seconds ahead of the home rider Sylvain Guintoli. In the second round, Rea won again, ahead of Chaz Davies (+2.838 seconds) and Tom Sykes (+6.551 seconds), with the choice of tyres falling to slicks with the track having by now dried out.
Thanks to his second place obtained at Magny-Cours, the Turkish rider Kenan Sofuoglu was crowned world Supersport champion for the fourth time in his career: at the end of a race interrupted by the red flag and then reduced to 11 laps, and badly affected by the uncertain weather conditions, the Turkish rider finished more than three seconds behind the American Patrick Jacobsen. In third place came Mahias, more than eight seconds behind.
Just as in the Supersport, the Superstock 1000 finished the weekend on French soil with a new champion: Lorenzo Savadori, eighth in the Magny-Cours race, which was won by Guarnoni in front of Calia and De Rosa.