Gulf’s two World Superbike Championship (SBK) teams – Aprilia’s factory Milwaukee outfit and the BMW manufacturer assisted Althea Racing squad – have both made progress towards the head of the SBK field with an excellent set of results at the most recent race meetings, at Misano in Italy and at Laguna Seca in California.
In the first race, the Althea BMW of Jordi Torres (pictured below) ran top five for much of the latter part of the race and came home in fourth, a couple of places ahead of the two Milwaukee Aprilias and then Rafaele de Rosa on the second BMW. This created a first for Gulf, with all four bikes finishing in the top 10. A great result – but more was to come...
The grid reshuffle which moves the top three finishers from the first race back onto row 3 for the second race, saw two Gulf bikes on the front row – Torres on pole and Laverty third.
In the race, Torres hit the front on lap 9 and stayed there for the next nine laps, before being overtaken by eventual race winner Marco Melandri’s Ducati. Torres however, maintained his second place – looking odds-on for Gulf’s first ever World Superbike podium until his engine lost all power just three laps from the finish. It deserved better, however, it did promote the other Gulf bikes up the order and the three remaining bikes finished 5th, 6th and 7th – Gulf’s overall best result of the season to date.
The World Superbike programme has proved even more popular with Gulf businesses in 2017 than last year, but coming the same weekend as Le Mans, the Misano weekend might have potentially proved difficult to activate. However, that was emphatically not the case.
The VIP Aprilia race factory tour was attended by more than 20 lucky guests who got a unique behind-the-scenes insight into how the most successful motorbike manufacturer in racing history operates. The workshops, engine test bays, customer racing preparation area and meetings with some of the top Aprilia Racing personnel were all available to Gulf’s guests during the tour – and the factory itself is a living Aprilia racing museum with World Championship-winning bikes scattered around the corridors and meeting rooms.
Three weekends later at Laguna Seca in California the Gulf bikes again qualified well, with Laverty’s Aprilia on the second row for race 1. Tyre problems hampered the Aprilias, although Savdori finished 10th. Ahead of him was Jordi Torres in seventh on the BMW, which earned him a second row start for the second race.
At Misano, Torres started strongly, running in the top five until he joined team mate De Rosa as a retiree. The Aprilias took up the Gulf mantle however, and Eugene Laverty came home 6th with Lorenzo Savadori two places behind him.
The World Superbike series now has a six-week summer break, with the bikes now coming back to Europe. Hopefully, both Althea BMW and Milwaukee Aprilia will be able to further develop their machines to continue Gulf’s charge towards the front…
Gulf's World Superbike Programme makes huge progress in all areas
Italy & California, USA