Monza's second World Superbike race

At a glance, the BMW Italia Si000RR on which Ayrton Badovini stormed to sixth place here in Monza's second World Superbike race looked almost identical to the Superstock bike on which he had so much success last year. Look closer, though, and differences are obvious, the racing instrument panel, the slick Pirellis and the stubby exhaust silencer that gave this season' s factory Superbike even more top-end power than last year's bike.

More subtle modifications include the Superbike's extra section of fuel tank, visible below the seat. This close-season addition increased capacity and moved weight rearwards in an attempt to overcome the problem of lack of rear tyre grip that has been a SloooRR weakness at World Superbike level. Another difference from the relatively standard Superstocker was clear even before the Superbike's engine fired up, as a mechanic approached its rear tyre with a roller to turn over the engine in the absence of a starter motor.

The lack of starter motor helps bring the RR's weight down to the 165 kg Superbike minimum. Combined with the engine tuning that takes the factory Superbike engine's peak output to 223 PS, that's a serious performance increase that has been reflected in lap times and top speed.

Badovini has consistently impressed in his first season on a factory Superbike, often outperforming the German factory's riders to hold ioth place in the championship after seven of the 13 rounds. That's impressive stuff for a team that uses Munich factory supplied motors and electronics hardware, but which only began building the bikes for its first World Superbike season last November.

The agreement is that the German team gives us engines and electronic hardware and we make every map and the things we need on the electronic side.

The former Superbike world champion at Monza, itching to get back, and has been impressed by the way his team has performed.

Ironically, it was an electronic issue - more misunderstanding than a problem - that marred my ride. After riding slowly down the pit lane, I opened the throttle, but found the BMW spluttering and popping and refusing to accelerate properly. Eventually, I flicked into third gear and it suddenly took off at full pace, only to begin popping and banging again when I changed down for the slower turns.

Seems the pit lane speed limiter button on the left bar had been pressed and had continued to cut speed ill first and second gears. I didn't know which button to press to cure this. But I did. know that if I returned to the pits on this busy test day, I might not get another chance, so it was best to keep going.

As several of Monza 's bends require the lowest two gears, that did rather detract from the ride. But the Badovini bike was rapid through the Ascari chicane and the Parabolica, carving through that long, fast final turn before hammering onto the pit straight at a breathtaking rate. It was enough to show the potential of the most improved machine in World Superbike. With Toseland due back for the second half of the season, there should be even more to come.