News 8 Sep 2009

WSBK: Rea scores solid victory for Honda in German race two


Jonathan Rea (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR) took his second win of the season after holding off new championship leader Ben Spies in the second race of the day at the Nürburgring. Rea set a new lap record of 1’56.234 on the very last lap to ensure that Spies stayed behind him, and in doing so he consolidated his fourth place in the championship, moving to within 45 points of third.

Rea’s team-mate Carlos Checa (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR) secured two third places today in what was a positive meeting for the Ten Kate team in Superbike, even if Rea was disappointed with fourth in race one after qualifying second in Superpole. Checa was on row two but made a great start in the second 20-lap race of the day.

In the first race Checa and Rea had a long fight in the final laps, with Checa finally winning the private battle to take third place.

In race one Leon Haslam (Stiggy Racing Honda CBR1000RR) battled hard with Max Biaggi and Michel Fabrizio after Checa had pulled his way forward, and Leon secured sixth place. In race two Haslam was unlucky to be run off track and then suffer some minor technical issues that caused him to drop from a likely second to an eventual fifth.

The opening race was red flagged on the first lap after a collision on the entry to turn two saw John Hopkins (Stiggy Racing Honda CBR1000RR), Makoto Tamada and Broc Parkes all crash, with Hopkins and Tamada taken to hospital with symptoms of concussion. The restarted first race went the full 20-laps, and was won by Ben Spies, from Noriyuki Haga. Hopkins came through tests in hospital OK, but did not race in the second outing.

Ryuichi Kiyonari (Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR) was a disappointed 14th in race one, but improved greatly in the second race by taking seventh, after qualifying only 18th.

Sixteen place qualifier Matthieu Lagrive (Honda Althea CBR1000RR) scored another strong finish with 11th place in race one, but exited with a technical problem on lap two of race two.

In the overall points standings, Spies has 364, Noriyuki Haga (who crashed out of race two after a tangle with Rea) has 346, Michel Fabrizio has 289 and Rea has 244. Haslam is sixth, on 201 points, Checa seventh on 177.

Eugene Laverty (Parkalgar Honda CBR600RR) scored second place in the 19-lap Nürburgring race after fending off some late pressure from Joan Lascorz. The race was won by championship leader Cal Crutchlow, who now has a 22-point advantage over Laverty, with three rounds to go.

Laverty had a busy qualifying with the first day proving to be wet and all the set-up for the dry race completed on Saturday and during this morning’s warm-up session. The race itself remained dry, despite the riders’ visors feeling occasional smatterings of rain. The track conditions allowed Laverty to make the most of his third place qualifying position and push hard from the early laps.

Kenan Sofuoglu (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR) was on course for a second place finish, repeating his qualifying performance, until he fell on lap six, remounting to eventually retire on lap 13. In no scoring Sofuoglu dropped to fourth in the overall rankings, one place behind Lascorz.

Mark Aitchison (Althea Honda CBR600RR) finished the race sixth after a tough qualifying session in 14th, heading up 2008 champion Andrew Pitt (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR). Pitt had qualified tenth on the grid and could not get away in the leading group.

Robbin Harms (Veidec Racing CBR600RR) was both happy and relieved at the end of the race. Following six barren races the Dane returned to points scoring form in Germany. Harms made a good start and ran on the tail of the lead group for the opening seven laps before losing contact to end the race in a solid ninth place at the flag.

Miguel Praia (Parkalgar Honda CBR600RR) suffered throughout the race, as he had done in practice, fighting off ‘flu symptoms. His early aggression and pace could not be maintained all the way to the flag, and he finished 11th.

Anthony West (Stiggy Racing Honda CBR600RR) finished two places behind his team-mate Gianluca Vizziello (Stiggy Racing Honda CBR600RR), who was 13th. West repeated his qualifying performance with his 15th place, but Vizziello made up 11 places from 24th grid position.

Jonathan Rea: “I rode a poor race one and during the gap to race two I was really quiet, trying to think about it, and talking with my team about how to make it right. Ben was really strong in the first sector but I had a crash there on Friday that dented my confidence a bit. I concentrated on how to change my approach to the first few corners. I knew I had to have a mistake-free, but still very fast, last lap at the end, and that’s exactly what I did. We came here with some advances in our electronics, so I can’t thank my team enough for working hard. It is not just me on the bike, it is a whole team effort.”

Leon Haslam: “Spies came up the inside of me into the chicane in race two, and I was OK for the speed I was going in at. But Ben suddenly lifted up and that lifted me up, and that put me straight across the gravel. That was frustrating, but after lap seven or eight the chatter from the back end got worse. Earlier, I felt I was comfortable with Johnny in the corners even if he was gapping me on the straights, so it was frustrating, particularly as it was for a possible win. We went back to basic setting this weekend and I concentrated on my riding and I was back in there again.”

Ryuichi Kiyonari: “Race two was a big improvement for me and I felt more comfortable on the bike. It had a better feeling and balance and I was able to push a little harder in the second race and pass quite a few riders. Of course, there is still a lot of work to do but I am looking forward to see how much more we can improve in the final three races of the season.”

Carlos Checa: “I am satisfied to have been fast, fighting at the front, and to have taken two podiums. I stayed with the leaders in race two until near the end but it was just the extreme pace of Johnny at the end that told. But it was a good result for our team. Now we have put everything with the suspension and the balance of the bike together, that was the most important thing, and the chattering we had is now gone, so I can ride more fluidly. That is why I can take these podium positions.”

John Hopkins: “My day started off well and my crew found a good set-up for the machine in the warm-up session and I managed to improve my pace. I was confident going into the race. I knew the start would be tough and I had to be somewhere tactical to get myself into the top ten by the end of the first lap. I ran a bit wide coming out of turn one and then got hit from behind in the second turn and high-sided into Broc Parkes. I was unconscious for 10 minutes before waking up in the ambulance. A bike ran over my chest, but apart from that I have no serious injuries. I just hope my luck will turn around soon.”

Matthieu Lagrive: “I’m pretty happy about the results obtained in race one. My start was not so good but I found a good pace. The bike was working well, the engine was running very well and I was able to reach eleventh place. I’m satisfied about my final position in race one, considering my poor physical condition as today I had a very high temperature and near the end of the first race I felt very weak. In race two, I started off on a very good start but unfortunately, we had some technical problems which prevented me from achieving some important points for my championship standing.”

WSS Rider Comments

Eugene Laverty: 2nd. “Cal was very fast today but I can’t be worrying about that; I have to do the best with the package I have got and try to keep fighting. There are three races to go. That wasn’t an easy race today, with Joan Lascorz pushing right to the end. Second place was the best I could do and we are only 22-points behind in the championship table so we still have it all to play for. I am going to keep fighting to beat Cal and at the Imola test we had similar pace, so I’ll be going there and pushing for the win.”

Mark Aitchison: 6th. “It was important for me to finish the race today. In the middle of the race I managed to find good rhythm, but in the beginning I found many problems with rear grip and I risked crashing on several occasions while trying to stay with group. After a few laps the feeling was much better and my lap time started to be very consistent. We need to understand why we struggled with the rear grip this weekend, because if a better qualifying time was made I’m sure we could have reached a better result today.”

Andrew Pitt: 7th.“I was basically just too cautious when it was wet and lost too much time. I saw a couple of other riders go down and just took it steady for a couple of laps but came back strong at the end, when my lap times were better and I was able to get into a rhythm. We still need to do some work on improving the way the bike turns; I’m just having to wait too long to get on the gas. But we’re going in the right direction and making small steps forward. We’ll have a good base to start with at Imola and know what we have to do.”

Robbin Harms: 9th. “I managed a good start and was able to stay with some fast guys in the beginning of the race. After seven laps I had to let them go because we are not at the level yet to keep this pace during the whole race. Important is that after six races without points, I got back my trust and feeling back with the bike and this was a good start of it. After a difficult warm-up session, the result was better than I expected and my team really did a good job this weekend. The bike felt good and also my new engine worked well.”

Miguel Praia: 11th. “I am not feeling so good, since I came here I have had a temperature. I was good for the first couple of laps but then I was just not fit enough because of my cold. After two non-finishes this is a good result and I think normally if I am fit I could have fought with the group battling over seventh and eighth, which is a real positive going into the last three races.”

Gianluca Vizziello: 13th. “In warm-up my bike was OK, but in the race after six or seven laps my visor started to have condensation so on the straights I had to lift it open each time, so three points even with this was OK.”

Anthony West: 15th “I just can’t get comfortable on the bike. I can’t get the feel out of the front or the rear so I can’t push the bike as I want to.”

Jesco Günther: 19th. “My start was very good, but in the second lap McCoy touched me, so I had to go wide and lost many places. It cost me some time to fight my way back and with a good pace I came up to 15th position, but then my gear switched back and my bike started to slide. I came on the gravel and lost again some places. I expected more from my home-race and a 19th place is quite disappointing but I my bike felt good and I showed to have the pace.”

Arie Vos: 21st. “It was a heavy race for me cause I felt very weak. The cold didn’t get better and I got the flu as well. I took some medicines but also these didn’t make me feel better. The first ten laps went OK, but then I started to lose the power in my body. I even thought about returning to the pit box but then I saw I just had five more laps to go and focused on finishing the race. My team did some good work on the bike this weekend, but we were not able to show it. In Imola I will do everything I can to battle for points again.”

Kenan Sofuoglu: DNF. “I am so disappointed because I was in a good position when I crashed. I felt I had to push to stay with Crutchlow, but I just pushed too hard. I lost the footpeg but the rest of the bike was OK and I was able to do some good lap times before the bolt fell off and I had no alternative but to pull in. I’m sorry for the team who worked so hard to give me a good bike this weekend and I will try to make up for it at Imola.”

The next rounds of WSB and WSS take place at a revised Imola circuit, Italy, on 27 September.