News 28 Feb 2010

WSBK: Checa scores shock Phillip Island second race win

Spanish Althea Ducati rider Carlos Checa has become the first privateer to win a World Superbike race since 2008 with a vintage performance in race two at Phillip Island this afternoon, winning race two after Leon Haslam won the first.

Checa won race two of WSBK today at Phillip Island.

Checa won race two of WSBK today at Phillip Island.

Spanish Althea Ducati rider Carlos Checa has become the first privateer to win a World Superbike race since 2008 with a vintage performance in race two at Phillip Island this afternoon.

The former 500cc Grand Prix winner timed his run to perfection, passing race one winner Leon Haslam (Suzuki) with only two corners to go, and then valiantly holding off his rival to the chequered flag.

Michel Fabrizio (Ducati) was a close third from Suzuki’s Sylvain Guintoli in another signature Phillip Island blanket finish, while Troy Corser (BMW) was the best of the Australians in seventh.

Queenslander Chris Vermeulen (Kawasaki) wasn’t so fortunate, crashing hard at Turn Nine and bruising his left hip. He also fell off in race one.

The victory was Checa’s third in WSBK since he switched over to the production bike-based championship in 2008.

That was also the last year that a privateer managed to rise above the factory presence in WSBK, when Ruben Xaus won on a Ducati at Misano.

After a slow start from the front row of the grid, Checa finally joined the front-running quartet of Haslam, Fabrizio, Noriyuki Haga (Ducati) and Guintoli about half race distance, and from there it was a matter of jockeying for position in preparation for the final frantic run home.

Haga eventually dropped off the pace to finish fifth, and just 0.837secs separated the top four at the end of the 22-lapper.

Jonathan Rea (Honda) was sixth, forced to slice his way back through the pack after running off at Turn Four on lap one, with Max Biaggi (Aprilia) finishing behind Corser in eighth.

Australians Josh Brookes (Honda) and Andrew Pitt (BMW) were 14th and 15th.

After round one of 13, Haslam leads the championship on 45pts from Fabrizio (36), Checa (34), Haga (27), Guintoli (23) and Rea (23). Corser is eighth on 16pts, while Vermeulen will have to wait until round two in Portugal on 26-28 March to open his account.

Earlier in the weekend, Haslam won race one, Eugene Laverty won World Supersport, Wayne Maxwell won Australian Superbike, Troy Herfoss won Australian Supersport, Ben Attard won the Australian Superstock 1000 A- and B-Grade class and Carew Dickinson won the Superstock 600 category.

Visit the Breaking News section for full reports and results from all categories.

Click here for detailed results

Leon Haslam: “I am so happy to get my first WSBK win and it feels great! I want to thank the team and all the staff back at the workshop for all their support and hard work and I’d also like to thank Francis and Patricia Batta for having faith in me. The first race was such hard work and it was impossible to relax for a second. I knew that I had Michel and Nori breathing down my neck, but I just kept concentrating on my lines and my braking points and tried to hold them off. I realised that Michel was in my wheeltracks going into the last turn and would try and use the draft to get past me, but I kept my head down and charged to the flag. At the end, I didn’t know if I’d won or not, but when I realised that I had, I was so unbelievably happy and it was such a fantastic feeling. All weekend I knew that a win was possible, but thinking about and it happening are two different things. In race two, I had some problems with rear traction but I still thought I could win. I had a great fight with Sylvain and when I finally got ahead of him and made it stick, I thought he might act as a buffer between me and the rest. Then suddenly, Carlos was there. He dived under me just three corners from the end, on the last lap. I tried to get it back, but he managed to hold me off and take the flag. But it feels good to take a win and a second in my first race with the team and it feels fantastic to be leading the Superbike World Championship.”

Sylvain Guintoli: “I have really enjoyed today and it’s been great fun. I can’t remember the last time I was leading a World Championship race, so to lead quite a lot of race two was a great feeling and now I want to do it again. When I was in front, I felt comfortable and I knew I could keep up a good pace. Everything felt very smooth and it was all going to plan until I made a small mistake and Leon and then Carlos went through. Carlos and I touched in turn 8 when my elbow was in contact with his front wheel and then I tried a bit too hard to get back straightaway when perhaps I should’ve been a bit more patient and that’s where I lost ground. I could’ve made a better result in the first race if I hadn’t had such a bad start. My pace was good, but I was too far off the leaders, but I am learning about WSBK race pace and also the fact that the races are longer than what I have been used to. I am very happy with all the work we’ve done and am enjoying riding this bike so much. It was nice to get a trophy for the fastest lllap in race two and I hope that it will just be the start of many to come. I am looking forward to Portimao and my next trophy.”

Carlos Checa :”The second race was perfect. In race one we chose a tyre that was perhaps too hard for the conditions and I found it hard to brake. In race two we selected a better tyre and I could brake much more strongly, I also had a very good pace and was able to pass riders fairly easily. My style of riding actually seemed to mean that tyre wear was less of a problem for me than for some other riders. By the last lap I was up in second and I could finally get pass Haslam. I wanted to pass him earlier but it was impossible and he didn’t leave me space to pass until the very end. I am of course extremely happy with the result, it is my first race with the Althea team and on the Ducati 1198 and we have a good package with which to fight this season. My thanks go to the entire team for their hard work and dedication.”

Shane Byrne :” The first race I made it was very difficult for myself, I knew I had to make as many passes as possible to get near the front. I pushed to pass Guintoli and Sykes and couldn’t make it, so had to go straight. A small problem with the rear brake and it was hard to turn, but anyway I recovered and had good rhythm so I was happy with it, though not so happy with the result. The first thing to say about race two is congratulations to Carlos and to the whole team for the win. Genesio and the team have put together a very competitive machine. There are too many fast riders to be able to start from 18th and expect a good finish, but I got up as far as about tenth place which wasn’t so bad, having been caught up in battles with several riders. Today we have seen that there are many riders that can fight for race wins, the level of riding is very good. We go home and concentrate on preparations for Portimao.”

Michel Fabrizio: “I had a great battle with Leon in Race 1. In the last four laps I tried to understand where I could attempt to get past him but it wasn’t easy so I pushed on right to the finish line and, to tell the truth, I thought I’d done enough! Leon and I were right there together as we crossed the line, and on the big screen I could see my wife celebrating in the box – but the result was decided by the photofinish and I had to settle for 20 points this time. The great thing about the Superbike championship however is that there are two races…. My team did not make any changes to the bike before the second race and I was again able to make a good start but it was a very difficult race. I stayed there with the leading pack but I realized it would be very hard to win, and in the last four laps it became more difficult to fight. I am very happy with today’s results, which put me in second place on the leaderboard after round 1. It will be a very long and challenging season but we’ve made a good start today.”

Noriyuki Haga: “My result in Race 1 was really good as far as I’m concerned as I had had a crash during the warm-up and suffered from a bit of arm-pump during the race. I was confident that I could make a good start from 10th position and I did so and then I tried to keep up with Michel and Leon but my arm led me to make a few small mistakes. Anyway I really enjoyed the race and the points I made in the race are definitely a good start for the championship. In the second race my arm played up more and it became harder to brake, I felt very tired physically. But all in all, with regard to the classification and bearing in mind this morning’s accident, it didn’t go too badly; I finished third and fifth and we take home some good points.”

Troy Corser: “I had a good start in the first race and gained a couple of positions but unfortunately the tyre dropped quite quickly and I was unable to push as much as I wanted but I was still a good result. We changed the settings on the bike before the start of the second race and things were a lot better. The grip was a lot better immediately, and it was easier to do consistent lap times. I was able to push and fight in the second race like I wanted to in race one. I had to work really hard to pass James Toseland towards the end of race two but I did and managed to pull away slightly. Overall, we can be happy with what we achieved here today at Phillip Island.”

Max Biaggi: “It didn’t go very well. In Race 2, I went straight for the little curve, where Camier went off the track twice, because I was at my limit, and in these situations, a mistake is right around the bend. There’s still a lot of work to be done, but I’m not going away disheartened or discouraged because we are aware of our own potential and we know we can surely do better when once we have eliminated these problems.”

Leon Camier: “I’m very sorry about all of the mistakes I made. In Race 1 I tried to pass the other drivers at the little curve, but I overshot a bit while braking and in order to avoid hitting Max, I went off track. Then I really pushed to recover as many positions as possible. During the second race, I started off quite well and I was with the lead group right behind Checa, who immediately passed Toseland. When I attempted to pass, we ended up a bit wide. Then I shifted into the wrong gear and overshot at the same curve as in Race 1. I’m disappointed because I ran with very good times and seeing how the race ended, I could have had an excellent result. We’ve improved a lot, but I wasted a good opportunity. Now we’re headed to Portimao, a track that I know well and where I intend to keep up with the leaders. But, there’s still a lot of work to do and I especially have to improve during the Superpole.”

Cal Crutchlow: “Race one was unfortunate, I felt we had good pace and were running up in the top five quite comfortably, I just made a little mistake. I was a bit better than Rea into the hairpin so had to run wide to avoid him and lost the front on the dirt. The second race was hard, I felt like I had no grip from the start and still some chattering. If we had better grip we could have pulled more out of it. We need to go back to the drawing board and work some stuff out.”

James Toseland: “I really needed to finish the second race after the crash in the first. To only finish 14 seconds from the front with the issues we’ve had this weekend is not so bad. I was really disappointed with the first race, with my injury on Friday I wanted to have two good finishes today. Full credit to the team they’ve tried so hard but unfortunately we haven’t had the software here to solve the issue. We know what the problem is and I’ve given enough feedback and input to give the guys a direction to go in. We’ve got a lot of work to do, no doubt, but even with all the problems we’re not actually that far away. The package, the power, the balance and the suspension have come on leaps and bounds. On to Portimao now, it’s a long season so we can do it.”

Tom Sykes: “In race one we made some changes to the set-up and but it didn’t suit the tyre we used. In race two we got a good launch, but got boxed in and pushed out on to the dirty stuff, along with another couple of riders. So I went from thinking I would be sixth to being 15th. The bike was feeling good but when I went into the final two corners it felt like someone was pushing me from behind. I came back in and checked the bike, then went back out again before retiring. It was just a ten cent o-ring for the steering damper, causing the steering to feel strange sometimes. Otherwise, the bike was very good and giving me a strong race pace in race two. This whole Australian experience has been a good test period for us and I know that we go to Portimao having learned a lot. I would like to thank Kawasaki and the team for the amount of effort they have put in.”

Chris Vermeulen: “I was feeling positive for the race after our two-day test and qualifying sessions. In both races I had really good starts but in the first race I lost the front early on when lying 7th and in race two I had a problem that resulted in a high-speed crash. I’m bruised and battered but am feeling OK, considering the speed of the crash. I had heavy impact on my lower right leg and my finger is pretty smashed up. The preliminary X-rays have shown no breaks but for a precaution I am heading to Melbourne for a more detailed MRI scan. I’m glad we have a month before Portimao, so I can ensure that I am back to full fitness.”

Jonathan Rea: “All positive to be honest. It is easy to look at the results and get downhearted but we are not going to do that, because that is where our pace was all weekend, between four and seventh. We knew it was going to be difficult to get on the podium but that was the aim. Getting fourth in the first race was the best-case scenario. In the second race, after running off then seeing P22 on my pit board, I dug deep every lap and caught up to sixth. The bike felt better from race one to two as well. I had a few bad races last year, so if that was a bad weekend we’ll take it.”

Max Neukirchner: “We made some improvements from the first race to the second race, but the only problem was that I made a mistake in the third lap of race two, when fighting with Biaggi and ran off track, losing about 20 seconds. It was hard to try and come back from that. I am really not happy but we did find some good things and I improved how I work with the team.”

Josh Brookes: “We went back to similar settings that we had at the tests, even though that meant we had some problems with chatter again. When we tried to get rid of those we lost the ability to keep a good line and turn the bike on the throttle. So we went back to what we had, I was able to race with some guys and took some points in race two.”

Vittorio Iannuzzo: “We had some issues in the test last week and although we did not score any points like we planned, we finished both races as well as we could. I had a problem in race one with my electronics as well.”