News 12 Apr 2010

WSBK: Haslam extends lead, Haga back at Valencia

Haga returned to form in race two at Valencia on Sunday.

Haga returned to form in race two at Valencia on Sunday.

Two action-packed races held under clear Spanish skies saw two different winners make their mark at Valencia on Sunday, world championship leader Leon Haslam (Suzuki Alstare) in race one and a surprise Noriyuki Haga (Ducati Xerox) in the second.

The races could not have been more different, with Haslam a clear leader in an uninterrupted contest, while Haga won an aggregate race two by only 0.025 seconds.

Max Biaggi (Aprilia Alitalia) scored two podiums today, while James Toseland (Yamaha Sterilgarda) and Carlos Checa (Althea Ducati) also put in top three rides.

Haslam had a comfortable win in the end, after early leader Checa went out with a technical problem, while Max Biaggi could not make up the ground to get back into winning contention.

James Toseland’s return to WSB in 2010 was marked by his first podium on his Sterilgarda Yamaha four, while BMW Motorrad Motorsport earned a great fourth place with Australian Troy Corser – the highest ever WSBK place for the team since entering WSBK last year.

Haga fought through to fifth, but could not pass Corser in the final laps.

Japanese veteran Haga secured his first race win of 2010 after a tense fight with second place rider Checa and Biaggi. A two part aggregate race was required after a crash on lap four of the first heat brought out the red flags. Simon Andrews and Vittorio Iannuzzo both had heavy falls at high speed on the start/finish straight, but two fractures to Andrews’s left foot and heel were the final result.

The total time from the first three laps, and the time from a second heat of 20-laps were combined to find the final results. The margin of victory in the two-part race was 0.025 seconds between Haga and Checa, with Biaggi only 0.0299 from the win, in third place.

In the championship, Haslam’s fourth in the second of today’s races gives him 123 points to Biaggi’s 105 and Checa’s 80. Haga is on 79 points, in fourth place. After a sixth and fifth today, Jonathan Rea (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) is now fifth on 60 points, while Toseland and Sylvain Guintoli (Suzuki Alstare) are tied on 50 points.

Italian Michel Fabrizio (Ducati Xerox) had two no-scores leaving him eighth on the same 46 points as the ever-improving BMW of Corser, while Leon Camier led race two for Aprilia but fell for the second time today, scoring no points.

Kawasaki Racing Team rider Tom Sykes went 11th and 15th, now sitting in 16th place overall.

Joan Lascorz (Kawasaki won his home race at Valencia, taking advantage when his rivals slowed to post the fastest lap of the race and make a break before mid-race distance had been completed.

A sometimes-tight battle for second saw Kenan Sofuoglu (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) and Chaz Davies (ParkinGO Triumph BE1) go head-to-head, until Sofuoglu broke away with four laps remaining.

The struggle for fourth place went to local man David Salom (ParkinGO BE-1 Triumph). He passed Eugene Laverty (Parkalgar Honda) in the later stages of the 23-lap race. At the top of the table, Lascorz now has 65 points to Sofuoglu’s 61.

Ayrton Badovini (BMW Motorrad Italia) won his second race of the 2010 season today, by 3.080 seconds from Davide Giugliano (Team06 Suzuki) after Maxime Berger (Ten Kate Race Junior Honda) had crashed out of contention for second place. The final podium place was taken by Sylvain Barrier (Garnier Junior Racing BMW). In the championship, Badovini, on 50 points, leads Giugliano and Barrier, who are each on 29.

Click here for detailed results

Leon Haslam: “To make the break was a bit of a surprise, because I felt we could race the other guys, but for sure it would be a big battle to the end. But when I got to the lead I saw the lap times I was doing were not so great and I knew that Max and the others guys could go quicker, it had been proven. But I kept my rhythm and when I saw a small gap behind I pushed again and the gap became bigger and bigger. It’s great to win another race and leave with the championship lead.”

Noriyuki Haga: “I like Valencia a lot. I am Mr Valencia! Before the red flag in race two I made a good start and was in fifth position. In the restart I started from fifth and I kept a good pace. It was not easy to catch and pass the top two riders but in the last few laps I pushed hard and took the win. I was not thinking about the time difference I just knew I had to go at the front.”

Max Biaggi: “We had a very nice race in race two, just like the first one. The temperature went up a lot in the second race, which meant that the grip went down. Nori and Carlos were in front of me in race two and they deserved their places. I could not follow Haga in the last two laps because he was very fast but second and third at Valencia are two good results.”

Carlos Checa: “It was a good weekend; if not the first race then the second one, when I was battling right to the end. I thought I could control the second part of race two by sitting behind Max but then Nori arrived and broke up the group. I tried to catch him at the end but I could not make up the difference. Anyway I think it was a good result.”

James Toseland: “I think Max was slightly faster than me after half race distance in race one, but I was stronger where you can pass another rider, and that made it difficult for him to overtake. Once he did get past, he helped me take a couple of tenths of a second from my lap times and I kept ahead of Corser and Haga. I couldn’t do any more but we are getting better all the time.”

Sylvain Guintoli: “I made a good start in race one and everything was going according to plan until Camier crashed right in front of me! I had to take to the run-off area to avoid hitting him or the bike and then had to do a bit of a three-point turn to get back on the track and that cost me time and places. I had fallen to fourteenth (from sixth) but had some good battles before finally finishing ninth. We didn’t make any changes to the bike for race two, but the hotter temperature meant that the tyres didn’t work as well as they had done in race one and I had many slides. Sixth was not so bad, but I’m not happy because I think we can do better. I feel better here than I did in Portimao because I have got my rhythm back. Now we just have to keep on progressing and improving and, with a little bit of luck, the results will come.”

Jonathan Rea: “We’ve had a few gremlins this weekend, which ended up costing us time but I feel I’ve got a lot out of both races today. It’s been a difficult weekend and it’s been clear we didn’t have the pace of the front runners, but we’ve found out how to make the bike better. The new electronics have definitely made the bike easier to ride but we’ve had problems getting acceleration and grip on corner exits. It’s still early days with the electronics, though, and we know what to work on when we test at Assen this week. I’m really looking forward to that and the next race there, and I’d really like to thank my team for all their efforts this weekend. When morale’s been low, there’s always been a smile on their faces and I’m very grateful for that.”

Max Neukirchner: “You can probably imagine the words that I’d really like to use after today. It’s frustrating because I felt quite positive after qualifying and we didn’t make any changes to the bike for warm-up this morning. We used exactly the same settings for the first race but for some reason we suddenly got rear chatter problems on corner entry. We made a small change for race two and then another during the red flag delay but it just made everything worse! What’s really frustrating is that we don’t understand the problem, so we need to look at everything and work very hard at the test this week.”

Tom Sykes: “I got a good start in race one and was happy enough with eleventh as we found some good consistency with lap times. I was hoping to stay inside the top ten but we struggled a bit to sustain grip over the entire race distance but we got some points back on the board for the team. For race two I had another good start but unfortunately had a hiccup on the electronics and was then pushed back down. We then had a red flag so I had to start way back in 22nd place on the grid. The restart was difficult as I got a face full of cement dust and had something in my eye the whole race. It’s a shame because I had really good pace and was lapping faster than in race one and feeling confident that I could move ahead. I got into a battle with the people in front of me who were doing slower laps which damaged my own lap times. Overall we’ve taken away some points this weekend and we’ll keep chipping away and prepare for a good race with more luck in Assen.”

Simon Andrews: “It has been a great learning experience to ride for the Kawasaki Racing Team and to be part of the paddock. I enjoyed working with the guys for both the test and the race. We started the weekend with a few chassis issues but we were slowly turning that around and making steady progress. Race one was OK and in race two I got a good start and was finding a decent rhythm. When Tom went past me, I was hoping to stay with him and gain some places but the next thing I knew I was hit from behind on the straight and can’t remember much after that. The team are saying I am lucky as from what I’ve been told it looked pretty bad on the TV but my left foot is a bit smashed up and pretty painful right now. I have broken the heel and top bone of my foot and have obviously a few bruises to contend with but overall I’m fine. I’d like to thank the team for the opportunity to ride and how disappointed I am in having to end the weekend this way.”

Michel Fabrizio: “It was a weekend to forget, we’ll turn the page and concentrate on the next race. Today in Race 1 I had good pace and was able to make up a couple of positions very quickly, but then I unexpectedly lost the front and found myself on the ground. We made some changes for the second race but the front brake was not consistent and I came back to the garage.”