News 1 Jun 2010

WSBK: Biaggi storms to double win and series lead at Miller

Max Biaggi leads the WSBK field to a dominant day at Miller in the USA on Memorial Day.

Max Biaggi leads the WSBK field to a dominant day at Miller in the USA on Memorial Day. Image: 2Snap

Aprilia’s Max Biaggi has continued his brilliant World Superbike form to claim his third double win of the year in racing overnight at the seventh round of the Superbike World Championship in the United States.

The veteran Aprilia rider was a runaway winner in both 21-lap journeys at Miller Motorsports Park, and he also inherited the championship lead after Suzuki’s Leon Haslam slumped to his first DNF of the year with a crash in race two.

Biaggi’s clean sweep followed on from the same feats at Portimao and Monza.

“We’ve had a double win, which is very helpful to me and my team,” said Biaggi. “I was a little bit lucky because Checa had some trouble, but the Aprilia is only one-and-a-half years old and we have developed it into a very strong machine. It is a winning machine.”

Biaggi’s only real opposition at Miller came from polesitter Checa, who was clearly the fastest rider and set a new lap record of 1:48.045 around the 4.907km layout in race one.

Checa, who won the first two WSBK races at Miller in 2008, had a vice-like grip on both races before retiring with electrical problems, which has allowed Rea to hold onto third position in the championship despite a slew of recent DNFs.

Rea crashed again in race one at Miller, while Haslam was the big-name casualty in race two.

Earlier, Haslam had followed Biaggi home in race one, with a rejuvenated Haga in third, while Leon Camier brought up a Aprilia quinella in race two ahead of Yamaha’s Cal Crutchlow.

Australian BMW ex-dual world champion Troy Corser was running as high as second in race two before slipping back to fifth in the last few laps, courtesy of a slow-starting but fast-finishing Haga. Corser was still encouraged by his efforts, especially after he was forced to start both races from the fourth row of the grid after a disappointing Superpole.

“Overall, we should be happy today,” said Corser. “In the first race I had to fight with chattering, and I had some trouble with the edge grip. We changed the rear spring and made a few adjustments.

“The bike definitely felt better, but the problem came back again when the tyre went away after a couple of laps. We now know what we have to improve.”

Wollongong local Corser slipped to seventh in the standings at Miller despite two solid fifth place finishes, while countrymen Chris Vermeulen (Kawasaki) and Broc Parkes (Echo CRS Honda) were again well off the pace.

Vermeulen finished with 15-13 results, while Parkes scored 19-15 for the round.

After seven of 13 rounds, Biaggi now leads on 257pts ahead of Haslam’s 242, who had led the championship from round one at Phillip Island. Ten Kate Honda’s Jonathan Rea is third on 151 ahead of the terribly unlucky Carlos Checa (Althea Ducati) and reigning world number two Noriyuki Haga (Ducati Xerox).

In World Supersport, Kenan Sofuoglu (Ten Kate Honda) extended his championship lead to six points after recording his first win since round two in Portugal. He also took a new lap record of 1:51.702.

Sofuoglu’s brand-mate Eugene Laverty was second, just over a second behind the winner, with Joan Lascorz (Kawasaki) third.

In the championship, Sofuoglu has 142pts, Laverty 136, Lascorz 128 and Triumph’s Chaz Davies 84.

Click here for detailed results

Max Biaggi: “Very lucky. I think Checa deserved that race because he rode very hard. Honestly speaking he deserved it but racing is racing and sometimes these things happen. This time it was our turn. We had a very good pace and I am happy for me, my team and Aprilia. We made a double win, and that was my dream. Before we came here, I was hoping and dreaming to make a double win. It is just what I need. I was also a little bit lucky because Checa had some trouble, but anyway this is 50 points, very helpful to me and my team. I’m happy for my team-mate too. This machine is only one and a half years old, and we developed the bike very, very strong. The engineers made a good job. I’m very happy for my Aprilia friends. The people understand this bike is a winning machine.”

Leon Camier: “The start of the weekend didn’t go according to plan, really. I had a couple of crashes, and I sort of managed to turn it around for the second one. The first race we had a bit of a bad front tyre choice and maybe a bit of a setting thing. Yeah, the second one’s gone awesome, so massive thank you to Aprilia. They’ve done an awesome job as you can see. I think it’s Aprilia’s first 1-2 in Superbike. Max just had a bit more pace than me.”

Leon Haslam: “Obviously I am very disappointed how the day ended. Crashing out is bad enough, but losing the championship lead is another. I always knew that today was going to be very hard and the races proved that. I was fortunate to get second place in race one and unfortunate to crash in race two. Carlos (Checa) should’ve won both races and I feel a bit sorry for him. He had led both, but then had to pull out. As a result, Max got lucky, but racing is like that sometimes. I didn’t make particularly good starts today and maybe that caused some of the problems. In race one, I was right behind Jakub (Smrz) when his Ducati blew up. I and the front of my Suzuki got covered in oil and I tried to use a different line to him so that I wouldn’t crash on his oil. I think I was stuck behind him for over a lap, but luckily he pulled off the track and I was able to get my head down and chase after the leaders. I moved through the field and got into third and happy with that until Carlos stopped and I was gifted second. I was tenth at the end of the first lap in race two and once again I had a lot of work to do to catch the leaders. I managed to get up to sixth after seven laps, but then the bike suddenly let go at one of the hairpins and I was highsided. I had a load of stitches put into my left arm, just above the elbow, but I will be OK for Misano.”

Sylvain Guintoli: “Today was a much better day for me and I am happy because I think I managed to find a good rhythm and race pace – all this on my first time at this track. I had some little clutch problems in race one and starting from way down the grid is never easy, so I don’t think eighth was too bad considering. My pace in the second race was a lot better and I enjoyed fighting with the other riders as I moved up the field. Today was my best result since Australia and it’s about time I got back to being competitive. Now I want to build on this, keep up the good work and push hard right from the first practice in the next round and so be in a better place on the grid at the start of raceday.”

Cal Crutchlow: “I think the first race should have been the same as the second one, unfortunately I got caught up in Johnny’s crash and lost some valuable places. We’ve not had the pace of Carlos Checa and Max Biaggi this weekend, they did a fantastic job. I tried my hardest and I think we’ve done the best job we can. All credit to the Yamaha guys we’ve worked really hard for this result.”

James Toseland: “A frustrating weekend for me. We started really well here and I got down to some pretty decent times relatively quickly in the first practices so was feeling confident for the races. Superpole didn’t go quite as planned so I had a less than perfect grid start position. I managed a good start in the first race and was making up places but unfortunately I ran out of grip several laps from the end which slowed me down. It took me a while to get into a good pace in race two, but as I was picking up I came out of one corner too fast and so was too hot into the next, resulting in losing the front end. The team have worked really hard all weekend and I’m sorry I couldn’t deliver them a better result today.”

Noriyuki Haga: “I’m really happy to be back on the podium today, but it wasn’t easy! At the start of Race 1 I was having trouble pushing but after a few laps the tyres picked up a bit and I was finally able to get past Camier in the final stages. It’s a great result and the first time I’ve been on the Miller podium. In Race 2 I had a similar feeling with my bike but the race was more difficult. I started badly and had to push so hard to make up the lost ground. In the last two years my weekends at Miller have been conditioned by crashes but this year I had a good feeling right from the first exit I made on Friday and this gave me confidence that a podium was possible. I’m satisfied and now we move on to Misano, a circuit where there is no long straight and where the Ducati could be very fast.”

Michel Fabrizio: “It’s a pity what happened to me in race 1. It was totally unexpected, my bike was sliding around at the rear and then, from one moment to the next, I found myself on the ground. In Race 2 I made a bad start, losing several positions and finding myself in the last group. I made up ground through the race but I wasn’t able to catch Rea and Byrne ahead of me and finished ninth. I hoped to do a lot better here in America but now we must turn our attention to the next round in Misano.”

Troy Corser: “Overall, we should be happy today. Nevertheless I was disappointed with the Superpole result as I had to start both races from the fourth row. In the first race I had to fight with chattering, and I had some trouble with the edge grip. We changed the rear spring and made a few adjustments. The bike definitely felt better, but the problem came back again when the tyre went away after a couple of laps. We now know what we have to improve.”

Ruben Xaus: “To be honest I am disappointed with today. I got great starts in both races and I was right with the top guys. I just couldn’t do the times over the race distance. The team and I have worked tirelessly all weekend and made some real steps forward, but today we just couldn’t make it happen in the races. Still the team did a great job and I must thank them for that, and also compliments to Troy because he did so well. I just wish I could have been up there with him. I hope we can join him at the front in Misano.”

Jonathan Rea: “It’s quite hard to take many positives out of the weekend really. We’ve had big problems all weekend and nothing we tried did anything to fix them. We made a big – and I mean BIG – change to the front of the bike for race two, but the characteristics were exactly the same. Unfortunately, I’m missing the first day of our test at Assen because I’m riding in the 300km race at Suzuka, but there’s plenty for Max and the team to be working through. I really hope we can get something to take to the next race at Misano, because I have some great memories of that round last year.”

Max Neukirchner: “We tried something different for the second race because in the first one the bike was pitching too much – diving too fast under the brakes and coming up too quickly under acceleration. We thought the change would work but it didn’t, so we have another two disappointing results to take away from this race. I hope we can have two really positive days at the Assen test in two weeks, because there is a lot we need to get through. It’s frustrating because I know I can do better than what my results are showing.”

Tom Sykes: “We started the weekend in good shape but although we were consistent with lap times and we improved on last year’s times, it was still not fast enough. I had a decent launch in both races but in race two I got tangled up with a Ducati rider and lost a few places, which put us in a disastrous 19th place. Middle race distance we struggled with handling into the long left-handed corners but I fought back as hard as I could to finish within the points. I guess that is a positive from the weekend. I’m sorry for the boys but I did the best I could and I look forward to getting things back-on track and running nearer the front at Misano.”

Chris Vermeulen: “A difficult weekend but we scored points in both races. It was my first time here and we improved the bike all weekend. At a circuit like this with really long corners we struggled to make the turns and we do not have the fastest bike right now. We have some work to do still. We made some changes race one to race two because I struggled with front tyre durability again, and we made it a lot better. Consistency and speed was faster, and I think that I was eight seconds nearer the front. That was a good step forward for us.”

Broc Parkes: “We still struggled with the same problems with chatter and we need to get back to Europe and try some set-up changes. We tried something a little bit different in race two and it was a little bit better but we are not where we want to be at the minute.”

Roger Lee Hayden: “I am really disappointed with today’s results. Starting from the last rows always makes life difficult, but in the second race, after the first few opening laps, the bike felt great and I was able to make some fast laps. During the middle of the race I had a bit of a battle with Vermeulen and Sykes and I tried to overtaking them but I crashed and I was not able to restart. I’m sorry for the team and I want to thank them for setting things up so well on the machine. We still have some set up problems but overall I’m sure that during the next weeks my team will continue to work on the bike’s setting in order to be ready for next Misano races.”

Matteo Baiocco: “Starting from the sixth row was always going to be tough for Superbike races. In race one my start was not so good and near to the middle of the race I began to have problems with my rear tyre. I couldn’t ride my bike as I would have liked. I re-entered the box where my mechanics changed the tyre very quickly and I was able to rejoin the race also to test my bike thinking to the second race. For race two we changed the tyres and we tried a different setting. My start was pretty good and I worked hard to make my way forward, but I was not able to find the right feeling with my bike and I couldn’t push any further. I’m disappointed with my results this weekend and I’m eager to improve my results in the next round.”