maybe nori haga was right when he prognosticated that world superbike racing will rival motogp. if the first two rounds are an indication of what’s to come, we’re in for a great season!!!
troy bayliss (xerox ducati) went out in style in the last world superbike at his home round of phillip island. he pretty much dominated the weekend. he qualified at pole with a record lap and then pretty much walked away from the field in both races.
but in no way were the races a snoozefest.
race 1 started with bang!!! literally for michel fabrizio (xerox ducati). he stalled his 1098rs on the line and mayhem ensued. fabrizio almost got away with it when an unlucky vittorio iannuzzo (pedercini kawasaki) smashed into the rear of the ducati. the collision was powerful enough to break the forged rear wheel yet gentle enough to remove fabrizio’s boot and not the entire foot.
the race was quickly red flagged which caused another incident at lukey heights between carlos checa (ten kate honda) and russell holland (df racing honda). apparently, as the field was slowing for the red flag holland made contact with carlos checa sending him and his bike tumbling. amazingly, 3 out of the 4 ill-fated riders (fabrizio, checa, and holland) made it back onto the grid for the restart. however, iannuzzo suffered a severe, career-threatening wrist injury.
phew! all that in less than one lap of racing.
imo, race direction should be blamed for the starting line debacle. riders were held for an unusually long time before the starting lights went out. i didn’t get a chance to count but it felt longer than the 5 seconds specified in the fim rulebook.
the restart went off without any drama and bayliss shot to the front and didn’t look back. the rest of the pack scrapped it out for 22 laps.
again like qatar, the alstare suzukis were blisteringly fast down the straight. max neukirchner was battling at the front throughout the race and finished in 5th position.
the ten honda’s also appeared much improved with checa and ryu kiyonari both in the top 10. since the honda’s are are still early in development i expect to see major improvement as the season progresses.
the sterilgarda ducatis showed that the factory boys a thing or two with ruben xaus pestering fabrizio for third (i know. amazing!). in the end, xaus managed a very respectable 4th place. in addition, max biaggi was running a wicked quick pace reeling in the distant bayliss until he overzealously binned it with 6 laps to go.
the “weakest” front-running team looked to be the yamahas. the r1’s still seem to be struggling for grip during the waning laps. even though troy corser snatched 2nd, he was riding on the ragged edge. furthermore, haga fell back to 8th after catching the front group. corser summed it up saying that “the bike wasn’t perfect and we were moving around a bit too much. we were going as fast as we could sideways!”
race 2 was a little less dramatic. as in the previous race, bayliss was untouchable.
corser didn’t do himself any favors by, first, false-starting and, second, crashing on the 5th lap.
checa impressed with his second place showing the true potential of the ten kate honda. they will be the team to watch.
the battle for the remaining of the podium position was fast and furious. biaggi, neukirchner, xaus, and nieto had a helluva time with one another. biaggi got the worst of it crashing hard at turn 1. he lifted the rear while braking and when it came down it was all over. xaus and nieto squabbled over 3rd as neukirchner couldn’t maintain the pace. there was no quarter given between the two spaniards as they banged fairings midcorner. courageous or stupid??? u decide… xaus was victorious and claimed the position in the last couple laps.
from what i’ve seen, the ducati’s are the bike to beat but they aren’t dominating. it wasn’t a runaway like i was expecting. while phillip island has been kind to ducati in the past, we saw that yamaha or honda not so far behind taking second spot while suzuki also showed its mettle. i don’t see fgsport or fim penalizing the 1200cc 1098rs… yet…
[it’s getting late so i’ll have that recap tomorrow. sorry :( ]
if u haven’t tuned in yet u’ve got a month to catch up… wsbk returns to the old continent in valencia, spain april 6th.