circuit in Southern Australia. Last weekend’s Race 1 winner and local boy Ducati Xerox rider Troy Bayliss used his home track advantage to top the practice time charts as well as nabbing the coveted Superpole honors on Saturday. Going into Sunday’s two 22-lap race’s all things seemed to be in position for Bayliss to be the man to beat.
Michel Fabrizio recovered from a scary moment at the start of race that saw the Ducati pilot stall on the starting line only to be hit not once, but twice by riders coming through the pack with their head down. First GMT94 Yamaha’s David Checa glanced off the right-side of the bike then Kawasaki privateer Vittorio Iannuzzo hit him much harder, ripping off Fabrizio’s boot and breaking his own wrist in the aftermath. The race was red-flagged, which resulted in Ten Kate Honda’s Kiyonari and DFX Honda’s Russell Holland colliding at the entrance to Lukey Heights, which forced Kenan Sofuoglu to take evasive action through the grass – the second harrowing moment in 30-seconds of racing.
When the chaos had cleared and Race 1 got underway for the second time, it was all Bayliss. The factory Ducati rider nabbed the holeshot on his 1098R F08 and immediately put his head down around the 13-turn, 4.445-kilometer circuit, leading from start to finish. Hot on Bayliss’s Pirelli rear tire was the Yamaha of fellow countryman Troy Corser, followed by his Yamaha Motor Italia teammate Noriyuki Haga. Last weekend’s Qatar Race 2 winner Fonsi Nieto and his new teammate Max Neukirchner rounded out the top-five aboard their Alstare Suzuki GSX-R1000s during the opening stages of the race.
Bayliss, however was on the gas and was only challenged by Sterilgarda Go Eleven’s Max Biaggi who knifed his way through the pack from 16th place to 2nd. The Ducati rider opened up almost a 3-second gap by mid-point of the race while the other riders jockeyed for position behind. On Lap 16, Biaggi crashed out of second place, moving his teammate Ruben Xaus into second position for a few laps. Xaus couldn’t hold off Corser and Ducati Xerox’s Michel Fabrizio as the duo made their way around the hard-riding Spaniard in the final laps of the race. Bayliss went on to win the 22-lap race by a margin of over 4-seconds, followed by Corser’s Yamaha YZF-R1, while Fabrizio took the final podium spot.
“I’m sorry for what happened this morning on the grid but the bike failed to leave the start line and that unfortunately caused an accident,” said Fabrizio. “The blow to my leg from the impact from David Checa’s bike meant that of course my leg was hurting a lot during the restarted race 1 but I gritted my teeth and did what I had to do.”
After a commanding victory in Race 1, it seemed like it was Bayliss’ race to lose. At the start of the race it was once again the Ducati ace off the line, followed by Nieto, Haga, Corser and Xaus.
On Lap 2, Corser motored past Bayliss but his stint up front would be short lived when he crashed out of the lead on Lap 5. This again put Bayliss in control of the race. Corser, along with Michel Fabrizio, were given the jump start penalty but the Yamaha rider didn’t believe the penalty was for him and chose to stay on track since he was battling for a podium finish. On the fifth lap, Corser had made his way into the lead only to crash out in some sort of fluid unseen by race officials.
“There were a few tough passes in that first race, but I never panicked even when I got run wide a couple of times,” said Corser. “The bike wasn’t perfect and we were moving around a bit too much. We were going as fast as we could sideways. We made changes for race two and it was a lot better. Overall a podium in race one was not too bad. They definitely held the start too long in race two. It was like the starting light was on, on and then on some more, then it went off. It was way too long to wait. I knew I had moved, but I had stopped again.”
Again, Biaggi made his way through the field from his poor qualifying position only to have all that hard work go up in a cloud of dust as the Italian’s dismal luck continued. Biaggi crashed for the second time in as many races, ruining his chance of leaving Australia with any points.
Midway through the race, Hannspree Ten Kate Honda rider Carlos Checa positioned his all-new CBR1000RR behind Bayliss, however he couldn’t seem to make any ground up on the Aussie’s Ducati. Bayliss went onto take the double in front of his home crowd.
“It’s something you dream of, to have a double win and I knew this year it would be difficult to achieve but I have a great team behind me who all worked really hard,” explained Bayliss. “Overnight They had to build a new bike for me from scratch after my crash yesterday.”
GP-exile Carlos Checa held on to second place, his first career WSB podium, while Alstare Suzuki’s Fonsi Nieto made his second podium visit of the year with a third place finish.
“I am happy because I got a podium on a very tough day of racing and also because I am now second in the championship,” says Nieto. “In the first race, my gearing was too short and, because of the wind, I was on the limiter all the way down the straight. So, fifth was not so bad. In race two, I pushed as hard as I could, but Bayliss was impossible to catch, but I am happy because I ended up on the podium. My idea is to be very consistent this season and keep taking points whenever and wherever I can, because it is a very long season. I want to thank my team for all their hard work. The guys had to change both engines in the bikes and that was a lot of work for them, but I hope my podium was a good way of saying thank you.”
Check out the World Superbike Phillip Island video highlights on SPEEDtv.com.
Race One Results
1. Troy Bayliss (Ducati)
2. Troy Corser (Yamaha)
3. Michel Fabrizio (Ducati)
4. Ruben Xaus (Ducati)
5. Fonsi Nieto (Suzuki)
6. Carlos Checa (Honda)
7. Max Neukirchner (Suzuki)
8. Noriyuki Haga (Yamaha)
9. Ryuichi Kiyonari (Honda)
10. Roberto Rolfo (Honda)
Race Two Results
1. Troy Bayliss (Ducati)
2. Carlos Checa (Honda)
3. Fonsi Nieto (Suzuki)
4. Ruben Xaus (Ducati)
5. Max Neukirchner (Suzuki)
6. Ryuichi Kiyonari (Honda)
7. Noriyuki Haga (Yamaha)
8. Gregorio Lavilla (Suzuki)
9. Russel Holland (Ducati)
10. Karl Muggeridge (Honda)