Racing action was hot and heavy on a blistering day in Misano for the eighth round of the World Superbike Championship.
In Race 1, Sterilgarda Go Eleven Ducati’s Ruben Xaus took advantage of his front row starting position to grab the holeshot. Ducati Xerox’s Troy Bayliss and Yamaha Motor Italia’s Troy Corser were never far behind though, and Xaus ultimately relinquished the lead on Lap 15.
As the two Troys diced it out for the lead, Alstare Suzuki’s Max Neukirchner was patiently working his way through the field. The German rider would grab the lead from Corser on Lap 18 and held on to claim the Race 1 checkers, finishing 0.542 seconds ahead of Corser. Bayliss would fend off Xaus to claim the final position on the Race 1 podium.
“Unbelievable! My team did a really good job this weekend, in the practice we changed a lot, up and down with the bike, and couldn’t find the right settings, but in the race it was unbelievable. In the beginning it was not possible to get close to Bayliss and I had to push very hard, but then it was easier to find a good line,” Neukirchner said.
Sterilgarda Go Eleven’s Max Biaggi and Ducati Xerox’s Michel Fabrizio looked strong in the early portions of the race until Lap 11 when Fabrizio clipped Biaggi, taking out both riders.
Neukirchner ran a superb race in claiming the second World Superbike victory of his career. Neuk started back from the third row of the grid, making his winning run even more impressive.
Misano Race 2:
No sooner had Race 2 gotten underway before the red flag came out when Karl Muggeridge’s Honda CBR1000RR spewed oil all over the track.
At the restart, WSBK point leader Troy Bayliss shot out to the early lead with both Corser and Xaus hot on his heels. Corser pushed into the lead on Lap 5 and the two Troys would again duel for the lead for much of the race. Xaus, though, was never out of the hunt, and the Sterilgarda Go Eleven rider made his move to the front on Lap 20 and never looked back, claiming his first victory of the year.
“It was a nice win, but at the beginning it was hard. We had three starts today and the last one was the worst! I think the
clutch slipped a bit and I lost a little time. I wanted to recover because I knew that Corser and Bayliss would pull away. For the first 10 laps I had a lot of movement at the rear. Then my teammate attacked me twice, I closed the door and with ten laps to go I started to do 37s, 37s, 37s. Today my mechanics did an incredible set-up and an incredible job, a big thanks to Team Sterilgarda Go Eleven!” Xaus said.
Meanwhile, Bayliss was beginning to lose grip on his Ducati F08 late in the race, which allowed Sterilgarda Go Eleven’s second rider, Max Biaggi, to overtake him to make it a 1-2 finish for the privateer Ducati Team. Bayliss would hold on to again finish in third place, securing valuable championship points.
“I think it was a pretty good race. I was so fed up after Race 1 when Fabrizio hit me at the back and took me out. Too bad, I didn’t expect that. I think this year is the most difficult or unlucky of my career, but I have to say that in Superbike we always have a second opportunity with Race 2,” Biaggi said.
Troy Bayliss still has the inside line on the World Superbike Championship with 259 points. Neukirchner moved into the second position with 210 thanks to his Race 1 heroics, slipping past Hannspree Ten Kate Honda’s Carlos Checa, who trails Neukirchner by only three points.
World Superbike Misano Race One Results –
1. Neukirchner M. Suzuki GSX-R1000 39’27.918
2. Corser T. Yamaha YZF-R1 +0.542
3. Bayliss T. Ducati 1098 F08 +2.249
4. Xaus R. Ducati 1098 RS 08 +3.028
5. Checa C. Honda CBR1000RR +5.408
6. Lanzi L. Ducati 1098 RS 08 +5.518
7. Smrz J. Ducati 1098 RS 08 +6.202
8. Lavilla G. Honda CBR1000RR +18.279
9. Nakatomi S. Yamaha YZF-R1 +19.072
10. Haga N. Yamaha YZF-R1 +19.132
World Superbike Misano Race Two Results –
1. Xaus R. Ducati 1098 RS 08 39’19.710
2. Biaggi M. Ducati 1098 RS 08 +1.035
3. Bayliss T. Ducati 1098 F08 +4.158
4. Haga N. Yamaha YZF-R1 +5.466
5. Corser T. Yamaha YZF-R1 +6.759
6. Lanzi L. Ducati 1098 RS 08 +13.468
7. Neukirchner M. Suzuki GSX-R1000 +15.221
8. Checa C.Honda CBR1000RR +16.687
9. Smrz J. Ducati 1098 RS 08 +17.030
10. Nieto F. Suzuki GSX-R1000 +17.681