Leon Haslam (91) kicked off his career at Suzuki on a high, winning a photo-finish in Race 1 and taking second in Race 2 to lead the points after the first round of WSB action from Phillip Island.
The opening round of World Superbike action kicked off from Phillip Island and proved all the pre-season hype to be right on the mark. Exciting action from the opening lap, including a photo-finish in Race 1, gave Australian fans and TV viewers worldwide plenty to be excited about for this new season. Welcome to 2010 edition of WSBK racing!
British rider Leon Haslam has been a revelation so far this year, running in the top-three in every testing session all off-season, then grabbing his first career pole yesterday. He proceeded to follow that up with a 0.004-second win in Race 1 to start the season off on a high for his new Alstare Suzuki team. In fact, the finish was so close that they initially gave the win the second-place Ducati Xerox rider Michel Fabrizio, only awarding Haslam with the victory after the finish was reviewed on slow-motion film.
“It’s not sunk in just yet, especially as it was such a close finish and not knowing if I had won for a while,” said Haslam in a WSB release after. “That definitely added to the anticipation. I can’t thank my team enough they have
Fabrizio (84) nearly won the opening racing, losing out to Haslam by a mere 0.004 seconds in a true photo-finish. A third place in Race two means he comes out second in points after the opening round.
been solid since day one and to repay them with this is great. I’m a little speechless now. I changed my style towards the end and I rode as smoothly as possible. It worked, but it was close at the end.”
Said Fabrizio of the close finish: “I thought I had won the race. When I saw the big screen after the finish I saw my family and the crew chief celebrating, so I thought I had it.”
Third place in Race 1 was Fabrizio’s Ducati Xerox teammate Noriyuki Haga, who came from the third row of the grid to finish a mere 0.769 seconds back of the leading pair, making for a podium separated by less than a second at the line.
Jonathan Rea on the Ten Kate Honda came home fourth, though over 10 seconds back of the leaders. The Britt had his hands full as well, however, Alitalia Aprilia’s Max Biaggi only half-a-second back in fifth, with Haslam’s Suzuki teammate Sylvain Guintoli right on the Italian’s back fender in sixth. Althea Ducati’s Carlos Checa brought up the back of the multi-rider battle in seventh.
Jakub Smrz rode his privateer Ducati to an impressive eighth-place run, with homeboy Troy Corser the top BMW rider in ninth. DFX Corse Ducati’s Lorenzo Lanzi rounded out the top-10 in his first fulltime ride for the Italian team.
Checa bounced back from a seventh in Race 1 to just edge out Haslam for the victory in the second race. The Spanish elder statesman looks to be back on form on his satellite Ducati this year.
Haslam was once again on point in Race 2, though couldn’t quite muster the double win, as Spaniard Checa edged out the Suzuki rider by 0.307 seconds in another hard-fought battle, passing for the lead in the final high-speed section of the track. Much like first race, Italian Fabrizio was again right on the back bumper of Haslam, less than a tenth-of-a-second back at the checkered flag.
“The plan was to start the second race well and we chose a softer tire,” Checa said. “We changed the bike and we improved in the braking points, so I could overtake people. When you are close to four other riders it is not easy to overtake and make it permanent but I passed in the right time and at the right places. This was one of the best races in my life, so thanks to my new team.”
Added Haslam: “I had a few laps behind Sylvain (Guintoli) my teammate and in some corners I could not stay with him given the grip he had out of the corners. But I got the lead again and it was all going to plan until Carlos managed to come along and nip up the inside to win.”
Title-favorite Haga managed to come from the third row to finish a close third in Race 1, though was only able to make it up to fifth in Race 2.
Phillip Island has always been a Ducati-friendly track, and with the exception of Haslam shaking things up, this weekend was no different; two of the three podium spots went to Italian V-Twins in both races.
Haslam’s Alstare Suzuki teammate Guintoli moved up the ranks in Race 2, finishing a very close fourth, only 0.837 seconds back of the lead, as the top-four all crossed the line within a second of each other. Haga finished a points-gathering and respectable fifth, but this time over three seconds adrift of the leaders.
Ten Kate’s Rea led an exciting mid-field battle home for sixth, as Corser moved up to seventh and was once again the top BMW rider across the line. He was followed closely by Biaggi, who could only made it up to eighth from his third-row grip spot in Race 2 – overall a far cry from where most expected the Italian to start the season.
The Sterilgarda Yamaha squad got off to a rough start for 2010. Despite both riders stepping it up to qualify on the front two rows after hardships in practice, the best the British pair of Cal Crutchlow and James Toseland could muster was a ninth and 10th in the second race, respectively, after both riders retired from Race 1.
2010 World Superbike Phillip Island Race 1 Results
1. Leon Haslam (Suzuki)
2. Michel Fabrizio (Ducati)
3. Noriyuki Haga (Ducati)
4. Jonathan Rea (Honda)
5. Max Biaggi (Aprilia)
6. Sylvain Guintoli (Suzuki)
7. Carlos Checa (Ducati)
8. Jakub Smrz (Ducati)
9. Troy Corser (BMW)
10. Lorenzo Lanzi (Ducati)
11. Leon Camier (Aprilia)
12. Max Neukirchner (Honda)
13. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki)
14. Shane Byrne (Ducati)
15. Andrew Pitt (BMW)
16. Vittorio Iannuzzo (Honda)
17. Matteo Baiocco (Kawasaki)
18. Roger Lee Hayden (Kawasaki)
19. Josh Brookes (Honda)
2010 World Superbike Phillip Island Race 2 Results
1. Carlos Checa (Ducati)
2. Leon Haslam (Suzuki) -0.307
3. Michel Fabrizio (Ducati) -0.434
4. Sylvain Guintoli (Suzuki) 0.837
5. Noriyuki Haga (Ducati)
6. Jonathan Rea (Honda)
7. Troy Corser (BMW)
8. Max Biaggi (Aprilia)
9. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha)
10. James Toseland (Yamaha)
11. Leon Camier (Aprilia)
12. Shane Byrne (Ducati)
13. Lorenzo Lanzi (Ducati)
14. Josh Brookes (Honda)
15. Andrew Pitt (BMW)
16. Max Neukirchner (Honda)
17. Vittorio Iannuzzo (Honda)
18. Roger Lee Hayden (Kawasaki)
Rider Quotes (Courtesy of Press Release):
Leon Haslam – Alstare Suzuki: “It feels good to take a win and a second in my first race with the team and it feels fantastic to be leading the Superbike World Championship.”
Leon Haslam – Alstare Suzuki – 1st/2nd
“I am so happy to get my first WSBK win and it feels great! I want to thank the team and all the staff back at the workshop for all their support and hard work and I’d also like to thank Francis and Patricia Batta for having faith in me.
The first race was such hard work and it was impossible to relax for a second. I knew that I had Michel and Nori breathing down my neck, but I just kept concentrating on my lines and my braking points and tried to hold them off.”
Carlos Checa – Althea Racing – 7th/1st:
”The second race was perfect. In race one we chose a tire that was perhaps too hard for the conditions and I found it hard to brake. In Race 2 we selected a better tire and I could brake much more strongly, I also had a very good pace and was able to pass riders fairly easily. My style of riding actually seemed to mean that tire wear was less of a problem for me than for some other riders. By the last lap I was up in second and I could finally get pass Haslam. I wanted to pass him earlier but it was impossible and he didn’t leave me space to pass until the very end. I am of course extremely happy with the result, it is my first race with the Althea team and on the Ducati 1198 and we have a good package with which to fight this season. My thanks go to the entire team for their hard work and dedication.”
Michel Fabrizio – Ducati Xerox – 2nd/3rd:
“I had a great battle with Leon in Race 1. In the last four laps I tried to understand where I could attempt to get past him but it wasn’t easy so I pushed on right to the finish line and, to tell the truth, I thought I’d done enough! Leon and I were right there together as we crossed the line, and on the big screen I could see my wife celebrating in the box – but the result was decided by the photofinish and I had to settle for 20 points this time. The great thing about the Superbike championship however is that there are two races…. My team did not make any changes to the bike before the second race and I was again able to make a good start but it was a very difficult race. I stayed there with the leading pack but I realized it would be very hard to win, and in the last four laps it became more difficult to fight. I am very happy with today’s results, which put me in second place on the leaderboard after round 1. It will be a very long and challenging season but we’ve made a good start today.”
Noriyuki Haga – Ducati Xerox – 3rd/5th:
“My result in Race 1 was really good as far as I’m concerned as I had had a crash during the warm-up and suffered from a bit of arm-pump during the race. I was confident that I could make a good start from 10th position and I did so and then I tried to keep up with Michel and Leon but my arm led me to make a few small mistakes. Anyway I really enjoyed the race and the points I made in the race are definitely a good start for the championship. In the second race my arm played up more and it became harder to brake, I felt very tired physically. But all in all, with regard to the classification and bearing in mind this morning’s accident, it didn’t go too badly; I finished third and fifth and we take home some good points.”
Sylvain Guintoli – Alstare Suzuki – 6th/4th:
“I have really enjoyed today and it’s been great fun. I can’t remember the last time I was leading a world champion ship race, so to lead quite a lot of race two was a great feeling and now I want to do it again. Carlos and I touched in Turn 8 when my elbow was in contact with his front wheel and then I tried a bit too hard to get back straightaway when perhaps I should’ve been a bit more patient and that;s where I lost ground. It was nice to get a trophy (for the fastest lap in race two) and I hope that it will just be the start of many to come. I am looking forward to Portimao and my next trophy.”
Troy Corser – BMW Motorrad – 9th/7th: “I suppose you could say I am half happy. I wasn’t so happy with the first race
because we struggled a bit with the settings of the bike and the way the tire worked. I wasn’t comfortable on the bike and didn’t feel confident about pushing it. The last thing I wanted to do was crash in the first race and mess up the second. I think my results today, particularly Race 2, were important for the team, but I wanted more. I know that there is more to come and the good news is that we have discovered a lot of useful info about which directions to take and hopefully we will see the fruits of all this work in the next race in Portimao. As a team we are further forward than last year. Our lap times are faster than last year. We have a lot more experience under our belts and although there is still lots to do, I think that the new technician (Max) is already working very well with the team and coming up with ideas and some solutions.”