The World Superbike men made the trip down to South Africa for round 6 of the series and it was Ducati’s Michel Fabrizio and Suzuki’s Leon Haslam splitting wins. In the process Haslam was also able to extend his championship points lead ever so slightly over Aprilia’s Max Biaggi in the process, as the Italian could only muster fourth and third-place finishes the weekend after his big double win in Monza, Italy.
The first race saw Fabrizio make a massive resurgence, taking his first win of the season on the factory Xerox Ducati, a major boost for the Italian, who has been struggling as of recent. It was only Fabrizio’s second podium of the season, his first coming at the opening round in Australia.
Fabrizio jumped out front off the start, leading early from Yamaha’s James Toseland and Althea Ducati’s Carlos Checa. Checa would make easy work of the two-time World Superbike champion, who would then fall back into the grips of Haslam, his fellow Brit coming past on the 12th lap.
“I am very happy for Ducati and so happy to win for myself as well. I needed it,” said Fabrizio. “We tried our best from the very start and I rode an intelligent race to control the gap to the rider behind.”
Checa rebounded in Kyalami to finish on the podium in Race 1 after struggling at the last round in Italy.
In the end Checa was able to hold on to second, making it a Ducati one-two at the front. Said Checa: “We started with a very strong pace; low 1:38s was very fast. I was focused to be behind Fabrizio and we kept a good pace early on. Then the tires dropped down and I thought maybe at that point I would have been able to manage the tire better, but Fabrizio did very well. On some laps I could improve one tenth but then I would lose it. The bike is working well here.”
Haslam would round out the podium, but he didn’t have it easy, his championship rival Biaggi pushing the Suzuki rider all the way to the finish. By keeping the Italian at bay, Haslam would maintain his championship lead after the first race by six points.
Ten Kate Honda‘s Jonathan Rea would work his way up from 12th on the grid to finish fifth, with Aprilia’s Leon Camier taking sixth. Toseland, still suffering from the injuries sustained in last week’s opening-lap Race 2 crash at Monza, would continue to slide backwards, eventually finishing a dismal seventh after qualifying second.
Toseland’s Sterilgarda Yamaha teammate Cal Crutchlow also had a rough race, fading from pole position to eighth at the end. Ninth at the line was privateer Ducati rider Jakub Smrz with Alstare Suzuki’s Sylvain Guintoli rounding out the top 10. Also of note, Ducati Xerox’s Noriyuki Haga continued his dismal season with a 17th-place finish in Race 1.
American Roger Lee Hayden failed to finish for the first time this season on the Pedercini Kawasaki.
Race 1 Results
1. Michel Fabrizio (Ducati)
2. Carlos Checa (Ducati) -1.098 sec.
3. Leon Haslam (Suzuki) -5.049 sec.
4. Max Biaggi (Aprilia) -6.974 sec.
5. Jonathan Rea (Honda)
6. Leon Camier (Aprilia)
7. James Toseland (Yamaha)
8. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha)
9. Jakub Smrz (Ducati)
10. Sylvain Guintoli (Suzuki)
11. Luca Scassa (Ducati)
12. Troy Corser (BMW)
13. Sheridan Morais (Aprilia)
14. Ruben Xaus (BMW)
15. Shane Byrne (Ducati)
16. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki)
17. Noriyuki Haga (Ducati)
18. Chris Vermeulen (Kawasaki)
19. Max Neukirchner (Honda)
Race 2 would see a battle right to the very end, this time championship leader Haslam and Ten Kate Honda’s Rea fighting for the top step of the podium. Rea would head the field at Kyalami for the majority of the first 22 laps, Haslam glued to his back wheel. But with a daring move on the 23rd of 24 laps, the Alstare Suzuki rider would take the point position and not give it back, logging his third win of the season.
Rea, coming through the field like a heat-seeking missile, was somehow able to go from 12th on the grid to immediately run at the front, leading by lap 3. In fact, Rea would lead every lap across the stripe with the exception of the first two and, unfortunately, the last two.
Haslam would push his fellow Brit the entire race, as would Biaggi on the lightning-fast Aprilia, with both leading briefly from time to time. But Rea would somehow continually find his way back to the front almost immediately. While the tight and twisty Kyalami circuit isn’t one of the easiest places to pass, the lead trio proved that it was possible on multiple occasions. Yamaha’s Crutchlow and Althea Ducati’s Checa were also in tow the entire race, though weren’t able to break into the top trio.
Haslam would hold off his fellow patriot Rea by a mere 0.522 seconds at the line, commenting that “It was very, very difficult to pass and I tried many times,” he said. “It made good racing and I’m so happy for the team. Racing is all about winning and I felt I was in a position where I was strong in a few places and I had to go for it. And it worked out. It was a high risk last few laps with the front and rear moving about but we didn’t make too many mistakes and we won.”
Rea would lead most of Race 2 in Kyalami, only to have Haslam pass him with a little over a lap to go.
Said Rea: “It seems we now have a base with the bike that works everywhere. I really enjoyed the race, it was good fun but I wanted to win so badly. Leon rode well and every time he passed me he would run deep and I was able to cut back inside. With two laps to go I thought maybe it would be mine if I just covered myself, but Leon made a lunge three corners from the end of the penultimate lap.”
Biaggi was right on Rea’s rear wheel at the line, just over eight hundredths of a second adrift. “A nice and close race,” said Biaggi. “In Race 2 I made a good start and that was maybe 50% of the final result. In Race 1 I was held up and could not go through but in Race 2 I went away with top two guys and could match their pace. At the end I tried but my attack did not come off.”
Yamaha’s Crutchlow was another three tenths back, as the top four could have been covered by a blanket at the line. Half-a-second back in fifth was Ducati’s Checa, making it five different brands in the top five.
By taking his third win of the year and Rea finishing between himself and championship rival Biaggi, Haslam was able to regain more points in the championship, as the Suzuki rider now leads the Aprilia man by 15 points, 222 to 207.
Sterilgarda Yamaha’s James Toseland was over 13 seconds back in sixth as he just topped BMW‘s Troy Corser, with Race 1 victor Fabrizio also in the battle for sixth. But the Italian could only muster eighth in the end, a surprisingly dismal finishing after dominating Race 1 earlier the same day. Smrz and Fabrizio’s Ducati Xerox teammate Haga rounded out the top 10. American Hayden would finish 19th on his privateer Kawasaki.
Race 2 Results
1. Leon Haslam (Suzuki)
2. Jonathan Rea (Honda) -0.522 sec.
3. Max Biaggi (Aprilia) -0.601 sec.
4. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) -0.991 sec.
5. Carlos Checa (Ducati) -1.479 sec.
6. James Toseland (Yamaha)
7. Troy Corser (BMW)
8. Michel Fabrizio (Ducati)
9. Jakub Smrz (Ducati)
10. Noriyuki Haga (Ducati)
11. Ruben Xaus (BMW)
12. Luca Scassa (Ducati)
13. Shane Byrne (Ducati)
14. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki)
15. Sylvain Guintoli (Suzuki)
16. Chris Vermeulen (Kawasaki)
17. Max Neukirchner (Honda)
18. Broc Parkes (Honda)
19. Roger Lee Hayden (Kawasaki)
20. Matteo Baiocco (Kawasaki)
Eugene Laverty on the Parkalgar Honda opened an early gap and kept it the entire race to take his third win in a row; his fourth of the year. Second place was Kenan Sofuoglu on the Hannspree Ten Kate Honda, who now leads the championship. Finishing third was ParkinGO Triumph BE-1’s Chaz Davies, which was the former AMA rider’s second podium finish of ’10. Ten Kate Honda’s Michele Pirro was fourth, with Motocard.com Kawasaki’s Joan Lascorz rounding out the top five.