Max Biaggi and Jonathan Rea collided during the opening lap of Race 1 at Miller, sending both riders into the dirt with a DNF result. Each rider cast blame on the other post-race.
Max Biaggi finds himself in another controversial situation this season. First it was the face slap to Marco Melandri followed by a black flag/jump start disqualification in Donington, then a ride-through penalty at Monza that cost him a win. At Miller the defending champion was embroiled in an incident taking place on the first lap of Race 1. Castrol Honda’s Jonathan Rea collided with Biaggi, sending both riders into the trackside mud and earning a DNF result.
Rea’s media reaction was immediate post race, stating on his Twitter feed: “That looked promising until I got Simoncelli’d!” the Irish rider referencing, of course, the recent controversy between MotoGP riders Marco Simoncelli and Dani Pedrosa at the French Grand Prix. Biaggi addressed the matter after his Race 2 podium, saying he’d briefly lost consciousness after the collision. Asked what happened in the crash after the podium celebration, the world champion’s explaination was simply: “Rea crashed from the back and took me out.”
Rea, not surprisingly, had a different take on the incident. Catching up with the frustrated CBR rider in his Castrol garage, Rea said: “I got on the inside of Biaggi and he completely closed the door Simoncelli-style. So like Pedrosa I picked the bike up and had nowhere to go. I was at the limit of lean angle. It was a very dirty move, and very intimidating move.”
Overall it was a forgettable week for the Castrol Honda squad. The team had tested at MMP earlier in the week, looking to improve setup at the circuit. Yet after the DNF in Race 1, Rea’s pace wasn’t good enough for a top-10 result, though the battle over that position with Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes was some of the best scrapping in the SBK field. Ruben Xaus fared even worse than Rea, scoring the dreaded double DNF. The Spaniard took Alstare Suzuki’s Michel Fabrizio along for the ride when he DNF’d in Turn 1 during the first race, crashing solo in Race 2 (though former BMW teammate Troy Corser was nearby and crashed at the exact same moment in the opposite direction).
Another OEM that struggled at Miller was BMW. The S1000RR was a non-factor – though Corser raised hopes in Race 1. The Aussie led the opening four laps after Rea and Biaggi went down, the first couple laps being trailed by none other than his former Factory Yamaha teammate Noriyuki Haga (now on the PATA Aprilia). Corser
BMW’s Troy Corser led for the first four laps of Race 1 before fading, the S1000RR struggling at the MMP circuit.
faded in that race with Leon Haslam also quiet on Monday. Instead BMW Italia rider Ayrton Badovini shamed the rest of the Beemer paddock with his 7-9 byline. Teammate James Toseland was a backmarker all weekend, sitting out the second race with an apparent wrist injury. The closest King James came to victory was carting King Carlos to parc ferme after Race 1 – the Spaniard having crashed his Ducati 1098R in the mud on the cool-down lap.
The two-rider Yamaha effort gave ground to Checa and Ducati in the rider and championship points. Marco Melandri couldn’t find the pace in his first visit to the Utah circuit. Supermarco was relegated to a lackluster 10th in Race 1, though the Italian did improve on the second go ‘round with a sixth-place finish after losing a battle for fifth with Suzuki’s Fabrizio. In spite of losing 34 more points to Checa, Melandri retains second in the standings and is one point ahead of his rival Biaggi.
Eugene Laverty was the more impressive Yamaha man at Miller. The 24-year-old has raced the MMP circuit before, as a World Supersport competitor, and enjoys the track. Laverty also brims with confidence after his double-victory performance at Monza the round prior to Utah. The Irishman appeared a podium contender in both races, though his position faded from a podium pace to his eventual 5-4 results. (Read more on Laverty in an upcoming feature Interview.)