Troy Bayliss made a move on the final lap to pass Max Biaggi and win the first race of the 2008 World Superbike season.
The opening races of the 2008 Superbike World Championship featured a familiar face and a first-time winner at the Losail Circuit on Saturday. Xerox Ducati's Troy Bayliss rode his 2008 Ducati 1098R F08 to victory in the bike's first appearance on the world stage and increased the win total in his illustrious career to 42.
"It's a very good start to the season for the team, exactly what we needed," explained Bayliss. "Overall I'm very happy with the results. In race 1 I didn't make the greatest start and so it took me a while to make it to the front of the pack. The last eight laps were a bit of a battle against Max but I was finally able to get past him and, although I made a couple of small mistakes, I was pretty comfortable and took the win."
Sterilgarda Go Eleven Ducati's Max Biaggi battled Bayliss throughout the race but had to settle for second place and a 1-2 finish for the Italian manufacturer after a misstep in the final turns allowed Bayliss to slip past and take the win.
Yamaha Italia's Troy Corser rounded out the podium after hounding the front-running Ducatis.
"In race one I used the hardest front and rear tire available (I was the only one with this choice) and the tires were pretty consistent, but they didn't allow me to go any faster. They were OK early on, then dropped and then dropped again and that was enough to prevent me from challenging the front two."
Things were less than memorable for Corser's teammate and last season's championship runner-up Noriyuki Haga. The luckless Japanese rider tangled with Biaggi in the opening states of the race and found himself on the ground and out of contention right out of the gate.
"In the first race Biaggi took my front tire and what can I say, it was a mistake," reported Haga. "My wrist is sore so I have to rest that before the next race."
After his seventh place finish in the first race it came as quite a surprise to see Alstare Suzuki's newcomer, Fonsi Nieto, battling the Go Eleven duo of Xaus and Bayliss before taking his first career World Superbike win.
"This is my first WSBK win and my first race win since Donington in 1993," divulged Nieto. "Yes, It's been a long, long
Fonsi Nieto shocked many with his first career SBK win in Race 2 - Qatar
while. I've worked very hard in this championship and today I reaped the reward of all the hard work. Today my Suzuki Alstare bike was faster then the Ducatis, but I definitely raced with my mind today. I used the same bike, with the same set-up in both races, though I did have the traction control on a harder setting in the first race and the bike was not as comfortable to ride as it was in race two. There was only five degrees difference in temperature between the two races, but the bike felt different in both races. In the second race, I was able to conserve my bike and the tires and finish strongly and that's why I won."
A strong contingent of 1098Rs fill up the results after Nieto, with Xaus and Biaggi followed by Xerox Ducati's Troy Bayliss, who backed up his race one win with a fourth-place finish in race two. The Aussie's teammate, Michel Fabrizio rounded out the top 5, with former Xerox squad member, Lorenzo Lanzi, sixth. Race 1 podium finisher Troy Corser had to settle for a seventh-place result in the second contest.
After one round, Bayliss leads Biaggi 38-36 in the championship standings of what promises to be an exciting season.
Race One Results
1. Troy Bayliss (Ducati)
2. Max Biaggi (Ducati)
3. Troy Corser (Yamaha)
4. Ruben Xaus (Ducati)
5. Max Neukirchner (Suzuki)
6. Carlos Checa (Honda)
7. Fonsi Nieto (Suzuki)
8. Yukio Kagayama (Suzuki)
9. Michel Fabrizio (Ducati)
10. Jakub Smrz (Ducati)
Race Two Results
1. Fonsi Nieto (Suzuki)
2. Ruben Xaus (Ducati)
3. Max Biaggi (Ducati)
4. Troy Bayliss (Ducati)
5. Michel Fabrizio (Ducati)
6. Lorenzo Lanzi (Ducati)
7. Troy Corser (Yamaha)
8. Max Neukirchner (Suzuki)
9. Jakub Smrz (Ducati)
10. Kenan Sofuoglu (Honda)