Xerox Ducati’s Noriyuki Haga appears to be back in form after taking the win in Race 1, his first since Kyalami, and a runner-up finish in Race 2. The effort puts the Ducati ace back in the championship lead, three-points ahead of Yamaha’s Ben Spies.
Xerox Ducati's Noriyuki Haga reclaimed the lead in the World Superbike title points chase after Imola.
Race 1 saw Aprilia's Max Biaggi take the lead early followed by both Ducati factory riders, Haga and Michel Fabrizio, and Hannspree Honda's Jonathan Rea. On Lap 3, Turn 11, Rea ran off into the gravel narrowly missing other riders and after an impressive effort, managed to return to seventh place by the checkers.
Haga took the lead from Biaggi with four laps remaining and held on for a much needed win after struggling with a back injury suffered at Donington in June. Haga has not tasted a solid win since Kyalami where he finished first in both races. Biaggi would finish in second, battling it out with pole-sitter Michel Fabrizio until the final corner.
"In race one we ruined our chances with the electronic side of the bike, we didn't have enough power coming out of the bike and we struggled with grip a bit as well, it was a rough race," said Ben Spies (19) after Race 1.
Spies finished fourth, more than one second behind the two Italians, after struggling with traction and electronic issues. Behind Spies came Hannspree Ten Kate Honda rider, Ryuichi Kiyonari, who started in 14th on the grid and has finished atop the podium only once in 2009 at Round 5 in Monza. Leon Haslam, Stiggy Honda, battled his way up from 10th to fifth losing out to Kiyonari by two-tenths of a second. Finishing just behind Rea was Jakub Smrz aboard his Guandalini Racing Ducati.
Race 1 saw Spies’ teammate, Tom Sykes move from his 16th-place grid start to ninth despite traction issues. Sykes was briefly hospitalized following a crash during the free practice session on Friday. Kawasaki’s Broc Parkes had reason to celebrate after Race 1. Parkes started on the fifth row and fought his way up to a top-ten finish. Parkes' teammate, Makoto Tamada, collided with another rider resulting in a concussion that removed him for the remainder of the weekend.
World Superbike Imola - Race 1 Results:
1. Haga N. (JPN) Ducati 1098R 38'32.199 (161,388 kph)
2. Biaggi M. (ITA) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 2.074
3. Fabrizio M. (ITA) Ducati 1098R 2.190
4. Spies B. (USA) Yamaha YZF R1 5.438
5. Kiyonari R. (JPN) Honda CBR1000RR 14.470
6. Haslam L. (GBR) Honda CBR1000RR 14.685
7. Rea J. (GBR) Honda CBR1000RR 26.822
8. Smrz J. (CZE) Ducati 1098R 32.694
9. Sykes T. (GBR) Yamaha YZF R1 33.817
10. Parkes B. (AUS) Kawasaki ZX 10R 34.801
11. Corser T. (AUS) BMW S1000 RR 35.286
12. Xaus R. (ESP) BMW S1000 RR 36.442
13. Muggeridge K. (AUS) Suzuki GSX-R 1000 K9 38.698
14. Baiocco M. (ITA) Ducati 1098R 42.147
15. Kagayama Y. (JPN) Suzuki GSX-R 1000 K9 46.510
16. Scassa L. (ITA) Kawasaki ZX 10R 46.628
17. Checa D. (ESP) Yamaha YZF R1 1'16.121
18. Salom D. (ESP) Kawasaki ZX 10R 1'16.398
RET. Iannuzzo V. (ITA) Honda CBR1000RR
RET. Simoncelli M. (ITA) Aprilia RSV4 Factory
Michel Fabrizio (84), Xerox Ducati, started in pole and finished in first delivering Ducati another win on their home turf.
RET. Byrne S. (GBR) Ducati 1098R
RET. Checa C. (ESP) Honda CBR1000RR
RET. Nieto F. (ESP) Ducati 1098R
RET. Tamada M. (JPN) Kawasaki ZX 10R
RET. Conforti L. (ITA) Ducati 1098R
RET. Lagrive M. (FRA) Honda CBR1000RR
RET. Lanzi L. (ITA) Ducati 1098R
In Race 2 a Xerox Ducati duel resulted in a 1-2 finish with Fabrizio beating Haga across the line to take the win. Haga would cross the line 3.5 seconds behind Fabrizio. Finishing first would have been helpful to Haga’s championship campaign but he still finds himself back in the points lead with two rounds and four races remaining on the calendar.
Third place went to wild-card rider and reigning 250 MotoGP champion Marco Simoncelli. In his first-ever ride in World Superbike, the young star finished ahead of teammate Max Biaggi after crashing out of a top-ten result in the first race. After making some changes to the bike from Race 1, Spies started Race 2 with a faster pace, but on the final lap he was forced wide and crossed the line in fifth.
Hannspree Honda's Jonatha Rea (65) comments about his disappointing weekend, "I made a few mistakes after that, but something also happened with the brakes, which had a bad vibration and the power was inconsistent."
Rea would again struggle in Race 2, leaving the track no less than three times before returning and finishing in sixth. Sterilgarda rider Shane Byrne, who crashed out of Race 1, finished in seventh followed by Haslam in eighth and Smrz in ninth. Rea’s teammate, Carlos Checa, who crashed in Race 1 rounded out the top-ten in Race 2.
With two rounds remaining in the 2009 season, Haga now holds a three-point advantage over Spies. The two title contenders will face off next weekend in Magny-Cours.
World Superbike Imola - Race 2 Results:
1. Fabrizio M. (ITA) Ducati 1098R 38'23.143 (162,023 kph)
2. Haga N. (JPN) Ducati 1098R 3.592
3. Simoncelli M. (ITA) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 6.510
4. Biaggi M. (ITA) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 7.445
5. Spies B. (USA) Yamaha YZF R1 14.678
6. Rea J. (GBR) Honda CBR1000RR 16.396
7. Byrne S. (GBR) Ducati 1098R 17.110
8. Haslam L. (GBR) Honda CBR1000RR 22.502
9. Smrz J. (CZE) Ducati 1098R 25.268
10. Checa C. (ESP) Honda CBR1000RR 30.203
11. Lanzi L. (ITA) Ducati 1098R 32.589
Yamaha rider Tom Sykes (66) said, "I had a good start in race one but still struggled for grip as we have been all weekend with the rear of the bike. We improved it a bit for warm up this morning but in the race I still struggled. We made a change for race two but I got a bad start."
12. Sykes T. (GBR) Yamaha YZF R1 36.243
13. Xaus R. (ESP) BMW S1000 RR 36.368
14. Muggeridge K. (AUS) Suzuki GSX-R 1000 K9 38.809
15. Parkes B. (AUS) Kawasaki ZX 10R 42.435
16. Baiocco M. (ITA) Ducati 1098R 49.349
17. Kiyonari R. (JPN) Honda CBR1000RR 1'01.823
18. Scassa L. (ITA) Kawasaki ZX 10R 1'06.854
RET. Lagrive M. (FRA) Honda CBR1000RR
RET. Checa D. (ESP) Yamaha YZF R1
RET. Kagayama Y. (JPN) Suzuki GSX-R 1000 K9
RET. Nieto F. (ESP) Ducati 1098R
RET. Iannuzzo V. (ITA) Honda CBR1000RR
RET. Corser T. (AUS) BMW S1000 RR
RET. Salom D. (ESP) Kawasaki ZX 10R
NP. Tamada M. (JPN) Kawasaki ZX 10R
Noriyuki Haga - Xerox Ducati - 1st, 2nd:
“It’s great to have won again, having not been in this position since Kyalami and having had some tough rounds after the Donington accident. It was a very long race, I thought it would never end, and with all that happened, I don’t even remember when I overtook Max! Over this weekend we have gradually improved and I am especially happy with the result because my father has travelled to Europe for the first time to see me race. For Race 2 I unfortunately had to go out on the second bike as we had problems with the first and we couldn’t get it fixed in time. It was a hard race and I am very tired at the end of it all. Congratulations to Michel in Race 2 of course and also to Marco (Simoncelli) and thanks to my engineer Ernesto, to my team and to Ducati. We are now back in the lead with a three point advantage but there are still four races to go so there’s still a fight ahead. We need the best possible bike for Magny-Cours and Portimao!”
Michel Fabrizio - Xerox Ducati - 3rd, 1st:
“What races! I really wanted a win today so I am extremely happy. In Race 1 the problem was that after just a few laps I was having problems with my left arm and it was hard to change gear, I had kind of cramps in my hand. By the end I was really hanging on by two fingers with no feeling in my arm. So all things considered third place was a good result. After the first race I got my trainer to do some work on my arm and it obviously did the trick because it wasn’t a problem
in Race 2, and when I got past Noriyuki I knew I could win. I’m happy also for my son, who is here and always asks me why I don’t win more! Thanks to the whole team, to my trainer Leigh “Rok” Bryan, to Ducati, to Xerox and to the spectators who have been amazing this weekend. All of Ducati’s top management were here today too so I hope that our results demonstrate that Nori and me deserve to have had our contracts renewed for next year.”
Ben Spies - Yamaha - 4th, 5th:
“In race one we ruined our chances with the electronic side of the bike, we didn’t have enough power coming out of the bike and we struggled with grip a bit as well, it was a rough race. The second race we had the pace for sure to battle for the lead but a combination of things held us up. Rea got pretty greedy early in the race, passing me in the gravel trap three different times. I felt bad for him as I knew he had the pace to run up front but you’ve got to know when to calm down and when to take it easy for a couple of laps and let the race come in, you can’t push on every corner. I had a couple of laps where I wasn’t riding well at all then I got myself together and caught up to Simoncelli and Biaggi. They bumped and Biaggi ran off the track, when he came back on it was either hit him or go off into the gravel. I got back on and caught up to Bryne and then almost ran into the back of him and had to run off the track again. It was a messy race. There were a lot of mistakes, a couple from me and some from others. If you would have told me after the first race that we would only be losing the championship by three points I’d be happy because there were a lot of guys who could beat me this weekend.”
Jonathan Rea – Hannspree Ten Kate Honda - 7th, 6th:
"It’s been a disappointing day, as I felt we were in good shape for a win here. At the start of race one, the pace seemed quite slow and as I drew alongside Fabrizio to line him up for a pass he must have hit a curb or something. He sat up suddenly and pushed me wide, and I had to run straight into the gravel. Race two was not so good. I got a bad start and it turned into a bit of a dog fight, with people chopping me off and letting the brakes go again when I’d passed them. I made a few mistakes after that, but something also happened with the brakes, which had a bad vibration and the power was inconsistent. I had my heart set on a win but the results aren’t the end of the world – I’ve been fast here and the package was good."
Carlos Checa – Hannspree Ten Kate Honda - DNF, 10th:
"Well the crash in race one came after a few problems on that corner, but we used a different front tyre and maybe that was the problem. Race two was better than the first, of course, but I struggled in the chicanes, the set up wasn’t quite right and I just struggled to find a way to go faster. My riding was not fluid and I couldn’t get on the pace. There were some positives from the weekend, however, and we will put these together with the good results from Brno and Nurburgring and take a better feeling to Magny-Cours next weekend."
SHANE BYRNE - Ducati 1098R - DNF, 7th:
"I'm sorry for race 1. I really wanted to do well, especially for the team on their home track. That's why I was even more determined at the start of race 2. I did climb a few positions but unfortunately the factory bikes were very strong and that's basically the reason I couldn't finish on top. Now we're going to Magny-Cours where we can definitely do well".