Max Biaggi showed the true potential of the Alitalia Aprilia in Portugal, taking his first career World Superbike double-win.
The World Superbike men made their first trip to mainland Europe for the 2010 season, visiting Portimao, Portugal for Round 2 of the series. And it was Italian Max Biaggi returning to fine form, taking his first career double win, but not without a pair of battles from British rider Leon Haslam.
Race 1 saw a fight between Alitalia Aprilia’s Biaggi and Halsam on the Alstare Suzuki, the pair going at it tooth-and-nail from beginning to end. Biaggi emerged victorious by a scant 0.200 seconds, the lead pair nearly seven seconds adrift of Ten Kate Honda’s Jonathan Rea in third.
Fresh off the Race 2 win in Australia, Spaniard Carlos Checa took his Althea Ducati to fourth, only half a second behind Rea, with Biaggi’s Aprilia teammate Leon Camier a mere tenth of a second further back in fifth.
Another British rider, Shane Byrne, took his Althea Ducati to sixth, while former World Superbike champion James Toseland was the top Yamaha in seventh. Toseland was riding with a broken left hand from a pair of falls in Australia as well as a bruised right side from a massive highside in Saturday qualifying in Portugal.
Leon Haslam continued his fine form in Round 2 with a pair of second-place finishes, keeping him atop the points chase.
Noriyuki Haga battled up from his lackluster 18th-place starting spot to finish eighth, on a track which he has been very outspoken about not being fond. Troy Corser was the top BMW in ninth, while his teammate Ruben Xaus rounded out the top-10.
Race 2 was more of the same at the pointed end of the field, with Biaggi edging out Haslam by 0.191 seconds after another race-long battle. The double race win also bumped the Italian up to second in the points, now sitting with 69 to leader Haslam’s 85.
“It is great to get my first double win in World Superbike," said Biaggi. "The feeling is great and (it is) the first double win of anybody this year so I feel confident and we are in a good rhythm. We go to Valencia next and we will ask very much of ourselves there as well. We had good speed down the straight today but if you saw how fast we could exit the last corner then you would know it was not just the engine. Our bike is fast but other bikes are also fast.”
Added Haslam after the second race: “I was trying everything to pass Max and in Race 2 I timed it so I could be in the lead with a few laps to go and make a break, but Max came back past me on the straight. It was hard racing today from Lap 1 right to the end. We got two podiums and although I was disappointed not to get another win, we are still leading the championship. That puts a smile back on my face.”
Yamaha's Cal Crutchlow made good on his first pole position with his first World Superbike podium in Race 2.
Third was once again another Brit, this time Sterilgarda Yamaha’s Cal Crutchlow. After finishing a dismal 14th in Race 1 due to a small crash, he finally made good on his maiden pole position to get his first career World Superbike podium.
“The places where I was losing time where the places I was using the tire a lot, and I was making a few small mistakes as well," said Crutchlow after his first career podium. "I had Carlos right behind me for most of the second race and that kept me on my toes. Fortunately Max and Leon made a few little mistakes running wide and that allowed me to hang on in there until the end.”
Checa was once again fourth, though only 1.015 seconds back in Race 2. Behind the Spaniard was a two-second gap back to Camier, who in turn had six seconds in hand from sixth-place finisher Toseland. Seventh spot was occupied by Checa’s teammate Byrne, with Haga again gaining 10 spots to finish eighth.
Ninth was Haslam’s Suzuki teammate Sylvain Guintoli, who could only muster 13th in Race 1 after running off the track in the early going, a far departure from his front-running performance in Round 1 in Australia. Corser was once again the top BMW, this time rounding out the top-10.
Race 1 Results
1. Max Biaggi (Aprilia)
2. Leon Haslam (Suzuki) -0.200
3. Jonathan Rea (Honda) -6.901
4. Carlos Checa (Ducati) -7.457
5. Leon Camier (Aprilia) -7.564
6. Shane Byrne (Ducati)
7. James Toseland (Yamaha)
8. Noriyuki Haga (Ducati)
9. Troy Corser (BMW)
10. Ruben Xaus (BMW)
11. Michael Fabrizio (Ducati)
12. Lorenzo Lanzi (Ducati)
13. Sylvain Guintoli (Suzuki)
14. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha)
15. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki)
16. Vittorio Iannuzzo (Kawasaki)
17. Sheridan Morais (Honda)
18. Roger Lee Hayden (Kawasaki)
19. Matteo Baiocco (Kawasaki)
20. Lucca Scassa (Ducati)
Race 2 Results
1. Max Biaggi (Aprilia)
2. Leon Haslam (Suzuki) -0.191
3. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) -0.658
4. Carlos Checa (Ducati) -1.015
5. Leon Camier (Aprilia) -3.123
6. James Toseland (Yamaha)
7. Shane Byrne (Ducati)
8. Noriyuki Haga (Ducati)
9. Sylvain Guintoli (Suzuki)
10. Troy Corser (BMW)
11. Michel Fabrizio (Ducati)
12. Ruben Xaus (BMW)
13. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki)
14. Lorenzo Lanzi (Ducati)
15. Max Neukirchner (Honda)
16. Lucca Scassa (Ducati)
17. Roger Lee Hayden (Kawasaki)
18. Matteo Baiocco (Kawasaki)
19. Makoto Tamada (BMW)
20. Andrew Pitt (BMW)
World Superbike Championship Points Standings (After Round 2)
1. Leon Haslam (85 points)
2. Max Biaggi (69 points)
3. Carlos Checa (60 points)
4. Michel Fabrizio (46 points)
5. Noriyuki Haga (43 points)
6. Jonathan Rea (39 points)
7. Sylvain Guintoli (33 points)
8. Leon Camier (32 points)
9. Troy Corser (29 points)
10. Cal Crutchlow (25 points)
Jonathan Rea (3rd, DNF)
Rea had a good run in Race 1 to finish third.
“Somebody ran me a bit wide on the first turn of race one and I was held up a lot after that, so when I picked up some pace it opened my eyes to what I could do. In race one I think I made one mistake and had to catch up quite a few riders, but I still finished third.”
Tom Sykes (15th, 13th)
"I qualified more or less where I expected to and was happy to start on the third row once again. We didn't have the perfect set-up but we'd made steady progress all weekend so it was unfortunate to have not made the step up in the races. I struggled with my starts and found it difficult to get past the traffic in front of me. I'm a bit frustrated in myself to be honest as I was trying hard to overtake but just couldn't get the grip coming into the corners or on the brakes to make the move. We still have work to do but I'm confident in the team and the package of the ZX-10R and with a bit more time we can hopefully start to close the gap and work towards a few more points."
Noriyuki Haga (8th, 8th)
Haga came from 18th on the grid to finish eighth in both races.
“We’ve worked hard all weekend and today finally I had slightly better feeling with the bike but it was very difficult to score great results from the fifth row. In Race 1 I made a good start, which I knew was essential if I wanted to make some good points. I tried to push as hard as possible but by the last five laps or so I was lacking rear grip and this meant that my traction was very much affected. The second race was quite similar, the tire performed better but I had a hard time getting past Guintoli, and again finished eighth. I apologize to the team, the fans and the sponsors for my poor results but at least I was able to make up a few positions and take some points. Now we look to start challenging for the podium every weekend from Valencia onwards. The important thing is not to crash, and to take as many points as possible each race. Biaggi and Haslam have demonstrated their strength both here and at Phillip Island and we hope we can be back up there on the podium at Valencia.”
Michel Fabrizio (11th, 11th)
Fabrizio had a rough day in Portugal.
“Let’s say that this weekend we were not able to refine the set up of my 1198 as we had hoped to. I continued to have the same problem, the same lack of feeling at the front, in both races. We made many modifications over the weekend but it didn’t make much difference; I just never felt right on the bike. At the start of Race 2 I managed to make up a few places straight away by pushing as hard as I could but after a few laps it became more and more difficult to turn; I went off track a couple of times in Race 1 and then I went straight two or three times in the next race. We of course hope for much better results at Valencia, where I need to start from the front rows.”
James Toseland (7th, 6th)
Toseland battled injury for a pair of top-10 finishes.
"We've still got a lot of work to do but we've made massive improvements. We really deserved the third and sixth in that last race, After Cal's Superpole he was unlucky to crash in the first race so I'm really pleased with his result in the second. The potential of the bike is very good. Once we use the full power of the engine we're right up there. It was only my crash that stopped me being on the front row I think. I was a bit sore today and my head was a bit fuzzy after its knock yesterday so I wasn't completely on form. Considering that and starting from 15th on the grid we achieved some good results. It's a shame we started on the back foot this year but we're moving on and we're keeping on pushing."