WSBK – Bayliss and Sofuoglu: winning departure and return! –

Bayliss and Sofuoglu: winning departure and return !

WSBK - Bayliss and Sofuoglu: winning departure and return! -

The last races of the 2008 Mondial SBK – and SSP – season were contested yesterday on the superb layout of Portimao. Bayliss took the opportunity to leave the Superbike by the very large door, while Sofuoglu has successfully reinvested "his" category.

The 2008 Superbike and Supersport World Championships ended this weekend on the brand new Portimao track in Portugal (read and our).

A circuit "to sensations", confirms Fabien Foret in his video interview, a"Brands-Hatch power 10", as the route is technical and demanding: hilly at will, almost every turn is negotiated blind !

Too bad, however, that "the credibility of the managers is not up to their magnificent circuit", notes the team of Christophe Guyot, to whom we had announced the closure of the circuit for all the week before the race, while several teams have indeed had the privilege of riding there. !

Among the lucky ones was Troy Bayliss, 2008 world champion in the Superbike category and winner of the last Superpole event of the year, also the last of his career. !

However, the fact that the Ducati Xerox rider was able to train on the new track in no way detracts from the merit of the No.21 Kangaroo, since the main difficulty of the Superpole on Saturday was not the track itself. but rather the weather !

Indeed, the final qualifying phase took place in pouring rain, which saw its share of more or less controlled slips: Crutchlow managed but Kagayama, Neukirchner and Xaus fell. Finally, it was Bayliss, the quickest to leave the pits to enjoy a slightly less wet track, who posted the best time: 1 ‘58.548.

A great time compared to the other times posted by his competitors: 2 ‘01.021 for the guest Carl Crutchlow (Honda HM Plant) who will start from 2nd place, followed by the newcomer in the category Johnny Rea (Honda Ten Kate, 2 ‘02.027) and Max Biaggi (Ducati Go Eleven, 2’ 02.107).

The second row is made up of Michel Fabrizio (Ducati Xerox), the second wild-card Leon Haslam (Honda HM Plant), Troy Corser (Yamaha Motor Italia) and Ruben Xaus (Ducati Go Eleven, 2 ‘02.107), while the third is led by our national ninja Regis Laconi (Kawasaki PSG-1 Corse) !

On the French side again, Sebastien Gimbert obtained 18th place and his teammate in Team GMT 94, David Checa, ranked 23rd. As for Shinichi Nakatomi, he signs 19th place on the grid for MG Competition.

In Supersport, Kenan Sofuoglu did not take long to regain his marks on the CBR600RR and sign the 6th pole position of his career in the World Supersport! Broc Parkes, Barry Veneman and Andrew Pitt who follow him on the 1st row are warned: the 2007 champion is back !

In second place are the outsiders who should spice up the start of the race: the fiery Gianluca Nannelli (Honda Althea) is ahead of Joan Lascorz (Honda Glaner), Joshua Brookes (Honda Stiggy) and Josh Hayes (Honda Parkalgar). As in SBK, the first Frenchman is at the head of the 3rd row: it is Matthieu Lagrive on his Czech Honda from the Intermoto team.

Fabien Foret for his part, is classified a distant 16th place: the race promises to be tough for our n ° 99 and his official R6…

First Superbike race

In the first round, Troy Bayliss showed himself to be intractable: certainly Carl Crutchlow took the lead when the red lights went out, but from the first curve, Ducati n ° 21 passed Honda n ° 35 on the outside! Taking advantage of the crush in the peloton, the three-time Australian world champion takes off…

Behind, the fight rages on and we quickly deplore the first two "victims" … By trying to brake Max Biaggi, Michel Fabrizio nestles his brake lever in the fairing of Ducati n ° 3: the fall of two Italians is inevitable !

At the time, the Roman Emperor is quite annoyed and almost strangles Michel, who apologizes. In the end, however, Max will admit that "even if Fabrizio hadn’t bumped into me, the result would have been the same"Obviously, Portimao was not to Max’s taste !

The incident unfortunately split the peloton in two and Leon Haslam then 6th saw the leading men escape by more than 2 seconds..

"I was a little unsure going into the first race as neither of us had completed a lot of laps here so we weren’t too sure about the tires but I think everyone had the same at the back", remarked Troy Bayliss…

But his small worries quickly vanished: the pre-retired immediately widened the gap and left Crutchlow to explain himself with Corser, Rea and Xaus. Thus, the n ° 21 will stick around a second per lap to his competitors during the first eight laps and end up with a comfortable lead of 7 seconds over his direct opponents. !

"The gap was getting bigger and bigger, which surprised me but I understood that there had been a big battle behind me, which served me well", will observe the winner of the first round.

Indeed, the battle is intense behind the new champion: the rookie Rea, the wild-card Crutchlow and the two "old" Corser and Xaus decorate the start of the race with numerous overtaking, allowing not only Bayliss to escape but also to the 2nd group to join them.

In this chasing peloton we also find a very interesting panel of riders: Leon Haslam, Carlos Checa and Noriyuki Haga, respectively wild-card, "rookie" – the MotoGP star started this year in Superbike! – and World SBK icon…

In the 5th round, seven men are therefore fighting for the places of honor! Crutchlow pushes back the attacks of Xaus, Haslam goes up to the 4th position and leaves Corser in the company of his direct rivals in the championship: Haga and Checa.

Behind, Regis Laconi is fighting against Smrz and Lavilla for 10th place: "after a more than average start, I tried to gain places but it was difficult. After five laps, the performance of the rear tire deteriorated, increasing our difficulties", will reveal our national No. 55…

For his first race in the SBK World Cup, Jonathan Rea is amazed and his boss Ronald Ten Kate will gladly forgive him for the small gap in a bend of the 6th lap, which causes him to temporarily lose contact with the leading group..

The spectacle is grandiose and we almost forget Troy Bayliss who is alone in the lead … The two British Superbike riders themselves also make the race particularly lively: in the 10th lap, the Honda n ° 91 and 35 are engaged in a superb duel, won by the first – Haslam – !

Crutchlow, for his part, learned the hard way that in the SBK World Cup, one should show no sign of weakness: surprised by Xaus, he was then pushed around by Corser and overtaken by Checa. Carl therefore sees his teammate disappear far ahead, pursued by the leaders of the category !

Checa, Corser and Xaus are also engaged in a good battle which allows Haga to take his ease. Far ahead of the Japanese – at 7 seconds – prances Troy Bayliss but the young Haslam is only one second away … But to take Corser his 2nd place in the general classification, Noriyuki needs the maximum number of points !

In the 12th lap, "Nitro Nori" Haga promptly gets rid of Leon Haslam: pushed out of his way by the Japanese, the n ° 91 will even bite off the track and must let Corser pass then Checa who are chasing their enemy n ° 1 at the very end of the championship.

More and more swift, Carlos and his Honda n ° 7 threaten the wheel of Yam ‘n ° 11, which nevertheless sticks to the pots of Yam’ n ° 41! Under high pressure for three laps, Noriyuki was overtaken by Checa seven laps from the end then by Corser the next lap.

Now off the podium, the Japanese is trying to keep pace with his two acolytes but seems to lose his cool: he multiplies the small faults and loses contact … His R1 is in fact the victim of a technical problem and the pilot Japanese must give up.

The track is therefore free for Checa and Corser, whose delay on Bayliss is still between 7 and 8 seconds. But five laps from the checkered flag, the Spanish sounded the final charge and grabbed more than a second at the Troy (s) laps: Bayliss in front and Corser behind.

"We had some problems during practice but I got off to a good start and had a great feeling on the bike", explains the famous n ° 7 of the Ten Kate team, who has not been on the podium since his double in the United States, in June. !

Behind, two other drivers demonstrate excellent endurance: Gregorio Lavilla and Ryuichi Kiyonari! The two stars of the British Superbike were able to slip into the main body and come back to the players of the first half of the race: Rea and Haslam, posted in 4th and 5th place.

In this battle between Honda riders joins Fonsi Nieto and his Suzuki, who had to deal with a handicapping 16th place on the grid: "I am one of the people very happy that there is no Superpole next year", will notice the Spanish n ° 10 !

Unfortunately for Checa, the lead gained by Bayliss at the start of the race was far too important and the Spaniard had to be content with 2nd place. Troy Corser consolidates his 2nd place in the championship by securing a new 3rd place, his 5th in 8 races.

The last three laps of the race are therefore animated by Rea who finally takes back his 4th place and Nieto, who takes an unexpected 5th place ahead of Lavilla, Haslam, Kiyonari, Xaus and Laconi.

Sebastien Gimbert fails at the point door: "he was in thirteenth position in the wheel of many top riders, he could aim for a place in the top 10, but a big heat in a fast corner made him lose a lot of time", postpones the GMT … Revenge in the second round ?

Supersport Race

For his return to Supersport, Kenan Sofuoglu proved to be very domineering! At the start of the race, however, the Turkish driver was discreet, pointing to 2nd place in the first lap, in 3rd in the second lap and even downgrading to 6th place in the third. !

During the first eight laps, Andrew Pitt, Barry Veneman then Joan Lascorz, Broc Parkes and Josh Hayes compete for the lead of the race. On the 5th lap, the six leading riders all roll in the same second and almost overtake each other in every turn. !

At the back of the group, Kenan Sofuoglu stumbled over the local of the stage Josh Hayes – the "Parkalgar" sponsor of the American team is also that of the Portimao circuit – and the Turkish must wait for the 8th lap to definitively overtake the substitute of the late Craig Jones.

Sofuoglu is visibly irritated by Hayes: by overtaking him in the straight line, n ° 54 turns on n ° 41 and pretends to slap him hard! In doing so, and in just one pass in front of the pits, Kenan’s CBR600RR Ten Kate propels him from 4th to 1st place. !

From there, Kenan sets times between 2 and 5 tenths faster than his competitors! They are therefore condemned to fight for the two remaining places on the podium. And the bitter struggle! Stubborn, Veneman wanted to offer his team a new podium but the driver Suz ‘attacked too hard and went highside on the 9th lap.

Collateral victims of this fall, Broc Parkes and Joan Lascorz lose contact with the hunting peloton composed of Josh Hayes and Andrew Pitt … Broc and his official R6 will not return, on the other hand Lascorz and his Honda n ° 26 – who were leading the championship at the start of the season – manage to catch up on the 13th lap !

Because in the meantime, the 2008 world champion and his Honda Ten Kate n ° 88 have taken to the chase! The last duel of the season therefore opposes two private Honda: that of Hayes to that of Lascorz.

We would have liked that a third private CBR, that of Matthieu Lagrive, is also fighting for the 3rd step of the podium but the Frenchman made a mistake at the start of the race … As for Fabien Foret, he is not failed to find the right settings and will finish in a disappointing 10th place, 30 seconds behind Sofuoglu.

At the end of the 20 laps of the race, Kenan Sofuoglu crosses the finish line standing on a footrest, the bike in wheelie! The Turkish, who had a very disappointing season in the World Superbike, can not believe it. "Honestly, I really didn’t expect to take pole and after the day yesterday I just wanted to finish on the podium", admits the 2007 champion.

He will undoubtedly have to be counted on in 2009, and Andrew Pitt, who finished 2nd in the race 5 seconds behind his new teammate, knows it perfectly….

"Johnny (Rea) has been a fierce rival all season and barely gone Kenan returns with this performance. (…) I am very happy for him because he has had a difficult season", declared the champion 2008, not without warning"that it won’t be so easy next year !"

Finally, at the end of a last frenzied lap, the Spaniard Lascorz won over the American Hayes and thus separated from Foret, with whom he shared the same number of points in the championship before taking part in this last event. !

Fabien Foret thus obtains 6th place in the world championship with 111 points, behind Lascorz (121), Parkes (150 points and 5th in the Portuguese race), Brookes (162 and 11th in the race), Rea (164) and Pitt ( 214). Matthieu Lagrive is 13th in the world ranking with 56 points scored.

On the constructors side, Honda is close to faultlessness with 315 points out of a maximum of 325: 12 wins out of 14 and two 2nd places! Yamaha is 2nd with 203 points while Suzuki finished the year well in 3rd place with 102 points. Follow Triumph with 77 points and Kawasaki with 46 points.

Second Superbike race

As in the first round, Troy Bayliss is imperial. Less well off, the Australian still completed the first lap at the head of the race and will not leave it !

"We changed a few things for the 2nd race and I have to say this second round bike was the best bike I’ve ridden in my entire career", will solemnly declare the n ° 21 at the end of his last race…

Thus, the 1098 F08 and its driver left no chance for Xaus, Haga or Fabrizio who succeeded each other in second place in the race..

Ruben occupies the 2nd position for three laps but cannot prevent Noriyuki from passing him in the 3rd passage of the straight line. But Bayliss is undoubtedly above the lot and sticks a second in the lap to his opponents.

And as if that were not enough, we tell the enemy n ° 41 of Bayliss that he must make a pit stop for a stolen start … The gods are with the world champion! "Indeed I moved a little but before the lights went out, I stopped again", will note Haga, who competed in his last race on the R1 and will replace Bayliss himself on the handlebars of the official Ducati !

Suddenly, on the 6th lap, Ruben Xaus recovers his 2nd place! But behind, Corser‘s R1 is all set to replace Haga’s. Also in the running: Rea’s CBR decidedly as comfortable on a 600 as it is on a 1000, Fabrizio’s 1098 and Checa and Crutchlow’s CBRs !

Eager to erase his blunder in the 1st round, Fabrizio applies himself more conscientiously to his opponents. In the 7th lap, the podium is 100% Italian: three Ducatis are in the lead! The n ° 21 is 5 seconds ahead of the n ° 111 and 84 who manage to distance the horde of Japanese by a good second.

This slight advance was however quickly absorbed by Carlos Checa who went in three short laps from 9th to 4th place! In the 9th lap, therefore, the Spanish n ° 7 false company with the 4-cylinders and is housed in the pots of the two Italian twins.

The young Rea is then again a victim of his inexperience at the world level: while he defends his 5th place from the attacks of Corser, Neukirchner and Crutchlow, the n ° 65 widens in a very fast right, joins the gravel pit but remains on its wheels and joined the race in 18th position.

We hardly realize that Johnny is pointing the next lap in 16th place because a new incident comes to enliven the race: Ruben Xaus is the victim of a highside in the fastest part of the circuit, the right which commands the straight line…

His 1098 – sliding off the rope! – slips away very brutally: she does not send the Spanish waltz very high but the fall is impressive … especially for her compatriot Checa then housed under his pots! Carlos has to "accompany" Ruben off the track and loses precious seconds before attacking the straight again !

"This circuit is fantastic with its loopholes, which allowed me to avoid Ruben first and then his motorcycle", noted on this occasion Checa, finally quite amused by the fall of his comrade…

"When Dani Pedrosa falls in front of you, you barely notice it. But when Ruben falls in front of you then you can barely see the track: there are legs and arms everywhere !"El Torro joked afterwards..

Michel Fabrizio therefore inherits 2nd place: he is more than 5 seconds behind his unbeatable team-mate and has a lead of less than 2 seconds over Neukirchner. The German is therefore virtually on the 3rd step of the podium in front of Corser, in the midst of a fight with the two wild-cards Crutchlow and Haslam…

On the penultimate lap, however, Leon Haslam blows him the champagne of the gloves: after a slight drop in the first third of the race and a superb neck and neck – literally! – against Corser, the English won his first podium in World SBK !

Max Neukirchner therefore finished 4th ahead of his teammate Fonsi Nieto. The Suzuki thus end a difficult year which is well under way, which is perfectly illustrated by the manufacturers’ standings: Ducati finished first with 570 points, ahead of Yamaha (487), Honda (417) and Suzuki (408). As for Kawasaki, its ninjas bring up the rear with only 94 points.

Troy Corser crosses the finish line in 6th position, far ahead of his teammate Haga (14th), and obtains the honorary title of "vice-world champion". Next year, the No. 11 will drive – like Xaus, the No. 111 – the all-new BMW S1000RR. Can Australian Crocodile beat Nitro Nori and his 1098 again? ?

Carlos Checa is 7th in this last race ahead of Lavilla, Crutchlow and Laconi. Next year, Honda riders will have to watch closely: on a bike they now know by heart, Checa, Kiyonari and Lavilla should do even better than their respective 4th, 9th and 12th places overall. Not to mention Rea, really impressive this weekend !

As for Biaggi, 13th in the last race in 2008 and 7th in the championship, it is very difficult to comment on his chances of success next year since he will line up – with Shinya Nakano – on a brand new Aprilia RSV4. Winter promises to be busy for the Roman and his little comrades … Stay tuned !

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